This article was last updated on September 5, 2017
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle. Life is a series of choices. We face countless choices every minute of our waking day. Nearly all are very mundane, but a few are incredibly overwhelming. With these types of choices, we stand at a junction in our lives, different paths seemingly laid out before us, weighing up the pros and cons of each. These times can allow us to feel at the mercy of fear, panic and self-doubt.
At these times, when we are faced with tough choices, we need to be our best selves. We really need to be able to be true to ourselves at this point, to not let fear overcome us so that we can best work out how to overcome obstacles in life. Difficult times rock our world. However, there will be fewer disturbances if we have formed solid foundations from good habits that nurture our own being.
Let’s define habit
Habits are our daily rituals, our repeated actions, and our routines. In many cases, we perform these actions subconsciously. They have their place in all aspects of our lives, like in how we prepare for our day, our working routine, our eating and sleeping, and our relationships.
We generally see habits as good or bad. Good habits are those that empower and nurture us, and that enrich our lives. The bad habits are those that contribute to negative feelings toward ourselves, perhaps allowing us to feel lazy, slovenly, or lacking in confidence. These habits can be hard to remove from our lives.
Og Mandino had some wise words in this respect: “I will form good habits and become their slave. And how will I accomplish this difficult feat? Through these scrolls it will be done, for each scroll contains a principle which will drive a bad habit from my life and replace it with one which will bring me closer to success.” We need to take on more positive, enriching habits if we are to eliminate negative habits and be in the best possible place mentally when faced with tough choices.
Here are 10 habits that you can make part of your every day that will empower your best self:
There are so many benefits of rising early. Not only is the beginning of the day when you should feel at your most fresh and productive, but getting up earlier, quite simply, also adds more minutes to your day. So many of the following positive habits can be part of your early morning routine, so allowing plenty of time to start your morning calmly and effectively underpins everything else.
Affirming your goals in some way is essential. When planning goals, some people write them down and refer to them often, but I think taking some time every day to close your eyes, imagine, and actually see and feel your future success before you is the most powerful way. It’s a great habit for the beginning of the day as you’ll carry the feeling of confidence it brought to you through the rest of your day.
List Your Aims for the Day
Incredibly simple, but if you approach your day knowing what you want to achieve, you’ll get more out of it. You’ll feel more organized and confident, and prepared if things don’t go according to plan.
Take Good Care of Yourself
This could be divided into a series of micro-habits — tasks you undertake every single day to ensure that you are in the best possible physical health. They include: fixing three healthy meals for yourself, nutritious snacks, and of course, avoiding unhealthy foods as much as possible; drinking plenty of water, and working out regularly. While they contribute to your physical health, these good habits energize the mind as well. They leave you feeling strong and capable. When you need to make tough choices, it is simply not possible to give your best unless you are at your best.
Keep Tidy and Avoid Clutter
Maintaining tidy spaces around yourself is very beneficial for the mind, since it helps you to feel organized and in control. An uncluttered work or living space is a much calmer, pleasant space to spend time in. Incorporate a few regular de-cluttering times into your day to keep on top of your areas; often, you will find your mind clears alongside them. Consider regularly giving away unwanted items for an extra philanthropic boost, too.
Make and Maintain Good Connections
Take time every day to reach out to people who matter. The people you need to give the most time to are those who leave you feeling energetic, positive and inspired. If you spend time with people who have a positive and informed outlook on life, you will feel the ripple effect of that emotional energy every single day. You will feel more aligned with positive choices.
Read, Read, Read
When you are short on time, sitting and reading can feel self-indulgent. However, committing to reading on a daily basis can have enormous long-term benefits. Aside from increasing your knowledge base, your ability to empathize, your concentration and self-discipline are also boosted. These are all skills that are drawn upon at difficult times. The amount you choose to read and when in your day will depend on many factors, but it is imperative that sufficient time is set aside for this calming but empowering activity.
Making some time every day to feel thankful is a really positive, life-affirming habit. Perhaps it could be something you do quietly and alone, or something you choose to do at the end of the day with your family. Pick out a few things each day, big or small, and reflect on how thankful you are that they happened — a joke shared with a friend, sunshine, a project completed. Even if you feel as if you had a bad day, picking out some positives will help you approach the next day more confidently.
Most of us make too little time for ourselves; it can be hard to find time, space and quiet in our busy lives and homes. Yet 15 minutes of peace and quiet in our day is the best gift we can give to ourselves. We need this time to restore, refocus and re-energize.
Finally, while it is important to rise early, you will not be at your best unless you have had enough sleep. This can be difficult to do at various times in life, particularly when faced with worries and tough choices. Yet it is at exactly at these times, when we need good judgement and a positive mood, which can be near impossible when sleep-deprived.
With this in mind, we can work toward getting good sleep by maintaining positive habits such as avoiding late-night screen time, consuming caffeine in the latter part of the day, and making sure our sleep space is uncluttered, calm, dark and quiet. When faced with tough choices, if we have a base of these solid, nurturing habits, we can feel safe in the knowledge that we are facing difficulties at our best, most empowered selves.