Building good habits is one of the most important skills you can develop when it comes to personal growth.
Essentially, the quality of your life boils down to the quality of your habits.
The financial situation you’re currently in is a direct reflection of your financial habits.
How much work you get done is a direct reflection of your productivity habits.
Your current physical condition is a direct result of your lifestyle habits.
In this article, I’m going to talk about the five types of habits that you can develop, and then give you an extensive list of habits in each category that you can put into action immediately.
Let’s dive into it!
Characteristics of a Habit
Before we get into the different types of habits you can form, it’s important to understand the characteristics of a habit.
The question is — What makes a behavior into a habit?
Simply put, a habit is a behavior that has been repeated so many times that you can do it more or less on auto-pilot.
A habit is a behavior that doesn’t require any conscious effort.
If you were to sit down and book a flight, this is an activity that involves conscious effort.
You have to:
- Compare different airlines and their fees
- Figure out which airport you want to fly out of
- Determine what time of day you want to arrive at your desired destination
All of these activities require you to think and reason. They require you to expend mental energy and come to rational conclusions about what specific actions to take.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, habits don’t.
Habits are actions that you can perform without thinking, reasoning, or rationalizing.
Another way to think of habits is that they are solutions to the various problems that you encounter in your daily life.
As you go through life, you encounter problems that require solutions. Some of these problems are internal, while others are external.
Problems with your internal state are always based around emotions and feelings:
- You feel anxious about the future
- You feel stressed
- You feel angry
To combat these feelings, we often develop certain habits as a response to these changes in our emotional state.
For example, a smoker might reach for a cigarette whenever they feel stressed, which provides a temporary sense relief. In their mind, smoking a cigarette is a solution to the discomfort that they are feeling internally.
A husband might develop the habit of lashing out at their spouse when they feel angry. The lashing out is a solution to a problem — he needs somewhere to displace his anger, so his spouse becomes the easy target.
Typically, bad habits are a result of emotions and feelings that we want to get rid of — and these types of habits typically are the most destructive to our goals and dreams.
Problems with your external state are typically insignificant and quite easy to solve:
- You walk into a dark room and need to be able to see
- You walk up to your door and it is locked
- You slip on your shoes but need to tie them
- You go to the grocery store and have no idea where anything is
These problems aren’t quite as “heavy” as problems with your internal state. However, they still require solutions.
Very early on in your life, you learned that turning on a light solves the problem of being in a dark room. Because of that, your brain stored this information so that the next time you were in that situation, you wouldn’t have to think about what to do.
When you were a little kid, you had no idea how to tie your shoes. In the grand scheme of things, this is a small problem. But it still requires a solution.
In order to solve this problem, you learned how to make a knot and started tying your shoes on your own. Now, you can probably tie your shoes while you think about what you’re going to have for dinner tonight.
Your brain is lazy. Whenever a series of actions leads to you successfully overcoming an obstacle, your brain remembers these actions so that it can suggest them again when you find yourself in the same situation.
Habits are essentially your brain’s way of solving problems while exerting the least amount of energy possible.
What Are the Five Types of Habits?
Now that you have a good understanding of the characteristics of a habit, let’s talk about the different types of habits that impact your outcomes in life.
There’s no one size fits all answer here. Everyone you ask will have a different answer to the question of — How many different types of habits are there?
My categories are by no means the definitive standard, but I believe they extensively cover all of the different kinds of habits out there.
- Healthy Living Habits — These types of habits center around your lifestyle and health. Your exercise routine, sleep patterns, eating habits, and hygiene habits, etc, are all examples of behaviors that would fall into this category.
- Financial Habits — These types of habits center around how you spend and save your money. Budgeting, spending habits, and saving habits all fall into this category.
- Productivity Habits — These types of habits center around how you work and manage your time. Your productivity habits determine the level of output you’re able to achieve on a daily basis.
- Mindset Habits — A habit doesn’t need to be a physical behavior that you act out. Your thoughts are also habits as well. Constantly thinking about the past? That’s a habit. Repeatedly latching onto negative thoughts that impact your self-image? That’s a habit as well. Mindset habits are crucial because they impact almost every other area of your life.
- Connection Habits — These types of habits revolve around your ability to form relationships with other people. Connection habits essentially determine how deep your personal relationships are and how engaging your social life is. Reaching out to friends, making plans, and approaching strangers are examples of connection habits.
Now that we’ve covered the different habit categories, it’s time to dive into specific habits in each of these categories that will improve your life.
