Every day you make choices. Those choices create your thoughts and actions. Your thoughts and actions develop your habits. And your habits define your life.
If you examine many of the activities of your day, you'll see they are actually good and bad habits you've developed over the years. Some of them were developed in childhood through lessons and instructions from your parents -- like tying your shoes, brushing your teeth before bed, and combing your hair. Other habits are created through our general life experiences, our work, influences from friends and peers, and social expectations.
Even bad habits can be picked up from the influence of others. We start smoking so we can fit in with our friends. We watch too much TV because our parents did. We spend too much time on Facebook because we want to connect. Once the behavior is repeated enough, we create new neural pathways in our brains to make the habit automatic -- and very difficult to break.
For the same reasons, good habits are hard to form. We have to reverse engineer the process, mindfully adopting new behaviors and repeating them enough that they become automatic and our brains adapt. Fortunately, you can learn the skills of habit creation and use them to upgrade your life in a variety of areas.
Here is my ultimate list of habits with 175 positive actions you can pursue for a better you:
1. Take a walk every day.
2. If you sit much of the day, stand up from your desk every 30 minutes and do 5 minutes of movement.
3. Stretch for 5 minutes first thing in the morning or after your shower.
4. Practice 10 minutes a day of aerobic exercise, like running, jumping jacks, dancing, or swimming.
5. Practice 10 minutes a day of muscle-strengthening activities, working different muscle groups each day.
6. Park your car farther away from entrances to work or stores.
7. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
8. Run or jump on a rebounder for 30 minutes a day. It's really fun and great for your overall health!
9. Find a running buddy and begin running every other day, starting with a walk/run if you are new to running.
10. Take a fun exercise class like Zumba or Jazzercise.
11. Join a community sports team, like softball, basketball, soccer, or volleyball.
12. Find an outdoor habit you enjoy like biking, hiking, or inline skating.
13. Perform a specific number of sit-ups and/or push-ups every morning before your shower.
14. Walk or jog in place while watching TV, rather than sitting.
15. Have sex regularly. Regular sex relieves stress, boosts immunity, burns 85 or more calories (per 30 minutes), improves cardiovascular health, reduces pain, lowers the risk of prostate cancer, and helps you sleep.
Healthy Eating Habits
16. Drink an 8 ounce glass of water first thing in the morning.
17. Keep a full water bottle on your desk and drink water throughout the day.
18. Substitute one unhealthy food choice for a healthy food (ie: instead of snacking on chips, eat carrots with hummus).
21. Drink a cup of green or white tea every day.
22. Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Having six smaller meals rather than three large ones a day will help you manage hunger and manage your weight.
23. Substitute a lean protein like chicken or fish for red meat once a week.
24. Substitute fruit for a high calorie, sugary dessert.
25. Clean out your pantry and get rid of all processed snacks.
26. Go to the grocery store on a full stomach only.
27. Eat breakfast every day, including a combination of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat.
28. Reduce your serving portions at lunch or dinner by half. Sit for 15 minutes before adding more food to your plate to see if you're still hungry.
29. Once or twice a week, eat a 100% plant-based dinner.
30. Switch from white, bleached breads and grains (pasta, rice) to whole grains.
31. Begin a practice of eating more mindfully and slowly. Take twice as long to eat your meal.
32. Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. Consider having it only on weekends.
33. Cook with healthy oils like olive oil or coconut oil rather than butter.
34. Choose air popped popcorn as an evening snack rather than chips or sweets.
35. Practice awareness of your negative thoughts during the day.
36. Once you are aware of your negative thought patterns, practice interrupting the thoughts and thinking or doing something positive.
37. Take 5 minutes a day to contemplate everything you are grateful for.
38. Write down positive affirmations about the way you want your day or a particular situation to unfold and say them out loud to yourself in the morning.
