Break a Bad Habit in Five Easy Steps!

We all have bad habits and, luckily, most of them are very forgivable. After all, we are all human and not perfect. But at work, employees' bad habits can lead to conflicts with coworkers and even being overlooked for a promotion.

Take a few minutes to identify one thing you do at work that you would like to change. Really define what you do, why you do it, and how you can change your bad habit. Then envision how changing that one thing will improve your outlook, your productivity, or the way your colleagues see you.

If you make a real effort to change something that you know isn't working for you, you are much more likely to succeed. Some habits - being perpetually late for work, routinely calling in because you have no back-up child care, or letting your temper flare at work - are going to get noticed by your boss and might have a negative impact on your career path. But there are other habits - always covering for that sloppy coworker, assuming too much work after your promotion because you are unsure how to delegate, or avoiding networking events because they intimidate you - that might not hurt your career in any obvious way, but will hold you back.

So how can you turn your bad habit around?

1. Start small. Don't attempt to revamp yourself or you are going to set yourself up for a disappointing failure. To begin, think about what one thing (large or small) you would like to improve upon.

2. Make a plan. Now that you know you want to change, figure out a few steps to get you closer to that goal. Are you always running late? Make a list of how you can change that habit. Can you set your clocks five minutes ahead to see if you can trick yourself? Do you need to leave the house 15 minutes earlier every day (even if it means you have to get up a little earlier)?

3.Take baby steps. Do you hate networking? Ask a friend to join you at a small local meeting of a nursing association, for example. Then go, no excuses! Having a friend makes it easier to mingle and makes you more accountable for following through.

4. Notice the good. Do you feel less panicked now that you are getting to work on time? Did you make a good connection at the networking event? Recognize those changes and congratulate yourself for taking a step in the right direction.

5. Ready for another change? Once your new good habit has replaced your old bad habit and you are comfortable with it, you can start the process all over again.

But this is about the journey and is not a race. If you only evaluate your habits a few times a year, you are well on your way to implementing good and effective changes into your routine.