Take a minute to assess your habits. What are your worst habits? What are your best? Are you addicted to anything? Is there anything you can’t go a day without? Do your habits serve you well or are they damaging to your health or others? Do they align with your morals and values? Are you open about them or do you hide them? Are you proud or ashamed of them? Will they serve you well in the long run or will they cost you?
Now write a list and draw two columns at the top of the page, one heading up Good Habits, and one heading up Bad Habits.
Be honest with yourself. If you fudge it, you’re only lying to yourself. It might be unpleasant (or really pleasant if you’re killing it!), but you have to be truthful and admit them to yourself first before you create change.
At the start of 2013 I took inventory on my habits. I took a good, hard look at my life and weighed up what I wanted in my life and what I didn’t. I was blunt with myself and ruthless in cutting out what I did and didn’t want to invest my time, energy, effort, money and love into.
For starters, I hated the fact that I needed a cup of coffee every morning to face the day. If I didn’t have that sip of hot, liquid goodness there was no point in someone engaging with me or me engaging with anyone. I wasn’t fussy – instant, white, black, sugar, no sugar, soy, full cream or skim – just give me the good stuff and be gone. Not only did it help me wake up and kick start the day, but I also relied on it to keep me regular. I had watched my mother do it since I was a little girl and I had subconsciously picked up the habit in my teens and copied her actions since.
I thought to myself, it can’t be good to have coffee be the first thing to hit my stomach every the morning and it wasn’t making me feel good anymore, so I cut it out – cold turkey! Yes, along flowed the headaches and mood swings and feeling like I was missing a limb (OK, it wasn’t that bad) but I certainly felt really out of routine and like I missed my trusty, old friend. Eventually my body accepted it and became accustomed to not having it, and instead having a smoothie, fresh juice or a green tea and some fruit porridge instead – a much better way to start the day!
Obviously coffee is not a life threatening drug and wasn’t going to kill me if I had too much, but it’s more about reading and feeling into your body and what feels best for you. It can feel good temporarily, but the more you have it (whether it’s coffee or cocaine!) the more you need it in terms of regularity and volume, costing you your health, mind-state and money!
I also smoked cigarettes on and off socially for almost seven years. What started as a rebellious act in high school turned into a nasty habit I struggled to kick for years, especially while drinking. When I was 18 before starting work my breakfast consisted of a Red Bull and a cigarette (disgusting right!?) and maybe a piece of toast if I had time. Despite knowing what was good for me, I continued on and suffered from bronchitis, tonsillitis, glandular fever, low energy and breathing difficulties. I was also a binge drinker – who isn’t in their late teens and early 20s in Australia? On a night out, I could quite easily polish off a 6 pack of beers or bourbon, share a bottle of bubbles or wine with a friend and consume umpteen shots or Jager bombs in the club – couple this with smoking and mixing drinks and boy I would feel like death warmed up the next day, but of course I would just wash it down with a coffee or a Red Bull and back it up. Cocktail for disaster!
After graduating from University, I relocated to London where I worked and backpacked around Europe for 18 months. If you thought there was a strong drinking culture in Australia – try the UK! Whilst living in London I worked at a famous restaurant in Chelsea and quite often the wait staff would all stay behind after work and drink an obscene amount of unlimited wine or beer for FREE. Many a night we would find ourselves drinking and dancing on the tables til the early hours of the morning when the sun was coming up! At the time I didn’t think much of it because everyone else was doing it, but my body (and mind) were starting to break down and not agreeing with my party antics. I was putting on weight, I often suffered from anxiety, I felt unattractive, had low confidence and I was seeking out attention and affection from dating numerous men in an attempt to fill the void inside me. It’s when a friend introduced me to cocaine – the party drug of choice in London – when I knew I had to leave and get back on the straight and narrow. I knew if I stayed I would have gone down that destructive path…and I was smarter than that. I had even met a lovely English man who I fell completely in love with, but my intuition guided me home. When I took a look at my life ahead I didn’t envision any of that bad stuff playing a part so I left and I have never looked back.
When I left London, I moved to Sydney and secured myself a graduate program in a global company where I ended up becoming a top performer in the company and made chunky bonuses, which I never thought possible! Being the industry it was, top performers were often rewarded with days or nights out with the directors drinking copious amounts of alcohol and dining at fancy restaurants. I would also take clients out for coffee and boozy lunches, which I often carried on drinking even once I arrived home. Despite my successes and the rewarding nature of the business, I didn’t feel like I was rewarding my body, or worst of all my heart. So I quit!
Fast forward over two years since leaving London and two years of running in the Sydney rat-race and I am now the healthiest and happiest I have ever felt – on the inside and the outside! My family and friends say I am glowing, looking the healthiest I have in years and am radiating positivity!
So how did I do it?
I changed my environment. I didn’t wean myself off gradually; I cut the supply off completely – in London and Sydney. Although both experiences were not the greatest for my health, I would never change or regret either because it has made me who I am today and has been pinnacle in my personal growth (and besides, it was a blast a lot of the time!). I am an all-or-nothing kind of person and making a slow transition doesn’t work for me so I changed my career path, where I lived, my bad habits and the people I hung around with – all in one fell swoop! Going to India to do my Yoga Teacher Training (see Yoga India) really changed my life. Before I left I made a vow that I didn’t want to drink any alcohol, smoke cigarettes, drink coffee or eat any meat. What’s surprising is while I was there I didn’t even think about any of these things; it’s like I made a choice and my body and mind accepted it and embraced it, so much so that I have now completely cut out coffee, meat and social smoking from my lifestyle altogether and plan to do so going forward because I feel SO DAMN GOOD…and you can too!
So now get a new page of paper and write at the top New Habits and write down as many good, positive, healthy, happy habits that you want to implement into your life! For example, I have added things like: Be vegetarian, practice yoga every morning and fast once a week (see my besty’s awesome juice fast tips).
Changing my bad habits was always something I wanted to do but it all meant nothing without taking ACTION. It’s great to have the intention, but it’s useless without actually doing something about it or even just taking the first step and admitting it to yourself. Over the past 6 months I have taken massive action in my life and this is what is required if you want to make desired changes and break any bad habits that aren’t serving you. In Steve Pavlina’s words:
“If you wish you improve upon your results, you must do whatever it takes to change your habits now, even if you expect the process to be brutally difficult. Facing a short-term challenge today is worth so much more than years of regret down the track!”
Reclaim your power and break those nasty habits, big or small, by taking action and believing in yourself!