Image from Smashing Magazine
Image from Smashing Magazine

It is 2014!

It is time for some changes. The future is bright. The air is newer, the sky bluer, life is beautiful. And because it is a new year, we have the strength and the resolve to change, and we promise ourselves and the people around us that we will. And we become so alive for the first few days. The sun seems suddenly brighter. We find the energy to do things we did not like doing before. And our routines change. At least for a day or two or five.

But like a tired old new years’ resolution, we lose steam and revert back to where we were before.

That is because while we promise ourselves to do new things (go to the gym, try a new hobby, join a retreat, get much needed rest, prioritize family over work, etc), we fail to STOP the destructive tendencies that have become part of our lives. While we strive to START changing for the better, we also need to STOP some of the things we used to do.

I propose we focus on these initial five:

1. Stop being scared to make mistakes.

We cannot go on the path of change if we’re too hard on ourselves and are so afraid to make mistakes. The bad habits took a long time to take root; it will also take a long time for the better habits to take root and become part of our system.

As Conan O’Brien once said, “It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. If you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention.”

Doing something–anything–and probably getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing at all.

2. Stop holding grudges.

So much pyschological energy is spent on harboring anger in our heart instead of doing something more productive. The word “harbor” is used purposefully here–it gives us the image of a ship at port, anchored to the sea floor, not able to move. That is what anger does to us; it puts us in a rut and we cannot move on. It hurts us more than the object of our anger.

Forgiveness does not excuse what the other person has done to us; it is facing what was done and not letting it ruin the rest of our lives. And this includes forgiving ourselves too.

3. Stop trying to buy happiness.

There is so much focus on happiness these days–probably more than at any other time in history. And the pursuit of happiness is usually tied to the acquisition of material things. But the truth is–and we know this deep in our hearts–the things that really satisfy are totally free – love, peace of mind, family, memory-making, and working on our passions.

Now if we know that deep in our hearts, why are we still pursuing material things?!

4. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

When you feel sorry for yourself, you just keep yourself in a rut that is hard to get out of. Regrets are part of life because mistakes are part of life. But to stop the rest of your life because of these mistakes would be the biggest mistake of all. You are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.

Get out of there!

5. Stop spending time with the wrong people.

This one is tricky. On the one hand, we may feel like we’re abandoning people we think need us; on the other hand, life is just too precious to spend it with people who suck the happiness out of us and overlook our worth. As the show SUITS puts it: some of our friends are anchors. We have to cut them from our lives so we can fly.

And “The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.”

[by Eric Santillan]

About Eric Santillan

AngPeregrino is Eric Santillan. He is a management consultant for two firms specializing in sustainable business, competitiveness and risk management, cost control and culture management. During weekends, he does counselling for Clinica Salutare, an Integrative Health Clinic. He is also a writer for The Mindanao Current, a core group member of Heroic Leadership Philippines, and a retreat giver.

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