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5 Good Habits To Start Building Right Now

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your habits.

If you don’t master the art of starting and sticking to positive habits, it’s going to be an uphill battle to reach your full potential.

Habits are quite literally the fundamental building blocks of who you are. According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for 40% of the behaviors that we engage in every day. This means that close to half of the activities you engage in are done completely on auto-pilot.

In this article, we’re going to discuss five good habits to start implementing into your daily life. When the actions you want to take become automated responses instead of things you have to discipline yourself to do, getting the life you want becomes much easier.

 

What Are The Best Habits To Have In Life?

Think about the last time you drove home. Did you have to analyze every decision that you made behind the wheel? Of course not.

If you’re like most people, you probably spent 95% of the time thinking about what you were going to have for dinner, or all of the unfinished tasks in your to-do list.

The point is that you didn’t have to expend any energy thinking about how to drive home, you just did it. That’s because you’ve done it thousands of times before, so your brain didn’t have to devote any effort to performing the task effectively.

This is where the nature of habits become a blessing and a curse. When applied to positive actions, this is an incredibly beneficial process. It allows you to get to the point where you’re repeating good daily habits without expending any conscious energy.

When this process is working against you, things can get out of hand quickly. When the chains of habit turn on us we start repeating actions that lead to self-sabotage, the consequences can be disastrous. And learning how to break bad habits is much harder than forming good ones. 

This is how most people get to be 50 or 60 years old and think, “How in the world did I end up here?”

Luckily, building good habits is actually fairly easy once you understand one simple concept – change does not have to be radical to be meaningful. When attempting to build good habits to start changing our life, most of us tend to take the complete overhaul approach.

We tell ourselves that we are going to start writing for two hours per day, get in shape, and transform our social skills all at one time.  The problem is that our willpower is limited – we can’t realistically follow through on all of these intentions without superhuman self-discipline.

And you can’t develop tremendous self-discipline overnight. It needs to be built up slowly. Day by day. Habit by habit.

The key to lasting consistency with your habits is two-fold:

First off, they need to be so easy that you can’t say no. This ensures that you can show up and get a win even on the days where your motivation is at rock-bottom.

Second, you need to narrow your focus and only build one habit at a time. Trying to build 3-4 habits at once may be an act you can pull off for a week or two, but it’s not a long-term solution for growth.

In this article, we’re going to be focusing on these five good habits to start with:

  • Meditation
  • Daily Gratitude
  • Waking Up When Your Alarm Goes Off
  • Developing a Morning Routine
  • Deep Work

Let’s talk about each of these habits individually and how you can make them an integral part of your life.

 

5 Good Habits To Start Building Right Now

Now, most of the posts on the internet regarding this subject give you a giant list of good habits to start without actually providing a framework for making them stick.

You’ll click off the page with a ton of ideas, but not a plan of action. That’s not what this is. 

Of course, I’ll be covering the habit and why you should be doing it, but I’ll also give you a plan of action for integrating it into your daily life.

You’ll notice that these for each habit, you’ll have three different levels of accomplishment: Easy, Medium, and Hard

  • The easy version of the habit represents something you could accomplish every single day no matter how you feel.
  • The medium version of the habit represents a more challenging task, but one that’s still fairly attainable
  • The hard version of the habit represents the action you could perform each day if you had unlimited willpower

By using three different levels of difficulty, we’re setting up a framework that allows you to see success on any given day. The level to which you succeed is determined by which version of the habit you choose to perform.

Feeling demotivated? Then do the bare minimum and perform the easy version of the habit. Achieving a small win is still a win, and it further strengthens the neural pathways responsible for making that behavior into a habit.

Feeling extra-motivated? Then try to reach for the stars and try to perform the hard version of your habit. No matter what you level you actually end up at, showing up is all that matters.

You’ll find that as the wins stack up, your willpower and motivation will increase naturally. As your willpower and motivation increase, you’ll be able to test your limits and stretch yourself to the medium and hard versions of the habit on a regular basis.

