Spring is often a time when we look at creating new habits. In our work life, our personal health, or our outlooks, the time for new beginnings means re-evaluating the way we do things, with a deep intention to do ever better. This late Spring around the Hub, you may have noticed an open question about habits on our Community Board. The responses from our community have been thoughtful, and range from the fun to the serious. Clearly, many of our members aspire to create better work and lifestyle habits.
We decided to ask an expert among our coworking community about how to create positive work habits. Scott Buquor is a personal coach and entrepreneur who has built positive habits for himself, and helps his clients do the same. I asked him for tips on how to change habits for the better. He shared his success tips:
1. What is the #1 factor in creating positive change in your habitual behavior, whether work, health, or emotional?
No question for me: Courage. I don’t mean that in a trite sense – I mean that quite literally. I think it takes a great deal of courage to look closely at ourselves to find out what we need to develop and grow. That means finding ways to get at the truth including asking our dear friends, colleagues, mentor or coach. These friends can help us see when we’re being too hard on ourselves or missing the real issue we face.
When it comes to changing the behavior, there is a lot of great research out there on this topic but my experience is that different techniques work for different people. It can take some trial and error to find what works. What is common though is the need to look beyond the presenting behavior that may need to be changed and look at the underlying motivations of that behavior. Doing it well requires courage.
2. How can you be more intentional during the day to engage in good emotional habits such as mindfulness?
I find it best to have a few tools one can use throughout the day and during the week. There are thousands of types of so-called mindfulness practices so it’s important to find ones that match your goals (calming anxiety, increasing attentiveness, happiness, managing anger) and what practices work best for your personality (meditation, breath work or something active.)
It’s also helpful to look at developing the skills of attentiveness on multiple levels. First we need to look at developing the inclination or the habit of paying attention. For this type of work I encourage my clients to engage in meditation on a regular basis or use an app that can help them with focusing and breath work. (There is a review of some here if you are interested in learning more: http://bit.ly/MindfulnessApps)
Some people don’t want to meditate, or they struggle with meditation, so I also recommend body-based activity such as yoga or tai chi. Running, walking or hiking can also be done in a similar way to unlock mindful energy and for many people it can really help clears the decks.
Depending on the need there are also practices we can in specific situations. For clients that are easily distracted, I will ask them to keep a journal handy and write down the thing they were doing when they became distracted once they notice that they’ve been knocked off their plan. This simple action of formalized noticing can be a very powerful practice.
The simplest form is taking time to breathe – make an appointment with yourself – put it in your calendar and just sit and count your breath for 10 minutes. Every time you get distracted or a thought comes up, start counting again as one. This will happen many times – be gentle with yourself and try not to judge. Distraction is the norm so rejoice in those moments of focus and calm.
3. How can we best change our work habits, such as procrastination or overwork? What some underlying motivations you have seen for some of these bad habits-in other words, why do we overwork or procrastinate?
There are usually many different reasons for why people procrastinate or work too much… e.g. simple distraction, avoidance, boredom, misaligned values, fear and sometimes we can just be uninspired and dread the activity. We’ve all been there.
But procrastination is one of my favorite problems. There is usually so much wrapped up in it. But it’s important to try to remove the judgement of the behavior and inquire what’s behind it. What is it about this activity that is causing you to avoid it or become easily distracted from it.
With overwork, I usually start by making sure my client is prioritizing their work in a humane way. Is it time to hire a new employee or contractor for a specific activity? If they can’t afford it yet, how can you work more efficiently?
Overwork is a bit trickier as it can be an avoidance tactic for something going on in our personal lives. This is a case sometimes when there are potentially deeper issues that underlie these behaviors that are better dealt with by a well-qualified therapist.
Scott Buquor is a multi-talented leader with a proven track record of building teams and organizations that work efficiently to accomplish their goals. He has particular expertise in helping clients and their employees see their potential in new and exciting ways. Scott is adept at helping clients navigate complicated environments and as a skilled strategic planner he can help entrepreneurs use the best of hard data and intuitive experience to understand the needs of their clients and customers. You can check out his company, Big Marketing, at www.bigmarketing.biz