Unlocking your greatness isn’t about big gestures.
It’s more about taking small leaps consistently over time, every single day. It’s pushing just a little more each day. To reach the 1%, you must be deliberate about how you design your life and what habits you need to develop.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
A Duke University study found that more than 40 percent of the actions you perform each day aren’t actual decisions, but habits. Good daily habits are the key to unlocking your full potential.
From all the habits that I’ve developed in my life, these are the 7 that I consider the good daily habits that you should acquire.
#1 Develop a Night-Time Routine
We live in the era of busyness. We are expected to always be on and many love to wear the “oh-I-sleep-very-little” badge of honor. But sleep is one of the (if not the) most important components of health.
When we think of good daily habits to develop, sleep is rarely even on the list. But developing a night routine is crucial to level up your life. Sleep helps us consolidate memories, process information in the background, and strengthen our energy levels for the challenges ahead. World class athletes, like Roger Federer, know the importance of resting to perform at their best.
“Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed. ” — Arthur Schopenhauer
Even though most studies point to 8 hours as the ideal amount of sleep, no two people are the same. It’s important to test what works best for you. Wake up at the same time every day and then work backward to find the right time for you to go to bed.
To help you stick to the schedule, set up an alarm an hour before your bedtime: this will give you plenty of time to complete your night-time routine and be under the covers in time.
#2 Exercise Regularly
Your body is your most important tool. The best way to take care of it is to develop the habit of exercise regularly.
Exercise has tremendous benefits both for the body and the mind. For starters, it boosts your confidence and energy levels. It’s also a great way to combat stress and turn you into a calmer person. And the cherry on the cake: you’ll sleep better!
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” — John F. Kennedy
Don’t make the mistake of going to the gym for an hour and lift weights until you pass out. Start small and develop the habit into your daily schedule and then ramp it up. Exercise a couple of minutes every day. Get started with simple 7-minute routines.
To make exercise a daily habit, schedule it into your calendar and set reminders. If possible, always exercise at the same time. This will help you build a routine before, during, and after exercising.
And most importantly, make it a pleasurable activity. There’s no sense to run if you don’t like running. Find a type of exercise that you like and practice it. You can mix it up by doing different routines (or even types of exercise) to strengthen different parts of your body.
The best type of exercise is the one you stick with and love to do.
#3 Eat Healthy
Food is fuel for your body. Having a healthy diet gives you more energy, increases productivity, and fuels your workouts.
Eating healthier is one of those good daily habits that everyone is aware of but few of us practice. Why? We all know what real food is. Meat, fish, vegetables, nuts: good. Chips, candy, soda: not so great.
We don’t see our diet as an important part of our habits. But once you get it in your head how much your diet influences your life-energy levels, good decision making, mood, happiness-you instantly make the switch to be more mindful of what you eat.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~ Jim Rohn
I’ve been following the Slow Carb Diet for a few months now and love it. I eat food that I love and it makes cooking meals a breeze. I normally eat fish or lean meat with vegetables or salad as a side. Because I want the same meals over and over again, I save time in preparing meals and money at the supermarket. For snacking, I normally eat nuts.
An easy hack to eating healthier is to cook at home: restaurants normally add a lot of salt and sugar to the food in order to enhance the flavor. When you cook from home, you have more control over ingredients and preparation methods.
And here’s another pro tip: if you only have healthy and tasty food in your house, you don’t even have to make a choice. You’ll eat what is in front of you. Your diet starts at the supermarket.
Meditation is self-observation. It helps you develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things.
In “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”, Charles Duhigg describes keystone habits as “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
I consider meditation a keystone habit. I normally meditate in the morning for 10–15 minutes using HeadSpace. It affects many other areas of my life: work, productivity, personal development, mood, relationships, stress, etc.
“The thing about meditation is: You become more and more you.” — David Lynch
I suggest you start with basic level meditation, which is designed to help you take a step back, disentangle yourself from your thoughts and re-enter your body.
To develop the habit of meditating daily, start small. Just meditate for 2 minutes per day. You can get started using these free guided meditations. Don’t worry about depth or “doing it right”. That comes later. For now, just focus on building the habit of meditating every day.
As you get used to the meditation practice, you can scale it up to 5 or 10 minutes, whatever works best for you. Assess the impact that meditation has in your life and which areas you want to improve and focus on meditating specifically for improving on those areas.
#5 Eliminate Clutter
We live in an era of too much.
The cost of goods has decreased rapidly over the last few decades and we now possess a lot of everything. Own fewer clothes, shoes, cooking materials, bedding sheets, and towels. Give away or throw directly in the trash to create white space in your life.
But decluttering your life is more than just getting rid of materialistic possessions: it’s about focusing on less goals (one is enough), eliminating items from your to-do list, letting go of toxic relationships, consuming less social media, cancelling the gym membership you never use, bailing on time-consuming meetings and pointless arguments, keeping your desk clean at the end of the day, and single-tasking.
“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” ― Joshua Becker
Use the 80/20 rule to find the truly important things in your life. Focus on the 20% of things that bring you 80% of the results. This will help you stop sweating the small stuff and focus on the bigger picture instead.
#6 Develop a Growth Mindset
A person with a growth mindset views challenges as opportunities. Growth comes from taking on difficult challenges and figuring out how to overcome them. You look at failures and struggles as progress and getting closer to the solution. In Elon Musk’s words: “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.” You value the process over the result.
You know you can learn anything if you put enough effort into it. And if you fail, you approach the problem from a different angle until you find a solution that works. You iterate until you get it right.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”-Benjamin Franklin
Expand your knowledge by reading books, taking online courses, watching documentaries, reading about your industry, and learning from other people. To consolidate what you learned, teach the concepts to other people using the Feynman Technique.
Developing a growth-oriented mindset brings progress to both your personal and professional life. Even small gains each day compound over time: a 1% gain per day adds up to almost 38x increase over a year.
Journaling is the most effective way to understand your past, present, and future. Writing your thoughts down every day helps you sort your mental clutter, be clearer on your ambitions and goals, consolidates what you learn, increases your gratitude, and improves insight and understanding of your life. A journal records your entire life history that you can look back on and see how much you’ve grown.
To get started, start simple: write one thing you accomplished, one thing you are grateful for, and one thing you are struggling with. Once you have developed the habit of writing daily, you can expand on your template by adding other things you find relevant, like progress on big goals and steps you are taking to accomplish them.
“[Journaling] is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” — Mina Murray in her journal in Dracula, by Bram Stoker
To make journaling one of your good daily habits, make it a part of your nigh-time routine. Write down your thoughts in a notebook before going to bed and let your brain process the information during sleep.
To start developing these good daily habits, follow these 3 rules:
- Start Small: in the beginning, your only objective is to include these good daily habits in your routine; start with the minimum possible to remove friction to start
- Ramp It Up: after the habits are a part of your daily routine, push the boundaries a little more, by adding difficulty or time
- Don’t Skip Twice in a Row: follow a productivity hack from Seinfeld called Don’t Break the Chain; have a calendar on the wall and mark a big X every day you perform your habit; your only job is to not break the chain and if you miss a day don’t skip twice in a row
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going”. — Jim Ryin
What you are today and what you will accomplish has a direct relation to the quality of the habits you form. Adopt these good daily habits and start transforming your life today.