The best way to get better is by dropping your bad habits.
You are a product of your habits. That is both good and bad news. Because some of your habits are constructive and make you better on a daily basis. Others are destructive and continuously hurt you. You’ll find many of those kinds of habits in country songs. And in prison.
Identifying Your Bad Habits
Do you know your most harmful habits? The ones that most negatively impact your life? That’s not a rhetorical question. I want you to take a moment to write down 3 to 5 of your bad habits. Then rank them starting with the most problematic. These are the habits that are most detrimental to your happiness, health, reputation, productivity, or success. I’ll wait while you create your list. (If you don’t create yours now we’ll automatically add procrastination to your list.)
I have a lot of good habits. I get a lot accomplished most days. I work hard. I write almost every day. I brush. I floss. I exercise regularly. I spend quality time with my family. And I put down the toilet seat.
But I wouldn’t have asked you to do anything I haven’t done myself. Here are the top 3 bad habits that I would do better without:
- Procrastination. I procrastinate on things longer than I wish I did. I have a backlog of incomplete tasks. And I have lost out on opportunities because I have waited too long to pull the trigger. Now, if I acknowledge that I don’t like my procrastination, but put off doing anything about it, that would be ironic, don’t you think?
2. Overeating: I love to eat. And I am good at it. But I regularly eat more than I should. And I don’t like the impact it has on my physique. I developed the habit of eating a great deal when I was training heavily for competitive athletics. Back then I needed all the calories I could inhale. That was back before my metabolic slowdown, which happened somewhere in my 30s. Today my body doesn’t need the surplus calories from a Meat Lovers Pizza binger. And if I could change this occasional habit I bet I would feel more comfortable at a nude beach.
3. Screen time. I check my phone and computer far more often than I wish I did. This is complicated. Because like you, and Elon Musk, I have a complicated relationship with social platforms. As a blogger and author, I post and share a lot of ideas. Ideas that are intended to have a positive impact on those who read them. And the algorithms reward content that is interacted with. So interacting online is also important. But I would be happier to cut my online time in half. And I don’t care which half.
The Next Step
Now, I want you to pick one bad habit to attack. Because if you can eliminate one bad habit you will improve your life in a profound way. And if you can, you should.
The first step is to change your self-identity. Tell yourself, and firmly believe, that you are a person who doesn’t struggle with ( your bad habit here). In fact, you are great at doing the opposite of (your bad habit here.)
To combat my procrastination, I have already adopted my identity as an action-taker and have rewired my decision-making system over the past several weeks. I recognize when decisions and actions are in danger of being put off. And I dedicate time to doing things now. It is making a huge difference, and I feel more me than ever.
A key component of self-improvement is eliminating bad habits. Call them out. Write them down. And start picking them off one by one. Claim your new identity. Then create good habits to replace the bad. Because without your bad habits holding you back you will be much more you.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.