What new habits did you incorporate into your life this year?
Four years ago, my life was a mess. I was a mess. I was physically weak, emotionally damaged, and financially broke. Even though I was about to graduate from college with a decent grade point average, every other aspect of my life was in shambles.
That January, four years ago next month, I told myself that it was time to turn things around. I was tired of being skinny. I was tired of being strung-out on toxic substances and living in a fog. I was tired of abusive relationships and emotional rollercoasters. Quite frankly, I was just tired. And even though I had been extremely unproductive for the past several years, I had zero energy to do anything.
I knew that to change; I would have to radically alter my daily habits to become more positive and productive. The good news? It wasn’t nearly as complicated as you might imagine. All it took was a strategy, determination, and consistency.
Where am I now? Healthy, wealthy, and wise. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration and sounds slightly egotistical, but I am light years ahead of where I was four years ago.
I am the Director of a successful marketing agency in a big city. I am married to a wonderful, loving young woman—who also happens to be a model. We just purchased our first home together in Florida near the beach. On top of all that, I’m in the best physical shape of my life. I’m happy, healthy, and productive. So what’s the trick? What secret formula did I stumble upon that turned my life around?
It’s actually really simple. I started doing five things on a regular basis, and miraculously my life changed a little at a time. It’s not rocket science, but it will affect every aspect of your life.
1. Wake Up Earlier
Whoever said, “early bird gets the worm,” wasn’t kidding. Time is our most precious commodity. Every hour that you spend inactive is an hour lost. When I was living down in the dumps, I slept until 11 a.m. or later. That’s ridiculous and a total waste of time.
You don’t need to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to see a difference in your productivity. I recommend waking up around 7. It might be a little bit difficult at first, but after a while it becomes second nature, and your body’s alarm clock will wake you up automatically. You will be amazed at how much longer the days feel by utilizing those four extra hours!
2. Write Things Down
Go buy a notepad and start writing down everything you want to accomplish on a daily basis. Don’t use your computer, tablet, or phone to do this. Do it the old school way with pen and paper.
I recommend writing down your daily tasks at night before going to bed or first thing in the morning. At the end of the day, read over your list and mark through every task that you completed. What purpose does this serve?
Writing out your goals will help you organize your thoughts, prioritize your day, and create a sense of urgency in your life. Crossing through your completed tasks at the end of the day will leave you feeling accomplished, as you conquered your goals for that day.
3. Clean Your Space
When I was younger, I honestly believed that I could not be organized. I even told one of my professors that it’s just not in my genetics. She scoffed humorously and blamed it on a lack of effort. She was right.
My personal environment was a stark reflection of how I felt mentally and emotionally. Dirty dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor, and an array of cluttered belongings scattered throughout the house. How was I supposed to organize my life if I couldn’t even organize my stuff?
I have come to love cleaning. So much that I now refuse to work—or live—in a dirty environment. I clean my entire house every day. You might think that’s overkill, but because I never let the house get messy, it only takes 15-20 minutes. Turn on some music, pull out the cleaning supplies and go to town. The result? Instant gratification. Your living environment is clean and refreshed. You will be more productive living in a clean and organized space, guaranteed.
4. Eat Three Balanced Meals Every Day
Four years ago, I was borderline anorexic. One of my closest friends jokingly said that I looked like a prisoner of war… Ouch! What’s crazy is that I would often eat double bacon cheeseburgers with a side of fries. Why was I so malnourished looking if I was constantly eating foods that are associated with being overweight?
Like most Americans, my diet was very inconsistent. My binge eating habits, although consisting of high-calorie meals, were not consumed frequently enough to tip the scale. In short—I was under eating. I had zero energy and felt like garbage.
If you are anything like I was back then, I recommend starting slow and simple. Eat three balanced meals every day. Don’t worry about following a specific diet plan; just use common sense. Regardless of what you eat, eating at regular intervals will help regulate hormone production and avoid rollercoaster energy spikes.
5. Start An Exercise Program
I kept this one for last because it was my saving grace. Nothing else that I’ve done has had a greater impact on my life than exercise. It changed me physically, mentally, and emotionally for the better.
Not only have I drastically improved my health and appearance, but I also used fitness as a gateway to meeting other like-minded people. Heck, that’s how I met my wife. To all the single readers out there… join a gym! Without sounding too much like a cult leader, exercise is one of the most powerful forms of self-help available.
How should you get started? Exercise for 30 to 45 minutes a day—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Don’t over complicate things. There are a million beginner routines online that usually include push-ups, sit-ups, squats, or other bodyweight exercises. Go for a run around the block. Just do something physical for 45 minutes.
After a couple of weeks, I recommend joining a gym. If you are lost when it comes to what exercises to do, ask someone. Afraid to ask for help? Look up exercise videos on YouTube and copy their training routines. That’s how I got started… now people ask me for advice.
You will begin to see a difference in your mood and energy level almost immediately. Within a couple weeks, your physique will begin changing. Once you start seeing results you’ll be hooked. You will look better, feel better, and gain a huge increase in confidence.
Looking back over the last four years it’s almost unbelievable how far I’ve come. Many aspects of my life have changed, but no matter how much progress I make, I will continue to incorporate these five habits into my routine. Regardless of whether you are completely lost, or just want to improve your current situation, I highly recommend following these tips as a starting point.
Photo: Flickr/ Ross Websdale