11 Habits to Break
Habits are foundational to success, to health, to so many things that we all want. And habits are amazing because once they are a habit, you don’t have to think about them. Most of us think about building habits for exercise, nutrition, saving money and even flossing our teeth. This year, I am not just thinking about the habits I want to build. I’m thinking about the habits I want to break.
Here are 11 habits that you should break from your life.
Complaining. My daughter calls it venting (or ranting). I call it complaining. Our brains are programmed to the negative so it makes sense that we focus on what seems wrong. The problem is that it actually creates negativity for you and for the people around you.
To break this habit: Catch yourself. Notice when you complain and then do a “do over” thought where you force your brain to look at it in a new perspective.
Excuses. Missed your workout? Ate that second piece of cake? Did you make an excuse? We use excuses to rationalize our behaviors. But our excuses are often holding us back from living the life we desire.
To break this habit: Take responsibility for your actions. It’s ok to make a mistake but look at what caused it and what might be a better solutions next time.
Procrastinating. Procrastination is putting off something that you consciously decided to do. There is debate as to whether this is a habit but I still see it as something we want to nip in the bud. By definition, it is keeping you from getting what you want!
To break this habit: Break whatever you want to do into the smallest possible task, ideally one that lasts less than 2 minutes. Success begets success so you will likely keep going once you get started.
Stress Habits. It is normal to have some stress in your life. However, it has become all too common to live with high levels of stress. As we know, this has a huge impact on all areas of your life from sleep to health to relationships. You might not realize it but you probably have stress habits. Examples include: Getting stressed in traffic. Getting stressed each day when you are in a rush. Getting stressed when you think of your bank balance.
To break this habit: First notice the signs of tension. Then see how you can change the habit loop. What can you do to change the cue? Give yourself space to breathe and to choose a new response.
Judging. None of us are above judging. Seems like it’s kind of human nature. But nature or not, it still does not serve us. A feeling of superiority and dissatisfaction keep us from compassion and connection. Judging perpetuates negativity and stereotypes in our world. Plus judging tends to spill over into self judgment. This is a habit that I have yet to break myself.
To break this habit: Realize that you are not in their shoes and don’t have the full picture. Try on compassion instead of comparison. And finally, I try to put myself in their shoes.
Overspending. In no other time has there been so much opportunity to buy things. I can look at the camera of my phone to authorize a charge. I can buy from my computer, my phone, even my watch. Ads now stalk you based on your interest, your buying history or something you have clicked on. It’s hard to escape. But financial stress is real and being in debt will surely keep you from achieving the peace and life you desire.
To break this habit: Create a budget. I use mint.com to track my budget and spending. Ask yourself if it’s a need or a want before you hit “buy”. Ideally, lock the credit cards away and go all cash. Get a plan together if you have debt. I love Dave Ramsey’s book Money Makeover.
Too much going out to eat. When I was a kid, we went out to eat maybe once a week, if that. I cook quite a bit but I would still say that going out to eat is the biggest drain on my budget. This year, I’m going to make a big effort to change that habit.
To break this habit: First, meal plan. If meal planning for the week seems too much, plan what you are going to eat for the next three days. Make sure you have food stocked so that you have choices. Ideally, pack your lunch the night before. Keep it simple and buy convenience foods if necessary.
Snacking. Seems not so bad right? The problem is that most of us are snacking because we are stressed. Because we are bored. Or because we didn’t eat a good meal to begin with. Most of us are grabbing an energy bar or a latte to give us a pick me up. This wreaks havoc on our blood sugar levels and may be interfering with the digestion process.
To break this habit: Make sure you are eating real food with fats and fiber at your meals so you feel satisfied. If you are going to eat a snack, make sure you are truly hungry and eat a protein and some fiber so that you can keep your blood sugar level.
Saying Yes when you should be saying No. People pleaser? I get it. But every time you say yes you are saying no to something else in your life. If it’s not a hell yeah, it’s a no. Your to do list is already too long. This year, let’s protect your time.
To break this habit: Pause when you get a request. Consciously realize what you would have to give up in order to say yes. Have a polite go-to decline statement such as, “Thanks for asking, but…”
Looking at your phone when you are with someone. Come on, you know you’ve done it. Every time you look at your phone when you are with someone else, you are basically telling them that they aren’t important. And I know you don’t mean that. It’s just become a habit.
To break this habit: Turn off notifications. Put your phone away when you are having a conversation. If you are worried that you will miss a call from your child or spouse, set up a special ring just for them.
Comparing yourself to others. I’m not talking about judging. I’m talking about feeling bad because others seem to have it better. I’m talking about feeling inadequate or jealous when you see your friends seemingly perfect lives on social media or on their holiday cards. Let me remind you. There is no perfect. You are looking at their curated highlight reel. Theodore Roosevelt said that “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I think he was right.
To break this habit: Be aware of what triggers you. If looking at social media makes you feel bad, then get off it or stop following those who create that feeling. Ground yourself in gratitude. Remind yourself of all that you have in hour life. See if you can use that comparison as a way to set some goals if there is something you want in your life.