Small habits, when compounded, have a huge effect.
It’s important to commit to little details and develop systems of accountability.
Will power is not abundant. We often think it is, but like a cell phone battery, it decreases as the day goes on.
Taking decisions out of your own hands in the name of the “big picture” allows small automations to bring the results you desire.
It will take discipline initially to implement a habit, but once you train yourself, it becomes easier.
Below I use three simple categories to segment small habits I use:
Health, Networking, and Personal Development.
- Buy a big water bottle or canteen, and bring it with you everywhere. I fill it each night and drink at least 8–12oz when I wake up. I know where I can periodically refill it throughout my day and maintain close proximity. If it helps, you can set alarms through the day to remind you to refill it.
- Pre-plan your meals and snacks. Don’t allow yourself to make decisions in the moment. A couple suggestions:
- Prep your meals at the beginning of each week.
- Buy fully prepped meals so you don’t even have to cook – this is what I do (so many services offer this locally or nationally now). I don’t have to go to the store, I don’t have to decide what to buy, I don’t have to take the time to prep or portion my meals. Literally just heat it up.
- Buy snacks and automate the “in-between.” I make myself 2 shakes a day that become my “snacks.” I get all the ingredients at the beginning of the week: Bananas, avocado, coconut oil, eggs, spinach, protein powder, peanut butter powder + add water. I’ve also experimented with buying carrots and snap peas and bringing them with me when I travel to fill the gaps when I feel like snacking. I enjoy the crunch and when I have the veggies on me it automates my decision and keeps me from buying chips or cookies (etc) on the road.
- Intermittent fasting. Studies have shown health benefits and you can use this strategy to avoid making bad decisions for breakfast. I put coconut oil in my coffee and it keeps me feeling full. I eat my first meal at about 1130am and last one around 6pm. I get 2 bigger meals and 2 smaller meals in + smaller snacks. It’s all about fitting all your food in a time frame of 6–7 hrs. You can adjust your hours accordingly.
- Combining these tactics resulted in ~15% body fat loss and 40lbs over an 8 month period for me.
- Commit to a bed time. Mine is 1130pm. It keeps me consistent and my body feels good. This may take a while to commit yourself too. Try to turn off all electronic devices and read before bed, or do something relaxing right before you lay down.
- Pick a consistent time to wake up. I usually wake up between 6:05–6:45am, including weekends. My body has developed an internal clock after doing this for some times.
- Don’t snooze in the morning. I put my alarm across the room so I have to get up to turn it off. Once I’m up, I’m up.
- Keep yourself accountable. Find a buddy to go with, a gym that’s convenient to get to, a sport that you like to play. Consistency is key. My apartment complex has a gym that offers daily classes. I sign up for the morning classes and they charge me if I don’t go. This encourages financial accountability, and it’s literally downstairs. Once I get there I don’t have to use brainpower. They tell me what to do. I know my limits and I’m not able to work myself as hard as an instructor. There’s free resources online including videos and exercise routines that you can do in the comfort of your own home. Bodybuilding.com – Huge Online Supplement Store & Fitness Community! is a good resource.
- Thought Leadership
- I love to write and explore creative ways to express myself. Committing to blocks of time each week to write – whether it’s hours or even 15 minutes adds up. What are you looking to build? It doesn’t have to be writing. Maybe your creative outlet is photography or drawing. Spend time each week doing it. Start sustainably with small gains you can commit to. Use convenient times on your calendar that you won’t blow off.
- Meeting New People
- In my job I’m meeting new people every day both virtually and in person. I set aside time each week to add people on Linkedin both locally, nationally, and abroad based on their relevance to what I’m doing. Sending a small, personal note to each person starts genuine digital relationships that can manifest in person when I’m traveling or when I need help. Combine this effort with your thought leadership and content creation and you’ll start to pull people toward you. They will see what you’re doing and want to connect with you.
- Active Mentorship
- Mentorship is extremely valuable. Both as a mentor and mentee. I set up thirty minutes to an hour each month to keep in touch with these relationships. We both learn and grow from having this in our calendar.
- Read something that invigorates you. Find a pace that works. Is 10 pages a day feasible? Find time during the day or week to allocate. I like to combine it whenever I’m on a train, airplane, or my trips to the sauna (yes, the book gets wet, I don’t mind it). If you don’t like a book put it down. Don’t feel like you have to force yourself to read something you don’t like.
- This has been one of the most effective tools for me. Ever have days where you think, “What the hell did I even do today?” Using The Five Minute Journal helps me reflect on my gratitude, responsibilities, affirmations, and how to improve. Plus, it only takes 5 minutes to make an entry. The power of reflecting on your day allows you to find holes in your habits. I love the phrase “Bad Days=Good Data.” Journaling is effectively helping you track the data. It feels like my memory has improved because I’m in tune with tracking my activity each day.
- Admittedly, I’m off and on with meditation. I went through about a year of consistent 10 minute a day meditation on Headspace. Here’s the thing, after about a year of that, I’ve found ways to meditate throughout my day. I don’t need to force myself to sit down for 10 min anymore. I feel calm and sustained. I think I only feel that way because I immersed myself in the practice for the year that I did.
The key is to experiment. Try different habits and see what works. See what you enjoy. Find your priorities and establish your systems to work toward the outcomes you desire. Constantly re-evaluate them, it’s a dynamic process!