Changing habits is not easy, especially when we have to break bad, unhealthy old habits because old habits do die very hard! If it’s so hard, why change? It’s true that many people don’t even bother to change for better or tried but just gave up altogether after a short period of time.
Living the best, most inspired life is something that everybody should aim for. If you are reading this, you are like me, you want more from your life. Be more. I’ve only started to realise the importance of developing long term good habits to better oneself since 2015. Before knowing the concept of changing habits, I was sleeping walking through my life without any long term goals or strategic planning. Life experiences have slowly taught me that we could all be that better version of ourselves if we try. It’s the little things we do on a daily basis that have a large impact on the quality of our lives. So why not just put a little extra effort everyday to reach our full potential and make our life more fulfilling?
Changing habits for better
Changing habit will be even harder when we overwhelm ourselves with too many changes at once. Aim to spread out your workload by focusing on developing one good habit at a time. As a starter, here are 12 essential habits to develop and maintain to make your life as satisfying as possible. The focus could be easily set on 1 habit a month.
1. Develop a daily routine
Yes routine sound boring. I used to loath the word “routine”. All I wanted was be to free! What I achieved by going without a routine? Chaos, not freedom. So trust me, in order to achieve the ultimate freedom you desire, one must develop a routine! A daily routine consists at least the following:
- Get up the same time every morning
I remember it was said that if someone gets up early in the morning, he/she is more serious about life. If you wake up the same time every morning, you’ll be more alert, have stress-free mornings, and get to work in a calm and centred state.
- Develop a morning routine and stick to it
It doesn’t help if you get up nice early, only to spend an hour or two browsing on social media. Have a morning routine and stick to it. Each one leads their own life, so this morning routine is up to you how to make it. Of course, things change and your morning routine might be modified over the time.
- Develop a bedtime routine and stick to it
Try to go to bed the same time each night. I used to be a night owl who wouldn’t sleep until it’s way past 1am. As a result, I couldn’t get up early in the morning, I felt unproductive and stressed all the time. Well, it’s essential to create a bedtime routine for brighter mornings. It’ll prevent years of fatigue and frustration down the road.
2. Eat healthy
- Starting with having a healthy breakfast
Having a healthy breakfast is not just for weight loss, but also for your general well being. It is reported that a good breakfast can improve concentration and performance in the morning. I used to skip breakfast sometimes or just have a huge portion of desert for breakfast. Chocolate mud cake used to be my favourite breakfast choice. Then I started to change slowly. Remember? Changing habits is hard! Now having a big, healthy breakfast has become the favourite part of my day.
- Maintain a food journal if necessary
Do this only if you are serious about changing your eating habit. At first, the idea of maintain a food journal sounds tedious and so not necessary to me. But I tend to over-eat and to have a food journal seemed to be the last few resources to help me tackle this problem. I did this for a good 3 months and it really helped to eat more healthy food.
- Have small portions
Consuming big portions in one go cause serious bloating problems.
3. Make exercise your top priority
- Exercise every if even it’s just a 5 minutes’ stretch
I’m born lazy and not athletic so naturally dislike the idea of exercise. As a result, I could go 2 years without excising at all. Changing habits starts with determination, therefore I decided to make exercise the top priority. Exercise doesn’t have to be painful or boring. Find something you enjoy doing and start slow. Small efforts do add up. The key is to be persistent.
Being busy is not an excuse because I believe everyone could squeeze 5 minutes each day. Make exercise your top priority, even if it’s just a 5 minutes’ stretch everyday. My favourite Yoga stretch is sun solute, tree pose, plough and standing bow pose.
- Exercise at home
If you are committed to do a little bit exercise every morning, one little trick I learned is to put exercise clothes next to your bed every night. It makes excise in the morning easy and convenient. You don’t have to go to the gym for hardcore training. There are many exercise you could do at the convenience of your home.
List things to do for the day and tackle the most important task first thing in the morning
Make a list of things you need to do during the day helps you stay on track and be more organised. Think about the most important thing you want achieve during the day. Start with that one task first, stay 100% focused until you finish it. If you want to loose weight by exercising everyday, then exercise the first thing in the morning. If you need to finish a draft of your presentation, then do that first thing in the morning. By the end of the day, you’ll be amazed how satisfying it feels by knowing at least you got one thing that matter to you most done.
4. Set up a system for everything you do
It always helps to have a good system in place. Think about ways of doing your job better, more efficiently. Life is not an easy task, we must have a system in place to operate.
