OId habits die hard. Bad habits die even harder.
As teenagers it seems we rarely stopped to think about little things we were doing in the present, that we might end up getting stuck with in the future. If you let yourself, the one-bad-decision-after-another cycle ceases to be a cycle, but rather the new normal. On the contrary, the little good habits that we took for granted often stick with us too, showing us who we really were all along, and hopefully saving us from making the same mistake twice.
I’m 23, so a lot of “re-evaluating” is going on right now in my life. I’ve realized exactly what I want to spend time on, and what is just a waste of energy for me. And through this, have had friends reach out about similar problems and seen some common themes of what makes people unhappy.
- Keeping up with the latest TV shows. Man, TV is the devil. One of my best habits I learned from swimming. If you’ve ever been friends with a competitive athlete then you probably remember how they could never hang out or catch up because of constant practices and meets. I swam through prime time TV every single night and learned to live with it. Now that I do have time to watch TV, I attempt to just DVR anything I want to watch and save it for another time, like a weekend ice session for my knees. If you get anxiety listening to coworkers/friends chat about the 17 episodes they binge watched last night, spend some time meditating and BEING OKAY WITH not knowing what happened. Or you know, find new friends.
- Texting a bunch of guys at once (or girls, whichever). I haven’t dated in years, so I may not be one to talk here, but from what I remember of my single days, there were some stressful times where I let my phone blow up, getting out of hand and distracting me from school, my job…basically anything important was overshadowed by flirting, and of course never on MY schedule. Now I still have a few single girlfriends who talk about all the crazy BS that happens with texting and Tinder, and I’m confused why anyone would even waste their time “chatting”. Loneliness is real – dating and finding that special person is important. But obsessing over how you’re going to meet or talk to someone is taking away from valuable mindfulness that you could be practicing, and when you’re on top of your own game is the best time to “bump into” someone amazing who appreciates you for you, and not just a winky face. If you are flirting/texting 5 guys right now, do you really have feelings for any of them? Because if you did have feelings for one of them why would you even be texting the rest….? Food for thought from someone who is very happily in love with someone I never had to do the whole text-and-chase with.
- Chasing check marks. It’s sad to see so many young people around my age, and even those a little older, chasing after basic life milestones that are somewhat out of their control, without actually adding value to their lives. I see this whether it’s getting a first job or “dream job,” getting promoted quickly after that, getting a Master’s degree, getting married/kids, or my personal favorite downward spiral to watch – “starting your own business” when you have no clue about business, let alone how to manage your seed funding (read: parents’ money). If you want to set goals, make them realistic, concrete (SPECIFIC!) and attainable. Getting married by age 25 is not a goal; especially if you are single right now. Completely unattainable because you haven’t met that person yet, so why worry about it? Fretting about promotions is almost a sure sign that your goals are unclear, especially if you’re still entry- or junior-level. Try using your energy more productively by figuring out exactly how you want to help your cause or company, or how you want to grow in life. Not the age or time by which you want to check those boxes off your list.
- Food & Fitness apathy. I’ve gotta hand it to all of you that don’t eat right or go to the gym. How you endure day after day at only half of your full potential is beyond me – really, quite a feat. Neglecting one part of your life while focusing on others will eventually catch up to you, and having a good health routine in place will generally help you have better sleep as well as more energy and self-confidence to do anything. This is especially important when you crunch long hours at a desk job – it’s inherently bad for your health. Not everyone is a natural athlete but we can all do a little more to be in good health.
- Hanging around a bad crowd. By “bad crowd” I don’t necessarily mean the people your mom warned you about. But if you think hard, you should know deep down who is throwing a wrench in your lifestyle Many people are simply toxic, and nobody realizes it, not even themselves or their friends. That’s why it’s important to pinpoint whose behavior is affecting you. Friends who flake often, are jealous or gossipy, second-guess your goals, are needy of attention but don’t support your needs, or only seem to want to hang out when it revolves around getting intoxicated or in trouble, are all good first candidates for the chopping block. If you really do want to keep people around, talk to them honestly about how their behavior affects you and see if the relationship can be salvaged.
Deepak Chopra’s daughter, Mallika, recently posted this piece on LinkedIn that really spoke to me. It’s about having an intent for your life, and not only that, but constantly remembering to ask yourself, “Who am I? What do I want? Who can I serve?” in order to properly re-evaluate what’s making you feel happy and fulfilled, and what’s not. This can always change from time to time so meditation and grounding is important.
I also like this piece from MindBodyGreen, which suggests “being an awesome badass god or goddess” in order to overcome whatever bumps in the road or negative feedback you receive on your journey.
I am no stranger to the plateau – in fact I lived there so long I thought it was to become my permanent home. But nothing is permanent except for change. Conscious living and mindfulness are just some some simple ways to get on the path of rebuilding yourself.