Once you reach a certain age, you kinda get set into your routines. Whether you like the routine or not, it’s a cycle you get slumped into. A lot of habits that we naturally cycle into aren’t healthy- both mentally and physically. The issue is, when you go to try and fix something, it can be hard to figure out where to start or easy get discouraged quickly.
Making a new habit takes anywhere from 18 – 254 days but the average is 66. Two months really isn’t that long to make a new habit become automatic. Think about, that is less time than you spend stressing about the holidays.
There is a lot of science behind why certain habits work and why others don’t. It’s not just luck. But often these great habits aren’t the ones we are synced up with. Hey, something has to separate the good from the great. Work towards greatness and spend two months trying to adopt these habits that will absolutely changed your life from the inside – out.
Having both a healthy mental state and a healthy physical state is important for longevity with any activity. This list are not only things that I do, but things that I too am incorporating into my life. A lot of these don’t have a real stopping point. That might sound overwhelming but it’s actually a good thing. When most people reach a finish line, they are done… so this kind of eliminates that problem and keeps you on the path towards self improving while keeping the “newness” in tact.
Now let’s take a look at this list.
Getting Up Early:
I started with this one first because for most people this is the toughest hill to get over. Listen to me when I say, it is the most beneficial. Study after study proves that those who wake up early are more productive, perform at work better/more quickly, have a more positive outlook and achieve more of their goals.
The idea is pretty simple. Getting up earlier allows you more time to get things done without distractions of the day. Doing some tasks BEFORE you go to work, means you no longer have an excuse to not do them after a long day of work.
Getting up earlier doesn’t mean less sleep. It means going to bed a little earlier. Most Americans spend a couple hours with the TV every night or scrolling through our phones. We can afford the time to go to bed earlier without actually sacrificing something important to our day. Plus limiting your TV or social media time is never a bad thing.
Getting up earlier and limiting TV time means you’ve got time to incorporate some exercise. Do I really need to list the benefits to exercise? You, on the internet, do you really not know the endless positives for those who work out their body on a regular basis? I surely hope not.
Well to reinforce this in your head, here are the benefits in short. Sweating is incredibly important to your body for detox needs. Cardio work in pertinent to your respiratory or circulatory health. Strength is important to supporting bone health and keeping your mobility as you age. And finally exercise is good for your brain. People who exercise before applying themselves academically perform better than those who don’t. Not to mention all the mental health perks like how it aids with anxiety, depression and your sleep cycle.
No one is saying you need to become a heavy lifter. Start a yoga program. Go on brisk walks every morning and evening. Mix it up. Variety is the spice of life and there is no limit to what you can add to working out.
Treat Your Body Right:
You can exercise all you want but at the end of the day, if you’re giving your body garbage for the rest of the day, exercising isn’t going to make all the difference for you. Exercising is a start and normally it’s easier than feeding yourself correctly. Americans idolize food more than any other country. Our portions are insane, our FDA approves formaldehyde as a preservative in McDonald’s food and we use cheese and butter more than any other culture. It’s working against all of our goals.
You have to put good things into your body to expect good things in return. Less added sugar, less dairy, MORE vegetables, MORE making your own food so you know exactly what’s in it. Learn how to actually cook a meal and not just throw something on a tray and into the oven. You really are what you eat. How can you possibly expect to have energy to exercise correctly (yes, you can do it incorrectly and waste your time) and perform well at work if you’re feeding food that is made to make you slow and sleepy?
It doesn’t mean you never indulge. Treat yourself means to do something extra, not always be extra and have extra. Can’t call it indulging if it’s just a habit.
Eating right isn’t the only way to treat your body right. You absorb a lot through your skin! Care about the products you use. Can you pronounce what is used in your make up? Does your face wash contain chemicals you aren’t familiar with? Are there heavy metals in what you’re using? Did you know most deodorants contain aluminum? Heavy metals are toxic and can build up through skin absorption. Do you wear sunscreen regularly? In Arizona it should absolutely be in your daytime moisturizer.
Taking the time to be aware of the products you use everyday will not only open your eyes to a lot but will give you a sense of pride in companies you end up supporting. Plus all the health benefits of not putting toxic chemicals into your body. Care about where you throw your money!
