Habits are hard to break.
This topic comes up frequently and the reason why is because most of us struggle to break bad habits, even when we truly want to.
Our brains like to be efficient.
When we don’t tell our brains what to do (what to think about) and instead live on autopilot, our brains will default to what we’re good at.
What is your brain really good at?
What it’s used to doing.
That might be worrying, complaining, being pessimistic, overthinking problems, and any other number of bad (or good) habits.
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This recent post explores specifically how to break habits. Check that out if you’re interested in a step-by-step guide for breaking those bad habits.
For the purposes of the current article, we’re instead going to focus on particular bad habits that many of us struggle to break.
Here are 10 common ones!
Stop Living Without Intention
Most people live without intention. They don’t plan, save, or prepare for the future. Instead, they live on autopilot.
They do what they’ve always done…even if they aren’t getting the results that they want in their lives.
If there’s something you want to change about your life, make a plan. Figure out what you need to do to get there. Don’t say you “don’t know” or it’s “too hard”.
So what if it’s hard? Life isn’t supposed to be easy and you can do hard things. So what if you don’t know how to do something? You’ll learn.
Complaining is second nature for most of us. We complain constantly about everything.
I’m not saying that you should NEVER complain or that you should be happy 100% of the time.
But…what if you spent less time complaining about everything you dislike about your life and more time being thankful for what you have?
Wouldn’t you be happier if you did that?
Comparing ourselves to others is another habit that’s second nature for most of us. Social media has magnified this problem because it has made it ridiculously easy to compare our lives.
In the past, you would actually have to talk to someone to know what’s going on in her life, but now I can scroll through my Facebook news feed instead.
Here, images of extravagant vacations, beautiful homes, and adorable babies are plastered around for everyone to see.
Meanwhile, your “behind the scenes” life probably pales in comparison to the incredible things your friends are sharing on social media. You may feel that there is something lacking in your life.
This is fantastic news for advertisers and debt companies.
If they can convince you that you “need” what everyone else has, they’re going to make a boatload of money off of your insecurity.
My advice? Remember that all you see on social media is a highlight reel. You have no idea what is actually going on in your friends’ lives.
If you’re still struggling with comparisons, try taking a social media break for a while. Social media is a huge time waster anyway, and you’ll probably be much more productive without it.
Stop Keeping Up With the Joneses
This goes hand in hand with comparing ourselves to others. If we’re constantly comparing, we’ll likely try to “one up” each other.
This is pointless.
If you feel like you need to buy nice things to impress your friends, you have the wrong friends.
A true friend shouldn’t care where you live, what kind of car you drive, or how nice your clothes are.
A friend is a person who supports you and accepts you, whatever your net worth may be.
It amazes me how many people do this. They over-schedule themselves like crazy and then they complain incessantly about how busy they are.
Don’t want to be so busy? Stop over-scheduling yourself.
Say “no” sometimes. Schedule time to just relax. Give yourself a little breathing room.
You don’t “need” to show up for everything and accept every invite. Only make time for things that are truly a priority for you.
Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Did you know that the average American doesn’t have enough money saved to cover a $400 emergency?
That is one sad statistic.
Consider that the average car payment is $400/month. If you downgraded to a cheaper car, you could have a car payment of $200/month.
If you did that, it would free up $200 each month and it would only take you two months to save $400! Yet, most of us don’t do this.
It’s baffling that we’re SO comfortable with monthly debt payments yet so horrified by the idea of putting a few hundred dollars into a savings account each month.
If you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, read this post on the seven baby steps for financial freedom.
Next, set up a budget – this will allow you to tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went each month.
You can gain control over your money! It does not have to control you.
Stop Doing What You “Should” Do
How often do you do things because you truly want to? Do you instead do things because you think you “have to” or other people think you “should”?
You do not have to do anything. You are an adult and you can do whatever you want.
Yes, there will be consequences with the actions you take (or don’t take), but everything that you do is a choice. Own your choices.
Stop Trying to Control Everything
When we think of someone who is controlling, we typically think of someone who is bossy, pushy, or maybe even abusive. You probably don’t perceive yourself as controlling.
In reality, most of us want to control our circumstances because we believe that our circumstances create our feelings and we want to feel happy.
When we’re upset after someone behaves a certain way, we want to get them to change their behavior so we can feel better.
We want to control how other people behave because we blame them for our feelings instead of taking responsibility for how we feel. This is not effective.
If we tie our emotional happiness to whether or not someone behaves the way we want them to, we will be miserable much of the time.
Instead, we should try to accept that other people can behave however they want to behave.
If we can truly accept this – and accept other circumstances in our lives that we have no control over – we can feel much happier and at peace.
Stop Arguing With Reality
“When I argue with reality, I lose – but only 100% of the time.” – Byron Katie
We often believe that in order to be happy, we need to change our circumstances. This isn’t true.
Brooke Castillo, host of The Life Coach School podcast (which is amazing!), says that circumstances are neutral.
It is our thoughts about our circumstances that create our feelings which ultimately create our actions (and our results).
We can change our thoughts (and therefore our feelings), but there are many circumstances that we can’t change in our lives.
We can’t change our pasts, we can’t change what other people do, and we can’t change external circumstances that have nothing to do with us.
I can only change what I think, feel, and do.
When we feel upset about things we cannot change, we are essentially arguing with reality. This does not serve us in any way.
Byron Katie wrote a book called Loving What Is. She talks about finding peace when we learn to not only accept our circumstances but to love them.
When I find myself complaining about circumstances I can’t control, I say to myself “It is what it is”.
This reminds me to accept situations for what they are. We create a lot of misery when we’re constantly resisting reality.
Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
Many of us are way too hard on ourselves. Breaking a bad habit will take time.
Don’t beat yourself up if you slip back into bad habits. Instead, be patient, curious, and compassionate with yourself.
Try to understand why you’re doing what you do. If you don’t know why, it’ll be impossible to change it.
Once you know why you’re engaging in a bad habit, you can work on changing the thoughts that are driving your emotions (which are causing your actions).
This will take time and effort, so be patient.
You’ll get there!