Good Habits for Career Success
                              By Chelse Benham

“Breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendenci...
events explain all forms of psychological variation – thought and emotion as well
as habit,” according to Kagan.

company time and incorrect reporting on expense reports are all
    opportunistic activities that point to unethical behav...
The work place is filled with opportunities to build good and bad personal habits.
The key to success is how mindful a per...
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Good habits for career success


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Good habits for career success

  1. 1. Good Habits for Career Success By Chelse Benham “Breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, criticalness, or selfishness that violates basic principles of human effectiveness involves more than a little willpower and a few minor changes in our lives.” – Steven Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” There are many habits good and bad incorporated into work life. The good habits qualify as productive, effective and conducive to one’s ability to get their work done. Other less positive habits also exist. Negative behavior can impact work productivity, reputation and relationships with others. Understanding what a habit is and learning how to cultivate the skills to channel energy toward positive rather than negative behavior is a tremendous talent in self-awareness. Covey defines a habit as the “intersection of knowledge, skill and desire.” According to him, one must have all three to build a pattern of behavior into the form of a habit. “Any habit can be negative if it is done mindlessly. Mechanical behavior void of cognitive effort constitutes a habit,” said Dr. Etzel Cardena, professor in the Department of Psychology and Anthropology at The University of Texas-Pan American. “Personality traits, based on a person’s innate temperament, may make some people open to new experiences and conversely, temperament may affect the personality trait so that there are people who are not open to new experiences. That personality trait may determine the habits that person forms. Furthermore, good habits could become potentially negative when circumstances change. Habits are fine as long as people do not become mindless about them. Re-evaluating a habit may lead a person to change the behavior, but it should be a conscious decision.” At the core of the habit is temperament. Behavioral scientists agree that temperament affects internal choices people make that create patterns of behavior into habits. In her article, “Thinking About Wellness,” Dr. Dawn Elise Snipes, a mental health counselor, writes, “Temperament affects how we learn, interact with others, approach and deal with situations and generally manage our time and our lives.” Scientists categorized temperament in five major types: introversion, extroversion, emotionality, psychic involvement in work and responsibility-impulsivity. “Temperament conventionally refers to stable behavioral and emotional reactions that appear early and are influenced in part by genetic constitution.” This definition is found in “Galen’s Prophecy Temperament in Human Nature” by Jerome Kagan. Recent studies, understanding the role that temperament plays in human cognition, have helped to diminish the extreme view that “environmental
  2. 2. events explain all forms of psychological variation – thought and emotion as well as habit,” according to Kagan. However, he does argue that temperamental differences are malleable by experience. “There is no rigid determinism between the inheritance of a particular temperament and a later behavioral profile,” he writes. Snipes further supports the influence of temperament upon personality when she writes, “The people dimension is concerned with how we relate to others and interact with the world in general. Understanding people's preferences in this dimension will help you understand what sorts of environments and situations they will prefer and what will cause them stress.” Covey suggests that by focusing on the motivations driving the actions one is able to “break through old paradigms that may have been a source of pseudo- security for years.” Breaking bad or outmoded habits is a personal growth shift. Covey identifies these breakthroughs as progressive movements along a “maturity continuum.” “True independence of character empowers us to act rather than be acted upon,” writes Covey. “Independence without the maturity to think and act interdependently with others will not allow a person to be a good leader or team player.” Therefore, according to Covey, it is not good enough to be independent. It is equally necessary to be able to interact well with others. Good habits, according to experts, are demonstrated with how well a person is able to integrate responsibilities, relationships and emotional reactions into each other for overall well being and happiness. Many good habits are self-evident even if they are not easy to cultivate. Habits such as working well with others, efficiently managing one’s time, consistently setting obtainable goals, ethically meeting responsibilities are all forms of good habits. It is the bad habits and negative behaviors that must be tamed. Without self-control, destructive behavior can cost a person his or her career. “The Dirty Dozen: Career Paralyzers You Should Avoid” by Kathy Simmons found at highlights some bad habits and harmful behaviors to avoid in the workplace. She identifies the following: • "We-They" thinking toward management – Referring to management as ‘they’ creates barriers that prevent positive exchange and openness between management and staff. • Taking advantage of company policy – Malingering by using sick time indiscriminately, conducting personal business during
  3. 3. company time and incorrect reporting on expense reports are all opportunistic activities that point to unethical behavior. • Behaving like a professional critic – Criticizing and identifying problems rather than focusing on solutions breeds negativity. It is better to be known for your ability to change things for the better than for your whining skill. • Taking credit for other’s ideas – This bad habit can create untold resentment from your co-workers. Instead, generate a few great ideas of your own and do not neglect to give enthusiastic credit where credit is due. • Refusing to set goals – Others can not set your career goals for you. Goals are important and yet, according to research, an estimated five percent of people actually write down their goals. Goals provide focus and career growth. • Dropping the ball – Biting off more than you can chew is a common tendency for ambitious people. If you fail to follow through on your promises to others the damage to your credibility can have lasting repercussions. The best advice is to make promises sparingly and be sure to keep them. • Using profanity – Rather than risk offending those you work with, stay away from profanity and express your thoughts in a more professional manner. • Fading into the background – Corporate America is full of people who quietly do a good job every day and wonder why they are not further ahead. To move forward, you have to be noticed. Do not be afraid to take risks, get out of your comfort zone, and toot your horn occasionally. Management likes shakers and movers, and they are invariably the ones who end up getting promoted. • Not supporting your team –Troublemakers who undermine their own team cannot be trusted. Loyalty should be established and protected with other members. Without the trust of co-workers, roadblocks, born from distrust and suspicion, can create formidable challenges that prevent productivity. • Failing to take care of the customer – Most customers leave companies because of lack of concern shown by personnel. People will not stay if they do not feel valued. Make sure you are never the cause of ill will between your company and a customer. • Dodging responsibility – Do not blame others or make excuses for failing to do your job. Equally, do not play the victim. Shifting the blame to others or situations beyond your control relinquishes your power to affect change and grow from the experience. • Allowing your moods to take control – Moodiness is not a good professional trait. Unpredictable and erratic mood swings cause people to avoid you. It is a poor reflection on your self-discipline if you are prone to bad moods or behave impulsively.
  4. 4. The work place is filled with opportunities to build good and bad personal habits. The key to success is how mindful a person is about whatever he or she is doing. Self-awareness is at the core of improving emotional maturity, habit forming behavior and interactions with others. “As the fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts.” – Buddha