Create AND Follow A Budget
Sure everyone has a “budget” but do you have a real budget? The key to a useful budget is to create one that is practical, a little flexible, has savings transfers incorporated into it and one that is followed.
So what is a practical budget? A practical one is broken down into each bill category and by paycheck. Look at how much you spend for each bill on average. Is there room for improvement? Don’t just say, “I’ll cut down on my water bill.” You need a plan on HOW you’re actually going to do that. Always round up when creating a budget for your bills. Always better to have more money left than have a utility shut off because your budget is too tight.
That brings us to the flexible part. Don’t budget down to the dollar. Round up where you can and always leave “x” amount of cash as extra funds. This leaves room for days when you needed to run the AC more, let a guest do laundry, spent a little more on groceries or it can be money you use to treat yourself to a Starbucks that week because it was a rough week. Leave room for slipping up.
To successfully save for something, you need to actively save. Even if you’re not saving for something specific, having a savings account is SO important. Don’t wait to see what’s left at the end of the month and then toss it into savings. Build your budget around the idea of saving. Create an automatic transfer. Sometimes it’s just best if you pretend you were never paid the money to begin with. Save practically. Make sure the amount you’re saving works for you. Whether it’s $20 a paycheck or $200 it needs to work for you or else it’s not going to work at all.
Finally, all this work is a waste of time if you aren’t following your budget. The best way to follow a budget is to make it accessible to you and easy to memorize. Keep it as a note on your phone and laptop. Refer to it often before shopping. Keep track of your spending as you go to make sure you are keeping within the guidelines. A lot of people I know prefer to use apps. Whatever fits into your lifestyle. Find the way that will make you follow your budget.
Get in the Habit of Cleaning Daily:
Not enough people do this. It’s been made out to be this scary thing that is supposed to take all day long and keep you from making plans for the day. That’s not true though.
If you clean a little everyday and as you go, it keeps you from ever having to spend a whole Saturday cleaning. Where does someone find the time to clean everyday? With some of the things we already talked about above! Get up earlier. Use that time to tidy up your kitchen before work. Use the energy from your work out to knock out the vacuuming before you start your day. Make a chore chart that gives you two small tasks to do each work day and one larger task to do on your off day.
Notice something is dirty? Just get up and wipe it down right then. Binging a TV show? Sit in the floor and organize the cabinet in that room or get the dusting done. There is not right or wrong way, as long as you’re doing a little something everyday. It will get easier and you’ll find you have more free time than you realized to get this type of work done.
Stay Active During the Day:
Even if you exercise, you need to stay active during the day. This is going to not only keep your metabolism up which helps with a slim waist but it also keeps your blood pumping to help your brain.
Basically if you stay active, it’s easier for you to keep moving all day long. When you take a lot breaks or long breaks, it’s harder for your body to get moving again. Your heart slows down and your muscles get cold. It’s now harder to get up than it was 30 minutes ago.
Make a habit of moving your body every hour. Whether you’re just walking the stairs in your house, walking around the office or even doing some quick stretches, you’ll start to see a difference in your reaction to getting up to do a task. It will be easier on your body and you will be more mentally prepared.
Use a Planner:
You might already do this! Go ahead and skip over this one if you avidly use a planner. Teachers are PROS with these. I commend you on all you guys do and how organized you are.
If you haven’t dropped on this bandwagon yet, it might be time to. First, let me recommend a written planner. We don’t use as much of our memory when we type something out on our phones. When you handwrite something, it just sticks better. Secondly, you can personalize a written one to your hearts content. Using colors, doodles and stickers to help you remember your tasks.
A planner isn’t just to help you remember your plans. It’s also to help you organize them in a way that is most efficient. You can actually see how much time you have left in a day and where you can afford to add a little extra task, including planned out breaks to make sure you’re eating lunch etc. throughout the week. Finally, a planner is going to help you stay motivated too. Nothing feels better than putting a check mark next to a couple of tasks you were dreading. Use a planner daily. It will change your life.
