Buckle your seatbelts and hold on tight because today’s Staff Development Spotlight is on the ever-so-stealthy Caitlin Redd. Caitlin has been the smiling face at the VoiceNation front desk for a little over two years now. She may look small and sweet (because she is!) but she’s really a true VoiceNation ninja. Caitlin is our enthusiastic administrative assistant – ready to handle any task in any department at any time without any need for recognition. This week that meant that Caitlin resisted the urge to fight the spotlight and stepped up to teach us about habits – and it’s a doozy of a lesson. So strap in and keep arms and legs inside the vehicle, because we’re going for a ride.
We continued our excursion through The Power of Habit, (written by Charles Duhigg) and we walked through the tough question of “who is responsible for your habits?” It is often difficult to answer this question because as people, there is the temptation to make habits based off of the habits of those around you. However, ultimately we are in control. We can control what we think, say and do and we are capable of dictating our habit loops.
So what is a basic instinct? An instinct is your natural reaction to what is currently happening. For instance, when you smell something bad, you are most likely to crinkle your nose or cover your mouth. Why? Because your brain has trained itself to react a certain way to specific things. Another example would be your “fight or flight” reaction. If someone jumps out and scares you, typically one of two things would happen; you would cower in fear and hide your face while gasping for breath, or you would yell, punch and throw your fists through the air at the culprit. These are called “natural instincts” or natural reactions.
It’s important to be in touch with what our natural reactions are. This is because a large percentage of everything we do is due to a switch in our brain which acts a like cruise control or autopolite. Sometimes this is convenient, for instance when you’re typing a 15 page research paper and you’ve trained your brain to automatically understand where each letter on the keyboard is. Therefore, without the habit loop, something that could take 3 days only takes 3 hours. For these reasons, our habits help us. However, there are some areas in our lives where we have formed habits that harm us. Whenever I think this over in my head, one scenario in particular comes to mind. No matter how large or hefty of a dinner I have just consumed, if I go to watch TV after dinner I will ALWAYS desire to be snacking. I can be stuffed to the brim, yet still my habit loop tells me that when the big, bold, red letters that read NETFLIX pop up on the screen, it’s time to stick my hand in a bag of chips!
This had become a habit for me until I realized that I had control and could actually change that habit and form a new one. Forming new habits, however, is no easy task. It takes effort, a consistent routine and most importantly, accountability. This week, we were challenged as co-workers to find a partner within the office and hold each other accountable to whichever habit we deemed change worthy. My partner and I (ironically we are both named Emily) have held each other accountable to work out at least three times a week. And by-George, it worked!
If you have recurring habits in your life that you desire to change, find someone you can trust and ask them to work with you in remembering to re-direct your habit loop. Be sure to really assess every area of your life for sneaky habits- they’re everywhere! It’s possible to get your life moving in a different direction, but you’re going to have to turn off the cruise control and start pushing on the gas for yourself. Don’t let your bad habits define you. Grab hold of them and make new ones! It IS possible, and it’s so worth it!