5 coaching questions that can help you build new habits at work

Some common findings in coaching sessions make me think more about one famous sentence:

“We are what we do out of habit,” Aristotle said.
Changing our habits is more difficult than reaching a new work position or hierarchical status, for example. On the wings of enthusiasm for achieving goals, we can very quickly step into the shoes of a new professional role fueled simply by enthusiasm but sometimes the initial intoxication of the dreamed novelty may obscure awareness:

The goal achieved has not automatically replace our old habits.

According to the researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day. They are unintentional repetitive actions, that run to completion with minimal conscious control, cued by aspects of performance environment.

Answering few coaching questions might help you build better self at work:

1. Is there a habit in your professional every-day, that exists before your last professional change (new role, new job) and is not serving you well anymore?

Once created under certain circumstances, our habits are simply automated responses. In a reality of intense changes we are more focused to the fast achievements, thus we are mostly jumping over the organic process of forming a new automated behavioral action/reaction (a minimum average of about 60 days). You can think about the areas of managing your own tasks and goals, working in a team, communicating with others, managing expectations or another, you name it. To identify what you are doing out of habit (automated, unintentional response/reaction) and is not bringing the expected result you might need some feedback to trigger your behavioral awareness.

2. What habit/s you would like to change?

This could be a challenging one, mostly because we love our habits and they are becoming our blind spots, manifesting through a certain behavior. Take procrastination for example – the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline, could be further stated as a habitual behavior. Is it serving you the same way during the student years and when starting a job? Lets see – if during your university degree, procrastination gave you some rewards like more time to party or just more free time for hanging out with friends, the result was only affecting you and this was not a bad deal at all, because you were smart and were able to do the project in the very last moment on a pretty good level. At work, however, this habit can only bring you only negative results. I would like to refer here to Stephen Covey`s 7 habits of highly effective people, as a further source of inspiration.

3. What do you need to create a sustainable new habit?

The new habit should serve you automatically by bringing you a reward (calmness, satisfaction etc), but you would need to dedicate some focused time to form it by doing series of repetitive cognitive actions. To prepare, think about what you need: some focused time, some feedback, a transparent and realistic expectation, new knowledge, or support from a coach, a mentor or a buddy within the team. Keep in mind that the context and circumstances can make your efforts easier or…not. In the most challenging environment 8 months, provided you are highly motivated building new habit. Keeping your eyes steadily on the desired end results is a must, despite the difficulties.

4. What will be your first step to form the new habit?

It`s time for action! Yes, you can do it. It might look more scary that it is, just because…we usually l-o-v-e our habits. The first step is the most important one. Make sure the end result is something you believe in, that it is realistic and you can measure if it`s effective. It is the same as taking care of our body well being and good physical condition. My personal example: when I chose to change the habit of not doing sports regularly, I had already pre-defined that I need a personal trainer whose methodology combines conditional training and food nutrition. This expectation was set loud and clear in the beginning, so that it got me motivated through the process. Usually we are not inventing new things, but relying on certain know how and based on desired results we can chose and use it.

5. How motivated are you on the scale 1 to 10 to transform the old habit to a new one?

Be radically honest. Be aware of what drives you forward and what from your automated behavior/way of work that you are use to, is your biggest enemy. After you`ve probably set your expectations, it will probably take you anywhere from 2 to 8 months to build a new habit into your life, researchers said.

With perseverance, will and support, you can create a wiser and more contented version of yourself.

Are you ready to change a habit?