We all strive to live a more successful, more fulfilling life.
Changing your life for the better isn’t always easy, however.
More often than not, our ingrained habits hold us back.
I have been in this position.
Some years ago, as a ‘solopreneur’, I lost motivation.
Things weren’t going well, and it was made worse by the fact that I was accountable only to myself.
On self-reflection, it became clear that it wasn’t my ability that was holding me back; my habits were.
Focusing on eliminating the harmful ones and replacing them with daily practices that pushed me toward my goals was an absolute game changer.
And it can be for you too.
Whatever change you want to make in your life, here are five habits you need to ditch today.
Procrastination is probably the most limiting habit on this entire list.
We know we should get it done, whatever it is. But we delay because it’s unpleasant or we ‘don’t feel like it’.
Then, we feel guilty about it for the hours, days, or even weeks that we put it off.
It’s always in the back of our minds.
This habit not only delays what we get done and often puts us under unnecessary pressure when a deadline approaches; it also makes us feel terrible until we do it.
The solution? Get it done.
It sounds so simple, right?
Well, it’s not. Anyone who has experienced this knows how hard it can be.
Luckily, there are ways to overcome it.
This was what worked for me.
First of all, I forgave myself for past procrastination. This is important.
Then I set up a routine, eliminated distractions(see point six), and made sure to reward myself for a job well done.
It wasn’t easy, but it worked.
Not only am I now more productive, but I also feel happier and no longer get that feeling of guilt in the bottom of my stomach.
If procrastination is a weakness of yours, you probably have this next habit too. They often come as a package.
2) Worrying about things out of your control
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control…”
Focusing on things you can control is a key stoic principle that has helped many of those who have practiced it overcome unnecessary worry and mental exhaustion.
These days, it is easier than ever to spend our days and our mental energy worrying about things that we have absolutely no control over.
…I have been guilty of this too.
I’d spend hours overthinking things I had no influence over. I would finish my day mentally exhausted, without having done anything of substance.
I’d wonder why I felt so tired, but I still wasn’t moving forward.
This went on for months before reading the Stoics made me realize my mistake. Stoicism taught me that, most often, I can’t control what happens; I can only control how I react.
In his bestselling book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown takes this to an even more extreme level, urging us to pursue even less.
Reading it sometime later really solidified that our brainpower is limited, and worrying about things outside of our control is futile and can be harmful.
And I never looked back. I now live a happier life and actually get things done on a daily basis.
3) Blaming other people for your situation
When things don’t go our way, many tend to blame others.
While it is true that others may have had a part in the misfortune we experience, it is not their fault.
It is your fault. You are in control of your life and the choices you make.
While this may sound harsh, the sooner you accept that you and you alone are accountable for your own life and how you react to what happens to you, the sooner you can change your life.
Continuing on the path of blaming others, even if they had a hand in it, will not help you to move forward. It will hold you back.
This principle is written in countless self-development books but was definitely one of my key takeaways from Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck.
I like how he called it “the responsibility/fault fallacy”.
Whatever you choose to call it, be accountable for your own life.
This also means being accountable for how you spend your time. If you have this next habit, you need to eliminate it and reclaim your time.
4) Excessively using social media
I am just going to get right to it with this one; if you identified with the heading at all, you are using social media too much.
And it’s probably making you less productive, unhappier and limiting your ability to make changes in your life.
More time on site means more money for social media platforms, so it’s no surprise that they have perfected the formula for keeping our attention for extended periods of time.
But most of the time, it’s mindless entertainment with little actual value.
Often it encourages us to compare ourselves with others.
And sometimes, it even makes us worried about things that we have no control over.
Look, I am not saying that social media is all bad; it’s not. That being said, excessive use really limited me for a while.
And it’s not just me.
Studies have shown links between excessive usage and an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and even self-harm.
This is how I kicked the habit:
- I deleted all social media apps from my phone to remove temptation.
- Then, I scheduled 15 minutes of scrolling in the early evening (on my laptop).
- Anytime I felt the need to scroll outside of this, I read a physical book.
Now, aside from using youtube to listen to music or educational content, I don’t use social media for even 15 minutes a day.
This is what worked for me, but there are many strategies.
If social media usage is holding you back, I would recommend checking out our detailed post on this: 20 ways to break free from social media addiction.
The next and final habit is one that isn’t often overlooked, but eliminating it had a profound impact on my day-to-day.
I am lucky to have long had a flexible working schedule allowing me to get up really whenever I want.
And there were times when I took advantage of it; too much advantage.
There are so many posts about not getting enough sleep, which is so important.
But in my experience, getting too much sleep can be equally as bad in terms of limiting your ability to get things done.
Oversleeping left me feeling lethargic and uninspired, but studies have even linked too much sleep to obesity, depression, and back pain.
Look, I don’t mean to always equate productivity with changing your life.
That said, to make a change in your life, you will probably need to get yourself out of bed in the morning.
I kicked the habit by rewarding myself in the morning; I play golf. I now feel like I have more energy, more time, and more motivation.
Of course, you still need to get enough sleep, around 7-9 hours for most people.
After that, don’t sleep away any more of the precious day.
The bottom line
Many of us want to make a change, but with limiting habits like the ones mentioned above, it’s really an uphill battle.
Ditching them can really go a long way to help you make the change you desire with as much ease as possible.