Old habits die hard. The longer you do something the more ingrained it becomes, which becomes challenging to change. We make weekly, monthly and the ever-popular new year resolutions to nip these bad habits in the bud, going back and forth in our minds on how our life might be great if we fix them. Bad habits range anywhere from punctuality, poor sleep schedule, disorganization, smoking, etc.
I have had the misfortune of trying to visualize how great life would be if I didn’t have a particularly bad habit. You start picturing yourself living the vida loca where you are always on time, refreshed, orderly and smoke-free, never having to make excuses or look stupid in front of people. Even if I were to completely drop a bad habit cold turkey, I’d say it would probably improve my life by maybe 10%. I would avoid making certain things worse for myself. Possibly recognize a flaw that was giving me anxiety that motivated me to address that habit to begin with. But that’s about it. The rest of my life is the same.
We work on new solutions, self-awareness, growth and new choices of behaviour but those other parts of us will always be part of us. Sometimes, we are far from them, other times they rear their ugly head. This is about acceptance. Sometimes, I’m flying and all the ways I’ve grown are at the fore, then there are periods where my old limitations are apparent. This is the process. A life-long journey.
Stop focusing on the end-goal.
Twenty to thirty flew by for me. I remember it and stuff; most of my twenties were me trying to establish myself as an established recording artist and digital marketer. It just went by so fast and it still trips me out. I felt like I was all out sprinting for 10 years straight. The entire time I knew I had to get X, Y, and Z done to make it a better place and somewhere I would feel good about myself and be secure. I did, but I didn’t get to enjoy getting everything done outside of music in that period as much as I should have. Now that I am here, there are the feelings of mindfulness; trying to enjoy what I do have, today, and enjoy each day while working towards small manageable goals. I don’t want thirty to forty to go by any faster than the last decade did.
Something that I’ve observed is that the end goal often can change during the process of pursuing that goal. During the pursuit, you might develop skills that lead you to a different, potentially better goal. Another example, my music career has had an immeasurable effect in my professional life, more specifically in leadership and sales. There were a few transferable skills (communication, understanding of audience/buyer, an analytical mindset) that aided in my shift. Switching from music to marketing/sales wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be as many of the characteristics needed were the same. I can say that I’m having more structured fun while making more money. The importance of enjoying and dedicating yourself to the pursuit, not necessarily to the specific goal itself should never be overlooked.
I was put on to this by a friend of mine. Dr. Edna Aryee educated me about Super’s Theory. Donald Super’s theory is a developmental model in creating one’s self-concept. It focuses on career development that changes within one’s life span. It explains Super’s five life and career developments (Growth, Exploration, Establishment, Maintenance, Decline) and highlights the developmental tasks at these different stages.
1. Growth (birth-14 years)
2. Exploration (15-24 years)
3. Establishment (25-44 years)
4. Maintenance (45-55 years)
5. Decline (65+ years)
This theory has always kept things in perspective for me. This is the phrase “it’s the journey, not the destination” actualized, with depth. It provides a realistic outline and structure for direction in life and career.
There’s no need to fixate on bad habits when you have various specific goals along your path. Life is tough, and that joy can be found in the grind itself if you are solving problems, overcoming obstacles, and doing it in an independent way that puts you way ahead of the pack. This is still a marathon, not a sprint. If you fall short of being a multi-million tycoon at least you can remember the time you pulled consecutive all-nighters, worked 70 hours a week before launching that presentation. Maybe you recall being honoured among your organization, or heck even got a photo-op with the Prime Minister of Canada. Any person must overcome tough times, and if you can’t enjoy the process, then you will probably be miserable going after some lofty goal which may or may not be possible to achieve.