“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.“Aristotle
It takes 30 days to form a habit! Pick some habits you want to practice and give it a shot!
Have you found yourself feeling low energy lately? Do you feel like you need a boost or a pick-me-up? This time of year, we are all susceptible to falling into the winter doldrums. The days are growing shorter and we’re seeing less of the sun. This is the time of year when we all could use a reminder of how important it is to live a life of intention and purpose, full of good habits.
An expert on habits informed me recently that it takes 30 days to form a good habit. That doesn’t sound too bad now, does it? It’s simple: pick the things you want to do and do them for 30 days straight and they will consequently come easily to you going forward.
Optimize your body and mind by simply setting a course of good habits for yourself to shape your days. What habits will make you most productive? What habits will energize you and make you the best you can be?
Below are seven great habits you should adopt. These habits will shape your day and push you towards being a more energized and more positive you!
1. Exercise every day.
You don’t need to train for an Ironman, it can be as simple as taking your dog for a longer and faster walk than you do now. Exercise stimulates the body’s production of endorphins, also known as “feel-good hormones.” And if there’s something you can do to stimulate feeling good, do it! It’s a simple equation: if you feel good, you will be more productive.
We all make excuses and exercise is something that can easily be moved to the bottom of anyone’s to-do list. When other, seemingly more important things, crop up and fill all the hours of the day, exercise is often the first to go. This is why it’s helpful to find a buddy with whom to exercise. Your buddy will keep you accountable and keep you on track.
It’s useful to dangle a carrot in front of you that makes exercise a priority. Pinpoint a reason exercise impacts you and has meaning for you personally. It might be that your doctor has told you to reduce your cholesterol levels and your dangling carrot is a future appointment where you show her your lowered cholesterol levels. Your carrot might be that exercise improves your overall mood and feeling happier makes everyone around you happier too! Your carrot might be that there’s a special pair of pants you love that don’t fit as well as they used to, and exercise will get you back in those pants. Your carrot also might be that you want to be a role model for your kids and teach them good habits. Whatever it is, find that little bit of meaning for yourself that drives you to form the habit of exercising every day. It will go a long way towards productivity in your life.
2. Practice mindfulness.
Catch yourself when your mind is wandering and at least once a day take a few minutes to live in the moment. Don’t think about what needs to happen next week, and don’t fret about something that happened yesterday. Just breathe, feel your heart beating, and take in your surroundings. This can best be accomplished when in nature. Go for a walk in a nearby park. Or even out in your back yard. It helps too if you’re around pets or other people. Think about them living and breathing in front of you, they are right there in the moment too!
3. Start the day in a positive frame of mind.
This can be done by picking a thought to begin each day. Come up with a quote or words of wisdom which inspire you and make you happy. Affix them to your mirror or your bedside table and make a habit of reading them aloud to yourself at the start of every day. As a result, your mind will be set in a positive and motivated direction and start your day off right. For added detail, take the time to write your inspirational quote on a special sheet of paper or your favorite notecard.
4. Write a to-do list every day.
The most productive and successful people in the world live by this rule. And there is nothing more satisfying than checking off a task list over the course of a day. If you document every task that is weighing on you and cycle through that list over the course of your day, you will feel a natural high at the end of that day. Enact no other new habits in your life than this one and I can personally guarantee you will have increased your mind and body optimization more than any other suggested course of action out there. You will immediately begin to feel higher energy and a higher level of productivity as a result.
5. You are what you eat.
This is something I used to tell my children when they were little. Did you ever see the “you are what you eat” public service message on television back in the 1970s? Eat fast food and other processed foods and you will feel sluggish. Eat whole foods, fruits and vegetables and you will feel high energy for hours afterwards. Here is a cheat sheet of the healthiest foods out there:
- Nuts and seeds
- Raw carrots
- Dark chocolate (Yes, dark chocolate!)
Focus on consuming these foods that give you more energy as well! And the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” could not be more true. Eat three pieces of fruit a day starting today and you will immediately start to feel better. This is an easy habit to adopt. Add lots of fruit to your weekly grocery list. During the off-season use the canned variety and change things up often so you don’t get tired of any kind of routine. Canned pineapple chunks thrown into the mix can lift anyone’s day and add the best kind of natural energy to your day.
6. Daily gratitude list.
Even if you repeat yourself, reminding yourself of all the things for which you are grateful every day does wonders for the psyche. This exercise works magic. You will be in a humbled and open state when you are finished. Entering a day both humble and open can only bring greatness to your life. And it’s as simple as taking the time to think about and document all the things you are grateful for. There’s even a book on the science of gratitude and how the practice of gratitude can make you happier!
7. Prioritize a good night’s sleep.
It is harder and harder to achieve this in our busy lives, especially if you’re in the middle of raising a young family and are up early with them in the morning and then busy playing catch-up once they’ve gone down for the night. But your sleep needs to be a priority. Sleep gives our bodies and brains downtime for repair and growth.
This list of seven great habits is a good place to start. You can pick and choose from this list and add some habits you’d personally like to see take shape in your life. Make the list your own. Then please perform the following exercise: do everything on your list for 30 days straight and experience the impact this practice has on your life. And then see what happens on day 31. Your habits will have become ingrained. You will wake up on day 31 and every item on your habits list will have become a part of you and a part of your routine. Give your life a bit more intention and see what kind of magic will result.
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Disclaimer: The above informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as medical advice. You should contact a doctor for advice on specific medical issues.