Better habits = better life? Perhaps. But I’m a firm believer that small steps towards your goals is better than waiting for something to happen to you. You’re more likely to work hard and save your money then you are to hit the jackpot in the lottery, right? So develop small habits that are going to get you the results you want. You can just daydream of the perfect body, you have to work for it. You have to eat right, work out regularly and be disciplined. By regularly choosing a lean protein and veggies over pasta you’re creating a habit to better your health. By developing a good habit now then you can continue to work on your goals without having to focus on the small stuff – it will come natural to you.
I’m working on developing 10 habits to better your life, you should join me:
Considering your family – spouse, children in any decision is vital. You need to strengthen those relationships on a daily basis. Letting those around you know how much you care about them and need them is the most important. Think about you as a team. You and your team have certain goals, needs and wants. By treating your family as one unit then you all move forward together and can stay on the same page during big life decisions – like moving, changing jobs, big financial purchases, parenthood, etc.
Before any big decision I like to think about my family. “Is this the best choice for them?” “Will this help us reach our long-term goals?” Make your family a priority. You should put your spouse and your children before your job and before other commitments. It’s easy to say to put your family first, but it’s a lot harder. When you get caught up in projects, presentations, and other events it can be easy to let a few things slip. Remember why you’re working so hard, why you put in those long hours – it’s to better yourself and your family. To help your kids do more than you were able to do, but don’t forget that your family needs to be a unit.
Plan your days.
I make fun of J all the time for being the man with the plan, but he’s right. Now, I don’t want to go overboard with the planning. I like to have a little bit of adventure in my days or my trips, but I do like knowing where I need to be and what time I need to get there. I like having my planner updated with appointments, a daily task list for work and home, and a to-do list of things I’d like to get done. I usually rotate items off my to-do list and onto my daily task list when I’m ready.
When you plan your days, you’ll be able to do more and be more dependable. You won’t have unexpected pop-ups happen that prevent your from keeping appointments. Usually before I put anything on my planner, I check my planner. It’s a simple concept. Make sure you’re actually available the day and time you’re being asked to do something. That way you’re able to keep your appointments, be on time and make a good impression.
Manage your money
Successful people know how to work their finances. They know how to budget their money and are working towards their financial goals. Most of our spending habits are automatic. We have to mindfully manage our money and change our habits. You need to find out what works best for you and your family. J and I use a cash envelope system for our groceries and eating out. Mainly because those are two areas we used to unintentionally overspend in. By using cash, we can’t overspend. Once the green stuff is gone, we can no longer spend.
Make it a habit to review your bank account along with your budget on a weekly basis. By creating a habit to check-in to your finances then you’ll know where you stand. Make sure you keep track of your spending, too. I like to use Google Sheets to track our spending. I can access it from anywhere and can know just how we’re doing. I also compare our register to our online bank statement every few days. It takes about 5 minutes each time, but it reassures me that all of our bills are being paid and we don’t have anything unexpected coming out of our account.
Setup a savings account. J and I have two separate savings accounts. One for our emergency fund and the second one is for our irregular payments, like property taxes, home insurance, etc. That way we can budget for it on a monthly basis and have it ready when the bills come due.
Letting yourself get dehydrated can have a negative effect on yourself. You get tired, feel hungry, can get headaches and even get yourself sick. You can feel hungry even when you don’t need food. Typically when you think you’re hungry you make poor, unhealthy decisions. So make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day to keep you on track. I usually have a glass on my desk that I try to drink every few hours and then refill it.
There are so many benefits to drinking more water – more energy, better skin, etc. Did you know when you first wake up each morning your usually a little dehydrated? It’s true. You should make it a habit to drink a full glass of water first thing each morning. It will rehydrate you and get your day off on the right foot.
Small habits throughout each day will help your mind stay clear and sharp.
It’s true that sometimes all our minds and bodies need is a little bit R&R. If we let ourselves get run down then we tend to get sick more often. We are no good to anyone, including our family. Make it a habit to let yourself unwind and put yourself first sometimes.
Rest doesn’t have to be literally sleeping. It can come in many forms, like reconnecting with a friend, a bubble bath, being alone, or spending time doing something you enjoy. Find something that makes you happy and be sure yo allow yourself the chance to do it.
Say “no” more often.
