We all want to improve our lives. Learning Positive Habits that the most successful people use is a great way on our self improvement journey. My list has several types of habits that you can use to make the big changes that you want! If you don’t know what a habit is, feel free to read my other post What is a Habit.
Below is my top 10 list of good habits, with a detailed explanation further down the page.
- Exercise Regularly
- Healthy and regular meals
- Have a sleep routine
- Drink plenty of water (with lemons)
- No snooze button (Don’t think this will be a popular one!)
- Tidy up daily
- Make time for yourself
- Keep a Daily List
- Save money
- Do your most important work in the morning
The Good Habits List Breakdown
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is one of the best habits that anyone can get into, and that’s why its at the top of this list of habits. The list of benefits are as long as the Great Wall of China. Here are just a few!
- Protects you from heart diseases.
- Lowers the risk of colon and breast cancer.
- Significant decrease in the risk of osteoarthritis (the UK’s NHS says an 83% reduction!)
- Exercise has a powerful impact on your mental health, with the NHS saying it can lower the chance of becoming depressed by 30%.
- You look better.
- It’s a great way to meet new people, such as at a running or golf club.
- You’ll likely live longer and be less reliant on help at an old age.
- You’re less likely to get dementia.
If you want a full list of health benefits, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/
Exercise is also a keystone habit. This means that regular exercise makes it easier to develop good habits. Such as healthier eating and spending less money.
The key to starting an exercise habit is starting small, going with friends, making it easier and have a strong trigger for the habit.
If you want to your habit to be running for an hour a every night, maybe just start by getting changed into your running gear and walking around the block. Or if that’s too easy, go for a 20 minute run at first and work your way up. Our brains get very good at thinking “Well, I’m changed now, I may as well go for a run now.”
Going with friends is also a great trick to make sticking with a habit easier. Having friends who already have positive habits will help drag you along for that game of basketball or run when you’d rather watch a re-run of Friends. You’re also more likely to enjoy doing exercise if it’s with good company!
I have a list of podcasts and audio books that I save for the gym. Maybe get some good headphones, a Spotify or Audible subscription and listen to something really enjoyable to make the gym session more enjoyable. If you want to run more, maybe invest in a good running watch so you can measure your progress – getting great pleasure in seeing speed and distance both go up!
Make the trigger for the habit consistent. Have it triggered at a certain time, place and action. If you want to go for a run in the mornings, maybe make the trigger be having a glass of water after you wake up.
2. Healthy and Regular Meals
A regular and healthy diet is great way to improve your health. Studies show irregular eating patterns can cause people to gain weight, as snacking becomes far more tempting.
The traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner is a great way to keep your hunger levels in check. Have something like porridge or muesli for breakfast. This will keep you nice and full all the way until lunch!
If you still find yourself hungry try drinking coffee or tea, as caffeine can suppress your appetite. Make it yourself and don’t get a Starbucks one, they have a crazy amount of calories.
If you’re problem is snacking at home, then we do have a few options. The most effective one I found, which I used to cut out my love for fizzy drinks, is just not buying the unhealthy foods in the first place. I even avoid going down the aisles that have the fizzy drinks and snacks if possible.
Some people find tracking their calories a good way at controlling their food intake. So you could maybe get MyFitnessPal on your phone?
3. A Sleep Routine
Sleep, alongside diet and exercise, is one of the three most important things for our health. People who have a consistent sleep routine are much healthier, happier and productive than when they don’t.
Poor sleep can lead to people being overweight. Why? One reason is that your body can’t regulate it’s appetite as well so makes you hungry even when you don’t even need food. It’s even worse as it makes you want food high in sugar like chocolate.
Bad sleep also makes you more likely to get hearth disease, it weakens the immune system and is linked with depression.
So how do we sleep better?
- Try and go to bed at the same time every night.
- Exercise and a healthy diet (try and eat before mid evening) can help you sleep.
- The bed should only be for sleeping and sex. If you can, watch TV and play games somewhere else.
- If you can’t sleep, get up and maybe walk around for a few minutes and have a glass of water. (no sugar or caffeine!!!)
- Keep the room cool and dark if possible. We sleep better and easier!
The benefits of sleep are just enormous. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get in the habit of good sleep!
4. Drink Plenty of Water
I know I’ve already mentioned diet on this habits list.
