I’m a strong believer in the power of consistency. I believe that when we dedicate time and effort to caring for ourselves daily, we are better people for those around us. We’re stronger, lighter, and more powerful people with the ability to take on the world.
When tackling new habits and routines, I like to practice what I call the 5×5 method. I will choose five habits I’m working to develop for five days in a row. Then, after five days, I’ll evaluate and either replace some or keep it the same.
I like to start with five days because it’s an attainable goal that doesn’t feel permanent or overwhelming. It’s especially helpful in the beginning when a habit is super new to you. I keep this in my Notes app as a checklist, and each day I’ll clear the checklist and check them off as I do them.
Here’s what mine looks like right now:
1. Don’t snooze 2. Make my bed 3. Write gratitudes or journal 4. Get exercise (a walk or workout class) 5. 5-minute cleanups at the end of the day
The list will keep shifting as these become habitually cemented into my daily routine. I’m almost there!
Here’s a list of 26 habit ideas and practices you can try out to live a happier life.
1. Making your bed
It’s a classic for a reason. Making your bed every morning is powerful for a few reasons.
1. It’s one of the first things you do after getting out of bed. It sets the tone.
2. It may seem silly because you’re just going to get back in it at the end of the day, but every time you look at your neatly made bed, you feel more put together. You wake up feeling put together and enter the bed again feeling put together.
3. You’re less likely to get back into bed.
2. Following a to-do list and a top 3
When it comes to your daily to-dos, how easy is it for you to cross everything off? Are you putting too much on your plate every day? Following a top three helps to minimize the amount you feel you need to achieve that day. You can create a master list that has all your to-dos, and then each day prioritize what three things are most essential to get done.
3. Keeping active
Whether it’s walking, running, pilates, yoga, cycling, rock climbing or canoeing, there are so many ways to stay active and at this point, we have way too much evidence to ignore in the way of benefits of exercise. If it’s been a while since you’ve been active, start with the path of least resistance. What sounds like it could be fun? Or maybe just…not awful? Start with giving that a try.
If you’re spiritual, prayer can help you accept the things you cannot control. Come back to prayer when you need guidance and make it a daily practice to ask where you should be serving, guidance for how to let go, and what to do next.
You don’t need more than five minutes in your day to build meditation into your routine. It took me so long to start meditating, and now it’s one of the things I’m most committed to in my mornings. It starts the day with calmness and intention. You can choose to do guided or unguided, and Insight Timer is a great free option to start with. There are dozens of forms of meditation to choose from, and if all that fails, try a different kind of mindfulness practice.
What do you see for your future self? While you can’t predict the future, you can get clear on what you want in life. Watch a video to help you with visualization, or you can even do a future you exercise.
Whether it’s gratitudes, stream of consciousness, or following journaling prompts, starting to add journaling into your practice can help you get your thoughts out on paper instead of bottled inside. Sometimes we don’t even know how we feel about something before we journal it out. It doesn’t have to be a “dear diary” scenario, and you don’t even have to keep it if you feel scared about someone reading it. That doesn’t have to be the point of journaling. It’s about finding a way to express your emotions before you verbally let it out.
8. Creating blank space in your day
Is your day filled with endless to-dos? Create some space in your day without an agenda. Allow yourself space to take a long walk or lounge. This is where some of the best ideas come from.
9. Consuming mindfully
Does what and who you follow online bring you joy? If not, delete, unsubscribe, unfollow and be done with it. Even the things that you think bring you joy can sometimes stress you out. And I think it’s important to evaluate if the shows, sports, video games and more bring you more stress than happiness. There’s nothing wrong with entertainment, but make sure that what you’re consuming feels good to you, and doesn’t leave you feeling more stressed out or upset. What you consume is your choice, so choose mindfully.
10. Wake up as soon as the alarm goes off (or without one)
How many times do you hit snooze in the am? As you see in my list of five above, this is a current habit I’m trying to apply to my life, because I feel way more put together when I skip the snooze button. If you are able to, try going without an alarm altogether or purchase a physical alarm clock to avoid using your phone first thing in the morning.
A lovely online shop owner I follow on Instagram shared that every morning, before she gets out of bed, she’ll move her pillow out from under her and lie flat on the bed and think about her intention for the day while wiggling her toes and stretching. This feels like a peaceful way to start the day.
11. Going an hour-free of technology
Speaking of not using your phone first thing, what if you could go for an hour without it? Whether it’s a part of your morning or evening wind-down routine, try to build an hour into your day that is completely free of technology. Here’s a list of things you can do with a tech-free evening. Start with 30 minutes, if this feels nearly impossible. It’ll change the way you go into the mornings, or end your day.
