6 Replacements You Can Make Right Now to Improve Your Life

It’s out with the old, and in with the new…

Alison Schaffir
Jul 22, 2020 · 6 min read
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

There’s a common belief that the more you have, the happier you will be — whether aspirations of success, wealth, or fame.

Yet, contrary to popular belief, life isn’t necessarily all about gaining. Instead, replacement can be equally, if not more, fulfilling than accumulation. The key to improving your life is quite simple: eliminate old habits, and instead, replace them with newer, healthier ones.

Just like you would with a closet of clothes that don’t properly fit anymore, it’s important to clear out the clutter and make room for your new and improved wardrobe.

If you’re reading this, then it might be time for you to pull a Marie Kondo, and declutter your life of the things that no longer suit you. Here are six replacements you can make, and how they will, in turn, lead to an improved life:

1. Replace instant gratification with long-term fulfillment

Delaying gratification isn’t easy — it takes willpower. If you want to build long-term success, then it’s necessary to resist short-term temptations in favor of long-term gains.

This applies for any significant goal — from wanting to get into shape, to wanting to become a better writer. As with any worthwhile pursuit, you must fully commit yourself to the process. As much as we all wish, we aren’t going to lose the target weight from one exercise session or become a viral success at writing overnight.

If you want to see substantial progress, you must put in the hours and invest long-term dedication. This can be done by making deliberate, concrete changes that you stick to — like going on a 30-minute run every morning or sitting down to write 500 words every day. Though they might seem small initially, these repeated habits can build significant results over time.

In fact, delaying gratification is one of the best skills you can adopt for future success, as observed with Walter Mischel’s famous marshmallow experiment — the most well-known example of research on self-control.

The study showed that pre-school aged kids who passed up marshmallows in the short-run were better off in the future — scoring higher on SAT tests and coping with stress more easily than those who gave in.

As with building any sustainable habit, committing to long-term goals may sound overwhelming or arduous. But if you can visualize the benefits and fully dedicate yourself, you will one day reap the rewards.

2. Replace negative self-talk with self-love

The way you talk to yourself can significantly influence the way you live your life. If you continuously speak negatively toward yourself in your head, you’ll start to believe your own words.

As amazing as we are, we can all be culprits of tearing ourselves down and beating ourselves up for no reason. Instead, let’s stop filling our heads with phrases like: I’m a failure, broken, or unworthy.

Instead, replace them with these:

I am not worthy → I am deserving of happiness, and I accept myself as I am.

I am broken → I am healing, and I am gaining more strength every day.

I am a failure → I am learning. Making mistakes is part of the process.

The more you speak to yourself positively — like a close friend or family member would — the more you’ll start to internalize the sentiment. You may need to repeat a positive thought multiple times in your head, write it out on a sticky note, or have someone hold you accountable for speaking kindly about yourself.

Regardless of your method, embracing a positive mindset will help you replace doubt with confidence. Your self-esteem will grow, and you’ll begin to feel a deeper appreciation of life, as well as the world around you. So, start treating yourself with compassion and believing that you are enough — because you are. In no time, you’ll see the difference.

3. Replace procrastination with progress

It can be easy to make excuses: I don’t feel like it. I’ll get to it one day. I’ll never be good enough. The problem is: the more time we spend ruminating on why we shouldn’t, the farther away we get from actually spending time achieving our goals.

Researchers even have a name for the type of behavior associated with procrastination. It’s called “mood repair,” and it’s a phenomenon where we avoid the discomfort of work-based tasks, and instead, gravitate toward mood-enhancing activities — like napping or checking social media.

So, how do we fix this? Instead of avoiding difficult work, we should visualize how it can benefit us in the long-term. For example, if you want to become a better writer, imagine the fulfilling results down the road — like having an impact and making a difference in someone’s life.

After all, it’s easy to give yourself one hundred reasons not to, but all you need is one really strong reason why you should. So, the next time you find yourself saying…“I’ll do it later,” is when you should get started. You don’t have to move mountains or change the world in one day. You just have to make slow and steady progress. And the more progress you make, the more momentum you will build.

4. Replace envy with gratitude

There will always be people who we perceive as having more than us — picture-perfect relationships, glamorous job titles, impressive achievements.

It’s easy to let jealousy get in the way…to feel inadequate and less deserving. But just because you perceive someone as being “better” than you does not mean it’s true — nor should you see yourself as any less worthy or important.

Instead, a simple mindset shift can allow you to make the most of the situation and turn your envy into gratitude. Think about the fortunes in your life. Consider what you do have that you are grateful for — even the smallest things, like a beautiful sunset or time spent with loved ones.

Not only that, but seeing other people’s success or achievements can give us inspiration and hope for our own. They can motivate us and fuel our passions for how we can apply these traits to our own life.

The best way to go about envy is by putting things into perspective and realizing we’re all human, with a similar range of emotions and struggles. After all, we could always be worse off than we are, and we all have a lot to be thankful for. So, let’s stop thinking about life as one big race or comparison game. We’re in this together.

5. Replace overthinking with trusting

Thinking carefully is important before making big decisions. You want to weigh your options and consider the best possible course of action.

But overthinking — to the point where you fixate on every little move you make — can be destructive. When we become caught up in these endless thought loops, we are never be able to move forward and take action.

This is why, at some point, you must let the overthinking go, and trust yourself. After all, you’ve been making decisions your entire life. You know yourself better than anyone else, and you know what you want.

Trust that you are enough. Trust that you are moving in the right direction. Trust that you will be able to put things into perspective and have clarity in time. If you believe that you are making the best choice for your well-being, then you are putting yourself on the right track.

“Trust the still, small voice that says, ‘this might work and I’ll try it.’”

– Diane Mariechild

6. Replace toxicity with inspiration

The people and environments you surround yourself with can greatly affect your life. Do you want to be around people who put you down or make you feel small? Who don’t believe in you or discourage you from your goals and dreams? I didn’t think so.

Relationships are valuable. We need people in our lives who are by our side to support us during life’s hurdles. With that said, focus on the people who inspire you. Who lift you up, challenge you, cheer for you, and who want you to succeed. After all, they say:

You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

-Jim Rohn

The people we bring into our lives often influence our levels of happiness. We want them to care for us, remind us of our purpose, and encourage us to become the best versions of ourselves. Remember that your time and energy are valuable. So, think about who you want to be like, and choose the people you surround yourself with carefully.

Let this be the sign you need. It’s time to embrace the new, improved you. Open that closet, and toss out what no longer fits. In order to be the best version of yourself, you need to push away the curtains and make room for the light to shine in.

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Alison Schaffir

Written by

YA Author (In Progress) | Writing on Life Lessons, Relationships, Self-Love | Published in P.S. I Love You, Thought Catalog, The Writing Cooperative

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