Warren Buffett once advised graduating students at the University of Florida's School of Business to learn and practice good habits early in life.
The key, says Buffett, is to catch and change your bad habits before it changes you for the worse. He told the students, "You can get rid of it a lot easier at your age than at my age, because most behaviors are habitual." He added, "The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken."
Bad habits can be changed at whatever age or stage of life in your career journey, and hopefully, before they become "too heavy to be broken." But there is one thing that will make the transition a lot easier. It's being able to resist making the wrong choices due to your surroundings, existing patterns, and rhythms of life.
In other words, your current environment may trigger certain thoughts and desires and unwanted behaviors, causing you to do things you don't want which will hold you back from conquering your day.
3 Habits to Acquire
The real challenge and one that anyone can overcome is to retrain your brain to make other--better--choices. This process isn't as hard as you imagine, so the first thing to do is to stop thinking that your whole world needs to be changed. I offer three good habits to pick up as key to lasting change.
1. Begin your day unplugged
In the past, I would wake up in the morning with my phone by my bed. My brain was acclimated to grabbing the phone within seconds of being awoken and checking my notifications and email. It was an immediate jolt of disruption that had me off and running without properly taking the time to get quiet, meditate/pray, reflect and think about my day. I learned to retrain my brain to get up each morning to first clear my head and tee the day up unencumbered by distraction. That meant putting the phone in another room the night before (in airplane mode) to minimize temptation. This has become super important to start the day peacefully, followed by a healthy breakfast and a short exercise routine (preferably outdoors, like taking a brisk walk) to get energized for the day ahead.
2. Learn from others
Entrepreneurs and leaders in influential roles are supposed to have all the answers to solve complex problems. So they think. But they can't do it alone and yet many try, relying on their oversized ego by plowing ahead without listening to and considering the counsel of others. Buffett has always advised that success relies on surrounding yourself with the right people. He said, "You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with. So it's important to associate with people that are better than yourself." As the famous saying goes, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Make sure to associate with those further along the path who can potentially help you learn new things, grow, and advance your career.
3. Make time for yourself
One of the biggest mistakes any leader can make is neglecting self-care. We may spend a lot of time meeting with others and taking care of our teams or business. But it's just as important to set aside time for ourselves. Self-care is not just the mantra of Silicon Valley billionaires. Research suggests that blocking off time away from other people gives you space to focus on deeper thought, rather than just reacting to immediate issues. If one of your immediate issues happens to be finding time for yourself, try delegating less important and more time-consuming tasks to others.