Article by Jacklyn Janeksela
It hurts to admit you have not pursued happiness or the best versions of yourself. To escape this reality, we often convince ourselves everything is okay, in the process ignoring or diminishing our actual well-being. We fall victim to old habits as coping mechanisms, which prevent us from committing to change and stifle growth.
When you realize the life you have isn’t the one you had envisioned, what do you do? Or better yet, what should you do?
First, you must start by evaluating your old thought patterns and habits, and then you must continue the journey by asking hard questions — questions that address core issues and 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. Manageable, meaningful actions effect change. Habits are built from small changes over a long period of time. The key to success here is consistency.
Daily changes reinforce positive attitudes and energies. Don’t go this step alone. Ask your loved ones to join you as accountability partners. Let your momentum provoke others to create better habits for themselves as well.
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 of that mission in five words?
If you are not sure where to start, consider what you were drawn to as a child. Does that feel like a 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 conflict with your actions, otherwise you’ll get nowhere fast.
3. Where Do I Struggle With Time, Energy, and Excuses?
It is easier to give excuses than to take the appropriate steps toward better habits. However, knowing more about these excuses will help you pinpoint their triggers.
There is a science to breaking bad habits. If you struggle with time, can 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 for positive goals. Make time and energy work for and not against you. Old habits become crutches, and along the way, we convince ourselves 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. Victimhood, although painful, is a safe place because it is 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 compassionate with yourself and avoid judgment 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, or a Supporter?
Surround yourself with positive people doing positive things and you’ll organically follow suit. A community is a key ingredient of 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 we wish to become — and sometimes, of who we don’t want to become. When you immerse yourself in a healthy community, you’ll find yourself mimicking healthy behaviors in powerful ways — perhaps even subconsciously. The power of human connection should not be underestimated.
6. Do I Love Myself?
Even for those of us who are already on a quest for self-love, this question is tough to ask and answer. Still, loving yourself matters a lot. Loving yourself means seeking habits that build a better version of you. Self-love is both the pursuit of happiness and the willingness to be selfish. Loving yourself also means giving back to others to diminish your 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 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 this mindset, many old habits become easier to eliminate while others simply fade away.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
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, and Honey Colony, among others; her poetry is tangled on the interwebs. Her herbal alchemy meets astrology creative business can be found here. She explores self through poetry, planets, and photography at female filet.