Improving our current life starts by taking a step. In the words of Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” We all crave improvement; for success. We sweat for it; we aim for it. But the question is – what should we do to achieve it? What are the lifestyle changes we can adapt to help us improve and snatch that success we’ve been yearning for all our lives?
To answer these questions, below are several lifestyle changes that you may try.
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1. Optimize your morning routine
Most of us struggle in waking up early in the morning. We may even go as far as hating and cursing it. One lifestyle change that we can do is optimizing our morning routine. This helps a lot in managing the very start of our day. It lowers our stress level and makes us feel more in control.
Morning routine basically means doing the same tasks in the same order on a daily basis. Usually, a morning routine goes with waking up once your alarm goes off, making your bed, brushing your teeth, meditating, doing yoga for 10 minutes, and preparing some coffee. They are simple activities indeed. But the challenge goes with keeping it.
For me, I patterned my morning routine from Ali Abdaal, a YouTube content creator and a junior doctor in the UK. Once you build a morning routine you can religiously do, you’ll eventually see positive changes in your life.
2. Follow the 20 – minute rule
If there is one thing that I’ve learned this almost half of 2021, it is basically incorporating what we call the 20-minute rule in my daily activity. As explained by Thomas Corley in one of his contributions in the Insider, the 20-minute rule means you put 20 minutes aside in a day to do a certain task. These tasks may be reading a news article, listening to a podcast in Spotify, checking or clearing your inbox, or watching a TED Talks episode.
The 20-minute rule helps us beat procrastination and keep our focus on doing a specific task. It is certainly a must-have in order to get things done or build a hobby. In doing this, it doesn’t matter how slow or how fast you do things within those 20 minutes. What matters is you are exactly doing what you need to do. Do this for a couple of days or even weeks until such time you build momentum and could get things done so easily.
3. Set one day in a week to detach
We are so immersed in our work or studies that we seem to neglect our mental health. One thing that I do then to avoid sacrificing my health is to set a day wherein I don’t need to do anything. Call it a Day Off from any work or study-related activities.
I also take this opportunity to turn my phone off or do away from social media for a day. Now, this may sound daunting and difficult to some of us here who are already accustomed to surfing the net and stuff. But think of the benefits you can gain by doing this lifestyle change. You get to breathe and free yourself temporarily from all those hustle and bustles of our daily job.
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4. Lessen your alcohol consumption
Yes, we have our own indulgences and one of which is drinking alcohol. We love the high and the buzz we get to experience from it. But too much can really cause us to slow down, less focused, agitated, and irritable. Cutting back on our alcohol intake could change our life in so many ways. It improves our sleep quality and lowers the risk of diseases. It also enriches our mental being and therefore, boosting our brain’s capacity to function well.
5. Take a free class online of your choice
A cousin of mine suggested I take a course of my interest in one of the free websites, edX.org, that she came across online. Since I’m fascinated with philosophy, I started taking a free course. It is modular and self-paced so you can definitely set the time when you want to take the class. If you wish to have a certificate, you may do so by paying the corresponding fee. I’m still taking the class nowadays and I must say this is one of the lifestyle changes that I have come to appreciate so much. It makes me look forward to the next day to learn more and expand my views.
6. Adapt a pet
Some of us may be pet owners here and we can agree that having a pet somehow changed our life in the most positive way. Dogs are sentient creatures and they understand us. They seem to know when we’re sad and down. And that is something I really adore about them. This lifestyle change of owning a pet can teach us how to be more patient and appreciative of small things in our lives.
7. Read, read, read
This clichéd, overrated habit really does create miracles in our life. That sounds a tad exaggerated but it is true though. Had I not integrated this in my daily or weekly To-Do List, I wouldn’t be probably here – sharing things I’ve learned from all my readings with you.
Your favorite philanthropist, Bill Gates, is a famed advocate of reading and its benefits. He said when he was interviewed that “you don’t really start getting old until you stop learning”. He also went further by saying that reading drives him forward a lot in his career and when it comes to dealing with his foundation. Reading indeed keeps our brain active and young. It sharpens our memory and takes us to many places we have never been before.
8. Have courage and challenge yourself every day
One of the reasons why we fall into the rabbit hole of laziness and demotivation is that we pass up challenges. We somehow hate the idea of having to do new things or go out of our comfort zone. Despite that, we have the audacity to dream to become successful someday. If we really want to succeed that bad, then we should have the courage to go out there and do things we haven’t tried before. Challenge yourself. How? Do the things you are scared of.
9. Learn to say NO
Our passive and generous nature sometimes gets in the way. We have the tendency to say “yes” to what other people ask us to do. Most of us are reluctant to decline an offer. It’s either because we don’t want to let them down or make it look like we’re the bad guy. Saying “no” to something when we don’t really feel like doing it means we’re simply prioritizing our well-being and needs. Before you can take care of others, you have to look after yourself first. Saying “no” doesn’t mean you’re afraid of doing something; it’s just that you have other important things to do and that you’re already overloaded.
Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism, teaches how to eliminate our non-essentials. One lesson that stick to me is learning how to say NO. This might be hard at first but once you get used to it, you’ll eventually see the impact in your life.
10. Cut back on non-essential spending
Financial independence has become the holy grail of most people nowadays. But it is a feat and that it requires wise spending habits for it to be achieved. Perhaps, most of us are guilty of non-essential spending. We buy those items that we don’t need; we only buy them simply because we want them. What a way to waste money, right? If we are living paycheck to paycheck, this major lifestyle change of cutting back on our non-essential spending is something we have to adapt as early as now.
