For years I felt like I was underachieving in life in almost every area.
Life is far from perfect now, but I can say that there are measurable improvements and that my sense of wellbeing is usually much better.
So what changed?
The answer is that I cut many harmful and disempowering habits out of my life that were dragging me down and sapping my productivity, energy, wellbeing and mental clarity.
Let’s take a look at these underachiever habits. We all do them sometimes, but the more we stop the better life gets.
1) Living life on snooze control
What happens when your alarm goes off?
If you’re like me you hit “snooze” or even “turn off alarm.” I did that for years, and it’s no exaggeration to say it probably wasted years of my life.
Getting up late means I often did stay up late, true, but what was I actually doing when I was up late?
Lounging in bed watching movies, checking social media, eating junk food.
Getting up early is very important and syncs our bodies up with the natural circadian rhythm.
If you’ve been living life on snooze control, it’s time to wake up!
2) Sugar and junk food addiction
Sugar is a kind of drug and it’s not good for your physical or mental health.
Eating too much sugar, as well as high fat, high salt junk foods is a recipe for disaster.
You can have a treat every now and then, but if you’re regularly binging on unhealthy foods and sugary cereals every morning, it’s time to erase it from your life.
If you want a sweet treat or tasty snack now and then, go for it.
But don’t make a habit of it!
3) Leaving work until the last minute
Procrastination is something we all do at times.
But when you make a habit of it, you end up self-sabotaging in the worst way.
That’s because it doesn’t actually reduce the amount of work you have to do, nor does it usually lead to real rest and relaxation.
Instead, procrastination tends to feed more procrastination in a vicious cycle of lessened productivity and ennui.
You’ll feel much better if you work hard and take a break after.
Too much procrastination just makes the work you have to do even harder and more tiring!
4) Consuming too much TV and media
Similarly to procrastination, too much TV and media can feed into a disempowering cycle.
You not only end up wasting time, you also end up becoming more and more passive.
You get in the habit of wanting to swipe a finger or click a button and have the world delivered to your doorstep.
But the best things in life don’t work that way, and too much TV and media ends up leading to low-energy syndrome.
There’s plenty of useful and empowering content out there, but don’t overdo it!
5) Smartphone and digital device overuse
Our smartphones and digital devices are important for many of our jobs.
But many of us check them and monitor them far more closely than is necessary or useful.
This leads to a fractured attention span as well as a lot of wasted time and energy.
Try going for a walk at lunch without your phone sometimes and not having it next to you at all times.
We increasingly work on our smartphones and digital devices, not only play.
But do your best to limit your screen time and not check messages all the time!
6) Leaving out lunch and binge eating at night
Lunch is a crucial meal, and it deserves more than just a few chips crammed down while you hover over the computer.
Spending that 10 or 15 minutes to eat a hot or at least healthy meal will make all the difference in your long-term wellbeing.
Whether you work alone or at an office or work site, make sure to have a real lunch and satisfy your hunger craving.
This sets you up for success for the rest of your day and makes sure you don’t crash and binge eat when you get home.
Leaving out lunch is a key mistake that many people make in their daily lives.
7) People pleasing and saying yes too much
People pleasing is a surprisingly devastating trait that affects many people in today’s society, especially the typical “nice guy” and the “nice girl” type.
Such people feel horrible if anybody is unhappy or if they think they have let somebody down in any way.
Even criticism from a stranger can leave them low for days.
If this is something you find affecting you, it’s important to confront the roots of your desire to make everybody happy.
Remember that you matter and that making everybody else happy should never be the basis of your actions in life.
Being glad when others are happy is find, but you should never make people pleasing the center of your world.
Life’s too short to make everybody happy!
8) Acting impulsively and failing to think through actions
Impulsiveness is something I’ve had struggles with in the past, especially when in a particularly good or bad mood.
It’s a habit many of us can fall prey to:
Making decisions and doing things in the heat of the moment instead of thinking them through.
We’re never going to make perfect decisions, true. But we can at least think them through before taking the leap.
The spur of the moment is rarely a firm foundation for making life-changing decisions.
Look before you leap!
9) Multitasking and losing focus due to taking on too much
There’s only so much you can do as one person.
Taking on too much at work or in your personal life is a recipe for burnout and is a very bad habit.
This ties into people pleasing as well and is a behavior often found in those who were raised by demanding parents.
They have a lot of trouble saying no and take on way too much, ending up exhausted and burned out in the worst kind of way.
Take a break sometimes, you’re worth it.
Don’t heap too much on your plate, you’re only one person!
10) Spending time around people who drag you down or waste your time
Some people go a bit far in cutting out people who are negative or a “downer.”
I don’t recommend that by any means, especially since nobody wants a fairweather friend who’s only around in the good times.
But it is true that who we surround ourselves with makes a big difference for who we become and what we focus on.
If you find that you’re around a lot of friends and colleagues you don’t relate to or who engage in behavior and interests that clash with who you are (or who you want to be), it’s time to reduce how much time you spend with such people.
It’s great to be people from all walks of life, but be careful you don’t spend the majority of your time with energy vampires and bad influences!
11) Playing the blame game and ending up high and dry
There are people who are genuinely to blame for a lot of what’s wrong in our lives, both individually and collectively.
Wanting to change these negative impacts and make a difference is a great and empowering goal.
But focusing on the blame itself is the opposite: it saps our willpower and turns us into a professional victim.
We get so bitter about who’s to blame that we stop focusing on what to do about it.
When you play the blame game the only prize you win is depression.
There’s no point in being a winner at a losing game!
12) Spending money unwisely and ending up financially unstable
Money doesn’t grow on trees, as they say. Well, technically some of its ingredients do grow on trees and in bushes.
But the point is that when you spend money recklessly or fail to save, you can end up in very bad shape.
Of course step one is to ensure that you’re not spending above your limit and to do everything in your power to find a good source, or sources, of income.
Step two is to limit your impulse buys and to make wise purchases. Keep a tight grip on your credit card and buy in bulk.
Know your limit, spend within it!
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