Make the Time for Fun:
This one might seem unconventional but it’s important. Having fun is the perfect way to keep your brain chemistry in balance. You need the endorphins you release from having fun to keep moving! They keep you happy, motivated and give you that sense of accomplishment.
Making time for fun is also about balance. Self care is important to every successful routine. You can’t take care of other things if you aren’t taken care of yourself.
Sometimes when you are working on self improving, you get so caught up adding tasks and new things to try that you forget to allot time for things you already like. Use your planner and schedule that fun if you have to! Just make sure it happens,
So simple but you might not be doing it enough. People who say they don’t like the taste of water are actually incorrect. Your body craves pure water, (well with natural minerals.) Those that say they don’t like it have drank other things for so long- and often had it reinforced by their upbringing- that they have actually convinced themselves that they don’t like it even though their body is screaming for it. Kind of like when a parent tells a child they don’t like avocados so that kid goes years saying he doesn’t like avocados and never eats them. Then as an adult, someone makes them try avocado and they find out they love it. Not the exact same thing but you get what I’m saying… maybe?
People who don’t drink water tend to weigh more, bloat easily, move slower, test lower and perform more poorly at work than those who do. They also have more constricted circulatory paths that can cause a whole plethora of health issues that is basically an endless list.
Drink water. I’m not going to keep listing reasons why you need to. You have the internet and I’m sure you’ve been told before.
Do Challenges Often:
Challenges don’t have to be bad or these huge life obstacles. They can be fun and inspiring.
Find challenges that motivate you. Challenge yourself to beat your running time. Challenge yourself to try a new hobby once a month. Do a 30 day challenge you find on Facebook. Get a reading list and challenge yourself to complete it.
Never stop challenging yourself. Accomplishing something is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health.
Speaking of a reading list… READ MORE! It keeps you sharp. I’m also going to note to not spend more time reading political articles. That’s not helping you. It’s hardly educating you. All that reading more political articles is going to do is make people want to be around you less.
This doesn’t restrict you to fiction. You can read scholarly articles, National Geographic, “how-to” guides to teach yourself something new. There is never nothing to read.
Reading more can also totally include fiction. Fiction is good for your brain. It stimulates your creative centers and helps you expand your imagination by filling in the gaps that the author doesn’t give you.
Keep expanding your vocabulary and keep your mental acuity by reading a little every week (everyday if you can!)
Eliminate Non-Essential items:
Time for a big clean! Eliminate non-essential items from your life.
Decluttering your physical space can lead to a more organized life outside of the home and free space in your mind. So many of us have closets of crap we “might need one day” and never do. If you haven’t thought about it in years, it’s not worth keeping. If you haven’t used it, get rid of it. If you aren’t taking good care of an item, you probably shouldn’t have it.
Everything should have a place in your home. A place that makes sense and makes that item useful. If it’s not both of those things… you probably do not need the item!
The easiest place to start with this is your closet. If you haven’t worn the item in two years- it’s gone. You won’t miss it and can always replace it. Is it falling apart? Then it’s no longer a helpful/functioning item… get rid of it or repurpose it.
After you knock out a clothing closet, your storage areas will be a breeze.
Practice Kindness Everywhere:
The best kind of change is the one that starts from within. Practice kindness in all your tasks.
This is one of those challenges that’s never ending. There is always an opportunity for kindness. Helping a stranger, a coworker, blah blah blah. But it’s not always stuff that is adding a task to your day. Kindness can be watching what you say to your spouse or your tone with someone. It can be not rolling your eyes or watching how you react to someone who is annoying you.
Often the smallest acts of kindness are the most difficult ones to muster up. It’s important we exercise our kindness muscle and practice it regularly to truly change from the inside out.
If we are being honest, this isn’t the first time you’ve heard most of these. I know, I’m not some innovative genius but I am a true believer in how these things have completely changed my life.
These are factors that I have picked up from the icons I look up to the most. The type of people that balance family, career, energy and mental acuity. The kind of people that change the world. Now, I don’t think I’ll change the world but I can change even one person’s life by getting them to adopt a few of these habits into their life… I’ll consider myself successful. I might not change the world but you might!