• Anita Ravishankar

What, How and Why of Habits - PART 1

Habit - A routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly.

What is the 1 thing that we do diligently every day? Now we don't want to quote brushing teeth and taking bath, etc... those are the routines needed though. We want to quote examples from the activity that we do every day or repeatedly to sharpen our professional intellect because without being professionally smarter we will crumble.

When I started my career, my initial dilemma was what habit to develop. Yeah, I did not know "What", "Why" and "How" comes much later. ;)

To get my answers, I researched - saw videos, read articles. I asked all seniors and leaders I met - what is it that they do regularly in their life. I even made sure, I add a question or two about it in my induction session with new colleagues. I wanted to gather as many views as I could without forming an opinion. I got mixed replies, some videos said "top 10 habits... " and I again wondered can there be just top few then why is every one not doing the same? While I spoke to colleagues many did not have anything to say (or they did not know what to say but a HR knows to smartly probe with right questions to get answers ;) ), some used to say they read a book per week, some used to play the musical instruments, some like taking walk, some made it a point to travel every month, so on and so forth.

As I sat and analysed all the responses i received, I understood, these habits are mainly into 3 large buckets:

  1. Habits for mental health

  2. Habits for intellectual growth

  3. Habits for being a better human

Habits for mental health were simple to fathom but often neglected. These are habits that help stimulate or de-stress mind and be mentally active and clam. Physical exercises keep body fit which in-turn keeps the mind active while music, yoga, meditation helps to de-stress and hence improves focus. Healthy food helps in improving the mood and improve clarity in thought. Sometimes, working in the fast paced environment, one does not realise the stress getting accumulated and importance of mental well being that can help in continuing the being awesome oneself not only for few years but for long run.

Habits for being a better human are developed by contributing something to the society. It may be some service you attend to or indulge in environmental cleaning campaign or donations or it can be as simple as contributing to greener world by planting a sapling at regular intervals. When you repeatedly indulge yourself in the act of selflessness and kindness, research says it triggers the release of serotonin (hormone that stabilises mood, feelings of wellbeing and happiness) and Oxytocin (hormone and neurotransmitter that makes you feel connected and social). Over a period of time, it becomes a way of living.

Habits for intellectual growth is something that I dwelled upon more. intellectual growth involves growth in areas of motor (Agility, Time and Speed, Technology, Senses and Reaction), language and communication, cognitive abilities and Social / Emotional growth. Some of the examples are sense of humour, emotional understanding of yourself and also developing empathy, having great communication (verbal / non-verbal). This means Habits for intellectual growth is important but ever evolving. Habits that you form today need to be evolved to be the habits of tomorrow. Sometimes, one has to kill the old habits to make room for new ones but these habits are needed to sustain in today's competitive world. This made my exploration quite interesting and tricky!!

Now I got 3 buckets. As an HR professional, I now had to understand what should be my habits in those 3 buckets, Why are they important to me and how to develop them.

In my next article I will talk about how and why of the habits and how to sustain habits.

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