Since there are likely hundreds of potential habits for each category, I’m going to focus on the types of habits that will have the greatest impact on your life.
Good Healthy Living Habits
#1 – Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Sleep is one of the most overlooked aspects of a healthy lifestyle. In the back of our minds, most of us know how important sleep is. Despite that, it tends to take a backseat to the distractions in our life.
Jeff Bezos has repeatedly said that sleep is one of the most important priorities in his life. If it’s that important to the richest human being that we’ve ever seen, it should be that important to you too.
#2 – Daily exercise (walk, run, lift weights, swim, play sports, etc.)
Regular exercise is one of those types of habits that is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. Not only that, but it’s one of the best ways to boost our mental health.
A fascinating study from Duke University actually found that exercise was more effective than actual antidepressants as a long-term treatment strategy for people suffering from depression.
It’s just as beneficial to our physical health as well. It’s estimated that about 260,000 deaths per year in the U.S can be attributed to lack of exercise
#3 – Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day
Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to operate at their full capacity. As much as you think it’s important to eat enough, it’s far more important to keep yourself hydrated.
There’s a reason you can go several weeks without food and only three days without water. Decreased concentration and increased fatigue are the most common problems that arise from not drinking enough water.
#4 – Start each day with a multivitamin
Unless you have a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and rich sources of protein, there’s a good chance you are not getting enough vitamins. And while a multivitamin cannot completely make up for a bad diet, it can fill in nutritional gaps that you aren’t prioritizing.
Meeting all of your daily vitamin requirements protects you from a wide range of diseases and conditions that would take me too long to list out. Bottom line — spend the $20 and get yourself a three month supply of multivitamins.
#5 – Eat more unprocessed foods
If you browse most grocery stores today, you’ll find mostly processed, sugary foods that are high in fat. These foods do nothing for you except add inches to your waist and sap your energy.
You don’t have to be perfect when it comes to your diet, but you should try to win more often than not.
Since diet is one of the hardest things to change about your lifestyle, I recommend starting small with a habit like — Eat a bowl of fruits and vegetables every day for lunch.
As this habit becomes a part of your identity, you can reach higher and aim for more drastic shifts in your diet.
Good Financial Habits
#1 – Make a spreadsheet that keeps track of all of your income/expenses and fill it in daily
Whether we’re talking about exercise, life goals, or financial habits — clarity is power.
When it comes to your finances, you should always know much money is going out and how much money is coming in. A great way to do this is to make a spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel and make two columns for your income and expenses.
Each day, simply look at your bank account and input the money you spent vs. the amount that came in into the spreadsheet. At the end of the month, you’ll know exactly how to course-correct and adjust your spending habits.
#2 – Put $5-10/day into an emergency fund
Did you know that just 40 percent of Americans can cover a $1000 emergency expense that pops up out of nowhere?
Remember habits are daily actions that compound over time. By setting aside a small amount of money each day to ensure you are protected in case of a financial emergency, you will be well-equipped to deal with any curveballs life may throw at you.
#3 – Pack food whenever you leave the house
Most of us (including me) spend way too much money on eating out each month. The rise of delivery apps like Uber Eats, Doordash, and Postmates has made it even easier to spend excessively on food.
One habit that has helped me cut this expense significantly is packing food before I leave my apartment. If I’m going somewhere and I know that I plan on being there for a long period of time, I always pack a snack/meal to take with me.
Doing this removes the temptation to unnecessarily spend $20 to get a meal delivered because I have a free way to satisfy my hunger.
#4 – When it comes to big purchases, buy based on value and not price.
This is the only habit on this list that focuses on spending more, not less. Have you ever passed on an expensive product and bought a cheaper option that actually ended up costing you more money?
Cheaper isn’t always better. In fact, it’s almost never better. You ultimately get what you pay for, especially when it comes to big purchases. If you’re buying low-ticket items like groceries or dish soap, you can forget about this rule. Save as much money as you can.
However, if you’re buying a mattress, refrigerator, or a washer/dryer, spending a little extra money and buying a high-quality product is well-worth the investment.
#5 – Read 10 pages of a personal finance book every day
Knowledge is power, and there are people much smarter than you who have developed proven systems for managing your money. All you have to do is go out there and find the information.
Start each day absorbing new information that will help you take control of your finances, and each day you’ll learn new things that you can implement into your budgeting/spending/saving strategy.
