Habits form the foundation of your entire life.
They are the consistent, everyday actions that enable you to develop your skills and build your knowledge. Those skills and knowledge are what ultimately enable you to achieve your goals.
Of course, you don’t want to have just any basic habits. You want the game changers, the ones that will springboard you to a new dimension of success.
And that’s what you’re in store for today.
Here are 15 good habits to start that will drastically improve your life.
(1) Sleep 7–9 hours
Have you ever wished that there was an easy way to stay healthy, build muscle, lose fat, think more clearly, think faster, and be in a better mood all day long, all at the same time?
Well, then I’ve got wonderful news for you! The magic you’re looking for is called sleep!
The human body was meant to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Studies show that getting that amount of sleep increases cognitive performance, athletic performance, improves your immune system, and puts you in a better mood, among many other great things.
Go to bed at the same time every day and sleep for 7 to 9 hours.
(2) Reading books
Successful people are known to read a lot of books. Warren Buffett reads for 80% of his day and Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year, just to name a couple. And you can definitely find plenty of other people who will advocate the same.
Think about it this way: some really smart person has taken the time to extensively study a single subject, think about it a lot, summarise it, and then put it into a book for you to read. You’re getting condensed wisdom delivered to you on a silver platter.
As the philosopher Socrates once said:
“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have laboured hard for.”
Gain your knowledge easily by reading the books that people have worked hard to create. If you want to know how to pick out great books, we’ve got an article on that too.
(3) Go for walks
Walking regularly has numerous physical and mental health benefits:
- Burning calories to stay health
- Strengthening your heart
- Boosting your mental energy
- Sparks creative thinking
On top of that: honestly, it’s just plain relaxing. Go at a slow, easy pace and you’ll find it very soothing as you disconnect from everything and just walk along. It’s a wonderful feeling to slow things down and get away from the usual stress and rush of life.
(4) Journal writing
Journal writing is simply the process of writing down your thoughts and feelings in a notebook.
The purpose of the writing is for personal development. What you will essentially be doing is taking the thoughts that are inside your head and placing them onto the paper in front of you. This can be for a decision you’re making or just reflecting on something in your life. Then, you can read over those notes at a distance to gain a much clearer view of your thoughts.
Trying to compare all of the different options in your head at the same time when making a decision is hard. You can make that process a lot easier by writing everything down on paper first and then analyzing them. That way, you’re able to take things slower to make sure you get all the points down and see them all in front of you at once.
If you’re reflecting on something in your life, you’ll find writing it down to be very soothing. You no longer have to stress about it in your head all day— it’s on the paper, so you can look at it later to figure it out. You’ve removed that mental load.
Journal writing is a practice that you can do every morning or evening in just 5 minutes if you want to. It’s quick and wonderful. You can read more about the benefits of journal writing here if you’re interested.
Meditation is a practice that’s thousands of years old. It involves training yourself to have control over your own mind and thoughts.
For example, you can meditate by focusing on a single particular thought you have in your mind. Whatever that thought is, you observe it, understand its origin and meaning, and then finally just accept and leave it as is. Some people call this kind of thing mindfulness meditation.
In this way, you are training your mind to be able to control your thoughts as if they were in your hands. You can pick them up, look at them from a few different angles, and then put them down without worry. That’s incredibly powerful: it means that with enough practice, you can control the way you think, even to the point of changing your mindset and personality for the better.
In particular, meditation will help you mentally in the following ways:
- You’ll feel a lot less stress and anxiety because you are able to recognize and stop those thoughts
- You’ll become more self-aware and understanding of your thoughts. You can even change them to be more positive, which will make your life more positive
- You’ll be a lot more focused, as you have trained your mind to hold onto a single thought without distraction
(6) Cold showers
Showering with hot water may feel relaxing, but cold showers come with a number of more powerful benefits:
- Increases endorphins — “happiness hormones”
- Improves your metabolism — your body is working more to keep you warm, thus burning more calories
- Boosts your immune system — related to point #2 (increased metabolic rate) your body working will also stimulate an immune system response
- And it’s just great for waking yourself up in the morning!
Those are the more well-known benefits, but there’s also a lesser-known one: building mental strength.
It’s hard to get into a cold shower because of how shocking it feels. But that’s the entire point, to train yourself to have the mental strength and willpower to handle such shocks. In stoic philosophy, such practices for improving mental strength are called “voluntary discomforts.”
(7) Posting online daily
The digital world is here and if you want to succeed, you need to know how to work with it.
Posting online every day is a way of doing that. All you have to do is make some kind of post whether it be a blog article, Tweet, LinkedIn post, or anything else online. Just make sure that it’s something valuable for other people to read. It can be the latest news in your field of work or something you learned recently for example.
This habit comes with a couple of amazing benefits:
- Networking — I’ve met many amazing people from posting online every day. If you’re always posting great content, people will notice as they are deriving value from your posts; they like that. They’ll want to get connected and even meet you in person. You’ll start getting invited to meetups, conferences, interviews, and even business opportunities
- Business Building — Over time, your posts will accumulate into something bigger. If you have enough viewership traffic then you can turn it into a business. You can earn money here on Medium, start your own blog website, or start a totally new business based on your thought leadership. The possibilities are endless when you’re driving traffic and creating good value already
Go ahead, start posting today.
(8) Regular connecting
Few people put in the effort to network beyond their immediate circle, especially in the days of COVID. But you can really make yourself stand out and create incredible opportunities through regular connecting.
