“Why can’t I get my life together?”: 7 habits that are definitely holding you back

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“Why can’t I get my life together?”

If you’ve ever wondered this, or are wondering right now, please know that you are far from alone. Because the truth is that we all feel like this from time to time.

The fact is that getting your life together is hard, but you can choose to do things that will make it easier.

The most significant habits we establish aren’t around what time we wake up or how often we drag our ass to the gym.

The things that lead to greater happiness and success run so much deeper than that. The problem is that some habits can be so deeply ingrained that we don’t even notice them.

But if you recognize any of the following, it’s time to ditch them pronto, because they are definitely holding you back.

1) Getting stuck in a defeatist attitude

Pessimism is a downward spiral that is very challenging to get out of.

Unfortunately, when we expect bad things to happen they tend to come and find us.

I’m not talking about any mystical law of attraction either, it’s more practical than that.

Our mindset plays a significant role in not only how we feel but also how well we do.

Research has shown that optimists tend to be more successful, have better love lives, are healthier, more resilient, and even live longer.

A negative mindset sets you up for failure because you are more likely to give in when you already expect the worst.

Confirmation bias means that you inadvertently look for things that confirm your existing negative beliefs.

“Why bother” then becomes your unspoken mantra.

It may not change overnight, but you can choose your mindset and work to change it.

I know this is true because I changed my pessimistic outlook as a teenager for the much stronger optimistic stance I now have.

Not only was it the most empowering decision I ever made, but it has hands down been the most significant for my overall well-being.

I know it doesn’t always seem like it, but even when life is tough, we can find ways to stay positive.

2) Defining yourself by your past

You’ve probably heard of how mindfulness has plenty of benefits for your mental health.

One of the many things it does is help to free you from the burden of your past.

What’s done is done. What matters most is the here and now.

That is all there ever truly is, everything else only exists as thoughts and memories.

The past can hold us back in life when we cling onto what has happened.

We let mistakes, guilt, shame, heartache, and pain keep us prisoner.

When you cannot learn to let go of the past, you may find that it ends up defining you.

It’s important to accept, let go of, and forgive your past self. 

Learn from your lessons in life, but don’t carry them around like a dead weight around your next.

Whoever you were yesterday, you do not have to be tomorrow. 

3) Not fully considering what it is that you want

Let’s not forget:

It’s pretty hard to get your life together when you’re not sure what you really want.

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of meaninglessness.

We can wander around trying to stumble upon things that will make us feel good about ourselves — even if it’s short-lived.

This can quickly lead to us chasing fool’s gold or external validation.

Finding purpose and carving out a life that feels fulfilling demands that we get in touch with our core values.

Ask yourself what’s most important to you, what brings out the best in you, where can you be of most service?

The better you get to know what a happy life looks like to you (and not how anyone else thinks it should look) the easier it becomes to work towards it.

4) Staying in your comfort zone

Maybe you already know what you want from life, but making it happen is the part that’s proving difficult.

Well sadly it’s true what they say:

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

We’ve got to:

  • Confront our discomfort
  • Push past our fear of failure
  • Build our resilience so we learn how to bounce back from setbacks
  • Lean into the messiness of life

Comfort zones make us feel safe and secure but they are the enemy of change.

You’ve got to be able to step out of yours if you want to leave behind the things that are no longer serving you.

5) Falling into procrastination and always putting things off

We’ve established that getting your life together isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

Whenever we’re confronted with what feels like a mammoth task, we hide from it.

Rather than rolling up your sleeves and making a start, it all feels too much.

That overwhelm at knowing what to do or where to start kicks in and we get lost in procrastination.

You might chastise yourself for your lack of self-control or laziness, but procrastination has zilch to do with that.

What’s actually behind this desire to put things off for another day is down to the negative mood we create around a task. It’s those feelings we are really running from.

Yet the kicker is, that the more we hide, the worse we end up feeling.

There’s no getting around it, procrastination is the enemy, so we must find ways to defeat it.

6) Making excuses instead of taking full responsibility

Tough love time:

Life doesn’t care about our pity party.

No awards or prizes are ever handed out to those who have had it the hardest.

Whether we think the hand we have been dealt is not fair, the harsh reality is that complaining makes zero difference.

When we seek to find reasons for why our life is the way it is, all too often they turn into our excuses.

“I can’t catch a break.”

“My folks have never supported me.”

“My teachers were terrible and I fell through the cracks of the failing school system.”

“My ex crushed my self-esteem and now I don’t believe in myself.”

All of the above may be true. But what is also true is that it’s up to you what you do with those realities.

Looking for other people or events to blame only turns you into a victim.

That’s not to say we cannot express how we feel or look for support — both of these things are hugely important.

But fundamentally you have to acknowledge that it’s 100% down to you to take charge of your life.

I’m sorry to say, nobody is coming to save you.

Whenever you find reasons why something in life isn’t the way you would like, or why you cannot do something you wish you could — dig deeper.

Ask yourself, is it a reason or an excuse?

The two probably overlap a lot more than you may care to admit.

7) Not recognizing your progress

I do not know your personal circumstances. But, chances are, if you are anything like the rest of us, life has thrown some curveballs your way.

That has probably knocked you on your ass and left you feeling pretty beat up by life.

When we are in the midst of change, we don’t always notice it.

Yet the very fact that you would ask yourself “Why can’t I get my life together” points to something significant:

You have a desire for more. You want to create positive change.

That in itself is always the first important step. Because we cannot grow unless we are willing to ask these sorts of questions.

We’ve talked plenty about how we must challenge ourselves, but that always needs to be balanced with self-care and compassion.

Nothing good ever comes out of beating yourself up. It will only serve to demotivate you.

Whenever we zoom too far in, we neglect to see how far we’ve come in life already.

But when we zoom out, we realize that we are not the same people we were 5, 10, 15 years ago.

We can see the challenges we’ve faced and the obstacles we have overcome. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for every single one. 

Incorporate a gratitude practice into your daily routine so that you remember to go looking for the bright side in life. Pay attention to what you already have going for you.

At the end of the day, rather than lamenting over what has gone wrong, focus on what went RIGHT.

Even if it is the smallest of things, always recognize the little wins. It is these which will give you the drive and encouragement to keep going.

If you want to move forward, start asking this vital question…

Once you have identified habits that could be holding you back, the next significant question becomes:

“How can I get my life together?”

Because taking inspired action is an all-important part of boosting your confidence as well as welcoming positive change.

Decide on one thing that you can do that will support you in getting your life together.

That could be kicking a bad habit, building your self-esteem, or working towards an ambition you have.

The journey of getting your sh*t together starts with one small step.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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