To reestablish a sense of balance in your life, letting go of all those bad habits you’ve picked up over the past year (or possibly years) is the only way to make more room for all the good things you know you should be embracing.
Look toward Mother Nature this autumn season to find inspiration in everything that retreats inward, falls to the ground, and dies. It’s not the end—just the opposite, in fact.
To facilitate the opportunity a new beginning, you must learn to let go. Here’s how.
1. Notice Activities and Behaviors That Make You Feel Good
The real key to creating good habits lies in taking notice of how good you feel when you do something or behave in a particular way. Note that this doesn’t mean it won’t also feel challenging—it can still feel good while part of you resists it.
Don’t ignore your resistance, but be sure to place your awareness on the good. The more you do this, the more naturally inclined you’ll feel to start making your new good activity or behavior a regular part of your life.
2. Notice Activities and Behaviours That Make You Feel Bad
Similar to building good habits, the key to breaking bad habits also lies in your awareness. Whether it’s smoking, eating junk food, watching TV, procrastinating, or any other bad habit—you don’t necessarily need to force yourself to stop it as long as you commit to being fully aware of what you’re doing, while you’re doing it.
Awareness alone is enough to motivate you to make the choice to stop doing it—because awareness shows you how harmful or unproductive it really is. Likewise, notice your tendency to want to cling to your old bad habit, as if wanting to escape yourself.
3. Journal About Both the Good and the Bad
At the beginning of your day, ideally first thing in the morning, take some time to journal about the person you want to be. The activities and behaviors that make you feel good are what will get you there.
At the end of your day, reflect on your day by journaling about the activities and behaviours that made you feel good and not so good. Doing this right before bed will help reprogram your subconscious as you sleep so you can do better the next day.
4. Visualize Yourself Growing from Embracing the Good
You can do this anytime, but just like journaling, visualization can often be most powerful first thing in the morning or right before going to bed. Simply close your eyes and picture what your life will be like if you kept doing all those good activities and kept embodying all those good behaviors weeks, months, and years from now.
Visualizing the effects of all those good things can motivate you to keep pressing on, even when times get tough. When you know great things are to come of it, you won’t want to give up.
5. Visualize the Freedom You’ll Achieve from Letting Go of the Bad
You could certainly visualize what your life might look like if you kept holding onto all those bad habits, but psychology research has shown that negative motivation rarely ever produces long-term results. While it can help you avoid unwanted effects in the short-term, long-term success relies on focusing on what you do want—not what you don’t want.
So visualize how much better your life will be weeks, months, and years from now without all those bad habits. Imagine the freedom, the happiness, and the potential for growth. This is all you need.
6. Practice Self-Compassion When You Slip Up
Mindfulness is simple, but it’s hard to keep up all the time. Most people find it impossible to kick a bad habit overnight, and you shouldn’t expect perfection.
Be kind to yourself when you fall back into your old ways. Simply take notice of what you’re doing, forgive yourself, and do your best to act or behave positively in the present.