@marishkakuroedova via Twenty20
Admitting that we have not pursued happiness or the best versions of ourselves hurts. To escape this reality, we convince ourselves that everything is OK. We accept a fabled sense of happiness, which often ignores or diminishes wellness. And we fall victim to old habits as coping mechanisms. Old habits prevent us from committing to change and stifle growth.
When we realize the life we have isn’t the one we had envisioned, what do we do? Or better yet, what should we do?
First, we must start by evaluating old thought patterns and habits, and then continue the journey by asking hard questions. Questions address core issues and guide us. That help tackle old habits while opening space for new ones to blossom.
1. Can I take small steps today that lead to a better tomorrow?
To avoid jumping in over your head, start small. Small manageable, meaningful actions affect change. Build habits that come from small changes over a long period of time. The key to success here is consistency. Show up for yourself today and these new habits will lead to larger changes later on. Daily changes reinforce positive attitudes and energies. Don’t go this step alone. Ask your loved ones to join you and make accountability partners. Let your momentum provoke others into creating better habits.
2. What value do I want to bring to my life?
Which areas of your life do you wish to highlight? Does your mission deal with self or with others? Can you describe the value in five words? Not sure where to start, then consider what you were drawn to as a child and see if that doesn’t feel like value you’d like to pursue or share with the world. Touch base with what matters to you most to foster a fresh relationship with your best self. If you notice that some habits no longer support your life’s purpose, you’ve got to let them go. The value you desire cannot have conflict with your actions, otherwise you’ll get nowhere fast.
3. Where do I struggle with time, energy and excuses?
It’s easier to give excuses than to take the appropriate steps toward better habits. However, knowing more about these excuses will help pinpoint triggers. There’s a science to breaking bad habits. If you struggle with time, where could you remove a habit that no longer serves you to make room for a habit that supports growth? If you struggle with energy, consider where you spend your energy on insignificant details that prevent you from gathering energy toward positive goals. Make time and energy work for and not against you. Old habits become crutches, and along the way, we’ve convinced ourselves that the bone will never mend, the wound will never heal. The truth is, most excuses are directly linked to fear.
4. What am I afraid of?
We often get attached to bad habits because we’re not ready for change, a new life or a new self. Victimhood, although painful, is a safe place because it’s comfortable and familiar. In order to break ties with old habits and make room for positive ones, a few things must happen. You must be willing to be vulnerable and honest, which involves telling truths that are uncomfortable. You must be willing to be compassionate with yourself and avoid judgement so that better habits can grow. Each time a fear surfaces, sit with it and ask how you can turn the negative into a positive.
5. Who can be a source of inspiration, an expander, a supporter?
Surround yourself with positive people doing positive things and you’ll organically follow suit. Having a community is a key ingredient to successful change. Don’t be afraid to go forward, push into those growth edges by asking people for help. The people around us are reflections of who you wish to become and sometimes who we don’t want to become. By immersing yourself in a healthy community, without realizing, you’ll find yourself mimicking it in powerful ways. The power of human connection should not be underestimated here. And that goes for using other people’s ideas as springboards toward better habits.
6. Do I love myself?
For those of us who are already on a quest for self-love, this question is tough to ask and answer. But loving yourself matters a lot. Loving self means seeking habits that build a better version of us. Self-love is both the pursuit of happiness and the willingness to be selfish. Loving yourself also means giving back to others to diminish ego. Better habits can start by helping others lead better lives, too.
7. What would my younger self say about me today?
Your younger self should be proud of who you are today. What habits do you engage in that don’t bring a sense of joy to your younger version of self? The goal is to be a light unto your own path. Inspire yourself, be a hero, be the person your younger self would admire. When you tap into those feelings, many old habits become easier to eliminate while others simply fade away.
Jacklyn Janeksela, MFA, is a freelance writer and a poet. Her online self, aka that writing life, can be found here. She works for Culture Designers, Thrillist, Honey Colony, among others; her poetry is tangled on the inter-webs. Her herbal alchemy meets astrology creative business can be found here. She explores self through poetry, planets and photography @ female filet.