This article is NOT about goal setting!
It’s about DAILY HABITS. A daily habit is the step you take on a CONSISTENT basis that will improve your life, in any area.
Improving your life might mean that you want to:
- Quit your job and work from home, or feel better about your daily commute
- Run a 5KM race, or run an ultra marathon
- Sleep 8 hours a night, or quit sugar
- Improve your overall health, or address a specific health concern
- Declutter your home, or take control of your finances
- Have more courage to speak up at meetings, or become a public speaker and get paid for it
It doesn’t matter what it is that you want to change – daily habits are an easy and powerful way to get there.
You can use daily habits as a way of achieving your goals, but you don’t have to get hung up on the word “goal”. If you don’t want to set a specific goal, that’s fine. Just ask yourself:
“What would I like to be different in my life or work?”
The next step is to brainstorm ways that you could move closer to your desired change by a small, forward-reaching daily habit.
Daily habits keep you focused, motivated and positive. They support you via baby steps to make permanent shifts in your behaviour that will dramatically improve your life.
And they really WORK!
Do you know the original positive affirmation?
“Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”
The originator of this quote was a French pharmacist called Emile Coué, who, in 1920 introduced a method of psychotherapy that made use of frequent repetition of this sentence. In fact, the original quote was, of course, in French!
“Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux”
Coué would ask his patients to repeat this phrase again and again each day. His theory was that this method of auto suggestion would help people to overcome their issues and achieve more success by working on their unconscious thought processes as well as their conscious will (e.g. willpower, getting it done, battling on through!)
I believe that Coué’s “every day in every way” mantra and other such mantras or positive affirmations work, thanks to the part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS).
The RAS is a bundle of neurons at the base of our spine through which nearly all information, apart from smell, enters the brain. The RAS acts like the gatekeeper of information that lets information into the conscious mind. Our RAS selects the information that is most important for our conscious mind to pay attention to.
So if we are reminding ourselves 20 times a day (as Coué prescribed to his patients), that “In every day in every way, I am getting better and better”, then we are more likely to be aware of opportunities for actually GETTING better and better.
That little mantra might lead us to smile rather than scowl, breathe more deeply, respond rather than react, drink an extra glass of water, say no to that cream cake… And all simply because, from a very small, easy habit, we are helping our RAS to help us. Let’s dive into how we can adopt small daily habits that actually WILL help us to get better and better, every day, in every way.
I have a fantastic “freebie” for you to accompany this article. You can download the daily habits workbook to help you to choose habits that you’ll keep. In the workbook , I also share with you the free app that has made a BIG difference to my own daily habits. One of the BEST ways that I walk my own talk as a Coach and develop myself continuously is via small, consistent, daily habits. Each of my daily habits takes a maximum of 15 minutes and a minimum of a few seconds.
I chose each of my daily habits to support me with goals and a lifestyle that are based on my values. Many of them are related to my health and wellbeing, but others support my finances or my business. Occasionally, I will add a new daily habit if I have a short-term goal (see habit no. 9 in the post). Daily habits can help you to achieve your goals, because they break down huge projects into manageable bite-size and CONSISTENT chunks. They are SO powerful.
Here are my current daily habits, in general time of day order – and how you can create your own habits that fit in with our day.
1. Meditate – 15 minutes.
I’ve made meditation my number one priority and my ‘must do’ daily habit. That’s why it’s top of the list and it’s the very first thing I do when I wake up, even before I get up. I just sit up in bed and do it! This habit has changed my life. The benefits of meditation did not suddenly jump out at me one day; the impact has been subtle. Ask The Bloke and he will tell you that it has made me much calmer, much more resilient and generally easier to be with! Having a meditation practice has not made my life perfect and it doesn’t stop me from getting knocked down. But it DOES help me to bounce back again. The benefits to my resilience have been enormous. There are occasions when I have to get up very early to travel. This is almost the only time that I don’t meditate first thing, but if for example, I’m travelling by train, I’ll meditate on the train instead. I was up early on Wednesday to host my monthly Forward Ladies Business Breakfast and my train was delayed by 25 minutes. So I walked back to my car and meditated for 15 minutes – much nicer than standing on a freezing cold station platform! What is your number one daily habit? What is one habit, above any other, that will make the BIGGEST improvement in your life long term?
2. 30 Press Ups and Pull up Practice.
I have a goal that I wonder if I’ll ever achieve it, but I’m moving forward regardless: I want to be able to do 10 proper military style pull-ups. I can do 3 on a good day, but only if I touch my feet on the floor between each one! So I do a bit of push up and pull up practice every single day in the hope that one day, I’ll get to 10! I usually do these whilst my coffee machine is grinding away! I can get to about 20 whilst the first shot is brewing and then it’s the home straight of the last 10 with the second shot, with a few seconds left over to start unloading the dishwasher! You can fit some daily habits into pockets of “waiting’ time. What could you do to kick-start your day whilst the kettle is boiling each morning?