So, if we want to attain financial freedom, we have to narrow our expenses to those we truly need.
11. Take one step at a time
I used to believe that multi-tasking can save me from trouble; that it could make me more productive. Although it might have helped me get things done on a particular day, it somehow decreased the quality of my work. It made me feel even more exhausted mentally and physically. I also felt more anxious because of the number of tasks I had to do and that I might not be able to do them by the end of the day. Taking one step at a time is that one lifestyle change that helped me get through. To avoid sacrificing the quality of our work, we have to slowly learn how to do things one step at a time.
12. Listen more, talk less
Oh, as natural conversationalists, we do love to talk. We enjoy chatting with friends. We like sharing our ideas and showing that we’re knowledgeable. But when do we say that talking is too much? It is when you don’t give a chance to others to express their stories or ideas. If you are doing this more often than you should, then I suggest you have to stop. It pays to give others the opportunity to talk; to give 100% of our attention to them and to actually listen. This lifestyle change really taught me a thing or two – to think before I speak and not to jump to conclusions.
When Nelson Mandela was asked how he became a great leader, he answered ” because I learned to speak last”.
13. Work hard, play hard
There is this title of the song I loved so much – Work Hard, Play Hard. For me, it signifies balancing our work and life outside work. Having a career doesn’t mean we have to bury our nose into it 24/7. We also have to learn how to give ourselves a timeout and chill.
By playing hard or doing things that interest us increases our motivation to work twice as hard as we did before. So, I suggest that you do not slave yourself away in your work. You can have a life and a career at the same time. Do this and you will see positive changes in your life.
With the increasing amount of workload we do on a daily basis, we get overwhelmed. As a result, we ended up doing nothing on that day. One lifestyle change that can help us manage our workload is to prioritize. In the book of the late Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he taught us the concept of “putting first things first”. He introduced the Time Management Matrix which talks about Urgency and Importance.
The idea is that we have to do those things that are urgent and important on our list. Determining those that are urgent and important will definitely help us manage our time and life as a whole. We would no longer feel exhausted, overburdened, and demotivated.
15. Take cold showers
One of the things I do first thing in the morning is taking a cold shower. I don’t mind the rattling of my teeth because of the water’s unforgiving coldness. As my job requires me to wake up early, I need something strong besides black coffee to jolt myself to life and make me feel refreshed. There’s nothing I can easily resort to but taking a cold shower. But there is more to this than waking us up early in the morning.
According to Healthline, taking showers benefits us by increasing our alertness, boosting our weight loss, reducing muscle soreness post-workout, and making our skin glow. All the more reasons we should take cold showers.
16. Don’t complain
I get it. We get frustrated from time to time and we lose all our capacity to think rationally. We sulk and curse the life we have. Changes in our life start with accepting our current situation and coming up with solutions to improve or make it better. While complaining can make us feel better at times as we get to express our intense emotion, it is not healthy if it becomes a habit. It still pays off to not complain and instead have an optimistic view about things.
17. Take risks wisely
Risks have been part of our lives. Wherever we go and whatever we do, there are always risks lurking in the area. The decisions we make are accompanied by risks. It could backfire or result in a negative situation. That is why when we take risks, it is better to think wisely of it.
We have to consider all possibilities that might happen before we take risks or make decisions. This is something I learned the hard way and I’m still currently practicing it. And I must say it did change the way I live my life. I’ve become more mindful of my actions.
18. Practice consistency
Consistency is one of the highly admired qualities in a person. Being consistent in what we do, may it be work, study, or business starts with knowing the reason why we’re doing something.
One blogger Marie Forleo shared some of her tips on how to be consistently consistent which are knowing our “why” and picking our battles. By knowing the reason why we’re working, waking up early every day, why we hustle, etc., helps us stay committed or persevering. Not only does consistency simplify our life but it also helps in not getting ourselves burnt out.
19. Hydrate yourself every now and then
Water is obviously one of our basic necessities. We hear doctors, nutritionists, dieticians and health trainers’ recommendation of drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day. Mainly, it’s because of their health benefits to our body which we’re all aware of. It regulates our brain function and mood.
For me, I used to drink less. I don’t know why. Maybe, I get so immersed in what I’m doing that I neglect drinking my water dosage. But I do my best to make it a habit to drink water first thing in the morning and some glasses of it during the day. I have never felt so much better then.
20. Create an Inbox for your brain
Ali Abdaal, as I previously mentioned, is known for his productivity and life lessons videos on YouTube. In one of his videos, he mentioned how creating an “inbox for your brain” could improve our life. Creating an “inbox for your brain” means you create a place for you to store your thoughts and ideas as soon as they hit your brain. You can do this by using an application such as a Notepad on your phone.
This is really important because there are moments when we suddenly come up with ideas about something and if we don’t take note of them, they soon will be forgotten. So, creating an inbox for your brain can help in sorting and getting things done. Oh, what a wholesome lifestyle change indeed!
OVER TO YOU
Improving our life is a journey that begins with a single step. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young. What matters is your willingness to improve and change at any point in your life. So, go ahead and embrace some of the lifestyle changes out there. You will never know of its positive impacts on you unless you go try. If you keep with that lifestyle you chose, you could do greater things than you expected. You have our trust and belief in you. You can do this – you can improve and change your life the way you want it.