In a world of instant gratification and constant yes, it’s okay to say no. You have to prioritize what’s important to you and what you want to spend your time on. So if something comes up and it’s not something that will better one of your goals then say no. The world won’t end if you pass on a get together, another project, or commitment. By knowing where you want to spend your time then you’ll better be able to say yes only when you actually want to.
Make it a habit to say no more often. Try not to overcommit yourself during the day so you can focus on what you really love. If you can’t say no to a project at work, which is totally understandable, then perhaps you have a team that you can use. Get others involved so you can share the workload and make it less stressful.
It’s true that you can really feel better just by cutting junk out of your diet. Now, I’m not one for extremes so I’m not suggesting completely cutting out foods you love. I’m just all in favor of moderation. If someone told me that I couldn’t eat ice cream anymore then I’d probably pass out of shock. That just won’t do.
If you don’t enjoy the food and it doesn’t reap much benefit, then there isn’t a need to eat it. Find recipes that you can cook together as a family and make if fun. Make a habit out of spending time together, not just eating dinner, but also preparing it. When I was little, my role was washing the veggies and potatoes so my older sister could finish preparing them. My mom was very good at putting us to work. I’m sure when we were younger we actually caused more work for her, but she was always good about making us feel like were apart of something.
Don’t be too strict with yourself or your family. Allow some yummy tasting treats in moderation. You’ll have long-term success when you don’t deprive yourself. Your mind will feel clearer, you’ll have more energy and will get sick less with a healthy diet.
Get up early.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a morning person. I prefer to sleep in until my natural alarm clock wakes me up. I don’t want to hear any buzzing, barking, or any noise. I know I’m not alone here, right? Who’s with me? But we have to realize that we cannot be successful starting each day at 10am. It just doesn’t work.
You need to wake up and give yourself time to adjust each morning. As we get older, the less we’re able to set the alarm for 15 minutes before we need to walk out the door. We need to time to wake up our body and our mind, we need coffee, water (make sure we’re hydrating ourselves!), food, time to get dressed, shower, etc.
Make sure you’re waking up about the same time each morning, including the weekends. We have our dogs as our weekend alarm clocks. Like clock work each morning, the pups are up at 6am. Our body needs to get into a habit of waking up at the same time. That way we have the right amount of time to allow ourselves to gently wake up and get ready. It’s best to start your day off with no stress and a little consistency.
You also should go to bed at the same time each night too. Creating habits for yourself to get up earlier can really help you be more successful. If you’re tired then go to bed earlier, don’t push yourself too far.
Keeping your house and your workspace clean can make you less stressed. You’ll feel better just putting away your shoes, making your bed, and cleaning off your desk each day. My mom had this saying when I was growing up and it got burned into my brain, “keep your work area neat and clean.” One thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that she was right. But please, please don’t tell her that.
You don’t have to spend hours each night tidying up, but a few minutes through out the day will really make a difference. Before going to bed do a quick sweep through the main rooms to make sure blankets are folded, shoes are put away and the dishes are taken care of. Try to get the whole house involved – everyone gets a task. You can take care of the dishes, husband takes care of the family room and the kids put away their toys before bed. Making it a family effort can really help the pressure from building up because you won’t feel like it’s all your responsibility. Here are 5 tips to become more organized that can make a huge difference.
Make time for yourself.
This one kind of goes with the rest section, but it’s very important. You must have so many different things pulling at us every day – kids, work, home, other family commitments, committees, etc. You name it and you probably have to face it. You probably have a tendency to put everything and everyone else ahead of your own needs. It’s okay to make time for yourself.
You have to find something that you’re passionate about or something helps you recharge your batteries. It doesn’t have to be daily or even weekly, but you need to allow yourself some downtime. You’ll be able to focus on what’s really important and give gratitude to your blessings. A great habit to develop that can change your attitude for the better is giving gratitude.
Having time to reflect and show appreciation for the great things in your life can really positively affect you. Making a habit to remember why you’re blessed can be beneficial for your soul. It can be as simple as making yourself your favorite meal, taking a long bubble bath, having time to read a new novel, or just being alone. Find something that gives you a chance to be thankful and hold onto it.
These habits don’t have to be too complicated, but they’ll take thought at the beginning. It takes 21 days to change or make a new habit. So give yourself three weeks. Also, don’t try to make too many changes at once. It can be overwhelming and you can get discouraged. Keep yourself positive and remember why you are trying to create new, healthy habits.