Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit

Simple way to break a bad habitDo you have any bad habits?  Maybe you don’t have any major vices but do you have habits that are sabotaging your life?  Have you ever thought to yourself, “I may not have time to focus on anything that matters to me now but LATER I will have more time to ______ (fill in the blank).”

In my mind, I have this fantasy world of the future (cue the violin music) where I have all this extra time on my hands.  My house is spotless and my children are more independent.  I will be more intentional with my family to ensure that I have quality time with each of them, write the other book that I’m dreaming of writing, get a dog because I’ve been holding off on it for years, take an art class, spend more time on my blog, take a dance class, etc.

What does this have to do with habits? You may have some and they’re holding you back from doing what matters most in your life. You have a lot going on at work or with your kids, dirty dishes and laundry are never ending (didn’t you just do the laundry yesterday?), you get a flat tire or you forgot to pay an important bill on time.  Life happens and there will be bumps along the way, but this is it, my friend.  Today is your gift and you have the freedom to do with it as you choose.

It’s time to take a deeper look at your life and see if there are areas that have become routines in your life but really are bad habits. This has become abundantly clear to me over the last year as I have had people in my life that are fighting cancer.  One friend that I had lost touch with when she moved away several years ago, included me on her daughter’s Caring Bridge page.  There I found out that her daughter, who has special needs like my son, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma and would be undergoing surgery as well as chemotherapy.

My friend is a strong woman of faith and has always been a true Mother Warrior.  I see her occasional post on Instagram of her beautiful daughter and a glimpse into what she is going through.  I think about them and pray for them every day, this in turn reminds me to be truly grateful for today and to make time to focus on what matters to me now.  A year ago, my friend had no idea that her daughter would be diagnosed with cancer.

She didn’t know that in the months ahead, she would be so grateful for her daughter to be able to eat something and to be free of pain and nausea so that she could sleep.  These simple things that we take for granted each day, these are things that she is praying for.  Instead of taking these things for granted and dreading my daily chores, I am grateful to be home spending my day on the daily stuff of life with my family.  I want to add more meaningful time each day with my family and for myself.

What’s on your bucket list?

What do you want to do “one day”?  Is there something that you have been dreaming of doing if only you had the time?  Someone that you would like to spend more time with?  Something that you would like to learn – dance, art, cooking?  Or maybe you would like to spend more time in nature and go on more hikes, walks on the beach or cycling?

My bucket list is long and I’m glad I have a long list as there was a time that I had no idea what I wanted.  When I was in the midst of my son’s autism diagnosis, I completely lost myself.  I completely lost sight of who I am, my needs, my dreams.  This went on for years as I was trying to figure out my son’s needs, therapies, schools and behaviors.

Over time I learned that I may never have things completely figured out so I needed to start living for me.  My bucket was dry since I had given all that I had and rarely took time to do anything for myself and even think of what I needed.  I was becoming resentful and not showing up to be the mom that I always dreamed that I would be.

Make yourself a priority in your life

Instead I was short tempered, too busy and tired all the time.  When I don’t take time to fill myself up, I start feeling overwhelmed by all of the demands on me and I feel this underlying resentment which takes over my thoughts.  In the past, I thought I had to live this way because there was so much that I needed to do.  Finally, I started making small changes in my life and I started to feel better and could be a better mom and wife because I was putting a little time into myself.

I saw a picture of my kids from the year before and was surprised at how much they’ve grown in that time.  It hit me – this. is. IT.  This is my time with my family, it’s not a dry run, I won’t get a chance to re-do things later with them.  I need to focus on what matters to me NOW so that in a week, month or a year from now, I’m not wondering where all this precious time went.

This does not mean giving every minute of your day to everyone and everything else and having nothing left for you.  It does mean that you need to make yourself a priority in your life.  If you do something for you, you will be so much happier and have so much more to give to your family, work and life.

My challenge to you

This is it, this is not a practice round for your life.  Take a look at your life and align your actions with your intentions so that you can make the most of each day.  Start by:

  1. Sit down with your calendar and look at where you are spending your time each day.  Are there pockets of time, even 15 minutes where you could be using that time in a better way?  For instance, if you take your child to an activity which lasts 45 minutes and you’re waiting for them.  Instead of scrolling FB or other social media, would your time be better spent connecting with someone – calling that friend that you think about but haven’t spoken to in a while.  If you can do this while going for a walk, you would double the use of your time.  Or maybe listening to a worthwhile podcast or reading a book that would enrich your life?

  2. Make your bucket list of what you like to do.  I suggest making one that is for things that you would like to do in a year and another for things that you would like to do in the next 5 years.  And keep that list in a handy place – whether it’s in your phone or in your planner.  Somewhere that you will see it and it is a reminder of what would be meaningful in your life.

  3. Replace TV time/social media time with reading a book, taking a course, trying a new recipe, exercise, calling a friend or whatever would fill you up. Calculate how much time you are spending on these time zappers and think about how much richer your life would be if you spent those hours doing something that would really fill your bucket.  At the end of your day, will you feel that your life was enriched by the way that you spent your time?

  4. Break bad habits.  Before I had kids, I fell into a phase of watching too much TV (we didn’t have all the social media options that we have now).  I turned on the TV when I got home from work, not intending to spend much time watching anything, and before I knew it I had spent 2 hours in front of the TV.  This went on for months and I realized that I wasn’t watching anything that inspired me or enriched my life.  I also wasn’t making a healthy dinner since I lost track of the time watching TV and ate something unhealthy because I “didn’t have time to make anything” since I was watching TV.  In order to break the habit, I didn’t turn the TV on and instead when I came home I started making dinner.

  5. Create a trigger for your positive new habit.  For instance, if you have the TV habit like I did, instead of turning on the TV when you get home, the trigger will be to do something else such as put on an apron to get started with dinner or put on some sneakers and go for a walk.  Add in an incentive that will help keep you motivated, for instance put on your favorite music or podcast.  I know I keep mentioning podcasts, but I really love them – they have helped me to walk more because I listen to podcasts while I walk.

Using the steps above, I am working on my bucket list one day at a time.  We are making plans to get a dog this summer which is a BIG step for me.

What’s holding you back?  Some bad habit become so ingrained in our lives that we don’t see it as being a bad habit.  Look for these time zappers in your life and replace it with a positive habit which will enrich your life.  I encourage you to make your bucket list and grab the free downloads from my resource library so that you can get back your time and stay focused on your goals each day.  Get access to my FREE resource library here.

Do you have a bucket list?  I would love to hear your comments! You can chat with me below, I read every comment.

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2 thoughts on “Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit

  1. Liz

    Beautiful post, Kat! Our life really is a reflection of our habits and the bad ones seem to sneak up on you, before you know it they’ve got you hooked. You form your good habits so elegantly, you are my role model! And it’s so true that if we don’t make ourselves a priority, we can’t show up as the moms we want to be. That’s a lesson we learn the hard way.

    Thanks for this wonderful post!

    Reply
  2. Kat | Striving Mamas Post author

    Thank you so much for your kind words Liz! It is crazy how quickly we can form bad habits without even realizing it. I have found that good habits and rituals really help lessen bad habits from forming. As someone who has had many bad habits that I’ve had to break over the years (watching too much tv, staying up late and not getting enough sleep, poor eating habits, etc), good habits and rituals have helped me to create a more meaningful life for me and my family. Thanks Liz!

    Reply

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