7 Little Habits That Made My Life More Awesome
You know those people who have it all together? All figured out? All crushing it at life? Well, I am one of those people. Hahahaha! JK — that's not me one bit! And the truth is, it's really not anyone. Even if you think you've identified one of these mythical shit-pulled-all-together creatures, I challenge you to look closer. Some people have more help and support than the average bear, while others are highly masterful at concealing their shortcomings. But I assure you that no one out there holds in their hand a secret formula. Although I will tell you that stirring the right little habits into your daily sched can help you level-up your productivity, mental health, and sense of self.
When some people hear the word "habit," their nose starts to crinkle and their eyes roll like a teenager who's parent just cracked a joke. They think, "Great. One more thing I have to start doing all the time." To those people I say, consider this: Your life is already a big fat bundle of repeated behaviors, so why not create and maintain behaviors that make you feel more awesome and on top of your game? As the ye old wisdom of Aristotle goes:
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
You know my favorite line is in that ball of juicy insight? "We are what we repeatedly do." Left hand on my chest, right hand to the heavens, that is a truth bomb if I've ever heard one. So what do you repeated do that you wish you didn't? What do you do on repeat that really serves you and your life? And what would you like to start doing consistently so it would become second nature?
Only you hold the answers to these questions, but my hope is that by sharing the habits that I've adopted — the ones I've seen the most exciting results from — will encourage you to start folding in new behaviors that amp up your world.
1. Listening To My Body
For the past 15 years I've been in a tumultuous on-again/off-again relationship with GI issues. If I had a dollar for every time I yelled at my intestinal lining, "What have I ever done to you?" I would have bought myself a robot that does dishes and laundry by now. The cause of my symptoms could never be pinpointed, and so for years I accepted that my body would revolt against me until I went to the grave.
Then, five months ago, my friend, Lindsay, suggested I try the Ketogenic diet. This would keep me from shoveling processed foods, complex carbs, and sugar in my mouth hole and instead fuel my body with good fats, protein, and veggies. My body has been so happy ever since. And if I'm being honest, I knew this long before I changed my eating habits. Well, I knew a version of this anyway.
There was a part of me that knew my body wasn't happy with what I was putting in it, but I thought that part of me was straight stupid and annoying. If I want to eat bread and cookies all day I should be able to, dammit! But this diet and mentality only caused me physical pain and robbed me of my most healthy self. Since I committed to making this way of eating a habit, my energy has increased, I've dropped a few pounds, and — most importantly — I've waved good bye to my persistent stomach trouble.
2. Creating Sacred Time
I am easily distracted and have been known to let a good 30 minutes slip by while just being lost in thought. So I thought, why not use those 30 minutes to channel the kind of thoughts I want most?
I carved out a little space in my home for a cushion and some candles and this is where I meditate. Some days I focus on the positive thoughts I want to cultivate, other days I just concentrate on my breath, but no matter what, I don't skip this time. Best case scenario, I get to do this first thing in the morning. But when life happens and I can't get to it all day, I make sure to fit it in right before I go to bed.
This is my sacred time. A time to center and ground myself, offer prayers, and let my body and mind "just be."
3. Asking Better Questions
Questions are powerful in and of themselves, you don't always need an answer, sometimes you just need to let the question hang in your awareness and see what unfolds. I started asking myself questions every morning to help direct my day. Although these questions tend to change daily, some that make a recurring appearance are:
What will future me be thankful I did today?
How much fun can I have today?
Who can I encourage today?
How do I want to show up to my life today?
Talking to yourself has its advantages. Try asking yourself some questions and see where it leads.
4. Setting A Timer
One of the most productive tools I've added to my box is setting a timer for work and housework. I started with The Pomodoro Technique, but have adapted the concept to fit my style of work and home life. This means I'll set a timer to work at my computer for 40-50 minutes, then take a break to stretch or refill my water or chow on a snack for 5 to 10 minutes. When I'm doing chores around the house, I'll set a timer for 20 minutes and see how much I can clean before the buzzer sounds.
You better believe my booty moves faster and maintains focus better when the clock is ticking. And the best part is, I get way more done in less time than ever before.
5. Doing "One More Thing"
When it comes to procrastinating, I am the captain of that team. But it's not a badge I wear proudly. It makes me anxious and uncomfortable and ultimately results in me producing low quality work, not using my full abilities, and making me stressed out AF. The truth is, I really gain nothing from this behavior, so I had to start working toward one to counter it.
Whenever I have the urge to take a visit to the dark playground, I tell myself I can go there right after I do "one more thing" that I need to do. For example, I can slide down that You Tube rabbit hole right after I call the insurance company or I can double tap everyone's Instagram pics right after I organize my closet. Usually the first thing isn't so bad, so I tell myself, "OK, one more thing." Can we say productive and still able to enjoy binge watching? We can.
6. Making It Fun
To piggyback off my procrastination tendencies, one of the reasons I tend to put things off is because it doesn't feel fun or invigorating in some way. Sure, some people love to mop floors, but this girl? Nope. Pure hell with a pine forest scent. So I have to make it fun or else my floors will become buried under a covering of cat hair, dirt, and Cheez-It crumbs.
For me, lighting a good candle and turning on some music usually does the trick. When I'm feeling extra sassy, I push in my ear buds and listen to a podcast or audiobook. It's little things like this that make my floor maintenance experience so much more bearable.
7. Putting Down My Phone
If I'm being totally truthful, I'm a teensy eensy bit addicted to my phone. Something about that warm little rectangle feels so right in my palm. But damn it sucks my time, and the return in value is minimal at best.
I've started leaving my phone in my bedroom when I'm home or in my purse when I'm out and I am shocked to discover I am still managing to keep a heart rate that sustains human life. Sadly, of all these habits I've been working on, this one has been the most challenging. Make me mop the floors, call the insurance company, and even give up pasta — but ask me not to look at my phone for an hour and I get stabby. Which was exactly the cue I needed to make the change.
Change can be fun and meaningful when the results bring you more of what you want in life. You don't have to do the things I'm doing, you just have to do something. Something in the direction of the standards and goals you have for yourself. My hope for you is that you find some habits that serve as rocket fuel to make your life more awesome.