We all have habits.
Whether we are completely conscious to what they are or not, we all have lots of habits.
Some habits are good, some are bad, some help others, and some are self-indulgent. There are all types, not all are bad.
Habits form a large part of who we are, and how we operate. Meaning it can be hard to break habits, and make changes.
Habits form over time, and it’s a process in which a behavior becomes an automatic process. If there is something you instinctively do, like look for a cigarette the moment you wake up – you have a habit.
As the old saying goes:
Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form.
This is because behavioral patterns that we repeat over and over become hard-coded into our neural pathways.
This doesn’t mean we can’t change the way we think and the habits we have however. We can all learn and incorporate new habits into our routines, it just takes a little work.
A habit is summarized in the dictionary as the following:
An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.
So therefore a bad habit means you are doing something almost involuntarily, and it can be hard to break.
We can all benefit from some self-assessment to reflect on what habits we have, good and bad.
Try making a list, write down all the habits you think you have. Then ask someone close to you what they think your habits are.
We all have different habits, and can benefit from looking at any habits that have a negative impact on our lives, or are holding us back from releasing our full potential.
For example, here are 5 habits that may be habits holding you back in life. With explanations on how to reflect on them and handle the situation differently.
Becoming Too Engrossed with Work
Our work and personal life is hard to balance. We need to work hard to provide, progress, and feel satisfied with our careers. Yet at the same time we need to make sure we are giving our families enough time, or working towards building a family.
Most of us have been guilty of getting our heads down and working hard for the first few years of our careers. Chasing those promotions or trying to make a name for ourselves, but at what cost?
Those formative years are also fundamental in us growing as adults. Forming friendships, starting families, and establishing our characters. Work-life becomes a definite habit, most of us will work for over 40 years, and establish a routine.
You should set yourself goals to achieve by a certain age. Not too aggressive, something that is achievable without working double hours.
How to change this habit – Evaluate what you have achieved and where you want to go with your career. Then reflect on what you have achieved in your personal life. Ask yourself if you have the balance you thought you would have at this point in your life.
If not, start making small changes in your work/personal life balance. Add some social activities into your week, and set a time to finish working in the evening – and stick to it regardless of how busy you are.
Always Putting Others First
There is a difference between helping others where you can, and putting others before yourself. A lot of people feel the need to others first, often at the expense of themselves. While this gives them a good feeling of self-worth, it’s not a good long-term habit.
We all deserve to put ourselves first sometimes. Like with most habits, there is a balance to find. You don’t want to be seen as a selfish person always putting yourself first, but at the same time if you always put others first – they will take advantage of your kind nature.
Some people end up realizing this too late in life. They start to become resentful of giving up so much time to help others, and feel like they don’t get the same back. The truth is that no one owes anyone anything. You’re helping out of habit, on your own influence.
How to change this habit – Being a good role model and carrying yourself well gives a good impression of yourself. You don’t need to always step up and put others before yourself. It’s not selfish taking care of your own needs first, practice saying “no”.
Feeling the Need to Respond to Notifications Right Away
Let’s face it, we all have our phones on us at all times, and there are various types of notifications that go off throughout the day. Text messages, emails, app notifications, phones calls, I see some people unable to put their phone down for a minute.
If you have a habit of having to reply right away to any notifications you receive, you are tied to your phone. This may feel empowering, and some people see it as a security blanket. But it’s a massive drain on your productivity, and can be a cause of stress and anxiety.
How to change this habit – Not every message is urgent, right? It can’t be. So start responding to messages in order of importance. Also set yourself a cut off time in the morning and evening where you will not be answering your phone.
Once people contacting you realize you’re only available at certain times, they will only contact you at those times. You’ll realize the world doesn’t stop just because you stop responding to people right away.
Offering Your Services for Free to Friends and Family
This one overlaps with the first habit of working too much. If you keep offering to work for friends and family for free, you’re going to spend more time working and less time socializing. Not to mentioned that you’re working for free.
It’s hard to charge friends and family, I get that. But if you go around offering your skilled services, you can end up with a long list of jobs. It’s fair to expect something back in return. After all you’re saving them time and money, so receiving something back in return in a win-win.
How to change this habit – Firstly learn to say “no”. I know this is difficult when you have a habit of helping your friends and family, but it’s time to start. Carry on by explaining your reasons why. If you’re too busy, then say so.
Having a vice That’s a Health Concern
A lot of bad habits are also bad for our health. These are the worst by far, and can be very hard to change. Think about it, if you’re doing something that you know is damaging your health but can’t stop, it’s a seriously bad habit that has become part of your psyche.
The obvious ones are smoking, drinking and drugs. A lot of us, if not all of us, will know someone addicted to at least one of these. You will have seen it first-hand, people with an addiction and a habit become stubbornly ingrained in their ways.
How to change this habit – This is a tough one, and often just taking the decision yourself to break the habit it not enough on its own. You may need to seek professional help, but don’t be afraid to do so.
When your health is being compromised you need to think of the bigger picture. It’s not just about you, it affects everyone around you. Take responsibility and start making the changes you need to make, today.
Have any of these habits made you stop and think?
Can you resonate with any of these habits?
If you’re guilty of being too kind to the detriment of yourself, you need to reassess your priorities.
You are the only one living as you. So you need to take care of yourself in the long-run. Habits holding you back in life can be changed, but you need to take action sooner rather than later.
Self-awareness is a key skill here, the ability to stop and evaluate yourself. Meditation and yoga can help you overcome mental and physical blocks.
If you’ve found a way to break or change a habit that was holding you back, stopping you from hitting your top potential, or damaging your health – I’d love to hear about it.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.