The tricky thing about habits is that they occur on a nearly subconscious level – like verbal tics (“ahhh”, “ummm”, for example) when you’re nervous. By bringing conscious awareness to these bad habits, though, you can begin taking steps toward making changes in your life.
Below, we list the most common types of bad habits among professionals — and discuss what you can do about them. Perhaps by being aware of them, you can nip them in the bud once and for all.
Let’s dive into these four areas of bad habits to help you identify your own — and what to do about them. Our goal? To give you a map so you can turn that ship around.
While money can help eliminate some problems in life, it is a high-stakes, high-stress source of problems itself. Here are some of the most common bad habits around money.
- Counting on your bonus: Your bonus is extra retirement money. Investing your bonus now means that you will increase your money exponentially. Sure, it might be fun to go all out on a new purchase, but you get a higher return when you invest in your retirement.
- Misusing credit cards: Having a proper mindset around credit cards can make or break your financial situation: If you subconsciously treat credit cards as “free money,” your payments escalate as your “real money” declines. Try to think of your credit cards as a debit card, rather than free money, never spending more than what you’re prepared to pay back.
- Not having an emergency fund: If you haven’t done so already, having an emergency fund that covers three to six months of living expenses should be your top priority. The stress you’ll experience if you encounter an emergency without extra cash can be devastating.
- Not investing: When it comes to investing, this Chinese proverb sums it up best: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Don’t get stuck in analysis-paralysis. Get started investing now or increase your investments if you haven’t done so lately.
- Not diversifying income: Many individuals with a personal net worth of $1,000,000+ have an average of 7 streams of income. If you only have one so far – let’s say, your job – you may prioritize securing at least two more streams of income. Several sources of income may be “passive,” meaning they are paying dividends while you do nothing; this includes buying rental properties or securing another kind of annuity. This can help eliminate stress if you lose your job or have to take some time off from work.
We spend about a third of our lives at work. This means you should probably invest in good habits to propel your career forward so it is the best it can be.
Here are ways not to approach your career.
- Assume you’re getting a promotion: Don’t start planning your life or career around a promotion you don’t have yet. This can lead to some risky decisions on your part.
- Keep a low profile: Many people show up to work, do their job, and go home, but many leaders find that you get out of your job what you put into your job. When you aren’t investing in becoming an authority in your field, you aren’t investing in yourself as a leader.
- Burn bridges: Sometimes having a rocky professional relationship or a bad season at work can make you want to burn bridges, but you never know when the people in the room will have an impact on your future opportunities. Even if you have to part ways with someone, try to put your pride aside and avoid burning bridges.
- Stay for too long: If your values don’t line up with your current company or firm, don’t stay longer than you have to. The same rules apply when you find yourself undervalued or in a toxic work environment. Loyalty will not get you far if an organization’s goals and values don’t align with your own.
- Getting complacent: You should be constantly working to add value to your place of work. How can you make your contributions essential to the firm?
Health is a long-term investment, one that many people miss after they’ve neglected it. Here are some bad health habits to avoid.
- Using unhealthy food as an emotional crutch: Food will never be a solution to a problem. It will have negative impacts on your health and distract you from finding real solutions.
- Overconsuming alcohol: For women, 5-7 drinks a week is considered heavy drinking. For men, having 14 drinks a week is heavy drinking. All in all, alcohol almost always has a net negative consequence on your health. Evaluate your consumption level and try to cut back.
- Prioritizing aesthetics over longevity: Everyone wants to look good in their own body, but using fad diets to change your shape won’t necessarily make you healthier. Instead, focus on longevity rather than your appearance.
- Not getting regular checkups: It’s important to have a good relationship with a doctor who can tell you when something is wrong. Don’t neglect your annual checkups.
- Not getting enough sleep: Bad sleep can be a slippery slope into health problems. Getting good sleep should be a priority.
Family is a priority for many people, which often means we’re primed to get more upset about family problems than other kinds of conflict. Here are some of the worst habits people use during family communication:
- Yelling: If you can’t get your point across when you’re speaking at a normal volume, it’s not going to come across any more clearly when you’re louder. By yelling in front of other family members, you also set an example that it’s ok for other people to yell – including any kids in the family.
- Not continuing to date: Long-term relationships of course need nurturing along the way; but neglecting to date your partner is just not healthy for your relationship or your partner. Continuing to date your partner also helps you improve your own sense of self-accountability and empowerment as you come through on your commitments successfully.
- Neglecting quality time: As a family, find fun activities to do as a group often. Have dinner together, look for and plan adventures with each other, and create your own traditions. (Don’t forget to take pictures!). Each family is unique and comes with its own struggles. Don’t compare your family to others. You don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors, so just focus on showing up for your family as best you can. (You may also want to check out article on mindful parenting for a few other ideas.)
- Poor communication: Communicate emotions and appreciation for all things major and minor. Let family members know when you’re struggling or when you need support. Respectful self-advocating is half of any relationship.
The Bottom Line
Habits are the backbone of your reality, forming the anatomy of your daily actions. If you realize you’re slouching, be proud that you’ve taken notice of this habit – awareness is half the battle. The other half is practicing better habits until you find yourself standing tall among your family, friends, and work colleagues every day.
On the flip side, don’t get overwhelmed by trying to fix all your bad habits at once. Just focus on one or two and don’t work on fixing another habit until you feel confident that you’ve nailed the first habit or two.
Many people need assistance overcoming bad habits they’ve indulged in for years. One good way to start breaking those habits (and building good ones) is to download our Habit Accountability Tracker. Looking to go a little deeper? Don’t feel ashamed to reach out to an Arootah Life Coach for personalized coaching on your habits.