39. Spend five minutes mentally reliving a happy memory including as much detail as you can remember.
40. Challenge your mental assumptions about people or expected outcomes.
41. Practice a mental mind shift where you accept you are capable of far more than you previously believed.
42. Review any recent or past failures or mistakes for a few minutes a day, and think about what you learned from them and how you can apply what you learned.
43. Mentally challenge yourself during a project or task to push yourself just beyond your comfort zone or a bit longer when you want to quit.
44. Take up a mentally challenging hobby like crossword puzzles, Suduko, or other brain games to keep your brain active.
45. Memorize a poem or piece of prose every day.
46. Every day, substitute positive and uplifting reading material, TV shows, and other media for negative, depressing mental input.
47. During a daily task or work project, stop before proceeding and ponder a new, more creative way to approach or implement the work.
48. Spend 5-10 minutes a day just imagining and daydreaming about something positive you want to do.
49. When you must make a decision, practice giving yourself a time limit for contemplation and research, and then decide even if you aren't completely sure.
50. When you make a decision during the day, use critical thinking skills using self-examination, review of possible outcomes, and consideration of alternatives.
51. Begin a practice of morning or evening meditation, prayer, or contemplation, starting with just five minutes a day.
52. At defined times during your work day (mid-morning, after lunch, late afternoon), take five minutes to close your eyes and practice diaphragmatic breathing.
53. Practice noticing and identifying your emotions when you feel them without judging them.
54. Every day, begin the morning by putting your life and problems into perspective by contemplating the size of the Earth, our solar system, our galaxy, and the universe.
55. Begin a daily practice of walking meditation.
56. Begin to pay attention to the foods you eat and how they affect your emotions (ie: coffee making you anxious, sweets making you sleepy, etc.)
57. When you feel stressed during the day, make yourself stop for 5 minutes to identify the source of the stress.
58. During the day, notice how the people around you make you feel -- whether they energize and uplift you or drain you.
59. When you experience negative emotions (sadness, anxiety, anger, etc.), practice having your "higher self" step outside of the emotions to remind you they are temporary and don't define you.
60. Create the habit of spending time in nature every day and mindfully appreciating the beauty around you.
61. In whatever you are doing, mindfully redirect your focus to the present moment and the task at hand.
62. Practice a habit of serving others or performing an act of kindness every day.
63. When you have negative feelings, begin to notice the thoughts that preceded the feelings and actively change the thoughts.
64. Read or watch something that makes you laugh out loud every day.
65. Seek out one or two positive, upbeat people to spend time with every day.
Love Relationship Habits
66. Begin every morning by offering your spouse/partner a hug and saying, "I love you."
67. Mindfully catch yourself saying something disparaging or negative to your spouse and change your words.
68. Every day, brainstorm some kind act or gift you can offer your loved one unconditionally.
69. Practice asking for what you want and need in the relationship -- emotionally, sexually, and otherwise.
70. Determine your relationship boundaries and put them into practice every day.
71. Create daily practices to add romance, intimacy, and sexuality to your relationship.
72. Set aside a special time each day to simply sit and have a conversation with your spouse.
73. Take time every day or week to learn more about your partner by asking growth-oriented relationship questions.
74. Actively replace controlling or critical comments with supportive, loving language.
75. When you feel angry at your partner, practice the habit of breathing and counting to 20 before speaking.
76. Create a daily habit of doing something fun together.
77. Practice open and honest communication rather than passive-aggressive behaviors or words.
78. If you and your partner are apart during the day, find a time to call and talk during the day.
79. Create the habit of cooking and cleaning together daily.
80. Offer your partner regular non-sexual touch.
Personal Growth Habits
81. Define your core values and every day plan your activities and make decisions using these values as a guide.
82. Take 30 minutes to an hour every day working toward finding your life passion.
83. Every morning read something inspiring, informative, or uplifting to support your self-awareness and inner development.
