Posted by: RealisticRecovery | May 16, 2009

9 Bad Habits to Beat Now

9 Bad Habits to Beat Now
By Michele Bender, Special to

“Start small with the creation of new, positive habits. These shift your energy and build confidence in yourself,” explains Regina Leeds, author of One Year to an Organized Life (Da Capo Lifelong Books).

Bad habit #1: Being Tethered to Your BlackBerry and Cell Phone

Why you should kick it: You’re certainly not alone in your addiction to technology. It’s hard to walk down the street, travel or dine and see people texting, talking or scrolling away. But the truth is no one needs to be plugged in 24/7. It just takes you away from living your real, non-digital life.

How to kick it:
Figure out why you’re hooked. “Are you using your tools to help you with work? Or are you using them to avoid life?” Leeds asks. “There’s a real difference, and you need to be brutally honest to find out.”

Force yourself to spend at least 10 minutes listening to nothing but your own thoughts. “Learn the joy of quiet time. You’ll be astonished what you will discover,” Leeds says.

Disconnect when you connect. There’s nothing more annoying than being with someone who’s answering emails or clutching his or her cell phone while pretending to be listening to you.

“Unless you’re on trial for a capital offense and you’re waiting to hear the jury verdict, give your full attention to your loved ones during meals and when you’re out to have quality time together,” Leeds says. “If you don’t enjoy being with your partner or children, call your therapist. You do need to speak to him or her!”

Bad habit #2: Being Disorganized

Why you should kick it: “Being organized is the foundation for everything you want to achieve or accomplish,” Leeds says. It allows “you to have more time, less aggravation, better health and can be a springboard for creativity.”

How to kick it:
Take baby steps. Start with these small changes: Make your bed every day, never leave dirty dishes in the sink or allow clean ones to languish on the drain board and put your keys and glasses in the same spot every time. “As you make slow, incremental positive changes, your self-esteem rises as does your faith in yourself that you can get organized,” Leeds says.

Tame the paper tiger. Open your mail each day and immediately toss extraneous materials like flyers or freebie magazines that come with your bills. Also, be realistic about which catalogs you’ll really read, saving one from each company, not 10. File mail into folders or baskets according to bills to pay, invitations to respond to, etc.

Bad habit #3: Always Being Late

Why you should kick it: It leaves you frazzled, creates a bad impression and is rude. “Though it’s usually unconscious, it’s as if you’re saying, ‘My agenda is more important than yours’,” Leeds says.

How to kick it:
Set a goal. Write it down and do so in the present tense rather than the future. “Saying, ‘I show up on time for all appointments’ is powerful,” Leeds says. “But saying, ‘As soon as I get organized, I’ll show up on time’ puts your good result in the future and just out of reach.”

Get a calendar. “Whether it’s an electronic calendar, the one on your computer or a paper version, you need to record your appointments and deadlines,” says Leeds, who adds that it helps to work with a week or month at a glance. “This way you can literally see what demands you are making on yourself. Are you trying to do too much? Perhaps that’s why you are always late!”

Bad habit #4: Forgetting Your Friends

Why you should kick it: The good feelings you’ll elicit when you remember a friend’s big day are priceless. After all, it makes people feel cared about when you note the good times as well as the bad. Maintaining close relationships is important for a fuller life and, according to research, better health.

How to kick it:
Go high tech. “If you have a computer, it’s pretty easy to stay on top of dates these days,” Leeds says. Most calendar programs let you set reminders of important dates, or you can register with an online service that emails you when these big moments pop up.

Or use a paper calendar to record only birthdays and anniversaries, and put a note in your daily planner to look it at the beginning of each month. “You’ll know which cards or gifts you need to buy,” Leeds says.

Make time to reach out. “Set time aside each month to make long-distance calls,” Leeds says. “Or use your down-time waiting in doctor’s offices or airports (as long as you use your ‘inside voice’ so no one has to listen to your conversation).” If you don’t have time to call, check in regularly with a quick “thinking of you email.”

Bad habit #5: Not Saving Money

Why you should kick it: Whether we’re in a recession or depression, “saving is critical in any economic environment,” says Michael B. Rubin, CPA and CFP and author of Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck: A Conversation About Income, Wealth, and the Steps in Between (Wachtale & Martin). “But a down economy where you may lose your job or something unfortunate happens makes you see that having an emergency fund is even more important than ever.”

