Over the years, I’ve adopted many different “positive” habits.
To me, a habit is positive when it improves the quality of my life. A lot has been written about forming habits.
How hard it is? How long does it take? What’s the best way to break habits? How do we adopt new habits?
My experience is that everyone can adopt any habit they want. There’s only one condition though: You need a good reason to make a change (I talk about that in-depth on this podcast episode).
And in 99% of cases, the reason to change comes from personal suffering, sadness, and hurt. At some point, you can’t stand your current behavior anymore.
Don’t worry about how you will change. Focus on what habits you want to form and why.
After one of my friends recently asked me about my current habits, I decided to share them here—with a brief explanation of what the habits are good for.
1. Do a full-body workout with weights 3 times a week
Strength training has several benefits. It protects bone health, muscle mass, keeps you lean, increases energy levels, and prevents injuries.
I’ve been lifting weights since I was 16. It’s the only habit on this list that I’ve been doing for that long. Like many people who lift weights, I started with split routines.
That means you work out different muscle during every session. With most routines, you’re training a specific muscle only one time per week. It turns out that muscles need more stress to become stronger.
Ideally, you want to train all your muscles, 3 times a week. That’s why I’ve been doing full body workouts. It’s simple, practical, and it works.
2. Set 3-4 daily priorities
This is one of the best productivity strategies there is. We all know that focus is what brings us results.
No focus? No results. So how do you focus? By limiting your options and tasks. Elimination is the key.
Be very clear about what you want to achieve every single day, week, and year.
Every day, work on 3-4 essential (and small) tasks that will bring you closer to your weekly and yearly goals.
3. Read 60 minutes a day
I get it, you’re too busy to read. Or maybe you just don’t like to read.
Well, you’re not getting off that easily.
Reading is essential for your cognition. But you already knew that. How about this? Reading will also turn you into a better thinker and writer.
“But I still don’t like to read.” Well, there are many things in life we don’t like, but we still do them. Instead of telling yourself you don’t like to read, learn to enjoy it by doing it every day.
And like magic, one day, you’ll love to read.
4. Sleep 7-8 hours a night
I never sacrifice my sleep for anything. I recently canceled a meeting in the morning because I slept late. The night before, I was reading a good book that totally consumed me.
After reading, I started taking notes. And before I knew it, it was 2 am. I had to wake up at 7 am to make the meeting.
I canceled the meeting. I’m not going to sleep for 6 hours so I can make a meeting when I know that I’ll be tired the whole day.
Some people can perform well with 5 hours of sleep. But most of us need more. If you’re part of the latter group, make sure you get enough sleep. And be dead serious about it. If you’re not in a position to cancel meetings etc, sleep early.
5. Walk 30 minutes a day
If you can’t MAKE the time to go for a daily walk, you’re not in control of your life. I don’t even walk for the health benefits. Sure, walking keeps the body moving and is good for you.
But I go for a daily walk because it breaks the pattern of our mundane lives. Look, we can’t deny that life is routine. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But when you walk outside, you’re forced to be one with the world. It heightens your senses. You can go alone or with someone else. You can have a good conversation. Or you can simply enjoy the surroundings.
6. Follow the intermittent fasting eating pattern
I don’t eat anything after my dinner. And I skip breakfast. That means I “fast” for 15-16 hours every day.
There are some health benefits associated with intermittent fasting. But we have to be careful with making claims.
The reason I like it is that it makes me feel and look better. Plus, I can eat whatever I want during the day without gaining any weight.
I don’t eat junk food. I stick to whole foods with high nutritional value. Also, my first meal contains a lot of unsaturated fat and protein. And finally, make sure you consume the calories your body needs to operate (2000 for women, 2500 for men, on average).
7. Be present
We’re so focused on our goals that we forget to enjoy the present moment. This is one of my biggest pitfalls.
I really need to remind myself EVERY SINGLE day that I should enjoy the now.
We’re always waiting until we achieve something. “I will be happy then.”
Nope, you won’t if you’re always stuck in the future. Find a trigger that brings you back to the present moment.
For example, I recently bought a new watch. During the same time, I was reading a lot about this spiritual stuff. Now, every time I look at my watch, I say, “What time is it? NOW.”
8. Practice kindness & love
We all treat our love like it’s a depletable resource. That’s false. Love is unlimited and never runs out. You can give it away as much as you like.
But your ego stops you from doing that. You always want something in return.
So give this a try. Realize that you have an unlimited resource. Give some of your love and kindness away every day. Don’t worry about keeping score. You have enough love anyway.
9. Journal or write 30 minutes a day
I need to get my thoughts in order every day. I do that by writing. That helps me to focus on what matters to me. That’s why I journal.
Even when I’m not writing articles, I sit down and journal—only for myself. I don’t write in my journal for others. Journaling is also an excellent tool to become a better thinker and person.
10. Save 30% of your income
If you can’t save 30%, save 10%. Saving is not about how much. It’s about how often.
You save by cutting out useless things you do daily or weekly. You don’t need to buy a latte every day. You also don’t need to buy “organic” cashew nuts for $10.
Save on the small things. They will turn into big lumps of cash in time. Especially if you invest that extra cash.
And that is also the secret to these 10 habits. They are all small. And the daily progress you make seems insignificant.
You will only see the return it has on your life over time. You must stick to these habits until your life gets better.
And when that happens, you’ll keep going—not because you have to, but because you want to.
Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance. His ideas and work have been featured in TIME, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Observer, and many more publications. Join his free weekly newsletter.