84. Write a vision for who you want to be and how you want to live, and take one action a day to make the vision real.
85. Make a list of all of the assumptions and beliefs you hold (about people, politics, religion, society, etc.) and take a few minutes each day to challenge a belief and research a contrary opinion or fact.
86. Begin to let go of attachments to material things by giving away or throwing away things every day.
87. Notice when you are acting or making choices in order to please other people and practice pleasing yourself first.
88. Catch yourself when you start to whine or complain, and say something grateful and positive instead.
89. When you find yourself making excuses, practice the habit of being honest with yourself and others.
90. Develop the habit of being a creator rather than a reactor by mindfully deciding how you want to live.
91. Practice a mind set of positive expectation, believing that something good is happening for you every day.
92. Begin the habit of behaving compassionately and generously toward everyone you encounter.
93. Actively work on healing old wounds and limiting beliefs every day through counseling, coaching, reading, and self-awareness.
94. Define your own integrity and the specific behaviors related to your integrity and practice them daily.
95. Get in the habit of paying attention to your intuition and using it to help you make decisions.
96. Take an hour a day to simplify everything in your house. Clear out clutter, give away what you no longer use or need, organize rooms and closets.
97. Write down three main goals for the day and begin with the most difficult or challenging first.
98. When you begin working on a project or task, set a timer for 30 minutes or an hour, and work non-stop until the timer goes off.
99. Determine your most productive time of day, and schedule your tasks accordingly.
100. Develop the habit of removing distractions when you work. Turn off your phone, clear your desk, close browsers on your computer, close your door, etc.
101. Practice batching similar tasks together, such as making all of your calls or responding to emails at the same time.
102. Begin the habit of waking up earlier each morning. Start with just 5 minutes earlier and work up to an hour over a few weeks.
103. Set daily, weekly, and monthly deadlines for completing tasks and goals.
104. When you have big goals to accomplish, break them down into smaller tasks or habits and work on them one by one.
105. Create accountability and incentive by announcing your goals and tasks to other people and report back to them when you complete the task or goal.
106. Write a list of the no-so-urgent tasks you consistently avoid, and set aside 30 minutes a day to work on them.
107. Practice saying "no" to those who interrupt your time.
108. Consider all of the obligations, clubs, projects, subscriptions, etc. that take up unnecessary time or aren't a top life priority and begin to let them go every day.
109. Begin the habit of making purchases online rather than going to stores.
110. Hire a personal coach to work with you weekly to keep you motivated, challenged, and on-task.
111. Decide the position or job you want and what it takes to get there. Take one action a day toward making it happen.
112. Arrive at work 30 minutes to an hour early every day.
113. Practice dressing like the person in the position above you.
114. Brainstorm 10-20 things that would increase revenue, make your boss's job easier, or decrease expenses and begin implementing them or sharing your ideas.
115. Practice avoiding unnecessary meetings or outings that suck your time.
116. Decide what you want within your organization, and regularly discuss this with decision-makers.
117. Continue to develop and enhance your knowledge and skills outside of work to support your career goals.
118. Practice the habit of networking every week to meet people who can support and mentor your career goals.
119. Work on your resume for 15-30 minutes a day until it is ready for prime time.
120. Research and practice interview skills.
121. Practice confident body language and communication on the job, even if you aren't feeling it.
122. Make a habit of under-promising and over-delivering with your clients or boss.
123. Practice taking initiative on a new idea or suggested project.
124. Get in the habit of considering how to be more efficient with your work and implement your ideas.
125. Regularly practice the habit of a positive attitude with your co-workers and business associates.
126. Take up learning a new language and spend time every day working through a language program.
127. Cook a new recipe for dinner every night.
128. Challenge yourself to become more proficient and comfortable with computer technology and learn a new skill daily.
129. Take a certification program to learn CPR and first aid.
130. Learn how to create your own blog .
131. Decide you are going to write a book, and begin a daily writing habit.
132. Learn how to improve the speed of your reading by taking a speed reading course online.
133. Take online guitar lessons and practice the guitar for 30 minutes to an hour a day.
134. Improve your photography skills and learn Photoshop online.
135. Complete a course or book on money management or investing.
136. Join Toastmasters or another public speaking program and improve your speaking skills.
137. Make a list of basic skills you don't know (like changing a tire, building a fire, remembering names, etc.) and tackle one every day.