12. Getting to bed earlier
You’ve likely heard that most successful people wake up early in the morning, and it doesn’t have to be the case. But if that’s a goal of yours, here’s the trick. The easiest (and pretty essential) way to wake up earlier is simply to go to bed earlier. Set a bedtime alarm, and start making it a priority to get to bed earlier, if your goal is to wake up early! It might be difficult to do right away, because your body is used to your usual bedtime.
So try to go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach your goal time. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep to give your body the rest it deserves.
13. Prepping for your day at night
Which one are you: the calm, chill morning person, or the frantically-running-out-the-door person? If you’re the latter, it might be time to start prepping for your mornings the night before.
Plan out the workout clothes, the work clothes, get your breakfast and lunch as prepped as possible and take the stress off your morning. It doesn’t take a ton of energy to do at night, so when you’re done for the day, take a few minutes to sort out the following day and you’ll thank yourself for being so prepared.
14. Brewing your own coffee
Wanting to save money, and stop running to the coffee shop before work? Get in the habit by making it a fun experience with an espresso machine or try experimenting with a new way of making coffee with a french press or pour-over.
Or maybe you’re trying to lessen your caffeine intake? Try out Four Sigmatic’s options, or switch to matcha – it has less caffeine and more health benefits.
15. Eating the frog
When you start work, it’s tempting to go for the easiest tasks first, but doesn’t it feel SO GOOD to get the hardest thing off your plate? The rest of the day feels lighter and more enjoyable when you don’t have the hardest tasks on your plate in the afternoon.
If mornings aren’t for you, find the best time of day for you to tackle the hard tasks and build that into your schedule.
16. Keeping your inbox at zero
In the new year, I’ve made a spontaneous goal to try out more email organization. I rid myself of a lot of emails, moved my main inbox into a folder called “old inbox” and have a goal to keep my main inbox at zero. I created folders for sorting through, and it feels so good and clutter-free.
17. Making use of your phone time
While it’s healthy to have free space from your phone, it’s normal to be a little attached. So in order to make more use of the time you are on your phone, instead of scrolling and doing nothing important – try out some ways to be more mindful online.
Either create inspirational content to share or maybe sort through your phone to keep it clutter-free and organized.
18. Setting boundaries and saying no
How often are you letting other people dictate the way you live your life? It’s time to set boundaries around what you’re available (and not available) for.
Practice the art of saying no, and setting boundaries with the people in your life. It’s hard at first, because we have set expectations throughout our lives with the people we love and they’ve come to believe that we will be available at all times, in all ways. But we don’t always have the bandwidth.
By setting boundaries you give others permission to do the same in their lives. Ultimately, people respect those who confidently navigate their lives in a way that feels good to them – instead of running it on empty, feeling obligated and exhausted.
Fear-setting is a practice created by Tim Ferriss, where instead of starting with how you can achieve your goals, you start by focusing on your fears around them.
Here’s how it works. Divide a paper into three sections:
What’s the worst that can happen?
What are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening?
If they do happen, how might you be able to repair the damage?
20. Doing no spend months
Have you ever gone a month without spending money? Besides rent and all that required stuff, it’s possible to go 30 days without spending money. Try it out if you’re finding that you’ve been spending excessively.
21. Using the Start Again method from Gabby Bernstein
After reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s book ‘Super Attractor’ I learned about something she calls the ‘The Choose Again’ method. It’s all about, as you may expect, resetting and continuing. It’s a three-step process: notice the thought of negativity or fear, forgive the thought and choose again.
22. Giving yourself permission slips
Give yourself permission to feel your feelings, to be bad at something, to mess up. The more you get comfortable with the fact that you’re going to mess up, the better you’ll be. Free yourself from feelings of shame.
23. Do a rampage from Abraham Hicks
Sometimes we need a quick shift away from a low state of mind. According to the Law of Attraction, there is an emotional vibrational scale with the top point being joy and appreciation.
You can find a rampage of joy, self-love, empowerment and more from Abraham Hicks on YouTube. If you need to get to a better energy state, you’ll find that listening to one of these or creating your own can get you in a better state of mind.
24. Going digital media free in the evenings or mornings
Technology has taken over our lives and caused us to be so dependent on our phones. It’s so healthy to take time each day to purposefully ignore your phone. Try out spending one evening a week free from technology. Or make the first thing you do in the day phone-free.
25. Practicing non-attachment
When it comes to going after your goals, there are some aspects you can control and a lot that you can’t. Sometimes you’ll do everything possible to attain something and the stars just aren’t aligning for you.
One of the most essential ways to be happy with your life is by going after what you want and not attaching to the outcome. And as a bonus, you’ll find that when you learn to enjoy the process of going after your goals, you often achieve them easier.
26. Speaking kindly to yourself
Being kind starts with yourself. Positive self-talk can look like literally speaking out loud to yourself in affirmations. If you find yourself talking poorly about yourself, ask yourself if you’d speak like that about your best friend. If the answer is no, consider why you’re not your own best cheerleader?
What habits and practices are you working on right now?