Good Productivity Habits
#1 – Make a to-do list every morning
If you’re looking to increase your productivity, this is the first habit that I would recommend you develop.
I’ll say it again — clarity is power. When you have a plan for what you want to accomplish in a given day, you give yourself a fighting chance at winning that day.
There’s a million different techniques and strategies you can use to make an effective to-do list. Just pick one that resonates with you and make it one of the first things you do every morning, or one of the last things you do before going to bed.
If you want to learn how I structure my to-do list, read this article I wrote about the Ivy Lee Method
#2 – Schedule how you spend your time
If you aren’t following some sort of schedule for how you spend your time, you are not living intentionally. I’m not saying you have to be Elon Musk and schedule your day down to the minute — but at the very least you should have a general idea of what your plans are for the day.
You can’t expect to get the life you want if you don’t design it. Figure out what your priorities are and then use a simple tool like Google Calendar to create a schedule based on those priorities.
Scheduling your time also leads to guilt-free down-time. Have you ever been sitting on the couch watching Netflix while also relentlessly thinking about what you should be doing instead? The easy fix for that feeling is to schedule downtime and distractions into your life so that you don’t feel bad when you’re not doing something productive.
#3 – Focus on Most Important Tasks (MIT’s)
Nope, not the school. I’m talking about the tasks you know you need to get done when you wake up in the morning.
One of the most common mistakes that people make is being busy as opposed to being productive. The theory behind MIT’s is that every to-do list has tasks on it that are more important than others. If you simply focus on checking items off of your list, you risk falling into the trap of knocking out easy, less important tasks instead of buckling down on the hard stuff.
I recommend writing down a list of 5-6 tasks and then choosing the one or two most important tasks on that list. When it comes time to work, only focus on those first two tasks. Don’t work on anything else. Once your MIT’s are completed, then you can move onto the less important stuff.
#4 – Every time you sit down to work, leave your phone in another room
Your phone is a huge liability when it comes to your productivity. However, the seemingly irresistible urge to check social media and respond to texts can be eliminated with one simple habit — place your phone in another room when you sit down to work.
Most of the time, the reason we check our phone while we are working comes down to convenience. We do it because it’s easy. All we have to do is reach over and press a button.
Keep in mind that most of the decisions we make are a result of whichever option offers the path of least resistance. By placing your phone in another room, staying focused on your work becomes the easier choice.
#5 – Shorten your time horizon to beat procrastination
Procrastination is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle people run into when it comes to building good productivity habits.
Luckily, procrastination is actually quite easy to overcome if you use something called the two minute rule. Whenever you find yourself putting off a task, simply commit to working on it for two minutes. No more, no less.
Give yourself permission to stop working after two minutes. There’s a good chance the initial progress you make will motivate you to keep working.
Good Mindset Habits
A behavior doesn’t have to be a physical action to be considered a habit. Patterns of thinking are also habits — and they often influence the behavior we engage in.
Here are some different types of habits that deal with improving your mindset.
#1 – Detach from negative thoughts
You are not your thoughts. Too often, we get trapped into a negative emotional state because we latch onto certain thoughts that cause feelings of sadness or regret.
It’s impossible to stop your mind from wandering, but it is possible to reduce the power that your thoughts have over your emotional state. The easiest way to do this to embrace and notice your thoughts instead of fighting them.
Recognize your thoughts for what they are. If you have a negative thought, simply saying to yourself, “Thanks mind for that stupid thought!”, will help you detach from the thought and see it for what it is — which is simply your mind running its course.
#2 – Meditate for 5-10 minutes every morning
The benefits of meditation is a topic that deserves a blog post of its own. It’s not only one of the best habits you can develop to improve your mindset, it’s one of the best habits you can develop, period.
Studies have shown that practicing meditation over a long period of time helps reduce anxiety and depression, increases concentration, and increases emotional stability.
When you can learn to block out your thoughts and live an engaged life, everything else on this list becomes easier.
# 3 – Write down three things you’re grateful for every morning
Gratitude is a super power. Learning to appreciate the things you have is key to cultivating a positive mindset and living a more fulfilling life.
No matter how much you achieve in life, you are always going to want more. If you buy a nice car, you’re going to want a nicer one. If you buy a big house, you’re going to want a bigger one.
Practicing gratitude helps you shift your focus from what you don’t have to the blessings that you’ve already been given.
When you adopt this mindset, your happiness isn’t tied to a specific outcome that you haven’t achieved yet. Instead, you’re able to cultivate a mindset that allows you to be happy with whatever you have right now.
