WHY DAILY HABITS?
I know, I know, you’ve probably heard about daily habits a few hundred times in your life already.
You’ve probably even read about the ONE MOST IMPORTANT HABIT you can’t live without.
Or the 27 habits that you should follow every day to be just like Bill Gates.
Let’s get all of that out of the way.
I’m quite sick and tired from reading so much about habits too, but let me tell you what made me write about them.
In the past couple of years, I’ve probably seen and listened to 1000+ podcasts, audiobooks and videos on personal development.
It’s true that most of them helped, but at the same time, so much of it was … well, frankly speaking, a waste of valuable time.
If you’re like me, you probably like to constantly grow and get better at everything you do. The challenge with this mindset is that we’re never truly satisfied.
And that’s ok.
Because it’s good to have something to look up to at all times.
However, the problem appears when we’re trying to focus on those little things and forget the big things.
Let me tell you a story about someone you might’ve heard about.
Do you know Oprah Winfrey?
OPRAH’S POWERFUL DAILY HABIT
Yes, I’m talking about the famous host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which lasted from 1986 to 2011. She became a household name during that time.
And you know what he attributed much of her success to?
Writing in her gratitude journal.
In 2012, she mentioned how much this habit has helped her and how she would advice everyone to do the same.
But that was not all that she said. She also shared a very interesting insight.
While becoming the famous person she is now, she started to become less and less happy.
And you know why that happened?
She gave the answer.
It was because she wasn’t writing in her gratitude journal anymore.
She couldn’t “find the time”.
But that wasn’t the case, was it?
We always have time for doing things and as she put it:
“But the truth is, I was busy in 1996, too. I just made gratitude a daily priority. I went through the day looking for things to be grateful for, and something always showed up.”
Do you see what happened?
It was the fact that she forgot to focus on her daily habit that was basically guaranteeing her happiness.
I know what you’re thinking: “but she got rich”.
However, if we turn back time, is it possible that she would’ve gained the same success if she continued her daily gratitude habit?
The truth is that it didn’t take way her time, but it did take away some of her happiness.
If we had the same exact story in our life and we looked back at it, do you think that we’d be happy how we forgot to be grateful during that time?
In most cases, if we knew what we know now and we could turn back time, we would probably continue that habit, because I don’t remember anyone saying how happy they were because they were unhappy, right?
And this was a really short habit in terms of time invested.
We all have 5 minutes, don’t we?
Now let’s look at the daily habits that didn’t make the list.
WHICH DAILY HABITS DIDN’T MAKE THE LIST
Not all habits are created equal.
I didn’t include some habits because simply put, they’re really not for everyone and you can do fine in life without them.
But keep in mind that we’re all different, and even though I will share with you the 7 habits that I think will bring the most leverage and make the most impact for a successful life, I highly recommend trying or at least consider the next ones as well.
The next habits, which didn’t make the list, CAN BE just as important FOR YOU.
So let’s get started:
Meditation – I know some of you might not like this but the truth is that meditation is another way of saying to relax. You can call me out on that because it’s a simple way to generalize, but you don’t want this entire article to be on meditation, right? I fully agree that it’s a great tool for many people around the world but I would still say it’s optional because you have alternatives to calm your mind (funny that I had to use the name of a meditation app).
Reading – The reason why you won’t see this as one of the main habits on my list is because I personally don’t read books. Don’t worry, I know it’s good for us and I’ve added a habit which encompasses reading as well, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be reading. I personally listen to podcasts and audiobooks all the time, but I can’t go through more than a few pages of a book unless I’m using it as a tool to relax for a few minutes. If you are like me, then you are well aware that we rarely need more information but rather the right information at the right time.
Eliminating clutter – Do you know the first thing that came into my mind while thinking about this habit? Although they are outliers and not each and every one of us is, I was thinking of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Do you think they were thinking about eliminating clutter while they were working on their vision? And I don’t mean about eliminating clutter from their products but from their life. If you watch some old pictures from Bill’s days, you’ll see that clutter was part of the messy game they were playing at that time. Eliminating clutter and distractions is helpful, but only if we really need it and we are in an environment where the presence of an unwashed dish might distract us.
Journaling – I know some of you might like journaling and some of you might not even like it, but the truth is that it really is a powerful tool for putting thoughts into action or simply discarding them on a piece of paper. I personally know the power it has because I’ve used some variations of it and it can act as a Google Calendar for a CEO. The reason is that you’ll probably take a real journal more serious than a computer software. Journaling didn’t make the list because it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and many times you can be thoughtful about your actions and behaviors without having a “thoughts and actions journal”. I still recommend to try it out, but you have to see which one works best for you.
