You might recognise the title of this article. It is the slightly reworded quote often attribute to Socrates in his prime. The true quote suggests ‘“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” As with any quote that stands the test of time, it has a timeless relevance, and also can be applied by anyone no matter who they are.

We all have habits we do not approve of, or appreciate in ourselves. We all know what we need to improve, and how we should potentially go about improving it. We’re all quite familiar with our flaws, and the work that needs to be done before we can adequately better this situation. It’s not hard to see how an inquiry like this can help you better who you are, and how anyone who wishes to move forward or past something can take a quote like this and make it malleable to their situation.

We those words in mind, we hope to help you also move forward not by fighting the old, but by building the new:

Find Your Interests

It’s almost worthless to try and force yourself to do something you dislike, at least outside of a career context. While we often have to be mature and focus on measures in life that we aren’t completely passionate about in the moment – such as tending to the funeral of a loved one not exactly being the most ‘pleasurable’ activity going, when it comes to replacing bad habits with good ones, you need the pull to help you. After all, we often make the best changes when we have something we wish to avoid, such as falling into our own bad habits, and something we wish to arrive at, such as enjoying a new hobby or getting better at something.

Finding new interests can often help you, particularly if they are targeted and goal-oriented. Perhaps, this summer, you wish to completely remove your regular attendance of pubs, clubs and bars from your weekend activity. Instead, you’ve set a goal to read some classics of Greek literature, such as The Iliad and Odyssey. Those are dense, intense books, but reading them can prove truly rewarding, and might even help you expand your horizons to an extent much wider than social drinking could ever give you.

Chase Better Benefits

Think of why you commit to certain actions and habits. Let’s say you’re a regular smoker. It might be that you love the idea of taking more regular breaks from work. You enjoy the social circle outside the office. You enjoy the peace and quiet of a morning cigarette. You love fiddling with it, and you think it helps you look cool. Say what you want about the extreme risk to life and supremely inadvisable nature of smoking, but even those who hate it would likely admit it can look ‘stylish.’ Not stylish enough to justify the health risks, and while yellow teeth, a bad smell and an oppressive home atmosphere can seem unhygienic, we at least think of Marlon Brando with one and think it’s reminiscent of old-school cool. We often think of bad habits like this as being hopelessly addictive, but they started because of a preference. Chasing better benefits might help you better find something more healthy than simply chastising yourself and hating yourself for your current vices.

For example, why not switch out this habit for the use of a CBD vape? It can provide you with anxiety relief, and it’s hardly as harmful as carcinogen smoke or nicotine. This way you have kept some of the benefits, while also gaining many more from a health perspective. Even a small change such as reading more substantial literature compared to your addiction for modern romance novels can be illuminating. Sometimes, you simply need to sample that which is around you to find what works best.

Your Social Environment

You can be the most independent person around, but if you have any form of social circle, it will influence you. Bad energy, bad beliefs, certain emotions can all contribute to a negative headspace, no matter how you try to avoid it. This is why it’s so important to surround yourself with positive people, people who illuminate your soul and help you feel happy to be alive. More than raw positivity, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, all of this can influence you to a great degree. Be sure to search for that, because one way or another, you will be influenced.

With this advice, we hope you’re able to build the new, instead of fighting the old.