I can't stop biting my nails.
It's not a habit I've always had. In fact, it's something that started fairly recently. Probably when I got my first full-time job. Or when I started repaying my student loans. In any case, I'm a nail-biter and I hate it.
Breaking bad habits isn't easy. Ask anyone who's tried to quit smoking or drinking caffeine. Even though my fingernails don't contain any highly addictive substance — like nicotine — the act of doing it is addictive in itself.
I'm no stranger to bad habits. When I was growing up, I used to wrinkle my nose — always had sniffles, thanks to allergies — and, at one point, couldn't stop doing it. It was like a compulsion.
A story in yesterday's New York Times said old habits are "worn into the hippocampus" where "they're there to stay."
But there's hope!
Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.
So instead of biting my nails when I'm stressed — or bored — maybe I should come up with a new habit that satisfies that need. Something more productive, more helpful. I mean, biting nails does nothing but make my hands look terrible. (No hope for a hand modeling contact for me!) So looking for a substitute sounds like a good plan. At least it's a plan.
So I'm going to try, for the next two weeks, to NOT bite my nails. Wish me luck!
Anyone got habits they want to break? Anyone successful at breaking a bad habit? Or anyone got plans to start a new habit?