The Worst Work Bad Habit

By Guest Post

Just like smoking or spooning down an entire half-gallon of rocky road in a single sitting, having an unfulfilling job is a bad habit.  How, you ask? Let’s start at the beginning…

Why is it that we get a job in the first place? Making money might seem like an obvious initial response. The independence of financial freedom brings powerful feelings of security and validation. However, over time the satisfaction that money provides wanes and that need to feel validated can evolve into wanting something more than just a paycheck, into a need to feel fulfilled by your work, to have an impact, or to see some meaning in the work that you do.  The problem is that you have already built a habit for doing work that may be better at paying the bills than for providing fulfillment.

So you ask, “Ok, so my job is better in terms of generating money than it is fulfillment. How does that make it a bad habit?” According to Charles Duhigg, “Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.” Essentially our brain is looking for ways to make as many things we do a habit as a way to be more efficient.

Generally speaking, our habits follow a specific pattern.  A habit starts with a cue, followed by a routine and then a reward. The cue is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, the actions that you perform, which can be physical, mental or emotional. Finally there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. Over time this loop — cue, routine, reward — becomes more and more ingrained and automatic.

Back to our “bad habit job” scenario: the cue is the job, the routine is the work you do, and the reward is a paycheck. You get into a habit of doing the same thing over and over and sooner or later it feels like it’s impossible to make a change. The act of making significant change in order to change the reward becomes even more challenging because our brains are set at keeping you in the status quo.

My work is about demystifying the code for creating a job or a career that gives you unending success and satisfaction. The key is to break your habit. According to Duhigg, you have to change the routine that gives you the same reward.

How do you do this? It’s not easy. Duhigg identifies two key factors that are critical for breaking a bad habit:

Believe in yourself.

Change the routine but keeping the reward.

What Duhigg suggests is a great starting point, and identifying and expanding upon your Zone of Genius is an outstanding path to this type of self-confidence and routine change.  Operating in your Zone of Genius is exactly what it sounds like. It’s doing what it takes to keep doing the work you love and making the daily adjustments to insure that you are being leveraged regularly in the way that works for you. Once you are an expert on yourself you can take on the role of being the CEO of your career.

My stages of Defining, Marketing and Operating in your Zone of Genius are a staged approach to taking the reigns of your career. It is an extremely efficient way to use your best assets and your core strength, to re-frame the work you do and how to pave the future with it.

When you define your Zone of Genius, you are able to highlight your innate talent and greatest passion. These are the two variables that allow you to piece together the kind of job that will not only be fulfilling but also one that you will excel at.  Once you are clear on these two points are you are able to market yourself with more distinctiveness. You effectively tell people what jobs or projects are the perfect fit for you and that when that fit is made, you will be the best at it.

You need to break the routine of being told what to do for a paycheck. Once you change your habit from letting others create opportunities for you, you will see that you can easily make the shift to the routine being about you, owning what you’re good at and managing your career like a true CEO. Your new routine will be getting the work that you enjoy and the reward will still be your paycheck. The habit will be changed –you will now have a habit of getting paid to do what you love.


Laura Garnett helps business owners and CEO’s develop a personalized leadership and brand strategy by identifying their zone of genius. Learn more at her website.

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