10 Habits You Should Break Before The New Year Arrives

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


While I'm personally not that big on making resolutions at the top of each year, I must admit that it is around the time when I tend to do a lot of self-reflecting; especially when it comes to the habits that are a part of my daily lifestyle and routine. Yeah, habits are a trip because, just like the definition of it states, if you're not paying close attention to the things that you do (and don't do), you might not even realize which practices are unhealthy, counterproductive or even straight-up harmful to your mind, body, spirit or all of the above.

Since habits are involuntary patterns, I figured that there's no time like the present to bring some really popular—and pretty bad—habits up; ones that typically are never broken because they aren't detected as easily or as much as they probably should be. With that being said, something tells me that if you make a point to remove these from your life, 2020 will be calmer, easier and so much more fulfilling than if you don't.

Are you ready to let some bad ish go so that you can start putting into practice what is truly so much better for you? Then commit to no longer participating in the following 10 behavior patterns.

10 Habits To Break Before The New Year

1. Saying “Always” and/or “Never”


When it comes to this first bad habit, I must admit that initially I was going to put down "exaggerating" instead but honestly, since using the words "always" and/or "never" are the way that a lot of us tend to do it, I'll leave the title of this point the way that it is. You might've heard somewhere that "always" or "never" never really happens and, for the most part, that is true. No one is "always" taking advantage of you and it's not the case that things "never" go your way. But if you choose to speak in these kinds of extremes, not only is it a peak form of exaggeration, it can also alter the way that you view reality.

So in 2020, why not only reserve those words for the very—and I do mean very—few times when they actually apply? That way, you'll be able to speak (more) in absolute truths so that you can make decisions from a much clearer perspective.

2. Breaking Promises


A wise person once said, "People with good intentions make promises but people with good character keep them." And just what is a promise? It's "a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one". Y'all, when it comes to one of my absolute favorite people on the planet, sometimes we have conflict and it's really only due to one thing—they make promises and don't keep them. Although they say it's because 1) they are overwhelmed most of the time and 2) they don't want to disappoint me by not making said promise in the first place, when they redundantly break them, it tends to backfire. For one thing, it affects my level of trust in their word and them overall and two, saying "I promise" continues to mean less and less.

The way I see it, adult people are too grown to be using the word "promise" anyway. We need to be mature enough to believe that our word is our bond, period; that if we say we're going to do something—or not do something—that really is all that needs to be said.

But either way, if you have a habit of assuring people that you are going to do—or not do—a certain thing and you don't follow through, commit to building trust and strengthening your bond next year by keeping your word. It's how character is built. It really is.

3. Eating Fast Food


Last summer, I wrote an article entitled "Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone". Some of the reasons that I shared included the fact that fast food is bad for your brain, kidneys and even your hair and skin. Although I personally don't think that it's an unpardonable sin to have a burger and fries every once in a while, if you find yourself sitting in a drive-thru three days out of every week, love your body—and budget—enough to do more grocery shopping and food preparation at home. Oh, and also do yourself a favor and check out "We Present: America's 20 Most Unhealthy Fast Food Chains". It just might surprise you what food joints actually made the list. Why sit up here and pay to get sick via your diet? Amen? Amen.

4. Getting Less than 6-8 Hours of Rest. EVERY NIGHT.


Sleep is not a luxury. I repeat—sleep is not a luxury. And that ridiculous quote, "I'll sleep when I'm dead"? Nooooo, you'll be dead when you're dead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 individuals do not get enough of the z-z-z's that they need. And since sleep deprivation can lead to moodiness, fatigue, a lack of productivity, poor eating habits, a low libido and so much more, if you happen to suffer from any of these things, before you chalk it up to aging or a potential health crisis, ask yourself if you're constantly getting less than six hours every night. If you are, check out our articles like "'Team No Sleep' Is A Ridiculous Concept", "10 Simple & Effective Ways To Improve Your Quality Of Sleep" and "Meet The Mattress That's Reinventing The Way We Rest", then commit to not making anything (except perhaps a newborn) so important that you're walking around here like a zombie. It simply isn't worth it.

5. Investing More in Others than Yourself


One of the most cryptic forms of low self-esteem is when you constantly find yourself making choices that convey that everyone else's needs and wants are far more important than your own. As someone who has a spiritual gift of giving (if you've never taken a spiritual gifts test before and you want to, a test that I really like is found here), I know what it's like to not only give a lot of yourself but even enjoy doing it. But real talk, I used to give so much of my time, attention and resources away without rarely getting anything back in return that it started to make me resentful…and drained…and broke.

What did I do to change that? I made sure that I invested in myself—first. I pampered myself. I made sure to "disconnect" and recharge whenever I started to feel overwhelmed. I set aside a budget that was for no one other than myself and for no other purpose than to do fun and random things. I made time to read, brainstorm and listen to the little girl in me to make sure that she was good. All of this got my all of me to a point and place where I was able to give more freely. All because I made the choice to invest in myself.

There are two definitions of invest that I totally dig; two that I don't think get nearly as many props as they deserve. One is "to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something". Another is "to furnish with power, authority, rank, etc." Whatever it is that you set out to do in 2020, don't forget to fuel your own purpose and to feed your own power. Doing that will benefit you and those around you, in the best way possible, moving forward.

