A “Career”ture of Habit: How Being a Creature of Habit Can Boost Your Career
Have you ever gone to the same restaurant a few times in a row or taken the same route home from work for an extended period of time without straying from the course? You may have been called out for your tendencies and labeled a “creature of habit.” People may even consider you dull, boring or routine.
So, habits are a bad thing, right? I beg to differ.
Although you might think it will pay off to spice up your restaurant choice, intentional habits can actually be a very successful tactic to getting ahead in the workplace. By incorporating the following simple changes into your everyday life, you can improve your level of productivity, enhance the impression you make on your clients, and boost your confidence in the skills you hone.
- Wake Up Early: You know what they say about the early bird …
- Dress for Success: Don’t forget your smile!
- Be Punctual: To EVERYTHING!
- Take the Initiative: Try adding a bonus item to your “To Do” list.
- Practice Daily Affirmations: I am the best for this job because <BLANK>.
- Ask that Question: You know, the one you figure you’ll just send off in an email later …
Alright, so telling someone to build a habit is the easy part. Making it stick takes work. But what if it didn’t have to be hard to build habits to further your career? I know I’d be all in.
To help us get there, I’m going to lean on a fundamental technical concept – the Minimal Viable Product (MVP). In case you aren’t familiar with the term, an MVP is a product with only the core functionality needed. The MVP is then tested to see how the market responds to it before a model is built with the full set of features.
So, what would happen if we applied the same theory behind the MVP to building a habit (instead of a product)? The Minimal Viable Habit. You could start small with just the basic concept of the habit and continue to test, iterate and add on “functionality” until you reach your intended goal.
Following the same process as the MVP …
- Start with your goal or your vision: I want to wake up early.
- Identify an assumption that would help support your habit and test it for a short period of time: It will be easier to wake up if I use a song as my alarm sound.
- If your experiment fails, try something new and continue to iterate until something works: If I put my alarm across the room, getting out of bed to turn it off will wake me up.
- When you’ve finally proved your assumption, continue to add “functionality” until you reach your goal: If I wake up 10 minutes earlier every week, I will eventually make it to 6:30 a.m.
It doesn’t pay to invest too much of anything into something that isn’t going to work. Utilizing the MVP theory allows you to build habits that work for YOU. But you must be committed – no company would abandon a potentially profitable concept after just one failed market test. You shouldn’t give up on habit building either.
In my own life, I wanted to make being productive after work a habit. At first, I committed to myself that I would not sit down in front of my TV until after 8pm. Although that effort helped to encourage me to find other things to get done between the time I got home from work and the time I was ready to relax (8 o’clock); I still felt like sometimes I would wander around aimlessly for a few hours rather than actually be productive. Following the MVP model, I shifted my assumption to creating a list of three things that I would like to achieve before 8 o’clock. This second iteration provided me with both the timeframe and the focus that I needed. I’m happy to report that after two weeks of focus, the habit has stuck and has increased my productivity and overall feeling of accomplishment in my day.
I know encouraging habits seems to negate what everyone says about getting out of your comfort zone and getting comfortable staying there. But it’s actually the opposite! Building strong habits makes the easy success factors routine and secondary, enabling you to not only get out of your comfort zone but thrive in it.
Before coming to Kenway, 100 percent of my work week was spent working remotely; away from my clients and away from my colleagues. Kenway’s unique focus on people and culture encouraged me to build the habit of being onsite, even though we are fully equipped to be remote consultants. To my surprise, that simple habit has done wonders for my career, professional relationships, and productivity.
I challenge you to challenge yourself and see what habits can do for your career. And if you want to learn more about how instantiating habitual frameworks can help you derive unrealized business value from your organization, we’d love to help. Reach out at email@example.com.