Simple daily disciplines – little productive actions, repeated consistently over time – add up to the difference between failure and success.
– Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
Habits creep up on us without much thought at all because they become our routine.
That’s why it’s important to pause and think about whether your habits are helpful or not.
Below is a list of 11 habits that actually hurt you, and you would be better off if you stopped doing.
- Related: How to Plan Your Best Year Ever
So, here they are – 11 habits you need to stop…
1. Stop watching too much TV
If you spend too much time watching TV, you should stop.
Watching TV is so passive. It barely adds anything to your life. Of course there are exceptions. If you work all day, then did activities with your family, then read a book, and just watched thirty minutes to wind down, this would be reasonable.
But typically that’s not what people do. Instead, hours are spent wasted on the passive activity of watching TV.
I don’t have cable, and while I do watch some shows on Netflix, it’s few and far between. I only watch TV after I really am relaxed and need a break. I’m also careful not to turn on the TV right when I get home. I find that if I do this, I’m sucked in.
This is why I keep my reading list and focus on reading good books instead. Or activities, too (like exercising with yoga or running).
So my advice to you is pay attention to how much TV you’re watching. If you think it’s too much (read: more than 1 hour / day), cut back. Limit your TV intake to 30 minutes to 1 hour per day and fill your time with other, more meaningful activities.
Here’s a post on the harmful effects of TV if you’re looking for more of an explanation as to why this is a bad habit!
2. Stop talking about people behind their backs
Talking about someone behind her back is a bad habit that you need to stop.
First, if someone is talking to you behind someone else’s back, you can bet on it that they also will talk about you.
Second, did you know that when you talk about someone negatively, the person who you’re talking to will associate you with those qualities, not the person you’re talking about? For example, if you say that you tell your friend Amanda that your friend Beth is super annoying, then Amanda will actually subconsciously associate you with being annoying. Weird, but it happens (I read a book about it).
And finally, it’s just not nice to talk about people behind their backs. So, instead, even when you think about someone negatively, bite your tongue and choose not to say it. Over time, you’ll get in the habit of saying nicer things, which will attract positive people in your life.
3. Don’t be a scarcity thinker
If you are in the habit of being a “scarcity thinker”, you need to put a stop to it.
Scarcity thinking means that you think life is limited and only has so much to offer. People who have a scarcity mindset think there is always a winner and a loser (not two winners), they are exclusive (not inclusive), they are stingy with their knowledge, they resent competition, they are fearful, entitled and think small. Here’s a great post by Michael Hyatt on scarcity thinking.
On the other hand, someone who is an abundance thinker believes there is always more to come, they invite and welcome competition, they default to trust, they think big, are thankful, and confident.
Be an abundance thinker. You will be happier, healthier, and more successful.
4. Stop living paycheck to paycheck
If you are in the habit of living paycheck to paycheck — stop.
If it means moving to a smaller house, selling one of your cars, or stopping going out to eat altogether – do it. Having financial margin will make you so much happier and less stressed. It’s worth downsizing for it.
One way to start is simply by using an electronic app to keep you in check with where you stand financially. I use Personal Capital, but there are a ton out there.
The peace that comes with having financial margin is far more valuable than any of these things.
I know this personally. I live in a small, run-down apartment, and I don’t have a credit card. And I’ve paid off $100k in student loan debt (and counting)! I do this because I want financial freedom. I’m still able to have an amazingly full life. Having the financial margin is so helpful.
Here are the resources I use that can help you live a better financial life:
- Budgeting For Budget Haters (budgeting course)
- The Real Life Money Plan (money planning course)
- The Ultimate Guide To Budgeting (my best budgeting resources)
I try to remember, “it’s better to want than to owe”. This phrase is priceless!
5. Don’t blame someone else for your circumstances
If you are in the habit of blaming other people for your circumstances, it’s time to stop.
Whether it’s a ruined relationship, a tough childhood, or something else completely out of your control, it is really easy to blame someone else for your current situation. But you shouldn’t.
Blaming someone else leaves you in a “victim” mentality. It’s dis-empowering and keeps you in those circumstances you don’t like.
Even if your circumstances are the result of someone else doing something to you, it’s only hurting you by blaming them. You will be stuck (probably in a scarcity mindset) not living your life to the fullest.
