“Half of the time you are awake is spent with automatic behaviors.”
Most of us don’t realize our habits. Let it be biting our nails, stretching our bodies after waking up, pulling our phones out when boredom strikes.
And that’s because we’ve already spent 66 days (that’s the average time it takes) to learn and incorporate a habit into our lifestyle.
But habits can be a double-edged sword.
It can either help you…
- become healthier (e.g. eating oatmeal for breakfast)
- be more productive (e.g. flipping your phone, screen side down, on your desk when you work)
- save money (e.g. bringing lunch to work vs eating out)
- build closer relationships (e.g. offering to pay for the bill)
Or it can harm you, by preventing you from becoming the person you wished you could be.
Here’s my story about the latter.
I asked my friend how I could make my hair fuller, bigger, you know, just have more *POOF*. Because it was (and has always been) super flat.
She suggested I-forgot-what-product-she-mentioned, but immediately I shot her suggestion down.
“Oh, I already tried something similar, and it just didn’t work for my hair. Maybe I’m just cursed by my genes to have flat hair.”
There I was, killing a golden opportunity to make myself become better. And it’s one of the biggest things I regret doing.
Because one month ago, another friend nudged me to research more on what I wanted to improve on. And that’s when I finally found the ONE thing that brought my hair back to life.
Don’t let bad habits ruin your future self. And don’t be too stuck on the limited knowledge you have. Because when you shut your mind to new ideas and don’t take the initiative to change, you become stuck living the same old routine, looking like the same old you with the same old goals.
How happy could you really be living that lifestyle?
Definitely not me.
So in that case, what bad habits are stopping us from living the life we want?
Well, I’ll tell you the most damaging ones.
1. Spending too much on things you don’t need
More often than not, we throw our dollars for coffee. For upsized meals. For things labeled with the word, “sale”.
I mean, c’mon, who can resist getting something more for so little? It doesn’t really dent our wallets or make us feel insecure about our future.
But that’s the dangerous part.
We pay less attention when we buy things that don’t cost much or offer us a great deal. Before we know it, our small spendings stack up, and what originally seemed like a few measly bucks escalated to a figure we can’t sustain anymore.
The world is becoming more expensive, but so is our personal taste.
What to do?
- Do I really need this?
- How much impact would it have on my life?
- Is the impact worth its cost?
- Would it be better if I save up for something I do need?
Sometimes simple questions, like these, can break your impulse to spend.
2. Overusing the word “sorry”
We’re taught “sorry” from a very young age, and for a good reason too. It’s to tell people how bad we actually feel for causing them trouble, or for hurting them. And while some of us understand when we should apologize, there’s a few of us who utter “sorry” for almost everything!
Them: It’s okay, mistakes happen. Just give it another shot.
You: “Sorry, I’ll do my best.”
*Someone bumps into you*
You: “Oops, I’m sorry!”
Him/Her: Why are we always arguing about this issue?
You: “I’m sorry, it’s my fault for….”
When you keep saying “sorry” over and over again (especially for things that weren’t your fault), you eventually became everyone’s punchbag.
You might not realize how much this one little word can affect your everyday life. But the longer you keep apologizing for everything, the lower your self-confidence will sink.
So save your sorries when you truly mean it. You’ll sound more genuine that way.
3. Making promises you don’t keep
Many of us have proudly stuck our chests out when we told others what we plan to do: losing weight, spending less time playing games, talking with our family or friends instead of our phones.
But somewhere down the line, we give up. We cheat. We break our word. And that’s because we often make promises too big (and too vague) for us to fulfill.
I remember telling myself, “Okay, time to cut back on milk teas (my addiction) for a month. Gotta watch my sugar intake.”
My plan completely backfired. And I ended up drinking more milk teas that first week than the usual.
The trick (I later learned) was to break down my goals into smaller, doable milestones. This way, I felt a sense of achievement for making some progress, which motivated me to stay on track.
Now, I let myself drink 2 milk teas a week, any sugar level I prefer, instead of restricting my intakes for a month. It’s enough to keep me satisfied and my milk tea urges down.
If you’re serious about achieving your goals, break them down. And make sure these smaller milestones are specific and easy to do.
Do it right, and you’ll be among the 8% of successful people.
4. Surrounding yourself with people who hold you back
It’s nice to have a bunch of friends who got your back, that you genuinely enjoy talking to. But there are times when friends ask too much for your attention or step into your personal space. To the point where you lose focus on what you’re trying to achieve.
Don’t let your dreams be delayed by those who don’t see it like you do.
If they knew what mattered to you most, they’d be respectful of your time. Or at least know when and what to ask.
But if they don’t, it’s better you stay away from them. Because one of the worst feelings in the world is putting your trust in people who let you down, and then accomplishing nothing.
5. Saying “no” to things you haven’t even tried
It takes a split second to say “yes”, but why do we say “no” to potentially good opportunities?
I mean we might’ve found the love of our life through a dating app. Or we might’ve discovered something we’re actually good at. Or perhaps we realized how our previous job didn’t match with our current lifestyle.
I say, if there’s something you never tried, why not do it? What’s the worst that can happen? Wasted time? Lost money?
Whatever it is, it can’t beat the experience you get from trying something new. And this experience is what will propel you towards a more rewarding life.
Not to mention, you have more interesting stories to share.
6. Doing your most important work, last
Our most important work is often the toughest. Because it either requires more brain cells or more time.
For me, that’s writing. And I always make it a habit to write the moment I wake up, because that’s when my mind is feeling the most refreshed.
Sure, you can check email if that’s your usual morning routine. But save the rest of the little tasks until the end of the day.
Because if you think about it,
“Every decision you make tires the brain.”
So work smart. Allocate the majority of your time to the most important tasks on your list. You’ll feel so much better knowing how light your workload became.
It might be tough to break these habits at first, as we’re rewiring our brains to create new ones. But once it’s done, you’ll feel more capable of being greater than who you currently are.