5 Habits That Will Change Your Life
1. Have a morning routine
How you start your day affects how the rest of your day will go. Too often, people without morning routines stay too long in bed and waste precious time, aren’t able to eat a healthy breakfast because of time constraints, run late for whatever they need to do, have an unhealthy sleep cycle, and generally are less productive than they are able to be.
The morning is when human beings are often at their highest functioning level, both mentally and physically. Brains are physically bigger and more active after you wake up because the brain receives more body fluid when the head and body are level during sleep. Additionally, sleep itself is good for your mind and body as it repairs muscles, organs, and cells, and circulates essential chemicals through your blood stream. Growth hormones and testosterone, both essential to our health, increase during sleep while the stress hormone cortisol decreases.
Assuming you get a good amount of sleep, and if not you should do so, you are at your most productive in the morning. Having a morning routine not only encourages you to get more sleep by going to bed and waking up at similar times every day, it also lets you take advantage of the time of day when your mind and body are at their best to get things done and set the tone for the rest of the day.
On workdays, my morning routine is to wake up at 5am (I’m usually in bed by 9pm before a workday), boil some eggs and/or sausages for breakfast, work out while my breakfast is boiling, eat my eggs and/or sausages after I work out, eat some fruits as well, take a cold shower, get dressed and ready for work, and go to work.
2. Set and accomplish daily goals
If you want your day to be productive you need to know what you want to get done. Setting daily goals will give your day direction and motivate you to get those goals accomplished.
Make sure the goals you set are concrete and unambiguous. For example, having a goal of “write an article about good habits” is concrete while a goal of “write something” is ambiguous. Likewise, having the goal of “finishing two chapters” in a book you’re reading is more definite than having the goal of “read today”. It is important that your goals are concrete because it will give you a clear idea of what you want done and push you to get it done. You will know and be satisfied if you “write an article about good habits” while you may not be if you only “write something”. You will be proud of yourself for “finishing two chapters” in a book while you might consider yourself lazy if your goal of “read today” ends up being reading a single page.
Having daily goals in your mind is better than not knowing what you want to achieve for the day, but writing down your goals psychologically commits you to them and you’re more likely to accomplish your goals if you write them down. Buy a planner and make the habit of writing down goals for each day and putting a check mark next to the goals after you finish them. I guarantee you it feels great to see the checks next to those goals and it will allow you to appreciate how much you can accomplish.
I personally have a daily planner where I set my goals for the day and put check marks next to them at the end of the day after I finish them. I started this habit last year and have been a lot more productive because of it.
3. Read books
In today’s day and age people do read all the time, but the things they read trend more towards short tweets, Instagram captions, and online articles. While these mediums are great for conveying information quickly and concisely, they rarely allow for the deep reading that you get from focusing your attention on a single book.
Reading books gives you a level of depth that you cannot get from a tweet, or caption, or even an online article. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, you will be more immersed in the book and for an extended period of time. If you’re reading to learn, a book would give you a greater depth of understanding than from a short article online. If you’re reading fiction, the immersive experience of a novel would trigger your creativity and imagination much more so than a short piece on the internet. Moreover, reading novels takes active effort and, as a result, would stimulate your imagination to a far greater degree than if you passively watch a movie or TV show. That is why for books that have been adapted into films or TV shows, people who have read the books and seen the film or TV adaptations often prefer the books.
Reading books is also exercise for your mind. It requires a level of focus, attention, and memory that is scientifically proven to produce new synapses in the brain and strengthen existing ones, enhancing your overall brain functioning. Thus, not only would you learn about topics in greater detail (non-fiction), or become more creative and imaginative (fiction), your brain will literally be smarter and more powerful.
I usually read before I go to sleep. In addition to all the benefits I mentioned above, it has a relaxing effect on me which is perfect for a before-bed activity.
4. Exercise and have a healthy diet
Your body is a reflection of your health, and the better your health, the better you’ll feel, the better you’ll look, the longer you’ll live, the stronger you’ll become, and the greater the energy you’ll have to get things done and get them done well.
Two of the most important aspects of having good health is exercise and diet. This habit can really be split into two different habits, but since they go hand-in-hand and achieve the same purpose, I’ll count them as one.
Humans are not meant to sit at a desk all day. We are not sedentary creatures and it is unhealthy if we attempt to live like one. Exercise is essential for us to maintain good health and it is important to exercise multiple times a week.
I usually exercise 4 to 5 times a week, often after I wake up. It’s also good to take 2 or 3 rest days a week, especially if you do strength training, to allow muscles to repair and rebuild. In fact, not taking rest days after a few days of strength training would be counterproductive as your muscles wouldn’t heal fast enough and may become weaker as a result.
But if you exercise and have a bad diet you also won’t be very healthy. What you eat is also important for your health and will affect your work-out results.
Because the body absorbs nutrition faster after exercise, I eat after working out. I personally follow a high-protein low-carb diet, eating mostly meats, fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables, while seldom consuming carb-heavy foods. There is a lot of discussion from health gurus, authors, fitness enthusiasts, etc. on what is the best diet, with no clear consensus. Ultimately you have to decide what works for you. As someone who loves to eat meat, I like my diet and appreciate how natural it is. Humans have eaten meats, fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables for thousands of years before we invented agriculture and the carb-heavy grains that come with it. Although there is still debate, foods that humans have evolved to consume (meats, fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables) are healthier in my opinion than the carb-heavy modern diet that has led to the obesity epidemic in America.
5. Take action
Most importantly, if you want to change your life you need to take action. Having a bias for action is crucial to achieving your dreams and goals. Whatever it is you want from life, it is more likely that you will attain it if you take action than if you wait for it to fall on your lap.
Taking action puts you in control of your life. Instead of submitting to whatever the world dishes out to you, your decision to take charge and take responsibility will steer you towards where you want to go. Life is a do-it-yourself journey. If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing other than what you already have. But if you want more from life, if you have dreams and aspirations, you need to take decisive action to make them happen.
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