3. Take collagen
This supports my personal vision of “glowing with health, young looking and vibrantly healthy”. You can read about the benefits of collagen here. It’s so easy to achieve as a daily habit as I mix it into my coffee every morning. When the bloke is around, it’s even easier, as he makes my coffee with collagen every morning whilst I’m meditating. You see – you can even get other people to help you tick off your daily habits!
4. 15 Minutes of Book Writing
Having tried and failed to write a book for many years, this is the ONLY strategy that is working for me. My book is being written in tiny chunks of 15 minutes first thing in the morning. I have created a little rule – in order to enjoy my morning coffee, I have to be sat at my desk doing 15 minutes writing or research for my book. Similar to my morning meditation, book writing is important. But it’s never urgent! Which means, if book writing doesn’t happen first thing in the morning, it never happens. My life, just like yours, is busy and packed. Book writing is a “nice to have” in my day and it certainly doesn’t shout the loudest. It doesn’t put food on the table (yet) and as it’s such a long-term project, it doesn’t give me much of a feeling of achievement (yet). So the only way to do it is first thing, and to create a little write-reward link between coffee (which I love) and writing. I couldn’t do my early morning writing without my coffee by my side! If you have a goal that keeps getting postponed, create a daily habit that moves you towards it. It’s the only way to achieve that “important but not urgent” stuff!
5. Take Vitamins
I take Vitamin D, because it’s one of the most important vitamins and it’s very difficult to get enough of it in the UK from sunlight, even in summer. I take Vitamin K2, as it works in conjunction with Vitamin D to support bone density and keep the calcium balance right in my body; Vitamin B is my “stress armour” (who doesn’t need some of that?!) and Magnesium, because it’s one of the most crucial minerals for our overall health, but one which we’re very deficient in nowadays. Taking my vitamins takes a few seconds. What’s one beneficial daily habit you could practise that takes less than a minute?
6. Five Minutes of Admin/ Paper Killing
A necessary habit, because when paper comes in that needs actioning, I do NOT jump with joy and get on with it! I suspect that possibly 0.1% of people never have any paperwork waiting to be dealt with. I’m not in that 0.1%. Ugh… little by little. One day I may hit nirvana and get to the point where my household and business inbox is empty and 5 minutes a day keeps on top of it. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away in baby steps. The benefits of this habit are that I can tell myself I AM getting better every day. I’m doing something. It serves to remind me that there’s no such thing as a perfectly neat, tidy and ordered life, but as long as we take small daily actions, we’re always moving forwards. If you have a daily habit like this, focus on how you will feel AFTER you’ve ticked off that habit, and what it will achieve in baby steps over many weeks.
7. Do ONE Thing to be a Great Leader to my Money
This might be checking a bank account, paying a bill, looking at my sales forecast or reading a money blog. It can take anything from a minute to 15 minutes. For me, this “loose, choose anything” habit is about being consistent with my long-term goal of financial independence. If you have a long term goal, then creating a habit that puts you in alignment with that goal will not only help to keep it top of mind (remember the RAS!), it will also help you to discover new ways of achieving it.
8. A 5-minute share on social media
A tiny marketing type activity that is important for me with a business. This is probably one of my weakest daily habits. Some days it’s easy, but other days, when I’m in my “introverted extrovert” mood, I simply don’t want to be on show in any way! But having it written down as one of my daily habits reminds me to do something and means that I’m 70% successful. Without it there, that percentage would drop considerably! Is there a daily habit that you know will make a difference to your work if you did it consistently? Make it as small and easy as possible.
9. Plank Challenge
Finally, this is my temporary daily habit. Unlike my meditation habit, that happens every day, this one is just for this month, because I’m taking part in a “January Plank Challenge” with my British Military Fitness buddies. The challenge is simple 3 minutes of plank each day, with a 1-minute rest in between each minute. Taking part in a group challenge is a good way to kick-start your daily habits, as it naturally keeps you accountable to your tribe. It’s easier than ever to set your own challenge now, thanks to the wonder of Facebook groups. Maybe you could start your own challenge, invite some friends and strengthen your habit from the start.
Over to you
So now you’ve got some inspiration and ideas for the kind of habits that help you get better and better, every day and in every way. Which habits would you like to start with? Ask yourself what your life might look like if, one year from now, you continued with one particular daily habit. Would it help towards your happiness, fulfilment at work, wellbeing or wealth? Don’t forget your freebie – my “Daily Habits” workbook. Just use the link below!