So, without further ado, let’s start with the first one.
DAILY HABIT #1 SLEEP
If this is common sense for you, I’m sorry, but unfortunately, this is a big problem for many people.
Even for us high achievers, if we like it or not, this is the truth.
As much as we’d like to hustle all day and all night, stay up into the night and then wake up fresh the next day and crush it, this isn’t realistic.
We have to take into account the fact that if we don’t sleep enough, our body isn’t in an optimal state.
Think about this.
If you cared about someone, wouldn’t you want them to sleep?
I’m giving you this example because many times we give others better advice than we would give ourselves.
The main problem with sleep is that if you don’t get enough of it, it won’t only affect your energy, but as science has discovered, your health as well.
Sure, we all have 1, 2 or more days (or should I say nights) in a year where we don’t get enough sleep for a couple of reasons, but if having an alarm is the only way we’re used to waking up, then we need to reevaluate our life and our health.
DAILY HABIT #2 EXERCISE
It’s well known that we should exercise every day.
But the question is why?
Even I have asked myself many times in the past if exercise is really necessary.
Studies have shown for a long time that this was the case.
However, what we must understand is how impactful exercise is on both our body and our brain.
We’ve all seen some changes in our physical body when working out. That is one of the reasons why we have so many people who are gym addicts (guilty as charged).
The truth is that muscle mass is not only a vanity metric but also a longevity metric.
That’s because if you start losing muscle while getting older, you’ll start to have issues actually moving your body.
Trust me, you don’t want that, even if you’re an introvert that sits in front of his computer as much as I do.
But that was just one component. The real benefits are due to the effects exercise has on our brain.
Have you ever seen how the best ideas come in the shower?
Or if you’ve ever lifted weights while listening to podcasts, music or an audiobook, you might’ve noticed how you can plan things ahead and connect the dots much easier.
That’s because when we are moving, there are certain hormones which start firing up.
You might’ve heard of some of them, such as dopamine, but let’s not get sciencey. I’ve been guilty of geeking out on such topics, but unless you want to dive deep, it’s enough to know that exercise is a body and a brain booster at the same time.
If you really want to be the best version of yourself, even as far as productivity, you need to exercise or move in one way or another regularly.
DAILY HABIT #3 EAT HEALTHY
For some of us this has become a habit, for some it is a challenge, isn’t that right?
The truth is that food is important because it’s basically our fuel.
You wouldn’t try to fuel your car with sunflower oil and expect it to work, would you?
Funny enough, you can do that, and you know what? It will work!
But your car won’t live that long.
This is a great analogy that shows us how some things CAN work in the moment, but can have some devastating effects in the future.
The problem with food is that it acts as a strong pain and pleasure lever.
Feel bad? Here, take some comfort food.
Feel good? Here, take some good food to boost your happiness even more.
And do you remember how you feel after eating at Thanksgiving or Christmas? I’m not sure about you, but I personally wouldn’t try to write a blog post or do anything that requires too much focus, attention and brain power.
The main reason is that food, just like exercise, affects our hormones.
This means our mood will change depending on the quality and quantity of food we eat.
We all have different eating habits, but it’s good to remember that there are some key principles to follow. As long as you take all your vitamins and minerals, you’re nourishing your body and giving it everything it needs to work optimally.
If you want to feast or fast on a consistent basis, you might want to try the opposite as well.
Taste how it feels to do things differently.
Personally, I’ve tried both of them at different times in my life and if you’re looking for the best version of yourself, mentally, you might want to check the ketogenic diet for example or you might want to do some research into fasting.
Different things work for different people, but let’s be honest with ourselves, we all know that white sugar for example isn’t going to make any of us any smarter or healthier.
DAILY HABIT #4 LEARN
The more you learn the more you earn, right?
That’s not always true but there’s some solid truth hidden behind those words.
It’s not necessarily the more information or knowledge you know that helps.
It’s the possibility of finding that new piece of information that will help you.
Warren Buffet’s greatest skill is reading.
I didn’t add reading as the main daily habit because that might not be your preferred way of learning.
Personally, I enjoy listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
And if we want to go a level deeper, we have events, seminars, masterminds or conferences.
Any activity or environment that incentivizes learning brings a ROTI (return on time invested).
We don’t have to agree that this is a universal truth, but if we look at it objectively, doesn’t learning seem to increase the probability of success?
