Is it time to change your life? If you don't feel like you're living in line with your purpose, it's hard to feel fulfilled. However, it can be just as hard to take a leap into the unknown. In truth, changing your life is really more about making a series of small, adjustments known as good habits.
But what does a good habit look like – and how do you stick to it once you've started?
If you've long been thinking “I want a change”, this article is the perfect place to start. We'll explore why good habits matter, offering tips and tricks that will help you create new thoughts and behaviors.
In addition, we'll show you how such changes can enable you to become your best self. We will offer real-life examples from people who swear by their good habits.
Firstly, let's take a moment to consider what a good habit actually is.
In short, it's a repeated behavior pattern that supports us in achieving a goal.
Sometimes, that goal might be as simple as remembering information.
In other cases, we may be aiming for something like improved health or quitting a bad habit.
If you think about it, you'll realize we all rely on basic habits that help us with everyday tasks.
For example, we might say “Wed-nes-day” phonetically in order to remember how to spell it properly. We might say “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos” when remembering the order of the planets.
People often ask “How long does it take to form a new habit?”.
The most common estimate 20-31 days – until the point that the habit is entrenched, sticking to it takes work.
Part of learning how to form a habit involves creating routines that help you remember to do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time.
For example, if you want to start a habit of exercising every day, you might decide to do so at 8am every morning (rather than just vaguely committing to doing it at “some point” each day).
Daily habits can also be supported by paying attention to the four stages of habit.
Daily habits start out with cues (which trigger your mind to initiate a behavior).
They then move on to cravings (which are your motivations for sticking to the habit), proceed to a response stage (where you perform the habit), and finally move on to a reward (the habit's end goal).
Forming good habits is a reliably effective way to grow into your best self and achieve your overall goals.
No matter what you want with your life or how you want to change it, good habits can help you.
While some are specific to particular aims, there are many adjustments you can make that promote generally positive traits – like motivation, optimism, determination, and self-confidence.
We'll work our way through five good habits to start today.
All of them are proven to make a difference to your well-being and give you some basic suggestions that will help you make these habits stick.
If you train yourself to wake up early, benefits include having the luxury to relax and plan your day, and more time to attend to some of your daily goals before work or family commitments kick in.
It's never fun waking up to the screech of an alarm, so it's worth working on ways to wake naturally.
If you leave your curtains open a little, the sunrise can wake you up (and in time, your brain learns to respond to this). Meanwhile, buying a light alarm can produce the same result, and may offer a more gentle method of waking up.
Everything is easier if you develop good habits when it comes to managing money.
Some of the most useful habits that help you learn how to manage money wisely include restricting your spending each month (and putting a set amount into your savings), and logging your spending for a month (so you can evaluate it and make changes).
If you find it tricky to stick to a budget, accountability can make a difference – recruit someone who is also trying to save, and encourage each other by trading regular reports on how you're doing.
Visualization techniques are proven to support achieving your goals.
Visualizing your goals simply means developing a vivid picture of them and spending regular time contemplating this picture.
For example, you can set aside a daily 10-minute session where you visualize what you want to achieve.
Find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes, and see yourself living the life you want to live.
You can focus on particular life goals, such as having your dream job or ideal partner.
However, it's also helpful to build up an overall image of where you want to be, including all sorts of little details.
A daily stretching routine is fantastic for both body and mind.
Physically, it helps you to release tension, which makes you feel more comfortable and energized.
Meanwhile, a daily stretch also helps to calm and center you, putting you in a productive frame of mind for the day ahead.
Find a way to move your body every morning, even if it's just for a few minutes.
Your stretch routine doesn't have to be complex – any commitment to exercise daily yields benefits for your well-being.
If you have time, you can also build in a cardiovascular workout to get your blood pumping.
Finally, try to live in the moment.
How often do you find yourself ruminating about the past or worrying about the future?
How often does that actually make you feel good?
When you learn to live in the present, you start to enjoy life much more and become much more engaged in every aspect of your day.
A regular meditation or mindfulness practice can help you to make this change.
Even simple habits like taking a walk and challenging yourself to notice three beautiful things can help as well.
Once you get used to living in the moment, you'll immediately see the benefits and the habit will stick.
While we've noted that good habits support achieving your goals, it's helpful to have concrete examples that show you exactly what a difference these habits can make.
Let's look at three habits of successful people and consider how their particular routine helped to make them especially successful.
In all of these cases, you'll be able to see how the habits generalize and can be used to improve your own life.
Award-winning actress Jennifer Anniston swears by a specific morning routine.
She emphasizes how important meditation is for her well-being.