Water is so important it deserves it’s own bit!
So you’ve probably heard that our body is around 60% water. This means its super important for our bodies. While we can go quite a while without food, we would only last around 3 days without water!
We need water for heat regulation (sweat), transporting nutrients, creating saliva, it helps with digestion. It helps keep your muscles working for better and longer.
Being hydrated also makes your skin look better!
Avoid buying fizzy drinks and instead replace it with water. I keep a Brita jug in my fridge and some lemons. I’ll just add a slice of lemon to a big cold glass of water.
At work I have a water bottle that acts like a flask so it stays cool throughout the day, no matter how warm the office gets. Also a snacks like apples or grapes are a good way to up your water intake and get some good nutrients into the body.
5. No Snooze Button!
Many of us love the snooze button. But we all know it’s bad. It would be on my Top 10 Bad Habits list.
The snooze button means we wake up and fall asleep again in very short cycles which is not good for us and leaves us feeling groggy when we wake up.
If possible you need to just get out of bed as soon as you heard the alarm. Easier said than done though?
One trick I like is putting my alarm clock on the other of the bedroom. So that way I actually have to get up out of bed to shut it up.
6. Tidy Up Daily
Many of you probably cursed when looking at this list of good habits and saw this.
And I do not blame you…
There is nothing worse than looking for a plate and cutlery and realizing they are all in the sink waiting to be cleaned. Or having your entire wardrobe in the laundry basket.
Cleaning up daily (such as washing the pots) is a good way to prevent everything building up. Maybe have a couple of days where you sort the laundry out and get the hoover out a couple times a week.
I usually just do the dishes once my meal is finished. It takes no time at all that way. I just load up the washing machine a couple nights a week while I’m going to the gym or playing golf, it means it all gets done while I’m not even around!
7. Make Time for Yourself
Making time for yourself is really important for your mental heath and general well being. It lets you unwind and think of something other than the stresses of work, studying, parenting and the world.
Fine something you enjoy and make sure you give yourself some time every day to relax. If you’re busy you might only be able to have one evening where you can spend two or three hours on something you enjoy like playing tennis. In that case, on the other nights maybe put just an hour or even half an hour aside a night to do something like read a book, play a video game, meditate or enjoy a nice bath.
Even if life is hard, we should be able to find some joys from it!
8. Keep a Daily List
Every night I recommend writing a list of things you need to do tomorrow (Maybe have a weekly one for the biggest priorities).
This means you can keep track of everything and help you become more organised. Many of the most successful people are very good at being organised, and juggling their priorities. Keeping a list will help you copy them.
I’d avoid having more than 6 or 7 things on the list. The list should be realistic and manageable. If you can’t manage everything on the list, that is okay. Things happen that we don’t expect in our lives. Just add it onto the list for tomorrow and start again!
9. Save Money
We all know we should do this, but sometimes it’s really hard. Especially with Covid-19 causing serious damage to the global economy right now.
If possible I would go through your monthly expenses and see if there is anything you just never use. Maybe you have a couple of monthly subscriptions that you never use? Cancelling them might end up saving a decent chunk of cash throughout the year. Which would be great in case of an emergency, like your car needing new brakes.
Make sure you’ve got a pension. Start now if you don’t. Compound interest and years of saving will give you a much needed bit of cash when you eventually retire.
I put 10% of my net pay into a savings account every month, this means I have a nice little fund in case of emergency (like being jobless for a couple of months). I have this set up with my bank so it’s done automatically on the last day of the month (when I get paid). So I don’t even miss it!
10. Do the Most Important thing in the Morning
In our work lives we have a variety of tasks that can be harder or more important than others. We should do the important stuff when our brain is at it’s most productive.
For many of us this is the morning, after we’ve been awake for a couple of hours and have had some breakfast.
So how do we make the most of this peak brain time?
I personally block out my diary for at least two hours every morning so I can get my trickiest tasks done during the day. This means the work is higher quality and done quicker. Something that looks good on any yearly review!
As you can see, my list of habits have some powerful suggestions for improving your life.
I personally would start with one or two new habits, ideally matching them together. Like exercise and diet or sleep and no snooze button!
It won’t always be easy starting a new habit, but with some of the suggestions here you should be well equipped to get those important lifestyle changes!
If you want more ideas and tips on habits, check out my suggested list of books here!