Conquer your bad habits before they conquer you

  • Published
  • By 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron
  • commander
There are lots of bad habits out there. We all have them, but do you really know what yours are? One of mine, which I do know well and can't seem to beat, is my tendency to procrastinate when I have a particularly unsavory task at hand ... like writing. I was tasked with writing a commentary and, like I've done in the past, I procrastinated to the point where I have made myself late in turning it in for posting to the wing's Web site. This shortcoming of mine has hurt me in the past and probably will again in the future. I wish procrastination were my only bad habit; in fact, there are others! 

A friend recently pointed out two bad habits of mine that I wasn't aware of; the first being my horrible addiction to my BlackBerry. I use it while at lunch with friends, while talking to people, at PT and during meetings. Now that this bad habit has been pointed out I'm starting to even annoy myself. On some level I must have been aware I was doing it, but not how much it bothered those around me. I'm taking steps to break this bad habit. I've turned off the buzzer feature that alerts me to new emails, but I'm not quite to the stage yet where I can ignore the red blinking light. As this is a newly acquired bad habit, I'm hopeful I can break this one. 

A second bad habit my friend pointed out which is not going to be as easy for me to change is my tendency to make generalized statements such as "all Jersey girls have big hair and swear." Well, this one doesn't. No one else has ever called me out on this. At first I denied I did it, and then I thought "so, what's the big deal if I do?", but the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right and it was very tacky behavior. This habit is going to take me a bit longer to get control of as I've been doing it for 40-some-odd years. (I was an early talker.) Recognizing a bad habit is the first step in correcting it. Noted: I'm trying. 

There is an old saying I know that states, "You can't kill a frog by dropping him into hot water." As you drop him into the hot water, he reacts so quickly that he immediately jumps out unharmed. But if you put him in cold water and gradually warm it up until it is scalding hot, you have him cooked before he knows it. The encroachment of bad habits in our lives is very much like this.

As a commander I've had to issue punishments several times due to Airmen's various bad habits. One was an LOR for repeatedly being late to duty. This Airman had received several letters of counseling from his layers of supervision and then the problem rose to my level. Unfortunately for this troop tardiness became a habit, a very bad habit. An Airman who can't make it to work on time lets down his entire work center. No one Airman has all the same bad or good habits as another. We are all different. It is important for supervisors and commanders to know their people, be able to help their Airmen recognize when these bad habits start to form and then be there to provide guidance and discipline to break them before they become a problem.

Take a moment and ask your supervisors, coworkers, friends and family what they think your bad habits are. You might be surprised. Don't get angry at what they say. Instead, be open to what they have to tell you. Really think about what they have to say and whether you need to make some corrections in your life. Conquer your bad habits or they will conquer you.