Habits can be hard to break, establish, and change, especially if you’re trying to start something big like a new exercise program, or you’ve bought into someone’s insane suggestion to “give up coffee” (which is a horrible idea by the way, don’t trust those people).
If we want things in our lives to change, however, we have to do things differently. If every day we do the same things, we can expect that our lives will remain the same. It’s in changing our behavior that we begin to see the ship turn, even if that ship is gigantic, and slow, and old, and creaky, and rusty (okay, we should probably abandon this ship all together…).
Making lasting change, or establishing habits that put you in a position to achieve a long-term goal, can be daunting, and requires more focus than we initially realize. But there are some small habits that don’t require an enormous amount of time or effort or discipline and will make a big difference in transforming your life in the long run. Let’s take a look at 10.
- Make Your Bed – There’s a reason you’re hearing a lot about the benefits of making your bed every morning lately. It’s because it’s true. Making your bed sets the tone for a productive day. Within seconds of getting out of bed, you’ve already accomplished something, and that propels you to keep going. Not only that, but a tidy space helps clear your head. For more on this idea, and other wise words, check out a bestseller by this same title.
- Move Your Body – I feel like too many people subscribe to the “all or nothing” philosophy of exercise. Either you’re a CrossFit mega-star, or you’re holding the couch down. If you currently are holding the couch down, and would like to incorporate more movement into your life, just move. You don’t need to run a 10K or throw kettle bells. Just start by walking around your neighborhood and listen to a podcast or a book on tape so it doesn’t feel so boring. Maybe park your car further from the building once in a while. Just start there. That’s it.
- Drink Water – So everyone’s favorite site for diagnosing ourselves with cancer and weird diseases has a helpful article about why drinking water is important. Among them better skin and helping us poop regularly. Don’t tell yourself you don’t like water, or that coffee is made with water and you drink plenty of it (I SO want to buy that one myself because coffee is life, but it’s just not good enough). Drink the water. Put citrus fruit in it if you have to, add a ton of ice if it makes it more palatable, but drink it. Don’t complicate it by buying fancy water bottles, or fancy water. Drink filtered water in water bottles and glasses you already have. Don’t aim for perfection. Eight glasses a day may be the goal, but if you’re at zero right now, just get started.
- Stay Off Of the Internet First Thing in the Morning – Getting on your phone first thing in the morning puts you in the passenger seat of your day. It makes you reactive rather than proactive, and it causes your stress levels to rise, contributing to overall feelings of unhappiness and giving you the false illusion that you’re missing out on something. We’re not missing out on anything. Seriously. We’re also not the most important people in the world, or even our companies, for that matter. Take a shower, take a walk, have coffee with your significant other, have breakfast with your kids. Don’t trade your life for pop-ups and notifications. All that really, really important crap going on at work (or with the government, or your favorite celebrity) and that you’ll forget about in twenty minutes, pales in comparison to the things you hold most dear. Enjoy what you hold most dear.
- Wash Your Face Before Bed – This isn’t just so you can have a glowing, blemish-free complexion, or to keep your linens from becoming oily, it’s so that you can signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down your day and wind down your mind. It’s also a simple way to take care of yourself, which a lot of us do far too little of.
- Learn Something New Every Day – Don’t end your day without having learned something new. Something that either changed your perspective, made you think a little, or simply say, “I did not know that”. It’s refreshing to meet people who don’t feel like they have it all figured out, or who make room in their hearts and minds to change both.
- Eat One Nutritious Thing Every Day – Okay, so I’ve done The Whole 30. Twice. Both times I came close to selling my kidney for a piece of cake. I’ve also done a zillion other cleanses and diets, and each time I feel like I’m often scaling a mountain. I’ve come to the realization that extreme diets can be a bit, well, extreme, and unnecessary. (BTW, I’m not discouraging anyone from doing them if that makes sense for you.) To establish great eating habits, just start simply by eating one nutritious thing a day. Don’t get overwhelmed by some large goal, or even make some large goal. Just get something nutritious in your body. Begin there.
- Give One Compliment Every Day – Life is so much better lived when it isn’t all about ourselves. Our human minds think about our own selves almost constantly because it’s how we’re wired. We wouldn’t survive (literally) if we didn’t. But to fully experience the joy of life, we need to step outside of ourselves. Extend some love to a friend or a stranger, and give a sincere compliment every day. (It could even be via social media if you’re a bit of an introvert. Can I give a quick shout out to my INFJ’s?) If you need to start this habit by sending me messages about how hilarious or amazing I am, I’m happy to support you via Twitter at @jessbarretttn.
- Put Things Where They Belong – Okay, so this is how people’s houses and cars turn into a situation they feel powerless to get out from underneath. If this is you, don’t feel badly about yourself, it’s this way for a LOT of people (check out the cars in a parking lot sometime, but not in a creepy stalker way). It’s not that people are just slobs or that they’re lazy. It’s a lack of habit surrounding putting things where they belong. Messy houses and cars seem overwhelming when it’s gone on for too long, so don’t worry about perfection. Just start putting things where they belong. When you get out of your car, do you have any trash that needs to come out with you and be put in a trash receptacle? If your entire car is full of trash, just take a few things each time until your whole car is clean if doing it all at once is overwhelming. Doing this regularly around your house and in your car will turn into a habit in no time.
- Use a To-Do List – The to-do list may seem old-school, especially if you write it down in a planner or on a notepad (what even are those???). Back in the old days (the ancient era of Bon Jovi and big hair) when I was going to elementary and middle school, I got into the habit of putting all of my homework assignments in my…assignment notebook. I know, it was genius. But writing things down started a habit wherein I was in control of my time, and could better manage my responsibilities, and lay out a plan for myself. I still do it to this day. I prefer a written planner to online calendars and lists because I’m old school, but do whatever you like. What matters is that you have a to-do list of tasks you are going to accomplish each day, week, etc. This way, you’re always tackling the smaller goals that ultimately lead to your larger goals. Sometimes, your tasks won’t lead to a larger goal, but they’ll knock something out that simply needs attention. Even the small things like “get the car washed” help propel your motivation to keep going down your list. I highly recommend choosing the same time each day to write your list so that the habit is more easily ingrained.
There are so many more simple habits that you can adopt to start making big changes, but these are some that have made a huge difference in my life. Drop me a message to let me know what simple habits you’ve established that have helped you to make big changes.
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