This is the same framework that’s covered in more detail in Build Better Habits, which is a course that I’ve created to help people master behavior change. You can click here to find out more about what’s included in the course

 

#1: Meditation

You’ve probably heard all about meditation and the various benefits that it provides, but I’ll list a few of them here anyway.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Lengthen the attention span
  • Improve sleep
  • Increase Focus/Concentration

Meditation is about focusing the front of the mind on a mundane task (your breathing) so that the rest of the mind can find peace. It’s about mastering the art of being present and not getting lost in the endless internal dialogue that runs through your head minute by minute.

Making it a daily practice will help you be more fully engaged in whatever you’re doing. 

And what does it take to achieve all of these benefits? Only 2-5 minutes per day sitting down anywhere in your home/apartment.

Now, you’ll obviously want to work your way up to 10-20 minute sessions. It’s been proven that the longer you meditate, the greater the benefits, especially when it comes to focus and concentration.

But when you are starting out, 2-5 minutes a day is all you need. Remember, at first your goal is to simply build the identity of someone who meditates every day. Casting small votes for that identity means that you’re on the right path.

 

How to Make Meditation A Habit:

Based on the framework that was described earlier, here are the three levels of accomplishment for this habit:

  • Easy: Meditate for 60 seconds
  • Medium: Meditate for 5 minutes
  • Hard: Meditate for 15 minutes

Use this as a guideline to ensure you get a win each day no matter how you feel.

 

woman meditating as one of the good habits to start

 

#2: Daily Gratitude

It’s human nature to focus on the things that we lack. The money we don’t have. The job we don’t like. The car we don’t have. And down the rabbit hole we go.

We’re constantly searching for the next “thing” that’s going to bring us happiness. The problem with this mindset is that it blinds us to the positive things that we already have going for us.

Most of us don’t appreciate what we have because we’re so focused on what we want. Luckily, daily gratitude can help you foster a more positive mindset by bringing your blessings to the forefront of your mind.

One powerful exercise that helps cultivate a more positive mindset is called the “Three Good Things Exercise.”

It’s a fairly simple exercise. All you do is take out a journal or a sheet of paper and write down three things that went well in the last 24 hours.

Take note of any event that made you feel happy. Most of the events that you write down will seem simple and insignificant, but that’s the point. You’re trying to combat your mind’s tendency to emphasize the negative and overlook the positive.

Here are a few examples of events that are commonly found in my journal

  • Waking up with a roof over my head
  • Getting lunch with a friend
  • Something that made me laugh
  • The tough workout that I forced myself through
  • A phone call with my mom/dad

This exercise conditions your brain to focus on the good in your life. By repeating this action every single day, you will get better at recognizing and appreciating the little things that most people often overlook.

 

How to Make Daily Gratitude A Habit:

Based on the framework provided above, here are the three levels of accomplishment for this habit:

  • Easy: When you roll out of bed in the morning, just think about one thing that you’re grateful for
  • Medium: Perform The Three Good Things Exercise
  • Hard: Write a thank you note to someone in your life or perform a random act of kindness

Use this as a guideline to ensure you get a win each day no matter how you feel.

 

good habits to start - picture of gratitude

 

#3: Waking Up When Your Alarm Goes Off

One thing that we all battle with every day is the snooze button. When your alarm goes off, that’s the first battle of the day, and it’s one that you need to win for a couple reasons.

You may think that hitting the snooze button only impacts whether or not you get out of bed on time, but it actually has a significant impact on your energy levels during the first few hours of the day.

Our sleep cycles are 75-90 minutes long. And typically, it only takes ten minutes before our body begins to fall into a sleep cycle and go back into rest mode.

If you hit the snooze button and start to reach that ten minute threshold, your body begins to release hormones that trigger deep sleep. Inevitably, that snooze button is going to ring once again and you’ll be waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle.

Now, here’s where it gets really bad. Every time you get up in the morning you experience something called sleep inertia

Think of sleep inertia as that 10-15 minute period immediately after you wake up where you feel like a zombie. It’s simply the natural wake-up process of your body and brain, which needs to get prepared for the day.