Whatever it takes, find a way to let go and stop blaming. Then, you can take control of your life and make the changes you want for yourself.
6. Don’t be your own worst enemy
Don’t get in your own way. If you think negative, hurtful thoughts about yourself, you’re going to get in the way of living a better life.
Get in the habit of being your own best friend and thinking powerful thoughts that support whatever it is you want in life.
Instead of saying “I can’t afford that” or thinking “I’ll always be broke,” say “how can I afford that?” and think “what can I do to make more money or learn how to budget?”
That’s what I did. I quit my job and took a 50% pay cut when I went from a lawyer to a financial planner. But I didn’t let that stop me from reaching my financial goals. I believe that I can make extra money and build wealth. And sure enough from that belief, I’ve built a successful blog that brings in thousands every month. This allows me to make up for the income I lost.
I never felt trapped or like a victim. I always felt like I had the power to change my financial life. If you don’t know where to start, read books. That’s the best way I know how to change your thinking away from being your own worst enemy (here’s my recommended book list).
7. Stop trying to help people who don’t ask for your help
Help people who need and want your help.
Do not help people who don’t want your help or who are always asking for your help. If you are a “fixer” (i.e.: you love helping everyone all the time, even for people who don’t want it), you’ll only hurt yourself and the other person. If you are in a position to help someone and they didn’t ask for it and they don’t want it, take a step back and let that person make their own choices and live with the consequences of their own decisions. This is what it means to be an adult. Help those who actually want to be helped and appreciate it — not those who will abuse your help.
This is really hard if you have a family member who constantly wants your help in a negative way. It can lead to enabling. Remember to set clear boundaries.
If this is tough for you, I highly recommend reading Boundaries by Henry Cloud.
8. Stop comparing yourself to other people
Stop comparing yourself to other people.
This is particularly hard with social media because social media usually shows the highlights of people’s lives (not the whole picture).
I struggle with this a lot. Whether it’s people moving on up in life (buying homes, getting married, and having kids, or just paying off their debt), I compare myself to them when I shouldn’t.
I make $3k/month blogging, and I really need to make more to pay off my student loans asap. I find myself constantly comparing myself to other bloggers who make so much more money. I know it’s harmful, so sometimes I step away from social media and focus on my progress. (Side note: if you’re interested in blogging, visit my Blogging Page.)
Whenever you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop. That’s what I do.
Remember that your only competition is yourself. Someone is completely different than you and you shouldn’t compare your story with theirs.
9. Don’t wait to celebrate small wins
If you are on a long journey, like quitting smoking or paying off massive debt (something that takes a long time and is hard), don’t make the mistake of waiting to celebrate until you’ve accomplished your goal.
This is really hard for me. I started with $206k of student loan debt from law school, and I’m down to $106k. That’s a huge chunk gone — I’ve paid off $100k and counting! But I still find it hard to celebrate because I want it all gone. This habit is something I’m working on!
By celebrating your smaller successes, you will attract more success and accomplish your goal even faster with more momentum. Plus, you’ll be more relaxed and happier (and who doesn’t want that)!
10. Don’t say “yes” when you want to say “no”
If you want to say no to something, then say no.
If this is hard for you, read this post on how to say no.
You need to learn how to say what you want to say. This isn’t a small thing. It’s really important in life for you to be able to make wise decisions that move you toward what you want in life.
If you say yes to the things you want to say no to, you won’t be able to say yes to the things you want to say yes to because there is only so much time in the day.
Part of being a mature, deep person means knowing who you are and committing, with certainty and conviction to your personal choices.
11. Don’t think you don’t have what it takes
If you doubt yourself — stop right now. I’m sooo serious about this one!
My dad told me from a very young age that I could do anything I wanted to. He told me it didn’t matter that I wasn’t that smart and wasn’t in honors classes because I could just keep going and eventually out pace everyone if I stuck with it.
He was right.
You don’t have to be the brightest or the most skilled to succeed.
You can succeed and you can win with whatever you’re fighting for. The best asset that you have is you. And you have to know that and believe in yourself to make it happen.
A Final Note!
This post is all about what not to do. It seems negative, but really it’s positive. By stopping harmful habits, you will start doing positive habits.
And if you’re looking for how to start positive habits, here’s a post where I walk you through how to start positive, supportive habits.
Implementing positive habits and reducing negative habits can change your life. Cheers to that!