Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you didn’t falter on your goals? Imagine checking all the boxes off your to-do list, reading a book a week, maintaining your work-life balance, and leading a healthy life. Dreamy, isn’t it?
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear explains that it is possible, but maybe not the way you imagine. He writes that:
“Success is the product of daily habits — not-once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
According to James, building habits is a never ending process. It is not about the end-goal, but about the journey leading to it.
And that’s where most people go wrong in creating their goals: they set grand objectives that don’t connect back to daily habits. For example, someone might make it a goal to “be healthier,” but that doesn’t really help them get anywhere. Instead, let’s simplify it. Waking up and getting dressed to go to the gym every morning is a much easier, habit-oriented goal. Instead of creating enormous long-term goals, start with something small and manageable.
That’s why when it comes to changing your life, it’s so important to focus on the daily habits you implement, rather than big, vague goals. Because everything you do from the time you wake up, to the time you sleep, determines the quality of your life. It’s the little habits you do day after day that are the building blocks of your success.
However, you don’t have to create a drastic shift in your daily routine to see results. Tackling just one thing at a time can help you change your life for the better. When it comes to improving your life, little steps go a long way.
Here are some ways you can bring in a positive change to your daily routine. And remember, it’s best to focus on only 2-3 goals at a time so you have enough energy for them. Once you start having 5, 10, or 15 goals at the same time, you can easily burn yourself out.
Waking up just 15 minutes earlier than normal gives you an extra 15 minutes to spend on you! Take this extra 15 minutes to plan your day, stretch your body, or do some inner reflection. Spending the morning focusing on yourself helps you plan and prepare for your day. The more you sit with your thoughts, whether through meditation or journaling, the easier it will be to manifest the life of your dreams. Try it for a week and you may be surprised how much an extra 15 minutes a day helps you feel more refreshed, more centered, and makes tackling the day that much easier.
Spend time outdoors
In a world where everything is digitized, there is little-to-no time to connect with nature. Yet spending time in nature is extremely important to maintaining your mental wellbeing. These words from John Muir’s book, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir say it all:
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
You can incorporate more nature into your life by taking a stroll, reading a book under a tree, or simply sitting by the ocean and listening to the waves crashing on the rocks. The gift of nature is in abundance and it’s a simple way to improve the quality of your life.
Journal your thoughts
Journaling helps unburden thoughts and improve mindfulness. Start a daily journaling practice to focus your attention and reflect on your daily life.
However, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be a “perfect journaler.” You don’t have to write pages and pages about your day to make journaling worth it.
Instead, start with something simple like just writing down three things you are grateful for, or just writing for 5 minutes. As you get more comfortable, you can gradually write more. If you don’t know what to write about, there are many prompts online to help you get started. Choose one, let go of your need for your journal to be perfect, and then start writing!
Setting boundaries can be difficult because we don’t like to create confrontation. But boundary setting does not mean you are being rude. It simply means you are looking out for your mental, physical and emotional health, and that you are making yourself a priority.
Remember, you are allowed to say no. You are not obliged to answer work calls on weekends or outside of work hours. You are allowed alone time, away from your family and friends. Communicate your concerns and feelings with the people closest to you. Setting boundaries may look like distancing yourself from people but it’s actually about putting yourself first!
Face a Fear
Fear is a good thing. It is the gut instinct that helps us all survive.
But being too afraid of getting out of your comfort zone can stunt your emotional, personal, and intellectual growth.
If you really want to see a change, consider all the fears you have and if any of them are actually holding you back. Are you afraid to make a new friend? Afraid to ask your boss for a raise even though you deserve one? Afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try a new hobby?
If you fight through your fear little by little, every day, eventually you’ll find that your fears were likely unjustified. The more you expand your comfort zone, the more confident you’ll become, and the more you’ll enjoy your life!
So control your fears, don’t let your fears control you.
As Oprah Winfrey said:
“Reading is a way for me to expand my mind, open my eyes, and fill up my heart.”
Reading not only helps you sharpen your mind but also improves your imagination. Through books, you can get transported to far-off worlds. You can learn about different cultures, different ways of life, and learn things you would never have learned from your own life, but that can help expand your mind. Take just 15 minutes out of your day to read a good book and you’ll probably end up learning something you didn’t expect.
Learn Something New
No matter who you are or what you do, there is always space to learn and grow. With learning comes knowledge and with knowledge comes confidence. In a world where things change quickly, it’s important to know how to adapt and learn new skills. Spend a few minutes everyday working on a new skill, whether that’s playing the guitar, learning to code a website, or cooking up a new recipe. Learning is a lifelong journey that doesn’t end the minute we graduate from school. But to be a part of this journey, all you need is an eager mind!
With access to more and more technology, our minds have difficulty focusing and tend to wander more. Living in the moment becomes harder the more we spend buried in our phones. However, by practicing mindfulness, we can improve our ability to focus and lose our dependency on our devices.
Try practicing mindfulness by meditating or journaling for just 5 minutes each day. By taking the time to reflect and focus on the present, you’ll feel more content and peaceful.
In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and a peace activist:
“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.”
Decluttering is more than just making your space aesthetically pleasing. It actually has a lot to do with clearing out things that disturb your peace of mind. Decluttering is also not just about cleaning up your home, but also about cleaning up your digital space. So decluttering could mean unfollowing people you don’t resonate with on social media, unsubscribing to newsletters you don’t read anymore, deleting old contacts/texts or emails, or archiving old photos. When you declutter your physical and digital spaces, you’ll feel freer and less distracted.
At the end of the day, you are the master of your own life. No one can help you make it better but you, and the best way to do that is through changing little things in your day to day. So choose one little habit you know you can implement daily, and focus on adding it to your life for one week. After that week, focus on implementing that habit for two weeks. Then three. Over time, you’ll find that your life has changed for the better, and all due to a simple habit!