How to kick it:
Put aside something. “Most people think it’s going to be easier to save later, but later is a nebulous term and you’re always going to have more obligations even if your income increases,” Rubin says.

Keep track of your spending for seven days by getting receipts for everything, and then see what you value and where you can cut back. Next, stash the money away in a bank account or spot where you won’t touch it. “After a while, you’ll see it add up and change your attitude toward money,” Rubin says.

Call your credit card company. The best thing to do is to pay your credit cards in full each month. If that’s more a fantasy than reality, call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate, which is possible if you’ve at least been making your minimum payments each month.

“A lower interest rate frees you up to save money,” Rubin says.

Bad habit #6: Shopping Too Much

Why you should kick it: “Scientists have recently demonstrated part of the reason why consumerism is so attractive – it’s an addiction,” explains LifeScript Depression Expert Richard O’Connor, Ph.D., author of Undoing Depression and Happy at Last.

Shopping releases dopamine, a brain chemical associated with anticipation and pleasant excitement. As soon as we make that purchase, we’re flooded with prolactin, another brain chemical telling us to slow down. “Unfortunately, we crave more dopamine and then get into a vicious cycle, which accounts for cocaine addiction, gambling and buyer’s remorse,” O’Connor says.

How to kick it:
Count your blessings. Being grateful gave shoppers more satisfaction than their potential purchases would have, researchers found. “When people think about what’s important to them, they seem to do better with a self-control task,” says study author Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., professor of consumer psychology at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Before whipping out your credit card, think about three things that really matter to you. “Happiness has much more to do with feeling connected and genuine and accomplishing things,” O’Connor adds.

Don’t shop while dieting. If you’re trying to slim down, quit smoking or do anything else that requires willpower, steer clear of stores. “Using self-control is similar to exercising a muscle. Once it’s fatigued, it needs to recuperate before it can work at its best,” Vohs says. If we resist the candy dish at the office early in the day, we’re less likely to later resist those stiletto pumps.

Bad habit #7: Bringing Work Home

Why you should kick it: Working at home keeps you tied to the office. You never get to decompress and rejuvenate, and it takes time away from your friends and family. “But in today’s economy, with companies downsizing and employees asked to do more than their share of work, it’s the odd man who doesn’t bring home work,” Leeds says. “The idea is to handle this with care.”

How to kick it:
Perfect your time management. Ask yourself: Do I waste time sending personal or unimportant emails? Do I spend too much time on phone calls? Do I waste time searching for papers? If you answer yes then planning your day better could reduce your at-home workload.

Balance work with play. If you have to take the office home with you, spend some quiet time with your family or yourself before you get to work. “The human body isn’t a machine,” Leeds says. “We need some relaxation in order to function at a high level.”

Bad habit #8: Procrastinating

Why you should kick it: All of us have a project we dread, that one that makes our stomach lurch when we think of it. “Everyone procrastinates from time to time,” Leeds says. But for a habitual procrastinator, “the heart of this behavior is fear – fear of success, fear of failure, fear of making a mistake.” Usually, once you start a dreaded project, it’s not as bad as you imagined.

How to kick it:
Break it down. Fight intimidation by breaking the project into manageable morsels. Got a party to plan? Make a list of tiny tasks, like coming up with a theme, buying invitations and so forth. Each time you cross a task off your list, you feel motivated to move on.

Forget perfection. “Procrastination may also be a manifestation of a desire to achieve perfection,” says Leeds, a self-described “retired perfectionist.” Instead, focus on doing the best job you can. “The difference may be subtle, but it’s also powerful and life changing,” she says.

Bad habit #9: Being a Pack Rat

Why you should kick it: “Though people say this about themselves all the time, a ‘pack rat’ is actually a medical condition,” Leeds says. If you can’t throw anything out, living with all those belongings can make you feel unorganized, not to mention make it hard to find anything. Busting through the clutter can make you feel more in control.

How to kick it:
Make your trash another person’s treasure. “Find special homes for items you know you don’t need, but wish to hold onto emotionally,” Leeds suggests. Take your old sheets and towels to the local animal shelter or vet. “This way you can see how your discards help the sick and suffering animals,” she says.

Clear clutter creatively. Find artful ways to keep the memory of a past experience alive rather than keeping bulky material things that go with it. You don’t need to save every piece of your baby’s clothing. Instead, put a photo of your child in a favorite outfit in a shadow box with other mementos of that period, such as a special toy and swatch of fabric from the outfit.




  1. My motto is don’t say you will just do what u feel.

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