Make it a habit for each day (or whatever frequency you can) to message someone new online. It could be a business owner through email or a blogger through Twitter or anyone else through LinkedIn. Contact anyone outside of your circle using whatever method you can.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just a simple “Hey! I love reading about your work on this-and-that, it would be great to connect!” or a variation of it will work.
The point of this habit is to slowly but easily expand your network. If you message someone new every day, some will reply and some won’t. But over time the number that does will add up. Those are new opportunities to learn, get a job, and create new business. It’s easy to do one every day, it takes 5 minutes tops and will pay huge dividends for you in the long-run.
“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.”— Diane Helbig
(9) Comfort zone push
When you’re in the grind of your everyday routine, it’s easy to fall into a repeating cycle of doing the same thing all the time. But the real growth in life always comes from pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
You can build a habit out of that too. Regularly schedule a time in your day or week where you will do something that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. It could be that “regular connecting” habit in #8 or trying some new exercise in the gym or learning a new skill. Whatever interests or excites you will do, as long as it’s something that pushes you to learn and improve. Check out this post for some ideas.
By making the act of being outside of your comfort zone a habit, you will be constantly expanding your mind, experiences, and skillset. That will make for an exciting and successful life.
“Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined. Comfort kills!” — T. Harv Eker
(10) Creative outlet
Having a creative outlet was the catalyst for coming up with great ideas for many famous inventors. Albert Einstein’s ideas stemmed from music and in particular playing the violin. Leonardo Da Vinci loved both art and inventing things.
The idea is that doing something creative is very different from your regular work. So it’s a great break from things and often helps to get the juices flowing to help you think more clearly. You can read more about this in Why Art is Vital to the Study of Science.
Anything creative or artistic or that expresses your feelings will work. You can try different things like:
- Drawing or painting
- Fiction or poetic writing
Do whatever you feel drawn to. Have fun and feel free to experiment with it.
(11) Arrive early
Aim to arrive early to all events, meetings, and scheduled items. There are a number of practical benefits:
- Being able to relax, especially if you had a long and stressful commute. You can calm yourself down and ensure that you’re in a good mood
- Being able to think, especially if you’re going to an interview or important meeting. You can review everything before starting
- Never having to worry. If you aim to arrive on time and there’s a delay, you’re late! But aiming to arrive early gives you that extra buffer time in case any delays happens
- You can explore. I love arriving early at places like the airport (pre-covid) or downtown because I get to walk around and discover things that are nearby
Always give yourself some buffer time as it only ever helps you.
(12) Power down before bed
Our phones and laptops have given us incredible conveniences that our parents and all people before them didn’t have. But those new gadgets have also been negatively affecting our sleep.
Plenty of research studies show that blue light — the light that your phone and laptop emit — negatively affects your sleep. Looking at your phone or laptop before bed does bad things like increase the risk of diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Powering down before bed is about reducing those negative effects. You should turn off your phone and laptop at least 30 minutes before bed, and definitely don’t take them into the bedroom with you.
Make it a rule that your bed is for sleep and sex only. Improving your sleep will dramatically improve other aspects too of your life as explained in habit #1 above.
(13) Talk to people
Many of us stick to our own personal bubbles where we feel comfortable. We stay inside of our comfort zones so to speak. But talking to new people is a wonderful way to learn more, experience more, and expand your network.
That cute guy or girl you see in the grocery store? Go say hello. There’s always a chance you’ll hit it off and turn it into something more. That person on the train you see holding an interesting book? Ask them about it. You might end up meeting a like-minded person who becomes a friend or business partner.
If you find that to be uncomfortable during these times of covid, then you can always go with habit #8 and message people online. There are plenty of virtual groups and meetups where you can meet new people. Later, post-pandemic when things do open up, you’ll be glad you built that network up early.
The point is, you never know who you’re going to meet. It’s great to keep yourself open and exploring. There’s always a chance to learn something new, meet someone awesome, and expand your life.
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” ― A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
(14) Have good posture
If you’re working a desk or computer job, chances are your posture has gotten worse over time. The typical position for such work is a hunched back with head forward, which is terrible for both your physical and mental health.
Having good posture (back straight, neck straight, shoulders back) has been linked to more happiness, more confidence, and more boldness for risk-taking. On top of that, it’s also great for your physical health, often helping to relieve back pain, increasing flexibility, and improving your breathing.
To help fix your posture, you can look into doing daily stretching exercises on YouTube. I’ve found this set to be fantastic. Foam rollers are also a really great tool. Finally, just stand up, make your back and neck straight, and walk around after every 30 minutes or so of sitting. This alone will help you to develop a better posture.
(15) Pay yourself first
“Pay yourself first” is a mentality in personal finance used to increase personal savings, investments, and overall wealth. The idea is to always send a portion of every paycheck into investments, rather than spending it on discretionary products.
The fact of the matter is that most people are terrible at saving money and building wealth. Less than 40% of Americans can cover a $400 emergency in cash. People impulse buy the latest iPhone, Starbucks coffee, or new clothes all the time.
If you have such poor spending habits, you are paying others first: Apple, Starbucks, and Calvin Klein (or wherever you’re buying your clothes from). Giving those companies so much of your money is not going to make you wealthy or build your financial freedom any time soon.
Make it a habit, or even better, set up automatic transfers to invest a portion of every paycheck. Even $100 / month is a big deal and will add up to a lot of wealth for you over time. It could be worth hundreds of thousands one day.