It is often acknowledged that the most successful people in life are the ones that can form good habits and break bad ones. I’ve personally been fascinated with habit formation and have attempted to develop morning and evening routines built on a foundation of fundamental habits that help me accomplish more everyday. I’ve experimented with many different habits throughout the past couple of years; some have stuck consistently and become second nature, others come and go, and there are still some habits that I’ve never grasped a solid hold of. It’s a continual process, but I’ve come to recognize these 7 habits as the most influential in curating the productive and fulfilling life you dream of having.
- Make your bed. As soon as you wake up. This will help you feel productive immediately and kickstart your day. Every time you walk into your bedroom for the rest of the day, you will see your beautifully made bed and be encouraged to continue on your path of productivity. If you do nothing else today, make your bed. It will take less than 5 minutes, I promise!
- Hydration. After making your bed, drink a large glass of water before consuming anything else. I like to squeeze half of a lemon into my glass, but plain water is fine as well. It’s incredibly important to hydrate your body early in the morning after 7-9 hours without liquids. Starting your day with a glass of water will also probably have an added bonus of consuming less at breakfast or not feeling hungry until later.
- Morning exercise. Exercise at any time of the day is great, but morning exercise, especially if completed outdoors, will invigorate your body and set you up for a productive day. I prefer morning runs or walks depending on how my body is feeling, but if I don’t have time for a full-length workout, I’ll easily settle for a 10-20 minute bodyweight circuit. Choose a workout that makes you feel good, not something that you do just for the sake of doing it.
- Meditation. This is something new that I’m trying, and I can’t say that I’ve fully formed it into a habit yet. For 2 minutes each morning (I will hopefully increase it to 5-10 minutes in the future), I sit with nothing but my breathe. I push out all the thoughts that flood to my mind and focus on just being still. This gives me peace and helps me regain focus throughout the day when my mind wanders away from my work.
- Budgeting. It’s important to keep track of how much you’re spending, but it can easily become overwhelming if not tracked on the daily. Each night before I go to bed, I gather any receipts that I have from that day and record it in my spreadsheet. That way, it’s easy to remember what I spent in the past 24 hours rather than the past 7 days if I were to record weekly.
- Reading. Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, stimulating your brain with reading daily supports a state of constant learning. I like to read a novel before I go to bed, often reading for over an hour if it’s captivating. At other times in the day, when my mind is more in focus, I’ll read a non-fiction personal development book or listen to it on an audiobook. The key to building this habit is to choose a certain time of day when you want to read. If you don’t specify and just say sometime during the day, it probably won’t happen.
- Reflection. Whether you are religiously devout or not, nothing in life is meaningful if we don’t review and reflect. This could be in the form of praying, journaling, or any other creative form where you are completely focused and devoted on your inner self. This habit works best when practiced first thing in the morning or the last thing before going to sleep. I prefer evening reflections because I can sit on the past day and avoid forgetting what happened or how I felt that day.
While I’m convinced that all of these habits will truly change your life, if you don’t currently practice any of them, pick just one to start right now. Trying to focus on too many new habits will lessen the likelihood of any of them sticking, so it’s best to channel your energy on one to two habits at a time.
If you want to learn more about habit formation, I recommend checking out the books Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. They both dive deep into the science behind how habits are formed and broken, as well as giving practical steps to apply them to your own life.