Unfortunately, some people don’t apply what they learn.
Have you ever met someone like that?
Would it be possible for someone to learn 10 hours/day, for 365 days/year and still be unsuccessful?
Sure. Just don’t apply what you learn and that’s the most likely outcome.
We’ve probably all done it at one point or another.
DAILY HABIT #5 MEASURE WHAT MATTERS
You might’ve heard about the book with the same name.
But let me ask you one question.
If we don’t check our health markers for about a decade, what are the chances that we’ll find a problem?
Or let me ask you another question.
If you don’t check your bank account for around 1 year, how likely it is that it didn’t go up as you expected?
Or if you don’t check your weight for 1 year, how likely it is that you’ll be at your perfect weight?
See the patterns?
The less we monitor some things, the less control we have over them.
Imagine someone, person A, who weighs themselves every day for 6 months and does the same for their food and calories.
Now imagine someone else, person B, who weighs themselves each 6 months to check if their last Christmas or Eastern dinner did any damage.
Who do you think is more likely to be at their ideal weight?
We both know the answer, don’t we?
The takeaway is that what we measure, we will be able to manage and control.
This applies to almost everything in our life.
The more we focus on something, the more we know the exact numbers, the more we are able to correct the direction in which the ship is going.
Measure once a year, it will be unpredictable.
Measure once a month, it will start to become predictable.
Measure once a week, you’ll have 52 opportunities during the year to improve.
Measure daily and you can imagine what’s going to happen.
DAILY HABIT #6 NIGHT-TIME ROUTINE
Some people would tell you it’s all about the morning routine.
And that may be true, but not entirely.
Let me tell you why.
Let’s imagine you are setting up a morning routine.
When do you actually create it?
Obviously, before you wake up.
Maybe not exactly the night before.
Maybe you set up your morning routine a long time ago and you still follow it to the T.
However, there’s a problem with morning routines.
If you hope that you set it up and January and still use it in December effectively, good luck with that.
A morning routine can be just as helpful as the goals you are setting.
That’s why I recommend a night time routine.
You set goals and things you want to achieve in advance. But if you set them too much time in advance, they won’t be as helpful for the present moment.
If you think about your next day each and every night, then you’ll be as close as possible to have the next best day of your life.
And one more thing to add.
The quality of your sleep depends on those few hours before you go to bed. Depending on what you ate, how much blue light you were exposed to and how stressed you are, the quantity and quality of sleep will be automatically adjusted by your body.
And trust me, if those factors are not taken care of, they won’t magically be optimizing themselves.
DAILY HABIT #7 DO IT
All of these daily habits sound good, don’t they?
The main problem is if we’re actually doing them.
How many people, yourself and myself included, already know that these daily habits are good for us – but we still don’t do them?
Remember a time when you had one of these in check and you were feeling amazing because you knew exactly what to do and they were helping you be your best self?
So how come we sometimes fall out of the wagon?
For many, falling out of the wagon is their standard, but I know this is not the case for us.
If you’re here reading this, you are probably as ambitious as me and the other readers, and you’re always looking to improve yourself.
Sometimes, it can happen even to the best of us.
We forget how powerful these daily habits are and what kind of impact they can bring to our life.
Imagine if you knew exactly how having a night time routine for the next 5 years will make you a millionaire.
Would it make you adopt it right away?
Or if you’re eating and sleeping habits will either give you the opportunity to live up to 100 years or on the other hand, make you ill as soon as 60.
Unfortunately, we don’t have crystal balls that can see into the future but let’s not forget one thing.
We already know that these daily habits have guaranteed success for many people.
Is it possible that you can adopt them and still not be successful?
Sure, it is, but ask yourself this one question: have all of these habits – combined – given anyone a life which is anything less than above average, or even extraordinary?
Many people adopt some of these habits, consciously or unconsciously.
But you don’t take a bath only sometimes and expect it to last forever, right?
We must be consistent because otherwise, it’s easy to fall in the trap of taking it for granted.
Just like Oprah at the beginning of our story, you can’t stop doing something and still expect to get its benefits.
And coming back to her habit, let me take a second to tell you about it.
Do you know why I didn’t mention it?
I didn’t mention it out of one important reason.
And I think you can understand that reason easily if I ask you one simple question.
Should I really tell you to be grateful?
I’ve added Oprah’s story exactly because I wanted to show you how important gratitude is, but if I’d also tell you to be grateful, as a habit, how would you feel?
That’s probably what some other articles waste their list on.
