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Your Lawyer Wellbeing Toolkit Should Include How NOT to Build a New Habit

Feb 07, 2019

Read the full article at Thompson Reuters Legal Executive Institute

Here’s the great thing about habits, they make action almost effortless. When we open our inbox or pull out our phone, for instance, our fingers, mind, and body know exactly what to do. The emails, texts, and messages almost start to write themselves.

Here’s the bad thing about habits. The bad ones are hard to break, and the good ones are hard to build. If you’re like most people, you probably have a few ideas about some new habits you could build that would radically improve your work and your life. But you may have also found it challenging to turn these ideas into actual habits.

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You may notice that the idea of a morning workout program, a daily meditation practice, a new diet, or a time for distraction-free work is easy. The daily practice is where it gets difficult. 

Four Strategies for NOT Building a Habit

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to build habits, but we think it’s just as important, if not more so, to also consider how not to build a habit. So here are our top four strategies for how to maximize your chances of failing to build a new habit. 

Tip 1: Set Wildly Unrealistic Goals - By setting wildly unrealistic goals you virtually ensure that all your hard effort and discipline will result in failure.

Tip 2: Don't Tell Anyone - Secrecy is another pro tip - this is really the key for taking away all forms of support and accountability. You’ll never be reminded of your goal to create this new habit.

Tip 3: Go Big On Day 1 - Gradualism is overrated. If you want to fail successfully, it’s important to go all in on day one.

Tip 4: Amp Up Your Inner Critic - Forget your victories and spend your days dwelling on losses. This is the key psychological tactic for undermining the momentum of discipline before it has a chance to build.

Noticing Barriers to Change

It goes without saying that these are not the things you should do to build new habits. And yet these are the things that many of us do every day to get in our own way when we’re trying to build new habits.

So just as it’s helpful to follow the standard tips for habit formation — setting reasonable goals, starting slow, creating accountability, and being easy on yourself — it’s also helpful to see when you slip into these four traps that sabotage even the most well-intentioned attempts to change.

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Noticing these patterns and even laughing at them is one of the real keys to building new habits.

So next time you’re struggling to not pick up the phone, to wake up early for the workout, or to order the salad, check to make sure that you’re not slipping into these common traps. Then see if you can use that awareness to create a new habit, one day at a time.

Read the full article at Thompson Reuters Legal Executive Institute

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