Shelley Bassett



Cosy lounge room sofa with pillows and some houseplants on the side table

Ditching the Bad Habits

April 6, 2018

Ever struggled ditching the bad habits? Me too. But in order to move forward and meet my goals, there are some things I really need to change.

As a designer, I spend a lot of time looking at the habits that people follow online. But what about the habits in my own life, both on and off-line? Turns out, I have some really bad habits that are holding me back and preventing me from reaching my current goals. Change is never easy, but with the recent changes in my tidiness, it’s a good time to make some changes in my habits.

What makes a bad habit? defines habits as an acquired behaviour pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary”. And of course, like all our actions, these behaviours can have positive or negative impacts on our lives. I like to think that I generally have good habits, but the recent books I’ve read suggest otherwise.

Habit: an acquired behaviour pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

It seems like I’m soul-searching about something new every week at the moment. But I feel that this is important at this stage of my life. A lot has changed in the last few years, yet it feels as though I don’t quite match the place I am now, or the direction I want to head in. One of the things that I’m allowing to hold me back is old habits that I picked up as a teenager. It’s time for these bad habits to go!

Early Morning TV

Yep! I’m a sucker for early morning TV. The first thing I do when I get up is boil the kettle for coffee, feed Chester (who is desperately meowing for food) and then turn on Channel 9 to watch the Today show. This is actually a fairly recent habit, and started when I moved to live on my own, but it’s bad nevertheless. My morning routine used to look very different. Often, I would start my mornings with a 5km run, a shower, then some toast and coffee while reading either the newspaper online or the set reading for a class. While running is out of the picture for a little longer, I can begin to return to this good morning routine.

Cleared table with a pile of books to be read

My cleared table ready for a productive start to the day

Changing from the current bad habit to a good one seems simple in premise; don’t turn on the TV before work. But already I’m struggling with this idea. Morning TV is addictive! And, in an empty house, it’s nice to have the chatter of other people while I get dressed and ready for the day. There are some things I can do to help mitigate this though. The quite has never really bothered me, so reminding myself of this will help. Also, clearing my table and leaving a book to read nearby will give me something to do while I drink my coffee. This also has the advantage of encouraging me to finish books I’m halfway though. Technical books are quite a slog, but I used to be in the good habit of reading them at breakfast. It’s time to return to this.

The Afternoon Flop

Of all my habits, this is the worst. And there’s really no reason for it any more. After uni, and then again after work, I would come home exhausted and flop on the sofa. Normally this was because of long days, lots of travel and odd shift hours. Once I made it home, my body and brain needed a rest, and I’d happily lie down for a little bit before dinner. Today, despite regular hours at a reasonable pace, I still come home and flop. Sure, some days are really taxing and I need a rest before attempting to make dinner. But this shouldn’t be my everyday.

Cosy lounge room sofa with pillows and some houseplants on the side table

My lounge room sofa, where I do my best flopping

My recent obsession with plants has given this bad habit a little reprieve. Before I flop, I now tend to wander the house to water the plants, or spend some time in the laundry tending the seedlings. The is obviously a much better use of my time than doing nothing! But still, more often than not, I flop. Instead, I want to change this habit to something slightly more productive, yet still restful. My after-dinner time is used to potter about the house, work on this website or create new projects, but often I find myself binging on TV shows. Instead, I want to try moving TV to before dinner, when I can rest, yet still watch shows that I enjoy. Anything I watch after dinner should be background to what I’m working on.

Worrying and Agonising

My depression and anxiety regularly reduce me to a big ball of stress. And while I’m aware that this will be a life-long battle, I need to try and reduce some of these worries. Generally, I worry about nothing. Anything that is even remotely uncertain is a source of great stress. I don’t exactly know how I’m going to change this habit, but in the short-term, I’ve taken to listing out all the possible bad outcomes and what I could do if they happen. I don’t like “Plan B”. It feels akin to failure, and that’s not something I’m used to experiencing. However, rather than failure, I’m trying to convince my brain it’s just an “alternate route”. No, this doesn’t always work. But it’s better than doing nothing.

Good vs Bad Habits

Not all my bad habits are ridiculously bad. But I’d like to replace them with good ones. Well, better ones. I’m not aiming for perfect, but imagine how much more productive I could be if I stopped spending hours in front of the TV. Or if I read a book in the morning. Or if I consistently did housework before flopping on the couch. These little things add up, and I need to be better at them. I have goals I’m struggling to reach, and keep changing because they seem so hard. But maybe it’s not the dream that needs to change. Maybe it’s the path.