#4 – Do one thing that scares you every day
Your mindset is a direct result of the actions you take.
If you tend to lack self-confidence, it’s often because you’ve developed the habit of avoiding rejection and running from fear. Getting outside of your comfort zone tackles both of these flaws head on.
Facing your fears and getting comfortable with rejection introduces yourself to who you really are. When you develop the mindset that fear is your friend and not your enemy, you immediately expand the possibilities for your life.
#5 – Replace “I have to” with “I get to”
Most of us see the things we have to do on a daily basis as obligations, and not opportunities.
Do you ever notice how many things you have to do on a daily basis? I have to go to work. I have to pick up the kids from school. I have to go to the gym.
What if instead of saying, “I have to go work,” you said, “I get to go work.” One phrase makes your job seem like an obligation, and the other phrase makes it seem like an opportunity, which it is.
It’s an opportunity to support your family, make a decent living, bond with your co-workers, etc.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Good Connection Habits
The quality of your social life and your personal relationships are directly tied to what you do every day. Do you make time for the people you care about or don’t you? Do you welcome social opportunities or run from them?
These types of habits are daily actions that will have an immediate impact on how connected you feel to the people around you.
#1 – Check in with someone from your social circle every day
One of the easiest ways to strengthen connections with the people in your social circle is to simply stay in touch with them. Relationships are all about effort. The more effort you put into a relationship, the stronger it will be.
By shooting over a simple check-in text to one of your friends, or maybe even giving them a call, you are subconsciously telling the other person that they have a place in your life.
One of the main reasons I was terrible at this in the past is because I didn’t want it to seem like I was “trying too hard.” (How ridiculous is that?). Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a personal friendship, you need to invest time into them before you expect others to do the same.
#2 – Come up with a list of “rejection challenges” and try one every day
Oftentimes, we don’t have the social life we want because we are terrified of rejection. We want to approach strangers but our fear of being judged trumps our desire to expand our social circle.
A great way to overcome this fear on a daily basis is to attempt rejection challenges. Essentially, rejection challenges are about intentionally placing yourself in situations where the likely outcome will be rejection.
Examples — Asking for a free donut after ordering a coffee, asking a stranger for $20, asking a stranger to exchange secrets with you.
The common theme in these challenges is to embrace judgement and rejection. When the opinions of others stop affecting how you act, you’ll become far more comfortable taking social risks.
#3 – Cut down on the time you spend with negative people
When deciding who you want to hang out with on a regular basis, remember this phrase — You’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.
If you hang out with seven people who are broke and have no ambition, you will likely become the eighth. If you hang out with people who have a negative mindset and make excuses, you’ll start doing the same.
It’s a proven fact that we emulate the people around us, so you better make sure that the people you spend time with are contributing to your growth
#4 – Take the initiative when making plans
How many times do you find yourself sitting around on a weekend waiting for people to contact you about plans? If the answer is, “most of the time,” take some initiative!
Chances are, the people you know are waiting for the same exact thing unless they have a huge social circle.
Taking the initiative when it comes to engineering plans with the people you know exposes you to even more people, which leads to more social opportunities.
When it comes to your social life, your outcomes need to be intentional. If you end up staying home on a Friday night, it needs to be because you chose to stay home, not because you didn’t take any initiative, and therefore had no plans.
You’ll be amazed at the social opportunities that come your way when you simply take action and expose yourself to different environments.
#5 – Say what you really mean
In social interactions, it’s easy to put a mask on our true feelings in order to gain the approval of other people.
You might think that this is a good way to build rapport with people, and in the short-term you’d be right. However, changing your beliefs and feelings based on who you are hanging out with is just about the most low-value thing you can do.
You want to attract people who accept you for who you really are.
Another benefit of being true to yourself in social situations is that it builds massive self-confidence. You start to become content with the fact that not everyone will like you and that you might rub some people the wrong way. But let’s face it, there’s billions of people in this word. It’s impossible to please everybody.
Gain courage by staying true to yourself instead of seeking everyone’s approval.
I hope you guys found this article on different types of habits valuable.
Whether you’re looking to become more productive, improve your lifestyle, or expand your social circle, there’s one or two habits on here that will make an immediate impact on your life.
Pick one of these habits and start taking action in small ways. As you gradually change your identity, you’ll have the courage to take bigger and bigger steps towards the type of person you want to become.
The only wrong decision is to read this article and do nothing.