But the truth is that I could just as well tell you to be happy, or empathetic and so on.
Being a good human being shouldn’t be a habit.
When you are grateful, you are thanking the people around you indirectly.
Or maybe directly if you enjoy giving praise where it’s due.
But with that, I’ve covered all the fundamentals which I wanted to go over with you on this blog post.
So now, let’s finish it off and recap everything that we went through.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON DAILY HABITS
First, I have to ask you if you see the full benefits of having a habit?
I could tell you more about it but you know why I didn’t want to tell you all about the importance of daily habits, why you should do them, who else abides by them and add so much fluff?
That’s because there are people out there, such as James Clear, who have an entire blog around habits and even wrote a book on habits.
Guess what other book is one of the best-selling personal development books of all time? If you’ve ever heard of Stephen Covey you might know his book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People”.
And if I remember correctly, in order to get featured in Tim’s podcast, a company would have to pay him $100k.
Yes, that would be for being mentioned in less than 60 seconds, so you can imagine how the audience wouldn’t really accept any episode in which the topic or information isn’t valuable enough.
Interestingly enough, Thomas Frank from College Info Geek (which is an awesome person by the way) uploaded a video about habit tracking apps just a couple of days ago. If you enjoy being able to track and even gamify your daily habits, I’d recommend checking it out.
However, the reasons why I wouldn’t want to overwhelm you with information is because it’s very easy to get in a never-ending loop of information gathering.
Sure, you could read what James has on his blog, but when you’ll see a few hundred posts, if you are anything like me, you’d probably feel a little overwhelmed and not take any action until you’re feeling as if you have enough information.
And truth is, we’ll never have enough information.
So, if you trust me on this one, let’s look at the simplest way of ramping up your success factor in life.
The 3 action steps that you can take RIGHT NOW and improve your life are the following:
STEP 1. Go over all the habits and select the ones you want to start with. You can pick 1, 2 or more. Don’t overthink.
STEP 2. Start with the easiest ones to implement RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow, not the next day, not when it’s going to be “the right time”. It’s never going to be the right time.
STEP 3. Do it and let me know how it goes. Leave a comment if you want to make sure that you’ll follow through.
If you try any one of them and really don’t feel any benefit, write me a message.
Whenever I share content or give advice, I try to create something that is as simple and as helpful as possible, be it in a shorter form or in longer form, as in this post.
If you’ve already here, at the end of this blog post, you’re most likely a high-achiever and the only thing holding you back might be the fact that you don’t take enough action.
Don’t worry, I’ve been there and done that as well.
Trust me, you don’t have to take a $1k+ course on motivation to start improving.
The only secret to success is having the patience to build it.
Rarely is anything meaningful created overnight.
In one of my earlier posts, I’ve talked about the importance and difference between strategies and tactics.
Implementing daily habits is a strategy.
Implementing each of these daily habits is a tactic.
With the 3-step process I gave you earlier, you’re on your way to starting building success.
We’re only going to truly fail when we stop trying.
When we don’t take any type of action.
Knowing all of this, is there any reason not to take action?
Well, you can always find one.
We’ll always find a reason if we really want to.
- Today is a little bit windy, it doesn’t look like the perfect day
- Last night I slept 7 minutes less than I wanted
- My first sip of coffee was a little too hot in the morning
Some people are mad that they had one less peanut on their plate today.
That’s not us.
We don’t want to major in minor things, right?
Let me know in the comment section down below what are your thoughts, ideas or experiences with habits and if you have any tiny little thing to share, please do so.
And as always, you’ll see a relevant quote at the end of the blog post if you scroll a tiny bit.
PS: I’ll leave you with a short list of readings you might enjoy going over later (preferably after doing the exercise) or even right now if you are on a reading spree. 🙂
- Why what you do is x10 more important than how you do it – the importance of picking what you want to do in your life.
- Why You Should Always Think Big and Set Big Goals – how to think and set goals to maximize impact and success.
- Easy vs. Hard, Simple vs. Complicated – distinguishing between things that are or just seem to be overwhelming.
- The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less – avoid analysis paralysis by way of information overload.
- The Complete Guide to Breaking Bad Habits – my personal story and an effective approach to breaking bad habits.
- Your Simple Guide to Learning Anything the Smart Way– how to learn in a faster and easier way.
- Stoicism: The Most Efficient Operating System for Your Brain – using our brain more efficiently.
Life enthusiast with a great desire to constantly perfect myself, get in better physical and mental shape, while also helping other people by sharing everything I’ve been able to learn.