25 Things You Should Give Up for Lent This Year—and Forever

Julia Millay Walsh

I don't know how religious I am, but I do find that Lent—a time of self-denial and penance—is a prime occasion to make room for more enduring lifestyle changes, beyond the staus quo of 40-day candy and alcohol fasts. Here are 25 things I think we all (myself included) should stop doing immediately, regardless of our religious beliefs.

  • Putting it all out there. Create some mystery about yourself, leave some things to the imagination, and allow just those closest to you to know it all.
  • Being late. Get your life in order so you don’t make people wait. Your time isn’t more valuable than anyone else’s.
  • Spending time with people you don’t actually like. There are too many wonderful souls out there in the world to waste time with people who don’t interest you and make you want to be a better person. Haven’t found people who do? Try harder. Try something new.
  • Avoiding your parents. They’ve done a lot for you; appreciate their attempts to see and talk to you—and know that all they’re trying to do is care and look out for you.
  • Texting while someone is talking to you. It's rude. And stop scrolling through Instagram at the dinner table, too.
  • Waiting. It’s never going to be a good time. Get that thing you’ve been dreading over with and move on. Take the (calculated) risk you’ve been dreaming of and don’t look back.
  • Overworking yourself. Find a healthy work/life balance and become a well-rounded person. No one wants to promote someone with bags under their eyes.
  • Thinking you have it worse. Everyone has their own set of problems. As Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
  • Wasting money on trends. There’s nothing sexy about someone who can’t manage a budget. You’ll be much happier if you’re not living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Fibbing about yourself. If you don’t feel interesting enough to tell people about the real you, it’s probably because you’re not allowing yourself to learn and develop your interests. Get out there and make your life more fascinating than white lies could ever make it sound.
  • Sleeping with your cell phone next to your face. Give yourself some web- and communication-free time before you sleep and when you wake up—those few precious minutes might be all you have all day.
  • Always saying “yes.” Life is full of choices. Be discerning about what’s right for you, and don’t feel always obliged to give an affirmative response.
  • Staying indoors. Get outside and let the sun shine on your face at least once a day.
  • Ordering “the usual.” Even if you’re eating at your old standby, be adventurous every once in a while and try something new on the menu.
  • Traveling to the same places. The world is full of breathtaking landscapes and riveting cultures. Whether it’s one state over or an ocean away, add some new pushpins to your world map.
  • Borrowing money. Live within your means. Debt is the enemy.
  • Disobeying traffic laws. You’re asking for a ticket or a hospital bill if you do.
  • Saying “I would never do that.” You don’t know that; you hope that, but you don’t know that.
  • Judging people before you speak to them. Often times they’ll surprise you—and serves you right if they do.
  • Worrying about what you can’t do. Improve your weaknesses as much as you can, but focus on building and selling your strengths.
  • Falling off the face of the earth. Professionally and socially, keep in touch with those you’ve build great relationships with. We all thrive on personal connection, and you never know how valuable someone may be to you later on.
  • Beating around the bush. Being direct and succinct is an art form; hone it.
  • Being shy. Chances are the person you’d like to speak to may feel timid too. Once you break the ice, you’re home free.
  • Feeling regret. Go make more mistakes. Take risks. Live boldly. Don't waste time thinking about things you can't change.
  • Thinking only of yourself. Selflessness is the most virtuous act.


What else would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below.

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