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It’s quite easy to think of all the good habits we wish we had: getting up earlier, working out every day, putting money away each month. As it turns out, setting good habits can be a powerful way to help keep us focused and organized and achieve our goals. Once a good habit is etched on our brain, we are much closer to achieving our goals without even have to think about it.
Small, good habits are worth developing because they can instigate major changes in your life. Out of little acorns, big trees grow. And it’s like the Greek philosopher Aristotle said: “We are the things we do repeatedly.” So let’s take a look at 10 simple habits that can change your life for the better:
1. Keep things tidy
Picking up, keeping things organized, and even just making the bed helps us feel better. It helps us be more efficient, prepares us for visitors, allows for a better night’s sleep, and even helps us get along with our spouse and our kids better.
It’s, of course, not realistic to spend two hours every day cleaning from floor to ceiling. And vacuuming and dusting every single day. Not gonna happen. However, a quick sweeping throughout the house, picking up items lying around, rinsing the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher can make a world of difference. And most importantly? It keeps the mess from escalating, which keeps us from lashing out at our spouses and kids, or from being angry with ourselves.
Try setting a timer when you’re starting to form this habit. Before you go to your bedroom or even before you settle down to watch some television—whatever your evening routine—go through your house for just 15 minutes. Pick up items, straighten up cushions and wipe counters. Make it a habit to rinse the dish after you eat oof of it and make your bed the moment you get up. Your day and attitude will definitely benefit.
2. Mindfully manage your money
One of the top habits of successful people is that their mindful money managers. Spending money can be habitual and automatic. When we get into a routine of swiping our credit card at every whim, it can quickly spiral out of control and become disastrous.
One of the best ways to get into the habit of mindful — is to take some time off from spending altogether. This can be a challenge, but when it’s over, you’ll be surprised at how much more you think about swiping that card before you do.
Make a habit of examining your bank account and budget on a daily basis. Taking as little as 5 minutes a day to glance at it and checking that everything is going smoothly can catch problems right away. Put your money back into your wallet or place coins in a jar each time you spend. Make it a habit to stash the extra change away. Just wait and see how quickly it adds up.
3. Choose gratitude
One habit that can definitely help to change your perspective almost immediately is to become intentional about choosing an attitude of gratitude. Successful people are able to identify the positive things in their lives and show appreciation for them. Recently, I was having a particularly difficult time with a loved one, a friend told me to make a list of everything that I appreciated about that person. Whenever I got frustrated or angry with them, I revisited that list. As silly as that may sounds, it really did help.
Focusing on what you’re grateful for helps you build an appreciation for what you have. It helps us feel blessed so that we can find the beauty in life’s ordinary moments. And when things are going wrong, remaining thankful helps us refocus on the things that are going right.
Make a habit of identifying 3 things every day that you’re grateful for. This can be as simple as eating breakfast, sleeping in a warm bed at night, or hearing from a friend. If you focus on 3 items each day and list them out every morning or evening in your journal—or on you phone or anywhere that you can easily revisit them—you’ll be amazed at how much you have to be happy about.
4. Stay hydrated
We’ve all heard the many benefits of drinking water: more energy, better digestion, clearer skin, etc. Of course, that doesn’t mean we always follow through. Why not make it a habit of drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning and more water throughout the day.
Dehydration can make us feel tired, hungry and cranky. We wind up eating more, make poor choices, and tend to reach for unhealthy beverages, like soda, when we’re dehydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and refill i when you can. Think of how amazing it is that we have access to water all day, every day. We’re very blessed every time we’re able to fill a bottle with clean, drinkable, fresh water whenever we want.
5. Plan your days
People who are successful plan it that way. They utilize a daily task list and use their calendars as a map toward achieving their goals.
For each to-do item, find a time on your calendar and write it in. Scheduling time for things like housekeeping, cooking, exercise and leisure time can feel a little funny at first, but once it becomes a habit, it’s a great way to get an overall view of your week. Scheduling helps you manage your time wisely so that you can maximize your “rewards” and anticipate your family’s needs.
