One of the more ironic expectations of enlightenment is something like “enlightenment will fix it” or “enlightenment will fix me.” Now, loosing identification with the ego in awakening can be a big change. But in other ways, nothing changes. Awakening is a deep recognition of who we are beneath the ego. But it doesn’t necessarily change much about the person.
When the centre falls out of the me-concept and then remnants (shrapnel) fall away, certain tendencies may fall away with them. Motivations driven by attachment wind down but others may come to the surface. We’re less likely to be so harsh on ourselves but also may be appalled at the now-conscious internal stories we’ve been running. We’re less attached to certain outcomes but may raise our personal standards of behaviour. But none of this means our “problems” go away – just that our relationship with them changes. We’re less gripped by them and easier about life as a whole.
This can certainly make a huge difference in the feel of life. Our problems become much less of a problem. And, over time, the momentum of the past can begin to wind down. Our life can simplify quite a bit, at least internally.
As for bad habits, on the one hand being more conscious can make it easier to change. But on the other hand, being more accepting and OK with what is may make us less inclined to bother. In a sense, it can make them more entrenched as you may no longer care.
This doesn’t mean you become incompetent or that enlightenment is not a good thing. There are many reasons it’s the best possible. But if the expectation is a magical fix, you may be creating unnecessary barriers.
If you have bad habits, deal with it. Habits are formed by repetition and can be overwritten or replaced with repetition. Don’t wait for some future magical point. The longer you keep them, the more entrenched they become. That’s why we don’t have to think about walking or talking or driving a car. Even the biology reinforces regularly used pathways.
Think of enlightenment like puberty. Puberty is not the goal, it’s the transition into a lived adulthood. In the same way, enlightenment is not the goal. It’s the transition into an embodied state of being. One that will continue to grow and evolve over time.
The better you live life well now, the better your life will be. Simple.