In my experience, as well as what I've seen in my coaching practice, it's become clear to me that most people's lives are riddled with bad habits that keep us from being happy and successful. But what many people don't realize is that we don't have to give into the force that's pulling us down this path.
After years of being unhappy at work and even more miserable after losing my job, combining positive thinking and positive action was what finally helped me move forward. I had to take action to replace bad habits with good ones and ultimately find a greater sense of purpose. You can do this, too.
We have the wherewithal to seek awareness of destructive habits and build new patterns with intention. If you're reading this article, that's the first step. Here, I share seven of the most detrimental mistakes we can make in our pursuit of a fulfilling life — and what we should be doing instead:
1. The Mistake: Telling yourself you aren't good enough.
Many people struggle with self-worth, especially in relationships and/or their chosen career path. Often, we try to convince ourselves and other people that we must deserve what we have by amassing accolades and physical possessions.
The Fix: Doing the work to reach true self-acceptance.
I've learned this the hard way: Things don’t build true self-worth and happiness. They just distract you. Learning to truly believe in yourself, and accepting that you deserve the joy and success you have, is a process. These suggestions are a wonderful starting point.
2. The Mistake: Trying to please others.
Humans crave connection. It's just how we're wired. Sometimes, if we suffer from a lack of self-worth, we can fall into the trap of making choices that we think will please others rather than making the choices that further our own dreams and goals. If you live your life this way, you'll never truly be happy.
The Fix: Digging deep to find out your authentic desires, then boldly creating that reality.
Make time each day to look inward. Connect with what you really want, and work to accept the validity of that. Take small steps toward being comfortable with your truth and sharing it with others. The closer you get to aligning your life with your genuine desires, the more fulfilled you'll be.
3. The Mistake: You wait for permission (or the right time).
Impostor syndrome or your desire to please others might be keeping you from just doing the thing you want or need to do. You might not feel like you're "ready," or you might feel like this isn't the right time to broach an issue with someone. But letting other people's perceptions determine what you do and don't try is an incredibly limiting, frustrating lifestyle.
The Fix: When you start to question yourself, remind yourself that we are promised nothing. This shot might be all you get.
You'll never run out of excuses, but eventually you'll run out of chances. The only people who never make mistakes, after all, are the ones who don't try. And no successful person got to where they are without making a few (hundred) mistakes.
4. The Mistake: Comparing yourself to others.
People have a tendency to share only the good stuff, so we rarely see all the hard work and persistence that preceded their success. Nor do we see the ongoing struggles that they face on a day-to-day basis. Behind all the perfectly posed selfies, there are meltdowns and worries and moments of self-doubt. If you expect your life to resemble someone else's Instagram feed, you'll be fighting a losing battle to live up to a fictional narrative.
The Fix: Focusing on the big picture (yours and everyone else's).
One key strategy in learning not to compare yourself to others is spending less time on social media. And when you do see the successes of others, focus on what you can learn and apply to your life. Keep in mind that they've worked incredibly hard and faced totally unglamorous obstacles to make it here — just like you. And start journaling to track your progress. If you start to feel inferior, look back at how far you've come.
5. The Mistake: Being a perfectionist.
Yes, quality is important. But perfectionism is often a shield people put up in order to avoid criticism. We are incredibly critical of ourselves, and our own perception of "perfect" is something we will likely never be able to achieve.
The Fix: Just do it.
The best path to perfection is taking action. Put yourself and your work out there, and get feedback. Two heads are better than one, and three heads are better than two. Take advantage of all the expertise you have around you, and your finished product will be infinitely better than it would be if you had kept it to yourself until the final moment. Don't wait for the stars to align. As you take the steps to improve, the stars will align. Not because of luck. Because you created that momentum for yourself.
If this seems overwhelming, start by choosing the habit you think is affecting you the most negatively, and take the necessary actions to replace it with a good habit. After you’ve gotten yourself to a good place on that front, move on to the next one.
Stop waiting for something or someone else to make you happy. Now is the time to take responsibility for your life and happiness. If not you, who? If not now, when?
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