One good habit to get into is looking over your calendar and writing out your to-do list right before going to bed. You’ll go to sleep knowing that you have a plan for the following day, and often your subconscious will work out solutions to problems in your sleep.
6. Put your family first
Strengthening family relationships and considering the needs of your spouse and your kids is one of the most important factors in any decision. In today’s society, we talk a lot about “the life you want” and success of the “Me.” We also see a lot of unhappy marriages and a lot of divorces. These things aren’t always related, of course, but putting the needs of another person before your own really does make a difference.
I’m not suggesting to be doormat or to always cave in to the demands of your kids, but I am saying that with every decision, make it a habit to ask yourself, “Will this keep my kids safe, happy and secure? Will this keep my spouse safe, happy and secure, and strengthen our relationship?” If you make a habit to carefully and purposefully ask these questions before jumping into a decision, your family will benefit.
Make family time a priority, and make your spouse and kids a priority. Before you commit to another activity or jam one more thing into an already packed schedule, make certain that you’re not overriding the needs of your loved ones. Every marriage needs some one-on-one time, a date night, or some romance to keep that spark alive. Say I love you and mean it—but also make it a habit.
7. Get up early
I’m an early riser. It’s not so much that I’m a morning person, per se, but I have found that if I want to achieve everything that I set out to do on any given day, getting up early gives me enough time to get started. It helps get me going before I’m faced with family needs and sets the tone and foundation for a successful day.
Want to get in the habit of getting up earlier? Determine the best time and work back in ten-minute increments per week, and you’ll be getting up earlier in no time. Get to bed at a similar time each night and if you need more sleep, go to bed earlier (rather than sleeping later). Don’t rob tomorrow of success to fit in another chapter tonight. Instead, put it away until later and allow yourself to get the sleep that you need.
This can be a difficult habit to start, but once you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start it sooner. Early risers are more productive and find more time to address problems at the start rather than having to play catch up all day long. Even giving yourself ten extra minutes in the morning can mean getting out the door on time and in an organized manner.
8. Prepare for success the night before
Similar to getting up earlier, preparing the night before helps us get a jump on tomorrow. Make it a habit to put your clothes out for tomorrow, make sure that lunches are ready to take, and prepare anything that you’ll need for breakfast and lay it out the night before. What takes 10 or 15 minutes before bed can easily take 20 or 30 amidst morning chaos.
Make sure backpacks are ready to go, keys are on the counter and everything is in place for tomorrow’s success. If you make it a habit to be proactive and prepare for what lies ahead, you’ll head off any glitches that can occur in the morning. (We all know how lost keys can ruin a schedule and a morning!)
9. Get moving
People who are successful, happy and productive have a regular habit of getting in some healthy movement each day. This doesn’t necessarily mean a 5-mile run—unless that’s your thing, of course. Simply taking 20 minutes during your lunch break to take a walk around the block, taking the stairs more often, or even parking you car a little farther away from the grocery store can really add up.
If you have a difficult time making moving a habit, there are many apps and devices to help. Check out a fitness tracker, like Fitbit. Many fitness trackers can be set to vibrate every hour or less to remind you to stay active. This doesn’t mean that you need to work out every half hour or anything. Just move; getting up to get a glass of water or taking a quick walk to the copier can add more movement into your life. Make movement a habit.
10. Nurture yourself
While putting your family first is important, this doesn’t mean you should completely forgo your own needs. People who are truly happy and successful know when they need to take a break and when they need to nurture themselves.
This doesn’t always mean having a spa day or going on a shopping spree. Find little treats or gifts to give yourself throughout the day—enjoy a cup of coffee, smell it, sip it slowly, and feel the warmth between your hand and the steam on your face. Really thing of it as a present. Take the time to focus on it and be mindful.
Connect with a friend for 10 minutes and truly engage in a conversation without any distractions. Do exercises that you like or go for a walk and admire the world around you. Listen to music that you love or take time to indulge in a magazine, a warm bath, or a walk around the park. Whatever you truly enjoy, take the time to be mindful and give yourself something special. Make this “me time” a habit and do it daily. It can be hard to find the time to nurture yourself, but it is important. Do it without guilt and enjoy it.
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