2016 is just about behind us. How did this year play out for you?

For most of us, the end of the year means reflecting on what has transpired over the last 12 months. For the most proactive among us, it’s a time to go beyond reflecting and start strategizing; determining what worked and what didn’t, and mapping out ways to improve the next year.

Life will always have its highs and lows, but more highs and fewer lows is certainly the goal. Unfortunately, we’re not always able to protect ourselves from challenges.

We can, however, work to respond productively to them and make sure that they aren’t self-imposed.

Often our own habits and beliefs are the root of our deepest struggles. Challenges arise when they don’t have to.

As 2017 rolls in, consider the following self-destructive habits and vow to leave them behind when the ball drops!

1. Setting Vague Goals Instead of Real Ones

No, I don’t mean “realistic.” Even the most unrealistic dreams can be achieved if you’re persistent. By real goals, I mean setting clear, manageable steps that allow you to objectively assess your progress.

Want to start your own business this year? Sweet! But we often mistake that as a goal, when it is in fact the combination of many smaller ones.

The trick to reaching the finish line is identifying the benchmarks in between, and working toward them individually. Examples of real goals might be: “I want to design my business logo.” “I want to organize a list of potential clients.” “I want to launch a website for my brand.”

The key is to be specific!

2. Engaging in Negative Self-Talk

“What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.” – Eckhart Tolle

Have you ever really paid attention to your inner self-talk? Once I started to examine the way I spoke to myself, I realized that it was often the kind of stuff I would never say to a friend.

When someone I care about is progressing in even the slightest way, I root for her! I would never take out a fine-toothed comb and say, “Well I guess that’s cool…but compared to so-and-so, it’s really not that impressive.”

Now I engage with that voice like she’s any other person. I challenge her when she’s being negative, encourage her when she’s feeling down, and offer her the support I would give to anyone else.

Are you your biggest critic? How can engaging with your inner self-talk bring you positive change?

3. Being Crippled by Perfectionism and a Need for Recognition

It’s so easy to get caught up in seeking recognition for everything we do. Social media rules and the way you’re perceived have tangible benefits (and consequences), in a way it never has before.

But when recognition and status are our foremost concerns, we live controlled by fear and doubt. We become so crippled by perfectionism and the need for validation that half the time we don’t try at all.

The cure? Do things that feed your soul – just because you enjoy them.

Just do! Create! And don’t concern yourself with who’s watching or what you stand to gain.

Allowing yourself to act from the soul allows for more purposeful work. Funny enough, it’s this kind of creativity that tends to gain recognition on its own!

4. Being Generous…with Conditions

When was the last time you did something for another person with no strings attached. Often, when we’re generous we keep a mental tab of the “debt” in our mind, even if the person can’t immediately return the favor.

This year, make an effort to give freely.

Experience the positive energy of genuine generosity, and reap the karmic benefits of being truly compassionate.

5. Holding Onto Learned Behavior that Hinders Your Growth

It takes maturity to examine your life and acknowledge that some of things you’ve been taught do not serve you.

Whether you learned them directly or through observation, some things we hold to be true about life are simply – false. Worse, they can be unproductive and damaging to our growth.

Think about what you believe about the world around you. Consider how these ideas may be hindering your progression.

What have you been taught that you may benefit from un-learning? Let this new year be the catalyst for a change of perspective.

6. Avoiding – Instead of Braving – Your Fears

We all have fears. Some are irrational, some are not, but all of them hold us back from knowing how much we’re capable of.

Whatever your fears, choose one and resolve to face it this year. Experience the conviction of knowing you can do anything.

Learning firsthand that you are braver than you think will empower you to take risks in other areas of your life.

7. Rejecting Vulnerability

There’s so much emphasis on being “chill” or “unbothered” these days. It breeds from a protective place: if you guard your heart and hide your emotions, nothing can get to you.

But how does it serve us to deny ourselves the right to feel? How can you live your best life if you can’t be open and honest about your needs, struggles, and emotions?

Pretending to be boundlessly easy-going might make you easy company, but it’s not real. Let that go.

Instead, practice expressing your feelings openly and productively. In time you’ll find that it gets you the same result as being “chill,” but from an honest place.

A new year offers the hope for something bigger and better in our lives. Why not allow that “something” to be you?

When you better yourself from within, you will find that your outer life transforms in tandem. Aligning yourself with better thoughts, company, and habits are the recipe for success in every area of your life.

But don’t take my word for it… see for yourself!

In 2017, choose to move forward with positive change: out with the old habits, and in with the new and improved ones.
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