Humans are creatures of habit and I’m no exception to this rule. Breaking bad habits that stand in the way of my goals has been a challenging endeavor, to say the least. Recognizing what they were was the first step and once I overcame that hurdle, it was a matter of making repeated efforts to replace them with good ones. Bad habits aren’t eliminated overnight but with persistence, they can be changed.
1. Used language that devalued me
It took a long time for me to realize that the words that I used in verbal communication significantly affected how I am perceived (see 10 things I stopped saying). Writing helps me visualize how I communicate so that I could pinpoint the kind of language that sounds devaluing. Uncertainty and lack of conviction often came across as insecure so I made efforts to change this. Having friends and industry mentors who would be upfront about the way I spoke has also been helpful in changing this bad habit.
2. Perceived experiences in my mind
The way I think about a future experience, especially when it comes to something I’ve never done before, is usually different than how it actually plays out in reality. Rather than dwell on how an experience might turn out, I did my best to test out something in reality. This shift in thinking allowed me to sign up for my first ever design-related Meetup and register for the first race to qualify for the NYC Marathon. Now, I don’t think too hard (unless significant risk is involved). I just go for it and it usually turns out very well.
3. Held onto my beliefs and values adamantly
Beliefs and values can be extremely difficult to change, even if they no longer apply to my life. How I think is my identity and I hate changing that. When I started my UX career transition, I realized how essential this is in a field where personal growth and compassion is at the forefront of the work. There were things that I slowly stopped believing in because they held me back. Changing my beliefs and values is still painful but the rewards I reap from being more open has been worth the process.
4. Put effort into the wrong places
Working hard is not always the same as working on the right problems. There were too many times I put effort in the wrong places because I never spent the time to analyze and validate the issues that exist. I also have tendencies to work hard on certain things as distraction from what I should be doing so I feel better about myself. But, I’m learning how to work hard on the right problems and pursue projects that warrant my attention and supplement my personal growth.
5. Jump to complaints
As a UX designer and writer, my work focuses on solving problems. Even in my personal life, I think about the ways I can deal with the issues in front of me using design thinking. Before, I would recognize that a problem exists and complain about it. While complaining is cathartic (something I still do), it doesn’t solve anything. Now, I map out where the problems could be coming from and the steps I need to take to overcome them. I focus on solving the problem rather than grumble about them.
As I reach the end of the year, it’s been great practice to reflect on habits that I’ve eliminated in order to progress forward. I learned that acknowledging my bad habits is a really important step because oftentimes, they’ve been blind spots in my character. I don’t always recognize what I need to change nor do I even see them as being problematic. Expanding as a person is my priority though so I’m committed to eliminating other bad habits as I head into 2018.