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Have you ever found yourself saying, “I have plenty of time, I can work on this later” or, “What I do now doesn’t matter, again I’m young”?
If so, I’m here to say that it does matter.
There’s a saying that I’ve been hearing a lot lately.
“Past performance is indicative of future returns.”
Now mind you, it’s usually said when discussing a financial institution. But I believe that it can be applied to so much more.
Take habits for example. Once learned, do you know how hard it is to break a habit? Very freaking hard. It takes a lot of self-discipline and resolve to break a habit and even once it’s broken, constant maintenance is required to keep it broken. Think about all the habits that are learned while we’re young, the ones applying to; money management, time management, and work ethic.I know that this is difficult, but try to pinpoint the time that you actually learned the habit.
Think about the things that we do while driving for example. Consider how long you’ve been driving and then consider the length of time that you’ve had the habit. Now, to get a better understanding of what I’m talking about consider this. Every habit that you have now while you’re driving (or doing any other activity for that matter) will follow you for the rest of your life unless you decide to change it. Now think about how does this ties into our ideas about bad habits and our limited number of days on this earth?
I’ve talked to so many people who, despite their good nature have told me that they used to believe that they were immortal (figuratively). That they’d when they were younger thought that they too had all the time in the world. Now, upon reflection on their lives, they’ve noticed that they’re stuck in a sense of perpetual of failure. That they’d developed tons of self-defeating habits that they, several years later can’t seem to shake.
That’s what happens when we believe that we have all the time in the world. That’s not to say that older people can’t break habits, rather, the longer that we keep habits the harder it is for us to break them. Think about it, a habit formed at 18 and noticed at 20 is much easier to break than one formed at 18 and noticed at 40. It’s not the end of the world, it just means that the older we get the more effort we must place into trying to break the habit(s).
3 tricks I’ve used to break unwanted habits
Replace it with something else.
- When I was younger, I used a plethora of substances. I won’t go into the details of why I did them, but I will say that their use really hurt my work ethic and outlook on life. After a length of time doing these things, I noticed what they were doing to me. That they were contributing to my failures. Not to put the blame for my situation on the substances, but they did contribute to them. My only option was to kick the habit, but I had no reasonable idea how. So, one day, I just quit cold turkey. I told myself that I just wouldn’t do them anymore and it worked for a while. A few months later, I found that the desire for them was back and that I longed for the pleasure that they brought again. I started thinking about it more and more until it was beginning to become almost unbearable to abstain from their use. I’d put a lot of thought into it and I was wondering why this feeling came back. I noticed that it was because I was going through a rough patch and the substance abuse was the only gateway to some type of calm. (I’ll go more in-depth on this in the next section) This was where my answer stemmed from, I needed something else that would calm me. Something that would help clear my mind so that I could stay focused. Then, I stumbled upon exercise. I found that the relief that it brought to me was on par with the relief that the substances brought to me. I kept exercising on a regular basis and soon found that my desires went away. I’d found my substitute.
Figure out what stimulates the habit
- After you realize that a habit is unwanted the next (and possibly the easiest part) would be to figure out how to avoid doing it. This in turn also means that you must find your trigger. In other words, “What happens whenever you begin to feel like doing this one thing?”
For me, it was the stagnation. The feeling of constant movement but never going anywhere. This coupled with the ever-present mistakes made it very difficult for me to deal with the stress of life. Which resulted in me turning towards substance abuse as a gateway. A way for me to relax and not have to think about the world if you will.
It took a little while
It took me a while to realize this about my habit. At first, all I noticed was that I wasn’t on my stuff the way that I needed to be, which was enough for me to get up and say, “okay, it’s time to quit”. But like with anything, until I knew what was causing it there would be no way for me to avoid a similar situation. This all comes with time though. Just like it took a while for me to realize what was hurting me, it will also take a while to realize why you “needed” it in the first place.
This is what we must do, we must reflect and realize what is contributing to our current state. It’s hard, but with enough time it can be done. And, if you can’t do it yourself go to someone who’s just brutally honest and ask them. I prefer brutally honest people because of their lack of social skills and obvious lack of care for other people’s feelings.
Make yourself aware of the fact that it’s unwanted.
- This is the hardest thing in the world for us to do, especially by ourselves. A habit is something that we do on a regular basis and humans are adaptable. Like our muscles ability to grow so that they can handle the weight that they need to move, so to do we adapt and form habits. We get used to certain things. So used to them that we no longer view them as a problem. Which means that we must reflect and pinpoint the issues. Reflecting simply means that we must look long and hard and find the things that add to our problems. For me one of these issues was my substance abuse, I just had to “look into” myself and see what it was that was contributing to my life state. I’d rationalized that the substances were helping me though so I couldn’t see them as a problem. They helped keep me calm in a sense. It took very long reflection for me to realize that it was hurting me, that it was holding me back.
This is your life, and you only get so much of it. Since our time on this earth is finite, that means that we must make the most of it. This means that we must rid ourselves of our unwanted habits as soon as possible. Don’t be the person that looks back and says, “Man, I knew that I needed to do this. I just never did.”
Find what’s holding you back and cut it away like grass on a blade! (I’m talking about a lawnmower. Great analogy, right?)
p.s. I used an extreme case to get my point across, but this can be applied to any unwanted habit.
p.p.s. Not all habits are bad either, it depends on you.
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