Five Powerful Habits to Establish Today

powerful habits

I struggle when it comes to using a ton of will-power to make changes in my life. I might manage it for a day or two, but it’s not long before I simply give up – I’ve put so much effort in that I’m exhausted.

Do you ever feel the same? Perhaps you stick determinedly to your diet for a week, but then you just can’t resist that candy bar or slab of cake – especially when everyone else is tucking in. Or maybe you make it through the first three chapters of a business book – but then you get busy and you can’t seem to find the time to carry on.

I’ve noticed that, while I struggle to stick with things which take willpower, I don’t have any problem keeping up with the habits that I’ve established in my life. I imagine it’s the same for you. You’ll have all sorts of current habits like:

  • Your morning routine
  • What you do during your lunch hour
  • What time you go to bed

… and so on. So much of what we do on a day to day basis is habitual. And you’ll notice that these habits don’t really take a lot of thought or energy: taking a shower in the morning isn’t a big struggle, for instance, and going to bed at 11pm might be so natural you never think twice about it.

So, whenever you’re looking to change something in your life, it’s worth finding habits which you can establish – with a little bit of up-front effort – to take you towards your goals.

Here are five simple ones to try:

1. Eating a Healthy Breakfast

Whether your diet is healthy or not, it’s part of your habits. You probably eat the same sorts of things for breakfast each day – perhaps cereal or toast. (Ditto with how much coffee you drink, what you have for lunch, and so on.)

I get bored eating the same for lunch or dinner too often, but I’m perfectly happy to have the exact same breakfast each day. So breakfast is a great meal to make into a healthy one.

You might get into the habit of oatmeal, fruit, whole-wheat toast, muesli or any other healthy option which appeals to you. And yes, if you’re used to a donut at 10am, this habit might take a little while to form – but it’s well worthwhile

2. Getting Some Exercise

Most days, I jump on the cross-trainer at around 4pm. I genuinely look forward to it: my body is ready to work off some excess energy, and my mind is in need of a break!

Rather than forcing yourself to exercise, look for an opportunity to slot exercise neatly into your day. That might mean going out for a walk in your lunch hour, instead of surfing the net – or walking to the local store instead of taking the car when you’re getting groceries.

Once you’re into the swing of exercise, it’s easy to keep the habit going. And you’ll probably end up enjoying it, too!

3. Reading More Books

Books are fantastic: cheap, neat packages of entertainment or information. So why do so many of us only really think about reading when we’re going on vacation?

Time is a big factor, of course; it’s hard to set aside half an hour to read quietly when life feels rushed and hectic (even when reading could provide a valuable escape, or useful advice to help us cope).

Just like with exercise, it’s good to find a way to make reading into a natural, enjoyable part of your day. That might mean getting into the habit of switching the television off at ten pm, so you can read for half an hour before bed. It could mean reading a book on the bus to work, instead of flicking through the newspaper.

Reading is a really powerful habit to establish – don’t keep putting this one off.

4. Saving Money for the Future

It’s fair to say that most of us would like to have more savings than we currently have – if, indeed, we have anything saved up at all.

If you’re struggling to save up for future goals, or regular events (like Christmas), then it’s really helpful to get into a simple habit. That might mean setting up an automated transfer from your checking account so that you don’t even have to think about your savings. It could also mean earmarking particular money – gifts, for instance, or bonuses – for your savings.

Yes, it might feel odd or difficult at first, but once you’re into the habit of saving little and often, it’s much easier to stick to it.

5. Taking Time Out for Yourself

This is a big one which a lot of us miss out on: taking the time we need for ourselves. Again, it’s something we might make grand resolutions about or keep promising to get round to … but it often doesn’t end up happening.

Just like the rest of life, this one’s a habit. You might set aside a specific time slot each day which is just for you – guilt free. Or you might pick a longer period of time each week – say, Sunday afternoons – where you can have time to do something just for you.

It’s unlikely that you’ll become miraculously “less busy” next week or next month. Even if you can only find half an hour once a week just for you, start getting into that habit now.

What habits are already working for you? And what might you add into your life next?

Photo by *Zara

9 thoughts on “Five Powerful Habits to Establish Today”

  1. Great list Ali, and great perspective too. Your writings always bring me a smile and leave me something to think about.

    If I were to mention one powerful habit it would be to take the time each day to tell someone specifically why they are special, unique, and important to you. There is something powerful and long-lasting about giving someone else specific, heart felt compliments. It changes both the giver and the receiver, and it came make all the difference.

    1. Thanks, Marcus! And great habit to add — I think we’re often a bit shy about giving (and receiving) compliments, but a heart-felt compliment is an incredibly powerful thing.

  2. Another fantastic post ! Well as far as establishing habit is concerned I have found one and it’s running quite successful ! I don’t wish to say it here because I’ve got this notion that if I disclose something good which is happening then the reverse will happen after I’ve said it ! I know it’s little silly but bare with me for now !
    Coming to your post , yes one can bring about that necessary change in life if he/she really wishes to do justice with himself/herself.
    To brain about any change in life , one needs motivation . Here’s a related test –
    How motivated are you? – The test finds out how inspired you really are.

    1. Thanks Kim! And I do get what you mean … I know a lot of writers who don’t like to talk much about their work-in-progress because they lose the energy/hunger that they have for it.

  3. Just finished reading your guest post on Dumb Little Man and thought I’d read some more of your articles.

    I always like the lists you do. The point that stood out the most to me was taking time out for yourself. I think if we don’t make a conscious effort to give ourselves time to do what relaxes us and energizes us we can find ourselves burned out.

    As you probably can tell, I’m a big supporter of work life balance and that habit fits right in line.

    What an excellent habit to promote.

  4. Another cool one, Ali! Thanks for the list. Apart from reading more books, I’ve also practiced sharing it or giving it away after I am done. I make sure the books are cheap, and that they’re not going to be the first among the junk that usually stays in to clutter my space. That’s buying wise and keeping my work and living quarters orderly; that’s two habits established. LOL!

    More posts, please!

  5. Nice post. Taking time for yourself is definitely important if you want to keep top form. I’d also like to add a new habit – watching your habits, make sure you don’t redevelop bad ones after you’ve gotten rid of them. :)

  6. Ali,

    This is a great post! I think we all have something that we want to change which seems so overwhelming at times.

    In the book Switch, I love the suggestion to break down the change into the tiniest pieces possible and start from there – we really do need to set ourselves up for success…then when we have achieved those tiny steps we gain so much more confidence to do more.

    Have a great day!

  7. Ali I really enjoyed reading this list. I was thinking about my own habits when I read this and you have some really great ones that I don’t often follow. I’m about to start college and I want to improve my life by practicing good habits and this really helped! I want to read more of your articles.

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