She notes that doing it for 20 minutes sets her up for the day, and she combines it with drinking warm lemon water.
Research indicates that even just a few minutes of meditation helps to change your brain in a positive way.
Jennifer Aniston's way of life greatly increases her positivity and gives her a great get-up-and-go mentality throughout the rest of her day.
While you probably know plenty about Albert Einstein's scientific discoveries.
But you're less likely to know that he was a staunch advocate of different forms of mindfulness.
In particular, Albert Einstein prized the opportunity to go for long walks as this cleared his mind of thoughts that troubled him.
He also said that staring at the ceiling enabled him to tune into his thoughts.
Habits like this foster self-reflection and self-knowledge.
Former President Barack Obama is known for his efficiency and focus.
Obama says he owes a lot of his success to his carefully designed morning routine.
He starts the day with 45 minutes of exercise, alternating between cardiovascular workouts and strength training. He follows this up with green tea or water.
This benefits him greatly for the rest of the day as he is energized and ready for what is to come during the day.
At this point, you should have a good idea of what some of the best habits look like, how to create them, and how they can benefit you.
However, it's also worth looking at bad habits – how to identify them, how to break them, and how to replace them with productive alternatives.
After all, stubborn bad habits are among the things most likely to stop you from establishing the kinds of good habits we discussed above.
So, what exactly are bad habits?
They are behaviors that hold you back and that you find hard to break even though you know they're unhealthy.
Examples of a habit you might struggle to break include smoking, procrastinating, over-eating, and engaging in negative self-talk.
However, examples of bad habits can include anything that doesn't foster your growth and that ultimately makes you feel worse.
Let's take a closer look at how to break bad habits, exploring how a slow, steady process can help you stay vigilant and make a permanent change.
Simply acknowledging a bad habit and making a conscious decision to move on from it are two huge parts of overcoming bad habits.
As briefly indicated above, it's also important to know that you can't immediately shed a bad habit, and must approach the process slowly and carefully without becoming too disheartened by difficulties.
After identifying counterproductive habits and resolving to change them, the next step in learning how to overcome bad habits is to find replacements that work.
We've already covered a few good candidates, including daily exercise, early rises, mindfulness exercises, and creative visualization.
However, there some further techniques that are especially good replacements for unhealthy routines.
If you integrate the following positive habits into your day, this can help to break a bad habit that does not serve you and distract you from previous triggers.
Bad habits typically give you a negative mindset and encourage you to see the world in a negative light too.
In contrast, positiveness props up self-esteem.
It also teaches you to expect the best from your life.
If you find it hard to think positive and need more than just a reminder, it's good to start practicing some simple exercises that retrain your perception.
In particular, change yourself to flip negatives into positives.
Every time you think something like “I have nothing to do today”, reply with something like “I have a free day to myself – how can I make the best of it?”.
Similarly, practicing gratitude involves cultivating the kind of attitude that supports a healthy, positive self-concept.
It's a way of feeling good that doesn't rely on bad habits or on excess.
The tried-and-tested way of practicing gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal.
In a gratitude journal you write a daily entry listing some things you appreciate.
While these may be big, the point is to log the little things that make life exciting and joyous.
Practicing gratitude should also extend to how you treat others.
If you share positivity, you will get positivity in return.
Smiling more often is an extension of practicing gratitude and thinking positive.
Smiling more often is a good habit that helps to keep you in an upbeat, generous frame of mind.
Smile when you're alone, smile at strangers, and smile at the people you love.
You might be surprised by just how much it changes your mood.
Studies show that it encourages your brain to release endorphins that boost your mood.
This is creating an endless cycle of positivity.
The benefits of gratitude and positivity include busting bad habits and making life more positive.
Smile and you will also simply enjoy life more!
Now you've developed a deeper understanding of good habits and how they can help to achieve your goals.
The natural next step is to learn more techniques that support you in becoming your best self.
Understanding the Law of Attraction can take you to another level of productivity, positivity, and self-actualization.
We'll conclude by taking a quick look at two exercises that can help you manifest the life you want.
Firstly, try creating a dream board – this involves creating collages of images and text that relate to the image of your goals.
You can add anything you want, as long as you associate it with the ideas you have. Keep this dream board visible at work or home, and let it connect you to your vision of the future.
Secondly, experiment with keeping a dream journal. Often, your dreams carry significant messages from your subconscious. You are likely to grasp these meanings if you quickly writing a note about your dreams when you wake.
At the end of the week, review the dreams in the book and notice recurring images and themes. What do these repeating patterns tell you about who you are, what you want, and what you need to do? You might be seeing Angel symbols and signs everyday – if so, they each mean specific things.