The problem with waking up after hitting the snooze button is that you are always waking up at the beginning of a sleep cycle. And when you wake up at the beginning of a sleep cycle, you extend the length of sleep inertia.

Instead of lasting 10-15 minutes, it can last up to 2-3 hours. So the true price of hitting the snooze button is 2-3 hours at the start of the day with impaired concentration, less energy, and decreased motivation.

This should give you ample reason to roll out of bed on time, but the main issue with hitting snooze comes down to mindset.

The biggest problem with hitting the snooze button is that you are admitting defeat before the day has even started. When your alarm clock goes off you know deep down exactly what you need to do.

You know you need to roll out of bed and start to be productive. You know that you don’t really need that extra ten minutes of sleep. Hitting snooze is a retreat to your comfort zone and signifies avoidance to the day’s first challenge.

You’re letting the present self (which prioritizes instant gratification) beat out the future self (which prioritizes your long-term ambitions).

If you choose to lose the first battle of the day by getting an extra thirty minutes of sleep, you’re setting the tone for the rest of your day.

What happens when you’re faced with the second, or third, or fourth battle of the day? How do you think you’re going to respond to subsequent challenges when you’ve already admitted defeat once?

No one’s going to write any news stories about you getting up on time. Don’t expect to roll out of bed and read the morning paper looking for the headline, “Gary avoided the snooze button today!”

However, what getting up on time will do is ensure that you don’t lie to yourself. It will set the tone for the rest of the day and ensure that you’re not starting off behind the eight ball.

 

How To Make Waking Up On Time A Habit:

This is the only habit on this list that’s all-or-nothing. There’s no small or medium win to be found. You either do it or you don’t.

However, there are certain environment design tricks that can make this habit much easier. One of the best ways to ensure you wake up on time is to place your phone/alarm clock on the other side of the room.

This will ensure that you actually have to get up and roll out of bed to turn it off. After you remove the covers and stand on your own two feet, you’ve won 80% of the battle, now you just have to finish the job.

Another tip is to think about the first thing that you do each morning. For example, the first thing I do each morning is drink a glass of ice-cold water.

So in order to prime my environment to make this habit easier, I placed a glass right next to my alarm clock. The glass served as a visual cue that it was time to get my day started.

Once I grab the glass and walkover to the fridge, I’ve won the first battle of the day. If you place a visual cue next to your alarm clock, you’ll be much less likely to retreat back to the comfort of your sheets because you’ve got 

 

woman sleeping in

#4: Deep Work

If you want to be successful, you need to master the art of deep work. What’s deep work?

In his all-time classic book titled, “Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World,” Newport writes this:

“To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods of time with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.”

Deep work is a skill that must be developed through practice, and it’s one that’s increasingly rare in the distraction-filled world that we live in.

One of the most powerful assets we have in this world is our attention. We can actively choose what to pay attention to and what to ignore, but the problem is that our distractions are just a button away. 

We check our smartphones while waiting in line because we can’t handle boredom. We interrupt our workflow and check social media because we need something to stimulate us. These split-second decisions are devastating in your pursuit of producing your best stuff on a daily basis.

It doesn’t matter how talented or skilled you are. If you don’t produce, you won’t succeed. 

If you develop the habit of freeing yourself from boredom by retreating to distraction, that carries over into your work and negatively impacts how much you achieve each day, week, month, and year that you’re alive.

Just think about how much better your life would be if you could perform uninterrupted, distraction free-work for three hours per day. 

How much more could you get done? How much more money would you make? How much more time would you have to engage in hobbies/interests when you can get things done in half the time?

On this list of good habits to start building right now, this would be the one that I would focus on first because of the potential ripple effects it has on your success, happiness, and financial freedom.

Remember, deep work is characterized by distraction-free work on a singular task. That means you can’t check your phone to see what your friends are posting on Instagram. You can’t sit on the couch and work while your favorite Netflix show is running in the background. 

It’s just you and the task at hand. According to Newport, most novices can only perform true deep work for one hour per day. However, experts at deep work can produce for as long as four hours without interruption.

