Impending sense of doom and disappointment?
Dreaming of passing by trains that you haven’t managed to catch?
The above is a potent symbol of this inner feeling that life is whittling past you, that others are making progress in their own lives whilst you stay stuck where you stand.
Whether you’re actually wasting your life and need a little nudge in the right direction, or the pressure of comparing your own journey to everyone who seems to be doing a hell of a lot better is getting to you, there’s always things you could do to improve.
A little life admin goes a long way.
Culling these 10 habits is a good place to start when it comes to cleansing your lifestyle and making the most out of all life has to offer:
1) Ditch the comparisons
“Comparison is the thief of joy”, said Roosevelt – which you should no doubt heed.
He didn’t even live in a world saturated with editing and airbrushing and photoshop, where hustle culture forces the rise-and-grind, retire-by-24 mentality down your throat and scoffs if you try and take a day off.
Occasionally it can be helpful to watch how other people do it and be inspired by their success.
For the most part, comparing yourself to other people who seem always to be happier, richer, more put together, only ends up holding you back.
Everyone is on their own path, having started off on different starting places.
Plus, everything is often not as it seems online.
Constantly beating yourself up for not constantly knowing the right way or feeling you’ve not accomplished enough in comparison to others is therefore very unproductive as they themselves are often not as content as they might portray.
2) Quit coasting…
And practice gratitude instead.
Whilst you’re avoiding the comparison trap, take a quick breather and a moment to be thankful for all that you do have in your life.
This might seem overly simple and even counterproductive if you feel at odds with yourself and want to rush onwards to achieve more.
However, this is one of the best ways to calm yourself down, to learn how to be happy (or happier) with the present, and learn to enjoy more of what you earn in the future.
Wondering where to start?
Consider gratitude journaling a few things you’re grateful for each day, or set time aside to say these out loud (to yourself!)
3) Avoid moping around…
And try out new activities instead.
My mother’s cure for any rainy or depressed day is going to a museum or gallery.
She prescribes it more readily than any antidepressant and considers it far more potent.
And though actual medicine and other interventions can go a long way in helping you to find your path, swapping out quiet afternoons you might otherwise spend wallowing in sadness or feelings of failure for a new activity can do wonders in helping your state of mind.
A few afternoon hours spent gazing at portraits or examining old artefacts is truly good for the soul.
Plus, a reason and purpose to actually leave the house and do something can be the deciding factor in what feels like a successful day versus a wasted day.
4) Put an end to living the life of a recluse…
And call a friend.
It can be so easy to lose yourself when you’re feeling low and like you’re wasting your life.
So much so that you start declining invitations because you feel like you’ll be judged, or you want to focus on things that might help get you somewhere at home (although you just end up wallowing in bed).
Isolating yourself might be what your mind tells you is the safe option, but in times when you feel like your world is falling in on you, often the best thing you can do is push yourself to exit your comfort zone and allow people you love in.
5) Ditch black and white thinking…
And try to look for the bigger picture.
Seeing things as black/white, good/evil, up/down is one of the faults we’re very susceptible to as humans.
We’re unfortunately taught to see a lot of the world in these extreme categorizations, and retraining your mind to instead consider things objectively and think for itself is not an easy task.
But the sooner you learn not to think in absolutes, the more of a leg up you’re giving yourself in being able to factor in all elements and find better solutions.
6) Quit procrastinating…
And find small ways to feel productive.
It can be easy to get stuck in a cycle whereby you feel you’re wasting your life so you lose all motivation and end up accomplishing even less.
Not even basic tasks or chores get done as your brain starts telling you that nothing is worth it anymore.
Not even folding the laundry.
But putting a pin in procrastination can help you to feel like you’re getting somewhere and doing something – even if it’s something as small as making your own bed.
Using nifty techniques like monitored screen time for phone/laptop, deleting apps that steal your attention, or setting timers when you are working to help you focus for 20 mins without distractions can all help you to finish the day with a list of tasks checked off.
7) Stop being so sedentary…
And start exercising.
The feeling of watching life coast you by and being left behind can leave you feeling either like you need to sit at your desk for 18 hours and try frantically to catch up, or like you ought to sink into bed and never get back out.
Neither of these is helpful nor productive in getting back on track.
Exhausting yourself will only lead to a premature burnout which sets you even further back, and although the occasional bed day is allowed, doing so regularly also does nothing to help you shimmy closer to your goals.
You might detest going to the gym or running, but lucky for you, exercise doesn’t have to come in the form of classes or a regimented regime.
Physical activity not only improves mood and wellbeing, but also boosts brain power – so incorporating 20 mins a day will actually help improve your cognitive ability and likelihood of finding a path to achieve what you want.
8) Shun freestyling life…
And start planning.
I won’t be the first to tell you that not everything goes according to plan, but that’s not to say a few goals – even minor ones – won’t help set you back on track.
If there’s space after your gratitude journaling, jot a few goals down.
They don’t have to be world domination, or winning an Olympics medal.
One could be so simple as trying out a new coffee shop, or finishing that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand for months.
The very act of ticking off an accomplished task, no matter how big or small, gives a hearty sense of triumph which quickly spurns you on to reach for even bigger goals.
9) Swap out unhealthy eating (or not eating at all)…
For fuelling your mind and body.
A sense of gloom and of a wasted life can leave you losing interest in looking after yourself.
95% of your serotonin (your happy hormone) is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, which means that if you’re comfort eating and constantly grazing on processed foods or shunning food altogether, you’re making it far harder for your body and mind to tackle life.
Emotional overeating or undereating can be a way to cope with the toll of feeling like you’re wasting your life, but be cautious how much damage you’re doing to yourself in the process.
Where possible, try to aim for a diet that is wildly colorful and involves everything in moderation as this will often boost your mood, immune system, and your cognitive processing power.
10) Quit compulsive busyness…
For dedicated rest and recuperation.
“I’m going nowhere, I’ve achieved nothing” is either followed by curling up in bed and doing nothing or going absolutely crazy, like a squirrel that’s had 7 cups of coffee, and never letting yourself rest. Not even for a moment.
What better way to combat the feeling of wasting your life than to never have a second to breathe and relax, ever again?
Unfortunately, this is pretty counterproductive as feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and burned out quickly follows.
As counterintuitive as it might seem, scheduling rest time and taking it helps to boost your mood and refresh your mind when it comes to working towards goals and achievements.
For if you don’t schedule rest days, your body will take them for you and you’ll find that there are many days where you’re far too exhausted to contemplate even thinking about how to improve your life.
Resting and self-care doesn’t mean doom-scrolling or Netflix binges, either.
Meditation, exercise, skincare, seeing friends.
You can combine the above points and incorporate seeing your loved ones with trying a new experience and take a friend paragliding (if they’re up for it).
Hopefully this list provides some pointers on which habits you need to start ditching if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut and watching life pass you by.
There will be others that are more personal to you that after sitting down and really reflecting, you’ll also be able to identify and avoid.
Just remember to take every day as it comes and avoid trying to cull every habit tomorrow, as Rome wasn’t built in a day, and massive overhauls often lead to extreme fatigue and exhaustion.
Instead, start small.
Take every day as it comes, and work by eliminating one habit at a time so that each gets the attention it deserves, and you can still focus on other commitments whilst successfully spring-cleaning your life.