138. Research what it takes to start a business, and take a few actions a day to get your own business off the ground.
139. Practice speaking to someone new every day.
140. Write a list of all of your positive qualities, skills, and talents and read it in the morning and evening before bed.
141. Every day, consciously practice confident body language by smiling, looking others in the eye, and standing up straight.
142. Mindfully reframe your thoughts about failure to view it as a learning and growth opportunity.
143. Take care of your personal appearance every day. Dress nicely, get your hair styled, put on make-up, and groom yourself well. When you look your best, you feel more self-confident.
144. Practice walking with an air of confidence, even if you don't feel it.
145. Every day examine your limiting beliefs about yourself. Then challenge a belief by finding evidence from your life that disputes it.
146. Determine an area of weakness you would like to improve upon and take daily action for improvement.
147. Learn about the skills of emotional intelligence and begin practicing emotionally intelligent behaviors.
148. Develop the habit of taking small actions toward whatever it is you feel fearful about.
149. Practice authenticity every day. Be genuine and real, and have the courage to be your true self. Do not say things that are false, even to yourself.
150. Get in the habit of practicing self-compassion and self-love, even if you don't feel it right away. Forgive yourself, take care of yourself, and learn to appreciate your uniqueness.
151. Be mindful to stay in regular contact with your friends and to see them frequently.
152. Get in the habit of initiating fun outings and interactions, even if you are the one doing this most of the time.
153. Practice open and honest communication with your friends and share both your good and bad life events.
154. Learn the habit of active listening when your friend needs your ear without offering unrequested input or advice.
155. Make a habit of telling your friends how much you value and appreciate them.
156. Practice radical reliability and trustworthiness with your friends.
157. In every encounter with your friends, treat them the way you want to be treated.
158. Decide exactly how much time you want to spend with friends, and actively carve that time out of your week and make it happen.
159. Create special rituals that involve your friends or include them in family rituals.
160. When you find yourself judging your friend, substitute those thoughts with acceptance thoughts and reminders of what you love about your friend.
161. Pay attention to how you talk about and treat yourself in front of your friends, as they may treat you as you treat yourself.
162. On a regular basis, find ways to surprise and delight your friends with gifts, your words, new activities, or surprise visits.
163. Enforce or create the habit of getting enough sleep. Start going to bed 15 minutes earlier a night and add to that time over the next few weeks until you are getting the optimal amount of sleep.
164. Take up the habit of flossing your teeth every morning or evening. Floss immediately after brushing, or put the floss in the shower and don't leave the shower until you floss.
165. Wash your hands every time you use the restroom, handle raw meats, pet a strange animal, or cough/sneeze.
166. Get in the habit of making your bed in the morning as soon as you get out of it.
167. When you prepare a meal, get in the habit of putting things away as you use them and clean as you go.
168. Make a habit of thanking someone with a card or email as soon as possible after they give you a gift or do something for you.
169. Take care of several of your morning preparation rituals while in the shower. For example, wash your hair, floss teeth, shave, put on lotion, etc.
170. Create a consistent bedtime ritual to prepare yourself for a good night's sleep.
171. Get in the habit of listening to relaxing music or educational cd's in your car rather than blaring news programs.
172. Mindfully decide how much money you want to save each month, and put aside a specific amount toward savings daily or weekly.
173. Decide to cut back on purchasing a Starbucks drink, and put that money in a jar each day instead. 174. Set aside an hour each day for simple fun and relaxation.
175. Take a 15 minute technology break every day where no one can reach you or disturb you.