Last year, I changed a few habits that dramatically improved my life, in a HUGE way.
Sometimes you change just a few small things, and the rewards are enormous.
And sometimes, you start doing something new, and it just “clicks” in your life, and you can instantly tell it’s something you’re going to cultivate for the rest of your life.
Here are those five habits I started practicing last year.
5 Life Changing Daily Habits
Let’s go a bit more in-depth and check out how these habits themselves worked, what I did, and how I did it.
Habit #1: The Nightly review
Last year, I really got serious about changing my habits surrounding meditation.
I just couldn’t get myself to break into the habit of REGULAR meditation, despite liking meditation, despite doing it consistently for 10+ years (but not daily), and despite knowing it’d help me.
I think of it like exercise for the brain – 10 minutes a day is great, but it doesn’t produce substantial results unless you’re really doing it at least 30 min, 3-5x a week.
That’s when you see big results with exercise, and that’s when you see big results with meditation.
But each day I would wake up late, meditate only a short while, then get frustrated and go to bed, only to repeat the cycle all over again the next day because I wasn’t reflecting on what wasn’t working.
Once I started doing a nightly review at the end of the day, to see what was working and what wasn’t, it made me realize:
A. I had to force myself up earlier, and
B. if it didn’t do it in the morning, it wouldn’t happen at all.
With that new awareness of what wasn’t working, I finally became a DAILY meditator. And to me, doing 10 minutes a day is better than 30 minutes irregularly.
Consistency is king when it comes to seeing results in life.
Habit #2: Daily Habit Tracking
To fix that, I used a habit tracking app to measure my results – and then wrote my scores on a white board next to my bed.
So although there was regular checking in throughout the day to make sure I was remembering to do it, the white board next to my bed was a huge win.
When I wake up, I do yoga for a few minutes to stretch my back out and then I sit down for my meditation. To make myself super accountable, I installed a whiteboard that covers half of my entire bedroom wall.
And on the whiteboard, right near where I sit to meditate, I wrote down two things:
A. When I woke up
B. How many minutes I meditated today
And then I would try to beat those two scores: wake up earlier, and meditate longer.
So for example it would look like this:
- Mon: 7:45 am | Meditate: 10 mins
- Tues: 7:44 am | Meditate: 11 mins
- Wed: 7:43 am | Meditate: 12 mins
And then each day I would go down by one minute, and contribute that one minute to my meditation time.
It wasn’t until I started regularly doing this that yes, I actually got up earlier, and I actually contributed that earlier get up time towards my meditation.
Habit #3: Morning Visualization Of An Awesome Life That Inspired Me
I wanted a much better life after moving back from china 3-4 years ago.
I started over and moved back in to my parents’ house in Connecticut – and had no friends, no job, nothing. It was miserable.
Every single day I replayed the same drama over and over “Ugh, what’s the point of all this crap? What’s the point of life? What am I really supposed to be doing?”
And life hadn’t improved much over the past year or two because I wasn’t living deliberately, so I began visualizing everything I wanted in my life.
I visualized myself finally making friends, going out for drinks, and having a lot more fun rather than being home alone all day.
I visualized having an awesome girlfriend who also loves travel and was up for having fun and trying new things.
I visualized starting my own passion project (this site), and more.
And guess what?
A year later, almost every single one of those came true.
How insane is that!? It’s pretty awesome.
So whether or not visualization possesses some mystical quality, I don’t know. But I DO know that it makes you quantify what you want from life – and when you want that, it’s waaaaaay easier to make it a reality.
Without a clear vision, what are you working towards and how do you get there?
Habit #4: Exercising With Momentum
This is literally the only principle I’ve used on a daily basis to get myself to exercise, for almost 10 years now, on a regular weekly basis.
Here’s how it works: you have to sit down and think about your lowest energy periods of the day.
So if your lowest energy period is right after work in the 3-6 pm period (when it usually is), make sure to maintain momentum.
The momentum principle is why I don’t own a TV, because I know if it’s there, I’m going to be tempted to actually sit down and watch it. Haha, sounds simple right?
The way I maintain momentum is that when I get off work, after 5, I go directly to the gym because I know that the resistance and friction of going home and then trying to leave home is just too great.
I won’t do it.
So instead I make sure to always leave my gym bag in my car, and always go directly from work.
Without fail, I go to the gym every time – because I don’t have to make a tough decision every single day especially when I’m the most tired.
Think about how you can inject more momentum into your daily schedule, especially around activities that are the highest friction. Maybe that means leaving your gym shoes next to your bed. Maybe it means going right from work.
Habit #5: The One Page Yearly Vision
There’s a story that Earl Nightingale tells about a ship leaving the harbor with no destination – it doesn’t matter how fast it goes, it won’t reach its destination because it doesn’t know where it’s going.
But when you know what you want, even if you’re off course a bit, you can still make progress and quantum leaps. So reviewing – daily – what I really really want has given me a clear focus, and a clear purpose, every single day.
And the point of having a yearly visualization cheat sheet means that you can reflect 365 times in a year what’s working (or what’s not working) and then correct course.
The average person only reviews once a year. Imagine if you did it 365 times?
Your Tiny Takeaway For Today
So here’s your takeaway for today and the five daily habits that changed my life this year:
- The Nightly Review
- Daily Habit Tracking
- Morning Visualization
- The Momentum Principle
- The Yearly Vision Cheat Sheet
Try these out (or try one out) and let me know how it goes for you!