Why Can’t I Get My Life Together?: 7 Habits That Are Definitely Holding You Back

Why Can’t I Get My Life Together?: 7 Habits That Are Definitely Holding You Back

Do you ever feel like your life is spiraling out of control and you can’t slow it down? You’re not alone. Many people struggle with feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or unfulfilled at some point. The good news is that by identifying and changing certain habits, you can make significant progress towards feeling more in control and living a life that aligns with your values and goals.

1. Getting Stuck in a Defeatist Attitude

One of the most common habits that hold people back is having a pessimistic outlook. When you constantly expect the worst or believe nothing will ever change, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may feel less motivated to take action or give up more quickly when faced with challenges.

Research has shown that optimists are more successful, have better relationships, and live longer. This is likely because a positive mindset makes you more resilient and motivated to overcome obstacles. To break the habit of defeatist thinking, try reframing negative thoughts into more balanced or positive ones. Keep a gratitude journal to shift your focus to the good things in your life, and set small, achievable goals to build confidence and momentum.

2. Defining Yourself by Your Past

Another habit preventing you from moving forward is dwelling excessively on past mistakes or failures. Constantly ruminating on what went wrong or what you could have done differently keeps you stuck in the past and prevents you from enjoying the present or planning for the future.

Mindfulness practices have been shown to help people break free from this cycle of rumination. By practicing mindfulness meditation, you can learn to stay grounded in the present moment and focus on what you can control now rather than unchangeable past events. Try to use past experiences as learning opportunities rather than defining characteristics.

3. Lack of Clear Goals and Vision

Without a clear sense of direction, life can feel adrift. When you don’t know what you want or where you’re headed, making decisions or taking purposeful action can be difficult. The “Beginning with the End in Mind” habit from Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” emphasizes defining your goals and purpose.

To improve in this area, take time for self-reflection to identify your values and priorities. What matters most to you? What do you want to achieve in life? Use this information to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals that align with your values. Consider creating a personal mission statement to guide your decisions and keep you on track.

4. Poor Time Management and Prioritization

Feeling overwhelmed often stems from ineffective time management. When you don’t prioritize your tasks or use your time efficiently, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up. The habit of “Putting First Things First” involves prioritizing important tasks over urgent but less critical ones.

To enhance your time management skills, start by organizing your tasks using tools like calendars and to-do lists. Prioritize tasks based on importance, not just urgency. Learn to say no to commitments that don’t align with your goals or values. By focusing on what matters most, you can better use your time and energy.

5. Neglecting Physical Health

Your physical well-being significantly impacts your overall life satisfaction and ability to function effectively. Neglecting your health can lead to fatigue, stress, and decreased productivity. The American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” emphasizes vital health behaviors contributing to overall well-being.

Aim for regular physical activity to improve your physical health, such as getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Prioritize getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Taking care of your body gives you more energy and focus to tackle other areas of your life.

6. Avoiding Difficult Tasks (Procrastination)

Procrastination is a common habit that can prevent people from achieving their goals. Constantly putting off difficult or unpleasant tasks can lead to increased stress and reduced productivity over time. Procrastination is often a self-protective response to tasks we find challenging or uncomfortable.

To combat procrastination, try breaking large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Use the “two-minute rule”—do it immediately if a task takes less than two minutes. Reward yourself for completing challenging tasks to help reinforce positive habits.

7. Neglecting Personal Growth and Learning

Finally, neglecting personal growth and learning can keep you from reaching your full potential. In a rapidly changing world, continuous learning and self-improvement are crucial for adapting to life’s challenges and finding fulfillment. Covey’s “Sharpening the Saw” habit emphasizes the importance of ongoing personal development.

Set aside time for reading, taking courses, or learning new skills to foster personal growth. Seek out mentors or role models in areas you want to improve. Reflect regularly on your experiences and lessons learned to gain new insights and perspectives.

Case Study: From Overwhelmed to Thriving

Claire had always been a high achiever, but lately, she felt stuck and unfulfilled. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t seem to make progress in her personal or professional life. She constantly felt overwhelmed by her responsibilities and struggled to find time for the things that mattered most.

Determined to change, Claire began examining her habits and mindset. She realized she often got caught up in negative self-talk and spent too much time dwelling on past failures. She also noticed that she lacked clear goals and direction, making it challenging to prioritize her time effectively.

Claire started practicing mindfulness and reframing her negative thoughts to address these issues. She set aside time for self-reflection and created a personal mission statement aligned with her values and aspirations. She also began using a planner to organize her tasks and prioritize her commitments based on importance.

As Claire continued to work on her habits, she noticed a significant improvement in her overall well-being. She felt more in control of her life and had more energy to pursue her passions. Claire discovered new opportunities and built meaningful relationships by focusing on personal growth and learning. Through her journey, she learned that getting her life together was an ongoing process that required patience, self-compassion, and a commitment to positive change.

Key Takeaways

  • A defeatist attitude can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. To build a more positive mindset, practice reframing negative thoughts, keeping a gratitude journal, and setting achievable goals.
  • Dwelling on past mistakes or failures keeps you stuck. Use mindfulness practices to stay grounded in the present and focus on what you can control now.
  • Lack of clear goals and vision can leave you feeling adrift. Identify your values and priorities, set SMART goals, and create a personal mission statement to guide your decisions.
  • Poor time management and prioritization can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Use calendars and to-do lists to organize tasks, prioritize based on importance, and learn to say no to commitments that don’t align with your goals.
  • Neglecting physical health can impact your overall life satisfaction and productivity. To improve your well-being, aim for regular exercise, a balanced diet, and quality sleep.
  • Procrastination is sometimes a self-protective response to challenging tasks that can increase stress and reduce productivity. Break large tasks into smaller steps, use the “two-minute rule,” and reward yourself for completing complex tasks.
  • Neglecting personal growth and learning can prevent you from reaching your full potential. To foster continuous self-improvement, set aside time for reading, learning new skills, seeking out mentors, and reflecting on your experiences.
  • Changing habits takes time and effort, but it’s crucial for getting your life on track. Focus on progress, not perfection, and be patient with yourself as you work on making positive changes.


Changing ingrained habits takes time and effort, but it’s a crucial step in getting your life on track. Remember that progress, not perfection, is the goal. Start by focusing on one or two habits at a time, and be patient with yourself as you work on making positive changes. By addressing these everyday habits that hold people back, you can begin to take control of your life and move towards success and fulfillment. Remember, it’s never too late to start making positive changes.