Updated: Dec 18, 2020
A habit is something you do on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis that you repeat again and again in a similar or identical fashion. These habits can be physical behaviors or mental ones.
It feels great when you're able to form a healthy habit, doesn't it? That is because establishing productive habits can be amazing and wonderful tools that help keep you and your life on track. On the other hand, people can get fixated on doing things a particular way to the point where it becomes compulsive and over time those habits actually become obstacles, time wasters and/or burdens.
In today's blog post, I'm going to share some of my thoughts around how you can release some mental clutter by letting go of some of your habits which may be unhealthy (or have become unhealthy).
A good habit can turn bad over time and become counterproductive and harmful to us
Habits have become habits because they are engrained over periods of time and operate subconsciously in the background that powers our lives. Good habits can help us reach our goals more effectively and efficiently. Bad ones can makes things harder or prevent success entirely. Like many things in life, there can be too much of a good thing. A good habit can turn bad over time and become counterproductive and harmful to us.
Let me share a recent example. I was with a client who had a habit of reading the newspaper each day, clipping articles that she wanted to take action on later or share with friends. It was something she enjoyed doing for many years, but after her son was born, it became a burden. You see, she tried keeping up this once life-enriching habit while needing to add the many new priorities that motherhood brings with it. The result? Newspapers stacked up for weeks which led to her feeling both overwhelm and resentment.
Just like our closets and drawers, declutter our own habits periodically can have a transformative effect. How do you declutter your habits? Here are a few Neat Little Nest tips:
Raise awareness of your habits. Bringing attention to your overall habits is the first step. Take time to reflect on habits that may have soured over time as well as existing bad habits that you know you have (believe me, we all have them). Recognizing bad or burdensome habits can be done by getting out a sheet of paper and writing down the habitual things that you do then take a day to observe yourself and investigate what you do automatically and see how well those habits are serving you. If you do better with a worksheet, you can download the Neat Little Nest decluttering habits worksheet below.
The second step is assessment. Take time to review your list of habits and determine if they are helpful and serving you in a positive way or limiting you. The habits that feel arduous or forced might be the very ones you want to consider removing from your life.
Decide + take action. Just like with physical items you hold onto tightly, you can also embrace bad habits too tightly. It comes down to the decision of whether you want or desire change. For some, gaining awareness of habits that might not be optimizing your time and efforts is enough to start moving away from it immediately. For others, changing the habit takes more concerted commitment. Here are a couple of good resources on the web that provide guidance on the topic - 6 keys to breaking bad habits or the simple way to break bad habits Ted Talk
Breaking poor habits is obviously something which you can benefit from. Replacing them with new and positive ones is the ultimate goal. Big or subtle, changes to your habits and life routines can declutter your mental space and we all function better with a little more wiggle room up there.
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