Healthy Habits for Executives
Creating new habits to support your wellbeing.
Habits are the brain’s internal driver. They inform a large part of our daily unconscious behaviour. Dedicating time and energy to learning new habits will, in time (once the new habit becomes a part of our unconscious behaviour), free up cognitive time and energy for other matters. Even though much of what we do is driven by our habits, there is still mystery around how habits are formed and maintained over time.
There is also some debate in the literature as to how long it takes for a new habit to become habitual. Some research suggests 28 days, while others indicate the time frame is dependent on the complexity of the habit and other variables such as ease of implementation, and perceived benefits. It is however fair to suggest that 28 days of dedicated and repetitious practice will instil the foundations for a new habit to take form.
Barack Obama provides a great example of setting yourself up for a new habit with ease. During his presidency, Obama stated “You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” Another way of looking at this is he turned wearing grey and blue suits into his daily habit, to free up cognitive time and energy for more important matters.
With most of our daily behaviours coming to us autonomically, an evolutionary feat of humans used to conserve energy, the question remains, what exactly is involved in changing old habits and forming new ones? The answer lies in neuroplasticity.
Habits for Success
The habits listed above, whilst improving your health and wellbeing, will create the fertile ground for you to pursue your purpose and achieve success. The following routines, habits and perspectives inspired by some of the respected leaders of today and yesterday provide some food for thought on habits-for-success:
- Aim for work/life harmony rather than work/life balance. The term ‘balance’ indicates a trade-off rather than integration. When you are content at work, then you will have more for home, and if you are happy at home, your energy and motivation for work will naturally increase. Harmonise.
- Protect your time and don’t let other people set your agenda for you. This is easier said than done. A first step towards supporting this is each morning, give yourself a chance to get into our own day, set the purpose, before engaging in something that someone else wants. (Jeff Bezos)
- Carve out time to think, as opposed to doing the same things that have been done before. Focused thinking time is something shared by almost all successful leaders. (Barack Obama)
- Create an idea capture system. Whether it be carrying a notebook and pen with you everywhere or a dedicated notes section in your smartphone, it is important to have a place to note ideas as they come to you. (Richard Branson)
- Practice letting go. This is fundamental to becoming a great delegator. (Warren Buffet)
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