The other day, I had three hours to hit a work deadline. Early mornings are when I do my best work, so I got up, made coffee, and sat down to write. Then I got on Facebook and was sucked into a news story about a Bravo housewife, which led to to more celebrity gossip and finally, a piece about “the gross things lurking in your ice cubes.” Next I got an email with an urgent reminder to submit an invoice. Then my sister called. All of a sudden it was 10 a.m. and I hadn’t made any progress with my work.
Have you ever wondered where the hours go? We've all been there, but if I did this every day, I would be sluggish, unproductive, and unhappy. Luckily, I know what I need to stop doing in order to be more productive, energized, and overall, so much happier.
In the spirit of the new season, I reflected on some things that I’ve intentionally gotten rid of over the years that have helped me work better and live better. Here are 13 of them.
1. A Scattered Focus
We don’t have a time shortage; we have a focus shortage. Warren Buffet, the world’s richest man, said, “The biggest difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people say no.” What do you need to say no to? I've realized I need to say no to social media and nonurgent phone calls before 11 a.m. (Here's how to turn down any obligation—nicely.)
2. Friends Who Aren’t Happy for You
The best time to evaluate who your most trusted friends are? When things are going well for you. When you get engaged, get promoted, or get fit and healthy, who is cheering you on? Hold on to those people! As for anyone who express jealousy, doubts, or puts your decisions down? Say adios stat.
Forgiveness is key in experiencing freedom. When we feel hate, anger, or resentment toward another person, the intended impact (to hurt the other person) actually backfires, making us feel even more miserable. Grudges can even make us sick over time. Who can you forgive—right now?
4. Overthinking Everything
Every day people lose countless hours to rumination and overthinking. Trying to decode what your crush's text message means or wondering if a colleague’s comment was actually a personal insult is an utter waste of time (and not entirely unrelated to point No. 1).
5. Talking Sh*t to Yourself
Stop this pronto! The first stage is awareness. What do you say in the mirror every morning? When you make a mistake at work? When someone doesn’t respond to your calls? Make it something kind and nonjudgmental. What happens in the privacy of our own minds creates the reality of our lives.
6. A Fear of Change
Change is the only constant in our lives. There are no exceptions. Try to think of even one thing that never changes! Embracing (or just being OK with) change is a massive factor in living a happy life.
People who live full lives push themselves on purpose.
People who live full lives push themselves on purpose. They understand that stretching personal boundaries and making progress is rewarding and fun. When was the last time you did something completely new or set the bar higher for yourself?
I love to declutter! There is no better way to spend a rainy day (OK, besides watching Netflix) than cleaning out a part of your home you've neglected. Decluttering includes closets, paperwork, jealous friends—even apps and inboxes. Simplicity is heaven. Try it!
9. Trying to Please Everyone
Overusing the word yes is draining. It’s exhausting. And believe it or not, it’s bad for everyone involved. When you say yes to something you secretly want to reject, you're saying no to your deeper needs. And you're allowing anger and resentment to build up over time. Remember: Wanting someone else's approval is the worst reason to be a yes person. A yes should feel like freedom!
10. Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparison is selective, exaggerated, and unreal. We have no idea what is going on in other people’s lives. We may envy someone’s financial success but be unaware that their child is struggling with bullying or that their marriage is falling apart. Instead, stay busy appreciating your own good fortune and being grateful for the positives in yourself. (They're there, I promise.)
Our fear of consequences is always worse than the consequences themselves.
Happiness researcher Shawn Achor says, “Adversities, no matter what they are, simply don’t hit us as hard as we think they will. Our fear of consequences is always worse than the consequences themselves.” Worry just robs the present moment of its joy. And the present moment is all we’ve got.
12. The BS Belief That Your Dreams Aren't Possible
So often we bury our gifts, follow a “safe” path, or simply do not have the courage to pursue what we really want. This results in a lot of regret in the future and dullness in the present. I heard once that the definition of hell is when the person you are meets the person you could have been. Our inner voice knows when we’re settling and does not go away even when we do our best to tune it out.
The best way to do something it is to do it. Take risks. What are you waiting for? Instead of dwelling on what could go wrong if you get a new job/move to a new city/train for a triathlon, ask yourself: What is the best that could happen?
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!