Wednesday 18 January 2017

Giving up an addiction, such as smoking – why it’s so hard and how to make it easier on yourself and your colleagues

So far, so good – we’re over two weeks into January now and you’re still sticking fast to your New Year’s resolution. Firstly, well done – whatever you’ve decided to do (or not do) during 2017, you only have another 50 weeks to go...

Breaking the two week barrier is a major milestone for any resolution and this is especially true if you have started on the road to tackling an addiction. Dealing with any addictive behaviour is not easy – it’s a daily battle – but let’s not forget how hard these first few weeks/months can be on your friends, family and work colleagues too.

We've developed six steps to successful addiction busting that won’t impact on your workplace.

Safety in numbers

It can really help to build a group of allies at work who can understand what you’re working towards and be on hand to help you through the difficult times. You’ll also find that the more people who know about your efforts, the harder it will be to fall off the wagon and go back to your addiction.

Keep busy

Very often addictive behavior stems from one of two reasons: habit and boredom. In order to keep on track, it’s really important to keep yourself busy. This is often easier to do at work than it is at home, so take advantage. Write to-do lists, take a stroll, read something, do whatever it takes to keep your mind occupied so it doesn’t slip back into old behaviours.

Secure a sponsor

Sponsors are something usually associated with alcoholics anonymous, but the concept is useful when battling with any addiction. We’re all used to having performance reviews at work, so why not think about finding someone at work to make sure you keep to your resolution? Given that if you succeed, your performance at work will also benefit, it makes sense to recruit someone to help keep you accountable for your actions at work.

Take the time to avoid your triggers

A study in 2015 on addictive behaviour found that there are certain person-specific cues that can trigger addictive cravings. These cues include things like spending time with friends who share the same addiction, places and surroundings that are linked to your addictive behaviour. It is important to understand that these triggers and cues are just as likely to be present in your work environment as they are at home.

Rearrange your routine

Chances are your addiction will have touched your professional life, as well as your private life. The cigarette break with your team colleagues if you’re a smoker, the after work celebratory drinks when you’re looking to cut out the alcohol, the business lunches with clients when you’re trying to change your relationship with food. All of these addictions require a change in your work habits if you really are going to succeed.

Think of your addiction as you would a work goal / challenge

We all face challenges every day in our working life. So your colleagues will all know what it is like to face a challenge and overcome it. Similarly, they will all appreciate what it takes to meet a goal. However, they will not appreciate the emotional investment you are making to kick your habit. Take the time to explain to your colleagues what you are trying to achieve and why it’s important to you – and the benefits it will bring to the workplace. Being upfront will help build the support you need to help you beat your addiction for good.

Remember, battling an addiction is hard work. It requires determination and dedication every single day. Think of overcoming your addiction as a new way of life, rather than a short term action, and this will help to develop the mindset you need to break your habit for good.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Why making firm positive goals and writing them down is so important for achieving them

If, for you (and indeed like many of us), the New Year equals a new start, you will no doubt have returned to work brimming with enthusiasm and keen to set goals for the twelve months ahead.

These goals may be personal or work related – most probably a combination of the two – and the purpose they serve in our lives is to give us a purpose and channel our energy in a way that moves us forwards.

Accomplishing even the smallest of goals can help us feel fulfilled and give us direction. They keep our lives on track and help us on our annual journey of self-development and growth. We’ve identified three steps that will help you make 2017 a productive one.

Step 1: decide exactly what you want to achieve

A study in 2010 - published by the American Psychological Association - found that the key to achieving your goals was to plan out exactly what you wanted to do. The study shows that it doesn’t matter how audacious your goals are, what matters is that you actually pin down what you want to achieve.

The study focussed on people who wanted to change their dental hygiene habits. It found that the people who pinpointed when and where they would floss their teeth did so, and were more successful in changing their dental hygiene habits as a result.

To help you pinpoint your goals, it may be helpful to think about how you will feel when you have achieved your goal? What will have changed in your life? What will be different? How will you know when you have succeeded? By thinking about what will have changed after your goals have been achieved you can then work backwards and identify what you need to do to get there!

Step 2: write your goals down and share them with others

Once you know where you want to get to and what you want to achieve, it’s really important to write your goals down. Research shows that when it comes to goal setting, people often fall into one of two camps – the thinkers and the list makers. Be honest, which camp do you fall into? A psychology professor from the Dominican University conducted a study to establish whether writing down your goals helped you achieve them. The results found that more than three quarters of the people who took the time to write their goals down actually achieved them, this is compared to less than half who did not.

When writing down your goals, take the time to break each one down into manageable steps, making them SMART if you can. SMART goals can relate to personal, as well as professional goals. Put simply it’s about being clear about what you want to do and setting out how you will get there. There’s a simple guide to setting SMART goals here:

Once you have written down your goals, it’s really helpful to plot out your very first step to get you off the starting block. This is often the most difficult step, so once you are comfortable with how you will start on your journey, you are more likely to continue. Think of each of your goals as a to-do list that sits right alongside your daily tasks, such as do the laundry and collect the children from school. This allows you to carve out time in your daily routine to dedicate to your goals.

Review your progress

Once you have set off on your path, remember to build time into your schedule to review your progress. This doesn’t have to be weekly, or monthly, it really depends on your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them. What is important, once you have taken the time to articulate your goals, is not to blindly continue on a path without reviewing your progress.

Build time into your schedule to check how much headway you’re making and amend your course of action, as necessary. This is also the time to cross those goals off your list that you have already achieved and take the time to celebrate your achievements.

So, what are you waiting for? Get scribbling those goals down and make 2017 your year of improvement and advancement…