Like everyone else, I receive countless emails containing articles on career advice. Although many of them go unopened, I stumbled upon one that I couldn't overlook.

Based on a study that included hundreds of managers, VitalSmarts (a corporate training and leadership development firm) found that 97 percent of employees have at least one career limiting habit -- a behavior that restricts their potential at work. The top five most common were:

  • Unreliability.
  • The "It's not my job" mindset.
  • Procrastination.
  • Resistance to change.
  • A negative attitude.

I don't know about you, but I've struggled with each one of these at some point in my career. Although willpower and commitment are vital to breaking bad habits, sometimes they're not enough. You need a plan.

According to Joseph Grenny, a social scientist and co-author of Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, those who did these six things were ten times more likely to address bad habits and improve their chances of advancement:

1. Create a personal motivation statement.

It's not going to be easy, but when you ace that annual performance review, it will be worth it. Envisioning success -- whether it's a promotion or taking the family on a vacation -- is vital to enduring the daily sacrifices that must be made.

Just as effective, if not more so, is picturing what your future might look like if you fail to overcome bad habits. (Yep, the Ebenezer Scrooge approach.)

2. Invest in professional development.

It may hurt your ego to identify and acknowledge a career-limiting habit, but committing to a development plan is a sure-fire way to guarantee that you're held accountable and show progress.

3. Hang with the hard-workers.

We are all shaped by our environments.Spend time with people who inspire you and share your career goals. Also, be intentional about your associations and surroundings. It's easy to inadvertently expose ourselves to influences contrary to our plans.

4. Find a mentor.

Regardless of the bad habit, there are others who have experience in overcoming them. Although it can be scary to open up and admit shortcomings, a mentor can help you navigate career-limiting hurdles.

5. Put skin in the game.

Big behavioral change is going to require a big commitment. Whether it's money, time or your reputation -- the more you have invested in your career development, the greater the chances are that you'll stay the course. Until you've built up the fortitude, create incentive by injecting some personal risk into the situation.

6. Control your workspace.

Ensure you're in the optimum setting conducive to your new habits. This includes eliminating distractions, minimizing interruptions and surrounding yourself with people/teams that can support you.

Habits aren't easy to break. In fact, managers reported that only 10-20 percent of their employees actually make lasting changes. If you're going to have a shot, you'll need to hone in on the root-cause and be intentional about addressing them. These tips can help swing the odds in your favor.

Published on: Aug 29, 2017