5. Be organised
- Leave the house as you’d like to find it when you come home.
It’s so important to keep a clean and tidy home. A clean desk speaks a happy mind. Keep your desk tidy and clean will help greatly with your productivity.
- When cooking, wash up and keep tidy while you go.
- Have a fixed spot for everything.
Always put your bags, keys, glasses etc back to where they belong to so you don’t waste time looking for misplaced items. Put things back to their places at the end of each day. Clean up.
- Remember to charge your phone battery
Smart phones really have short battery lives. How stressful it is to have a flat battery when you need to use your phone the most! To avoid the situation, charge your phone overnight everyday. The battery should last you a full day without excessive usage.
- Check if you’ve got everything you need before leaving the house
- Do leave things behind either.
When you leave somewhere ( a restaurant, a taxi, someone else’s house, shops…), check if you have all your personal belongings with you.
- Put appointments in the diary.
Google calendar is a very useful tool to track your appointments and remind you when they are due. Don’t just rely on your memory.
6. Stay focused
Have laser focus when you set out to tackle your most important task. Stay away from any distraction when your are on it. Switch off your email notification; answer your emails when you have time. Put your phone on silent mode.
7. Always finish what you’ve started
Always finish the book you’ve started reading. Finish all your side projects. If you’ve signed up with a gym for a full year, go to the gym regularly for the entire year, not just the first month.
8. Stay curious and never stop learning
Always ready to learn new skills. Be curious about other people, be curious about things. Ask questions, find answers. Try new things. Keep an open mind.
9. Be financially responsible
- Stop impulsive shopping
Note down the ideas things you need to buy and do weekly grocery run instead of impulsive shopping trips. Before purchase anything, always ask yourself if you need them, if you already own something similar.
- Keep track of your spending
This will be something new to me too. Being an absentminded person, I totally had no idea how much I’m paying for my utility bills, health insurance, food, clothes… Though I was paying all the bills, my mind was always somewhere else – it never registered the amount being paid. This has to be changed.
- Pay more attention to your personal finance. Save and invest wisely
This is the next area I’ll have to focus on because I’m so bad with money. I once withdrew $2000 from ATM and forgot to take the cash. I used to keep paying rent for 6 months after moving out of the old place, until my old agent told me I was over paying. I’m still leaving my shopping bags behind after paying etc. 🙁
So change is much needed and I’m work on it.
10. Manage time more efficiently
Schedule beforehand. Record how you spend your time each day.
11. Be a problem solver
It’s easy to panic and complain when there’s a problem. Complaining is a pure waste of time and energy. Nothing positive will come out of it. Try to stay calm and collected all time. Remember: everything has a solution. Think about a solution.
12. Review your progress regularly
Plan and track your progress. Set daily/weekly/monthly/yearly goals. It doesn’t help to just
set goals dream in vain without taking actions and regular review of your progress.
Have at least 10 minutes “me” time everyday to review your day and set the intention for you new day. Have weekly/monthly/yearly reviews with yourself.
How To Maintain Those Good Habits
I’ve been try to break my old habit of getting up really late, skipping breakfast, never ever exercising and keeping eating until I’m about to burst… Sticking to the new good habits for the rest of your life is even harder but all is possible. Don’t forget: you have the ability to create the life that you want, to get the results you desire.
Are you struggling with change? Here are a few ways to help make those good habits you’ve developed easier to stick:
1. Start simple and keep it simple
Don’t be too ambitious with your goals. Don’t try to develop all the good habits at once. If you do, you’ll probably overwhelm yourself and give up very soon.
2. Be consistent
Once you decided to change one habit, take action and commit to it everyday. Don’t give up after one attempt and try again a few months later when you feel motivated again.
3. Don’t give up
When it gets hard and you want to give up, stay motivated. Remind yourself why you want to change at the first place.
4. Know the pain
Be aware of the fact that it’ll never be a smooth run. There will be obstacles and challenges along the way. Think ahead about what your potential obstacles will be and how you are going to handle the situation.
5. Banish excuses
Whenever we want to make consistent effort to change, the lazy part of our brain will come up with plenty of excuses to persuade us to stay in the old ways. Debate with yourself and don’t let the excuses get in the way! If you want to make getting up at 6am every morning a habit of yours, don’t allow bad weather, late night, bad mood etc to be the excuses for you to sleep in.
6. Regular review
So here’s a good practise of one of the good habits we’ve developed! Changing habits also needs regular review. Keeping remind yourself what is important and what’s need to be done. Review your progress and keep going!