We all want to have good habits. Good habits take practice and patience. However, once you establish good habits into your life, they like your bad habits the past, become hard to break. Setting good habits is a great way to achieve your goals and stay focused on what you desire.
Below are some simple habits that you can start performing right now to help you move in the right direction. If you start practicing these on a daily basis, eventually they will become part of you. Pretty soon there will be no stopping you from reaching your goals.
In his book, The Power of Habit, (one of my all-time favorites), Charles Duhigg discusses the ways we use habits to achieve the things we want. He explains that habits require three components—the cue, the reward and the routine. In order to successfully create any automatic response, we have to nail all three.
The cue is simply the circumstances surrounding the habit. Take, for example, brushing your teeth, which you (hopefully) do at least twice a day. Most likely you do it when you wake up and before going to bed. You may be triggered or “cued” to do it because, well, your mouth tastes mucky or you ate something with garlic.
The reward is whatever helps trigger that “muscle memory” or Pavlovian response. Eventually, just the presence of the cue will trigger a response. Whether it’s habits in budget-keeping, exercise or even dental hygiene, a reward is a mandatory part of the process. Good habits produce good results.
The routine is simply putting the cue, the act and the reward together. Once you combine these three components: 1. My mouth feels mucky, 2. I brush my teeth, 3. My mouth feels better—you have the recipe for a good habit.
It’s a good idea to spend time thinking about what habits you really want to form and identifying what’s most important to you. Journaling or just writing down your future good habits can really help. Here are a bunch of great habits (beyond brushing) to help you be more successful, happier and less stressed.
1. Keep Things Tidy
Picking up, keeping things organized, and even just making the bed helps us feel better. It prepares us for visitors, helps us be more efficient, allows for a better night’s sleep, and even helps us get along with our spouse and our children better.
Try setting a timer when you’re just starting out forming this habit. Before you go to the bedroom or even before you settle down to watch some television—whatever your nightly routine—go through your house for just 15 minutes. Pick up items, straighten cushions and wipe off counters. Make it a habit to rinse the dish after you eat off it and to make your bed the moment you get up. Your day and attitude will benefit.
2. Choose Gratitude
One habit that can definitely change your perspective almost immediately is to become intentional about choosing an attitude of gratitude. Universally, successful people are able to identify the positive things in their life and show appreciation for them. When I was having a particularly difficult time with a loved one, a friend told me to sit down and make a list of everything I appreciated about that person. Whenever I was frustrated or angry with them, I would revisit that list. As silly as it sounds, it really did help.
Make a habit of identifying 3 things every day that you’re grateful for. This can be as simple as eating a yummy breakfast, hearing from a friend, or sleeping in a warm bed at night. If you focus on these 3 items each day and list them out every morning in your journal (or on your phone or anywhere you can easily revisit often), you’ll be amazed at how much you have to be happy about.
3. Plan Your Days
People who are successful plan it that way. They write down appointments (and keep them), utilize a daily task list, and use their calendars as a map toward achieving their goals.
One great habit to get into is the habit of looking over your calendar and write out your to-do list right before you go to bed. You can go to sleep knowing you have a plan for the next day, and often your subconscious will work out solutions to problems in your sleep.
4. Get Up Early
I’m an early-riser. It’s not so much that I’m a morning person, per se, but I find that if I want to achieve everything I set out to do on any given day, getting up early gives me time to get started. It gets me going before I’m faced with family needs and sets the tone and foundation for a successful day.
Set your alarm for the same time every day. Even on weekends. Want to get in the habit of getting up earlier? If you determine the best time and work back in ten-minute increments per week, you’ll be getting up earlier in no time. Get to bed at a similar time each night and if you need more sleep, get to bed earlier (rather than sleeping later). Don’t rob tomorrow of success to fit in another chapter tonight. Instead, put it away until later and let your body get the sleep you need.
While putting your family first is important, this doesn’t mean you should completely forgo your own needs. Truly happy, successful people know when they need to take a break and when they need to nurture themselves.
Connect with a friend for 10 minutes and truly engage in conversation without distraction. Do exercises that you like or go for a walk and admire the world around you. Listen to a song you love or take time to indulge in a magazine, a warm bath, or some long stretches. Whatever you truly enjoy, take the time to be mindful and give yourself something special. Make this “me time” a habit and do it daily. It can be hard to find time to nurture yourself, but it’s important. Do it without guilt and enjoy it.
What good habits do you do everyday to improve yourself? Share your thoughts with us below. To your health and happiness!