6. Not Guarding Your Heart (in a Healthy and Productive Way)


Guarding your heart is biblical—"Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:23—AMPC) What I find to be so impacting about this particular Scripture is it says that life comes from "the center of our emotions" which is the definition of what the heart is. This means that we need to be intentional about who we let into our life because they have the ability to bring out good and bad emotions in us. At the same time, guarding doesn't mean that there should be such a high wall or a metaphorical barbed wire fence up that fear, bitterness or a lack of forgiveness prevents people from ever getting close to us.

At the end of the day, guarding your heart is really all about setting boundaries and honoring them. It's about knowing yourself, your triggers and your desires and needs so well that when someone comes along who unsettles your peace, you know not to let them into the "inner temple" of your feelings or your life, in general. It's not about closing yourself off so much as operating in the wisdom of who to open yourself up to. And yes, safe people do actually exist. Let discernment tell you who they are. That's a habit you won't regret further developing in the upcoming months.

7. Being Consumed by Drama—Online or Off


I'm not on social media. I haven't been for about a decade now and I have absolutely no regrets. But most social platforms even let non-members see what's going on. And if there is one hill that I'm pretty ready to die on, it's the crusade to get Black men and Black women to stop spending (or is it wasting?) so much time putting each other down. I can't tell you how many tweets and posts that I notice, pretty much on a daily basis, that totally degrade both genders. Hmph. Let me tell it, there is some PTSD from slavery that has us doing that because if anything is a superpower, it's how Black people are able to love each other.

Anyway, I try and only peek in to see what's going on a few times a week because I don't want to be consumed by all of that drama and negativity; especially since there are more and more articles creeping up like "New Studies Show Just How Bad Social Media Is For Mental Health" and "11 Ways Social Media Is Ruining Your Physical and Mental Health". So yeah, if you know that social media has you all pent up and upset, resolve to at least fast off of it more often in 2020.

As far as offline drama goes, two quotes express great points about it. One is "If you want to know, ask—don't assume. That's how drama starts." Another is "Don't start drama when you say you hate drama." Toxic people? Drama. Cyclic unhealthy relationships? Drama. Constant chaos? Drama. Nothing comes from drama but more drama. Be super vigilant in leaving all of that behind you next year.

8. Not Physically Detoxing


Here are some pretty telling signs that you need to go on a detox. You're always stressed out. You can't ever seem to get enough sweets. Your skin is a mess. You're constantly tired. Your joints ache. Your hormones are all over the place. You can't seem to sleep straight through the night. You're anxious. Your allergies are getting worse. Your immune system is weak.

If any of these things are a relentless reality for you, you'll be doing your body a real favor if you detox your system. It could come in the form of eating strictly fruits and veggies (and drinking nothing but herbal tea and water) for a couple of weeks. It could be a juice fast, a liver cleanse or a colon cleanse too. Just know that if you could use more energy, you want to reduce bodily inflammation and/or you want your digestive system to be better, detoxing once a season is the way to go.

9. Not Having a Personal and Professional Mission Statement


One bad habit that a lot of us need to break, just as soon as possible, is having a lack of focus. If this has become such an innate part of you that you're not even sure if this personally applies, here are some signs to pay close attention to—you have a hard time making decisions (and sticking to them); you struggle with completing tasks; your plans seem to be all over the place; you can emotionalize yourself in and out of just about anything and/or you constantly feel like you're doing a ton of things but still aren't really getting anywhere.

If that's you, something that can help to better center you is putting together a personal and professional mission statement. It doesn't have to be anything super long or elaborate. Just a couple of paragraphs stating what you want your personal and professional world to look like in the upcoming year. If you've never put one together before, click here for tips on how to make a personal one and here for how to make a professional one.

10. Settling


This is how much we hate the entire concept of settling over here. We've published "Self-Truths That Will Stop You From Settling For Less". We've published "7 Reasons Not To Settle In A Relationship". We've also published "No, Your Standards Aren't Too High As Settling For Crumbs Will Leave You Starved". All of these pieces point to one common belief—we are all too beautiful, valuable and purpose-filled to stay at a job that doesn't appreciate us, in a relationship that isn't going anywhere or around people who don't appreciate what we bring to the table.

It's been my personal experience and observation that settling is birthed out of fear; the fear that if we don't let go of the little that we have now, somehow we'll end up with nothing. 2020 needs to be the year that we break out of that mindset. I don't care if it's a person, place, thing or idea—if it's not bringing out the best in you, if it doesn't confirm all of the positive thoughts you think (or should be thinking) about yourself, and if it doesn't challenge you to accomplish so much more than what you currently are, you—clap—are—clap, clap—settling.

And settling is so beneath you. If you agree, this is the time to release, whatever it is you are settling for, so that you can be free, open and ready for what won't even cause you to settle in the first place. A new decade is on its way. Leave the bad habits behind so that you can receive the good!

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Say These Self-Affirmations To Start Your Day On The Right Note

Wake-Up Call: Here's How To Make Your Dreams A Reality

Adopting These Habits Can Totally Change Your Life

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Last year, Meagan Good experienced two major transformations in her life. She returned to the small screen starring in the Amazon Prime series Harlem, which has been renewed for a second season and she announced her divorce from her longtime partner DeVon Franklin.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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