Ever look at your life and think, I’m not doing half the things I want to do?
We all have the same 24 hours and pretty much all of us have hopes and dreams, yet some of us dick around so much and waste our time, that we often feel lost and hopeless even when all our basic needs are covered.
If this is your life, it may be time to check in and see where the time and energy-sucking is coming from.
The CDC and other health organizations have done tests that prove that worrying and other emotional stress can drain our energy and waste as much time as actually doing something. That’s right…sitting around doing nothing except worrying or going through the motions, can leave you feeling as tired as another more productive version of yourself might feel–without all the hopelessness thrown in.
So…look at how you spend ALL your time to figure out where the waste is.
As coaches, mentors, entrepreneurs and mindfulness practitioners, these are the habits we see trip up people (and us) the most:
- Comparing yourself to others. In case you haven’t gotten the memo, it’s hip to be YOU. As long as you’re authentic and comfortable with yourself, people are going to be drawn to that. There is something to be said for fitting in (for dressing somewhat like your peers and not blurting out whatever dumb/surly/off-putting thing that crosses your mind, for example); this is just common sense. Beyond obvious courtesies and a few personal adjustments here and there though, you don’t need to be like everyone else… and shouldn’t try to. Being shy, short, uncoordinated, have average looks or intelligence. Whatever you think your shortcoming is, comparing yourself to others is a huge energy drainer.
- Watching too much TV. You say you want to be promoted at work, find love, start a business someday or pursue other goals, yet you’re spending little time taking steps toward them. Maybe you’re waiting for a bolt of motivation that never comes. Try this: If you’re not sure where to start on any of your goals, pick up an active hobby or other ways to relax besides TV. Think golf, art & design, photography, the guitar…something you like. You’ll get more energy from active hobbies (especially creative ones) and they are more likely to spark inspiration about your goals than watching TV will. And when you get any type of inspiration, move on it fast. Don’t wait. Waiting is what kills motivation and dreams.
- Overindulging in your “drug of choice.” Whether it’s binge-drinking, pot smoking, retail therapy or whatever you use to dull the pain, ignore your boredom or manage stress, abusing your “drug of choice” is a palliative remedy turned addiction. It stopped helping a long time ago, now you’re just overindulging out of habit. Try this: Many people avoid looking at their problems because they judge themselves for it. Forget the judgement and imagine what your life will look like in the future if you continue doing what seems like a harmless addiction. It’s simpler and in the long-run, less taxing to change what isn’t working. If you’re a member, use the guide to breaking habits and make better ones to start enjoying your life again.
- Poor sleep hygiene. By the latest estimates, nearly 1/3 of American adults are sleep deprived and getting 6 hours or less sleep per night. You’ll hear some success-focused people say, “I’ll rest when I’m dead,” and figure you can go by THEIR philosophy. For starters, we all need DIFFERENT things to function at our best. You’re not them. Plus, everyone says things that they don’t entirely believe or live by. If you’re not getting enough rest, start going to bed at a reasonable time and at the same time every night. During sleep is when the body repairs itself and sharpens cognitive function. Throw off your internal sleep cues and you undermine a basic physiological need that leaves you with low energy–unable to focus, stay motivated, and take part in the healthy activities that will give you even MORE energy.
- Lying to yourself. I’m an agnostic and while I don’t know who/what God is, something tells me that he/she/it is part of our subconscious. No matter how many lies you tell yourself, your subconscious knows the truth. So if at work you eat well but have a stash of junk food hidden in your bedroom that you eat at 11:00 p.m., stop telling people you hardly eat or make other excuses for your weight. This is not to say you should beat yourself up about it either. Instead, be honest with yourself. Not ideal, but, even if you fib to others, don’t lie to yourself. Successful people have personal integrity, which is a level of honesty borne from care and deep compassion for themselves. Lying to yourself only creates “stories” that encourage victim-hood, which sucks and leads to feelings of incompetence, dissatisfaction, anger, apathy, frustration…You get the idea.
- Worrying and worrying and never taking action. Worrying is using your imagination to create things you don’t want. It sucks and takes up more time than we realize. It does nothing but steal our joy and keep us very busy doing absolutely nothing. Try this: Get into the habit of doing the 2-3 most important things you need to, first thing every day for 3 weeks. One of your most important tasks could be as simple as making a 10-minute call. By doing it first, you set yourself in the direction you want to be moving in, forward. After three or more weeks of this habit, you will feel more productive and energized.
- Being a people pleaser or door mat. You may be doing this out of habit because you were conditioned to believe that being a good person means sacrificing yourself, or you may have other limiting beliefs. It doesn’t matter WHY, what matters is HOW you feel and there’s a point when all that giving begins to hurt so f**king bad. As a former “giver” and sacrificial lamb myself I can tell you, you’re not doing much to improve the lives of the needy and opportunistic people around you. Your dreams will require energy and the habits of self-care and self-love are great sources of that energy. So, if you’re a recovering people pleaser, try those habits instead. They make us feel charged and gives us wings to FLY. You may also want to write this phrase out and place somewhere as a daily reminder: FIRST, LOVE YOURSELF.
- Taking everything personally. There is a huge amount of freedom that happens when you take nothing personally. And rarely do people do things because of you anyway. They do things because of them. So even when it seems personal, it probably isn’t. Remember this. And when you find yourself feeling angry, heartbroken, or victimized by the actions of another, see if you can you find within you any seed of softness, some place deep within that understands how much pain that person must be in, how burdened their soul must be, how devastatingly hardened they must be in their heart to behave in a way that is surely out of alignment with their own integrity.
- Letting your inner critic take over. – One of my favorite fables is the Story of the Two Wolves. It’s been told a few ways but the one I remember best is the grandfather telling his grandson that within each of us are two wolves fighting. When the grandson asked which one won, the old man replied, “The one you feed.” The more we feed the negative wolf that tells us we’re not enough, will never follow-through, be loved, etc, the more we begin to believe it. The reality is that the other scenario is just as true: Whatever you believe and repeat to yourself (feed), that’s what you get. If you listen to your inner critic more than your more reasonable voice, you’ll ignore when great things happen to you and miss everyday joys. And boy, does that suck.
- Being clueless about money (or pretending to be). – You visit the ATM several times a week, but rarely pay attention to what you’re spending money on or how much things cost. Financial freedom is a legit goal, but just because you don’t look at your bank statements or acknowledge that you’re spending $1,200 a month on take-out doesn’t mean you have financial freedom. This type of denial weighs heavily on us emotionally because somewhere in the back of minds it causes anxiety. Financial ignorance can lead to real consequences like late fees and poor credit, and often to other energy drainers like binge-drinking and too much TV…you know, to avoid looking at the real problem. Do this instead: Get on Mint and let it start tracking your spending for you. A NYC client of mine once cut her $1,200 a month take-out tab to $800 then eventually $500 and found she led a better richer lifestyle. If you’re a Vurb member you also have an excellent 90-minute video course in workshops to help you create a financial plan for your life.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness by Jen Sincero
The floor is yours…
If you can relate to any of these toxic habits, remember, you are not alone. We all get caught up in our own heads sometimes, doing things that hold us back from our true potential. The key is awareness – recognizing these habits and changing them.
So, what’s one toxic habit or thinking pattern that is draining your energy? How do you cope? Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.