“Failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.” — Jim Rohn
You will regret — down the road — any bad habit you didn’t stop immediately you became aware of it. They compound and the ride down seems always to be easier than climbing up.
Having said that, there are several bad habits that are no brainer.
1. Stop watching TV
Seriously, if it’s not your job, every single second of your time in front of TV is wasted.
I don’t mean only soap operas and reality shows. Everything in TV is dumbed down to moronic levels.
The shortcut to stop watching TV? Throw the TV set out of the window. Yes, I’m radical, and yes, TV is as harmful.
The significant small step: stop watching TV news, especially in the morning. It has been proven that even a few minutes of bad news (and there is no good news on TV) at the beginning of your day can spoil your mood for several hours.
2. Stop tormenting your body
a) Substance Abuse
Are you doing drugs, smoking weed or cigarettes, drinking alcohol, eating medicines like candies, consuming fast food? You will regret that sooner rather than later.
Of course, use is OK, abuse is not. The problem is that nowadays there are so many different opinions about what is ‘safe’, and how much is ‘OK’, that you’ll spend a lot of mental effort trying to determine what is not harmful for you. My view: to stay on the safe side, avoid ‘substances’ altogether. Just say no, etc.
Some addictions are easier to quit cold turkey than others. Nevertheless, I think aiming to quit is the best first approach. If you fail, don’t give up and don’t stop looking for ways out.
The significant small step: start tracking your intake. Have you heard yourself say: “Oh, it’s not a big deal, just one more shot…” Well, write down each pill you take, count each gulp of alcohol, etc. Doing this will raise your awareness about your dependencies and bring the issue squarely into your conscious mind.
b) Junk Food
Another, very common, and often largely unnoticed self-abuse is the consumption of junk.
Take drinking soda, for example. Your can or bottle contains a lot of sugar and chemicals plus an amount of water. What insanity forces us to consume this crap?
There are many kinds of fast foods, sweets and ready-to-heat-and eat meals from supermarkets. All of them can be made healthy, but usually aren’t. In my supermarket, there is a ready-made pizza. It is just flat cake, cheese and some spices. If you decide to overlook the horrific calorie intake, it’s as close to home-made food as you can get in that shop. But that pizza is just one item among hundreds of products. The rest of them are full of preservatives and flavor enhancers.
The significant small step: read ALL food labels. Just read them. After a while, if you have any instinct of self-preservation, you will start avoiding most of the poisonous ones. And of course, don’t eat meals with unknown ingredients.
Stop under-sleeping. That’s the most common sleeping sin. In the business of modern life we “save” time by reducing sleep. It’s not a saving.
Interesting research has been done. During the research, participants slept only 6 hours a day. After 2 weeks, their performance degraded to that of a person who hadn’t slept for 48 hours. However, those taking part didn’t show awareness of their lowered performance. They thought they were living and working normally. In fact they behaved like zombies.
The world is full of such zombies. Don’t be one of them. Sleep needs are individual, but I wouldn’t aim for anything below 6.5 hours.
Another research project done with people from primitive cultures, who lived without electricity according to the rhythms of nature, concluded that they slept on average 6 hours 25 minutes in summer and just under 7 hours in winter. So, if you — like those people — move a lot, are stress-free, go to sleep within 3 hours from nightfall and wake up before dawn, you can aim for 6.5–7 hours of sleep.
Otherwise, you’d better sleep more.
The significant small step: stay away from all kind of screens an hour before going to bed. This will both help to calm your mind, separating it from sensual impulse bombardment and allow your body to adjust its sleep hormones to the natural day-night rhythm.
3. Stop Tormenting Your Mind
A few things to avoid in that regard:
a) Stop Hanging with Negative People
Your lifestyle — including your income, your type of home and the nature of your relationships — matches that of the people you spend the most time with. Jim Rohn said your life mirrored the 5 people you were closest to, but this was just an arbitrary number.
The thing is this: we absorb the behaviors, vocabulary and attitudes of others, it’s how we humans are built. You cannot change this, without investing loads of mental energy to counteract their influences. It’s easier to simply remove those influences from your life. In other words: stop associating with people you don’t want to imitate.
The significant small step: Make a commitment to spend more time with positive people; join a local group; join an online forum; set up a weekly accountability meeting with a friend. Do whatever it takes to spend more hours with someone positive. When you proactively do this, you will automatically spend less time on negative people.
b) Stop Procrastinating
Easier said than done, isn’t it? Well, the Slight Edge chart above which illustrates the effect of action and neglect can be a good incentive to move your butt. Every time you don’t do something wise, necessary, useful or correct, you stagnate. And nothing stays the same. If you’re stagnating, your life is slipping downward on the failure curve.
Procrastination destroys your mind and soul. Newton’s first law says that an object continues in a state of rest or uniform motion unless acted on by an unbalanced force. If you sit on your butt, it’s hard to start anything. If you start anything it’s easier to continue. Stagnation introduces into mind its ever-present companions: blame and entitlement.
The significant small step: Start a tiny habit. Every time you complete your new habit you advance a bit. And you’re wasting a little less time on procrastination.
c) Stop the Blame Game
First, take full responsibility for your life. Everything in your life right now — including where you live and what you do for a living — is a consequence of your past choices. Where you end up in the future will be the result of your present actions.
After taking responsibility, stop blaming yourself. Yes, your life is not perfect and you are less than perfect, but blaming yourself will not change reality. If you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge it and learn from it. Complaining about yourself is as futile as complaining about anything else.
And of course, stop blaming everyone else and everything around you. Politicians are corrupt, people are indifferent, criminals are merciless and life is unfair. Your parents, siblings, friends and workmates are who they are. Pointing the finger and bitching will not change any of that. If you want to change others and the world around you, start by changing yourself.
The significant small step: Every morning, write down three things you are grateful for receiving. This action will move your attention away from the negatives to positives. Expressing gratitude is the best tool for changing you into an optimist.