A new year brings with it a new start.
A chance to approach life with a blank slate, and take action on the qualities, habits, and activities that you’ve been prolonging.
All of us have bad habits that don’t serve us. And the quality of our lives will improve if we can chip away at even one bad habit that’s been keeping us down.
But where do most of these bad habits come from? Stress and boredom, according to productivity blogger James Clear. When we’re stressed, our mind and body want to relieve this stress with feel-good activities such as watching TV or eating junk food. When we’re bored, our mind naturally wanders into unproductive thoughts such as comparing ourselves with others.
Bad Habits Need to Be Replaced
Eliminating bad habits is one thing, but that’s only the first step. The next step is where real change comes from: replacing bad habits with good habits. For example, it’s great that if you found a way to stop smoking, but if you don’t find a productive habit to replace it with such as working out or learning how to speak Spanish, your limited willpower is quickly going to be tested.
Bad habits arise because they serve a need that needs to be filled. If you’re triggered to light up a cigarette whenever you’re stressed, it’s a signal that you should find a replacement activity that relieves stress, such as boxing, working out, or running.
To save you time, we’ll be sharing positive replacements that you can adopt when you remove the following bad habits from your life.
1. Being busy for the sake of being busy
Most of us can’t stand to stay still without driving ourselves crazy. The blank space staring at us on our calendar triggers an automatic (and often uncontrollable) response to fill it up with something — anything.
This is when we find ourselves taking on unproductive meetings, wasting time on social media, or working for the sake of working. Before you commit to a task, it’s worth asking: “if I complete this, will I feel productive at the end of the day?”
Replace it with: Self-reflection time. Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linkedin, goes as far as intentionally blocking out ‘nothing’ times into his calendar to sit and think.
2. Comparing yourself with others
There are endless reasons why we should stop wasting time comparing ourselves with others. The simplest is: it’ll never end. No matter how successful, how happy, or how intelligent we become, there will always be someone that will have or be more.
It’s no better than a rabbit chasing after a carrot that can never be caught.
Replace it with: Practicing gratitude for what you currently have. Tony Robbins recommends focusing on the smallest things in your presence, such as the way the wind feels on your face, or the warmth you feel on your feet.
3. Learning everything on your own
There are an endless number of skills in the world for you to acquire. The problem is, there just isn’t enough time. None of us are promised another day on this planet. Trying to learn everything on your own when there are experts and teachers that can offer a shortcut is not the best use of your precious time.
Replace it with: Whether you’re learning a new language, trying to start a new business, or improving your overall health, seek trusted help. It can save months, if not years, of precious time that you can invest back into your loved ones or other important activities in your life.
4. Caring what others think about you
On an average day, humans have ~60,000 thoughts that emerge in the mind. Most of them are based on events that occurred from the previous day. Despite what we think others perceive about us, most people are not thinking about us. They’re thinking about their own problems, their own lives. Even if one takes the time to judge us for what we said or did, it comprises a tiny portion of their accumulated thoughts for the day.
Replace it with: Go above and beyond to be your weird, unique self. Most people are too occupied with their own thoughts to care, or they’ll quickly forget.
5. Second-guessing your decisions
Life will improve to the proportion of risk you’re willing to take and accept. Second-guessing your decision is not the way to get there. Embrace the habit of making small mistakes and trust yourself that everything will fall into place.
Replace it with: Studying the biographies of successful entrepreneurs and game-changers. This will give you an honest perspective of how the most successful people constantly second-guessed their own decisions and were nowhere near perfect.
6. Saving nickels and dimes
Trying to save a dollar here and there is not going to make an impact on your savings or life. It only takes up your energy and limits you from making sound decisions on the bigger decisions.
Replace it with: Practice applying the 80/20 rule whenever you’re faced with a decision or activities. Focus on the 20% of activities that will result in 80% of your outcome.
7. Watching TV before you go to bed
If you have trouble falling asleep at night or find yourself waking up groggy, it’s probably because of blue light. That’s the artificial light that comes from your laptop, phone, and TV, which prevents our brain from shutting down.
Replace it with: Reading a fiction book or listening to an audiobook while you’re taking a bath.
8. Making decisions based on your past
The majority of our decisions come from past experiences. If we’ve burned our hands on the stove, we’re going to decide not to go near it when it’s hot. Simple right? Not always. Sometimes bad previous experiences creates false narratives in our heads and it prevents us from making logical decisions.
Replace it with: Make decisions on what you want your future to be. This requires having a clear vision for what you want, and keeping an open mind despite negative previous experiences.
9. Hanging out with people that don’t serve you
As Jim Rohn famously quoted, “You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” This couldn’t be more true, as our surroundings shape how we think, what we believe, and how we set our standards.
Replace it with: Do an audit on your inner circle, and be wary of who you allow into your circle. It’s hard, but necessary if you want a better life.
10. Valuing money over peace
We see this on a daily basis. Person X takes a job because they’ll make 20% more than their previous job, but they end up with 50% less happiness, freedom, and peace in their lives. Was it really worth the trade?
Replace it with: You can always make more money. But choosing to disregard peace and happiness is precious time wasted in your life, which you can never get back.
11. Trying to finish books or projects that you don’t enjoy
Humans have a natural tendency to finish something that is left uncomplete. Think about a TV show that dramatically ends an episode without revealing the ending. It makes us want to continue watching. Scientists call this the Zeigarnik effect, and we fall prey to this as humans all the time.
Replace it with: If it’s not serving your time, let it go. This doesn’t mean you suddenly quit a business that’s not working. Sometimes things take time, but small activities like reading books or small projects that aren’t serving you can be let go.
12. Waiting for something (or someone) to happen
Nothing happens in your life, unless you do something about it. This also applies to people that are constantly late to meetings or calls. If someone is not respecting your time, it’s time you start respecting yours.
Replace it with: Depend on yourself to make it happen. Not your family, friends, co-workers, or mentors. When you resort to action, things will start happening, and people will naturally want to be part of your journey.
13. Starting the day without a plan
If it’s not on your calendar, it’s not going to happen. The most productive people are diligent about planning ahead for the day, and continuously prioritizing what’s most important.
Replace it with: Pick the 3 most impactful activities you can complete per day, prioritize which are the most important, and schedule them on your calendar.
14. Treating your time as a commodity
People will treat your time as you treat your own. If you’re always filling up your time with non-essential activities or taking up others people time, others will treat your time the same.
Replace it with: Imagine how the person you most admire will treat their time, and model them. If you look up to top business leaders, imagine how they’ll be spending their time now.
15. Blaming time for not learning new skills
The most successful people don’t make excuses for not developing their skills, they make time for it. It’s a priority in their lives to become a better public speaker, learn how to sale, learn a new language, etc. The problem is rarely time, but a matter of priority.
Replace it with: Make it a priority to learn something new this year, and you’ll find time for it.
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