You’ll need to work your way up to that point. However, with enough practice, long periods of deep work can become a daily habit.

 

How to Make Deep Work A Habit:

Based on the framework provided above, here are the three levels of accomplishment for this habit:

  • Easy: Perform deep work on a task for two minutes
  • Medium: Perform deep work on a task for fifteen minutes
  • Hard: Perform deep work on a task for sixty minutes

Just like any of the good daily habits on this list, your goal is to start small. You’ll find that as you’re able to get in the habit of uninterrupted work, you’ll be able to focus intensely for longer periods of time and significantly increase your output.

As you get more proficient, adjust your targets accordingly. Here’s what your three levels might look like a few months from now:

  • Easy: Perform deep work on a task for five minutes
  • Medium: Perform deep work on a task for thirty
  • Hard: Perform deep work on a task for two hours

 

person working on a project

 

#5: Develop a Morning Routine

Studies consistently show that if you want to maximize your productivity and increase your overall life-satisfaction, you need to harness the power of routine.

The true power of a morning routine lies in the compound effect that it creates for your day. When you start your day performing healthy habits that add value to your life, you’re more likely to continue that trend as the day progresses.

Another reason why having a morning routine is important is due to a principle called cognitive load. 

Cognitive load refers to the amount of information that our working memory can hold at one time. We have finite reserves of energy for making decisions and exerting willpower.

The more automatic you can make certain aspects of your life, the more brain power you’ll have left over to take on cognitively demanding tasks that actually move your life forward.

Creating a morning routine that’s automatic and habitual means you’ll have more energy to do the hard shit you know you need to. How you structure your morning routine is completely dependent on what you’re looking to achieve.

Personally, mine goes like this:

  • 6:30 – Wake up
  • 6:30 to 6:50 – Brush teeth, take shower, get dressed
  • 6:50 to 7:00 – Stretch for 5 Minutes & Make Coffee
  • 7:00 to 10:00 – Deep Work (Writing)

As you can see, I don’t like to fill my mornings with a lot of fluff. Good daily habits like meditation and exercise are saved for later in the day because I want to dedicate my mornings to deep work.

If the mornings feel like the best time for you to get a workout in, then go for it. There are many business leaders and influential people who don’t feel ready to start their day without a 15-20 minute meditation session.

We’re all different, so your morning routine should reflect the ideal start to your day, no one else’s.

My advice is to pick an overarching morning mission and structure your morning routine around that mission. For example, my morning mission is to perform deep work, which explains why I’m sitting down working within 30 minutes of getting up.

If your morning mission is to prioritize your health and get moving, then the morning would be a great time to squeeze in habits like meditation, yoga, or walking.

The only wrong answer here is letting your morning get away from you.

 

How to Make Your Morning Routine A Habit:

Based on the framework provided above, here are the three levels of accomplishment for this habit:

  • Easy: Execute the first action in your morning routine
  • Medium: Execute the first three actions in your morning routine
  • Hard: Execute your entire morning routine to perfection

Use this as a guideline to ensure you get a win each day no matter how you feel.

 

person going through a good morning routine

 

Final Thoughts On This List of Good Habits To Start

I hope you guys enjoyed this article talking about five good habits to start implementing into your life.

As mentioned earlier, one of the worst mistakes that you can make with building good daily habits is to take the complete overhaul approach. It’s a fool’s game to think that you can start integrating all of these behaviors into your life simultaneously.

Pick just one of these habits and the advice provided in each of these sections to make it stick. Do that for 90-120 days and it will become an automatic behavior that you don’t have to think about. 

From there, you can re-adjust your three levels of difficulty and then set your sights on a new habit. If you have the courage to aim low enough and master the art of long-term consistency, you won’t even recognize the person you see in the mirror 1-2 years from now.

If you’re looking for a simple three step framework that you can use to turn these habits into concrete intentions that you’re 3x more likely to stick to, then feel free to check out my Free E-Book: 3 Steps to Creating Better Habits

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