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How To

Break bad habits in 21 days (more or less)

Self-Assessment Quiz ─ TRUE or FALSE:

  1. I’m good at setting goals and keeping them.
  2. I believe in myself.
  3. I’m worth trying to make myself better, and I’ll take whatever time necessary to be a better me.

I’m so happy we’ve taken time to hold a magnifying glass to bad habits in the workplace! Specifically, those bad habits related to things like negative body language that might be holding you back from a well-deserved promotion, or bad habits related to how you get down with your co-workers in your communication, or those bad habits that you didn’t even know were bad, like talking too much about your weekend when you thought you were being social. C’mon now!

Now that we’ve got that magnifying glass in hand, and you’ve zoomed in on some areas where you can make a change, I wanted to offer some extra help to keep you free of bad  habits!

I’m a big fan of setting goals and challenges. There’s evidence out there that says you can break a habit in 21 days, and there’s just as much evidence that says you can’t. But what I think is good about setting a time frame for yourself is it gives you a way to break your goals down into bite-sized Pink Elephants. Some habits can be changed in two days; some can take longer. But with an allotted time attached to your goal, you’ll know you’re on track for success.

Let’s examine a “simple” habit, like being late for work. (Definitely the type of bad habit that’s not making you look good, honey!) I used to work with a young woman who was late every-single-day. Rain or shine, didn’t matter. She’d come running in, huffing and puffing, bags and coat flying. It was pretty unnerving for all of us to witness! Then we’d have to hear about why she was late and wait for her to calm down before we could get back to work. Is this you? (Ummm-hmm. Thank you for being honest!) Now, what can you do? Being late ain’t always about hating your job and not wanting to be there so you can’t get your butt out of bed. The issue is usually based on behavior that can be changed. For example:

  1. Organization – Are you late because you can’t find your keys? This is a real thing. I know because I suffered from this FOR YEARS! So each day I walk in any of my houses, I now have ONE place, the SAME place,  I drop keys automatically. Like in a key bowl near the door.  Or a key hook near the door. Or the same pocket in your purse. The purse pocket thang is what did me in. Because I change purses almost every day. So I could never remember which purse I’d carried the day before and it took time weeding through all my bags searching for keys. So I have a location by the door where keys now go. Even in hotel rooms! I was forever standing at the front desk of a hotel asking for a replacement key because I couldn’t remember where I’d stashed that dang gone thin key card. Not any more. I am happy to report I placed my keys in the same spot for 21 days straight and I am no longer afflicted by the lost keys syndrome. Do it. This works. I promise.
  2. Focus – Maybe you don’t like your job. You’d rather be anywhere but there, and each morning is a chore to get up and get out the door. If this is the case, change your focus. Either do a 21-day happiness challenge to find joy in your job (and life), or start making a 30-day plan RIGHT NOW to get out of this job. You can do it, but you must make a plan and stick to it. Action is the antidote to despair. Stay in action honey. It will help you.
  3. Preparation – Is your closet a disaster? Little things like missing buttons on a blouse, wrinkled pants, or not being able to find a shoe can cause you to be flustered, annoyed, depressed, and late because you can’t get dressed!! Please take the next three weekends to get your closet in order. Use Sundays to plan out what you are going to wear for the week, down to your shoes and purse. Mark your outfits on your calendar. Here are more tips to help you. Do this. It works. I promise. (Have I lied to you yet?!)
  4. Desire – Do you want to be on time? Like, for real for real? The magnet on my refrigerator reminds me, “If you really wanted to you would.” And that goes for anything — including being on time. Your desire to be on time has to be stronger than your willingness to be late. And real talk—if you want to be late, then be late, and don’t turn into a crazy Tasmanian Devil running in the door like you tried to avoid this situation. Because you didn’t! Talk to your boss, and ask her if you can simply stay late or miss a lunch to make your mornings better. I have a friend who manages her day like this. She was honest with herself and knew she couldn’t make it at 9:00 on the dot, but had no problem staying until 7:00 or 8:00 or when the work was done. Her boss was down with that. If you do want to be on time, take one week, five STRAIGHT days, where you go to bed and wake up each day with the intention to be on time. Try it! It works. I promise.

Choose one bad habit that you want to kick. This is your goal. (Make sure it is SMART). And assign some time, whether 21 days or otherwise, and get yourself on track to be bad-habit free in no time! By the way, if you answered false to the self-assessment quiz above, I hope you now feel you have some ammunition to get yourself answering TRUE!

Cheryl Grace is the sassy aunt, best friend, and mentor you’ve always needed in your life. The successful jet-setting, global corporate executive founded the aspirational lifestyle brand Powerful Penny LLC. Her products, workshops and speeches probe, inspire and empower to ensure those who really want to can get to their next level of best. Her blogs on careers, prosperity, relationships, family, looking and living fabulously, and living a five-star life can be found at www.powerfulpenny.com.

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