Creating healthy daily habits is essential to creating a happy, healthy life and accomplishing our goals. But we are often left wondering… which habits are most important or impactful. So… here it is, my list of the 12 most life altering daily habits. Now you might be thinking… hey Cassie, how can this list be the same for everyone regardless of what their goals are? Aren’t you oversimplifying a bit? And listen, I totally get it because there are few things that get under my skin more than one size fits all self-improvement BUT, these habits are guaranteed to set you up for success no matter what. Why? Because they’re designed to help you build confidence, stay motived, and build momentum.
**Oh… and to simplify this whole thing I’ve even ranked these habits in countdown fashion!
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2020 it’s that connection is of vital importance. It’s so important that you might be surprised to see that I’ve ranked it as number 12 on this list but keep in mind that this is 12 out of all the habits you could possibly form in the whole wide world. Puts it into perspective… right?
You see, humans are pack animals, and we desperately need to feel connected and accepted as part of a community. Just knowing that there’s one other person on this big planet of ours who cares about us makes a huge difference. Not only does it stave off depression and loneliness, but it also provides us with support, encouragement, and accountability. These are all essential to creating health and happiness and accomplishing our goals which is why connection makes the list of most life altering habits.
Make it a point to connect with someone every day. You can do this via zoom, social media DM, text or call. But here’s the thing, you need to connect with someone you actually, you know, feel connected too, not a complete stranger. If you struggle with creating connections, consider joining an online support community or book club or even meeting up with others in your community through a meet up or volunteer project. You’ll be glad you did!
11. Midday Move
I know, I know, some of you might be wondering how this made the list even for those who don’t have a health goal because, well, it seems pretty health oriented. Here’s the thing though, it turns out sitting all day is REALLY bad for you as in, has health consequences that are compared to smoking bad.
But y’all, it isn’t only about the health issues, it’s also about productivity and mood. Moving your body throughout the day helps increase energy, creativity, and clarity and minimize brain fog and fatigue. Not only that but it helps you shake that funk.
This isn’t a workout y’all so no need to change your clothes (well… maybe your shoes). Simply get up and go for a little walk every couple hours or do what I do and blare your favorite song and dance around your office. The point is to simply move your body. There really is no right or wrong here as long as you’re doing it. When you’re starting to zone out or experience fatigue, move. If you’re finding it difficult to remember set an alarm in your phone that goes off every hour or two. Bonus points if you can get yourself outside!
I’m sure you’ve seen this make a “habits of highly successful people” list before, so it likely doesn’t come as much of a surprise but don’t check out because this is a different take.
You don’t have to read non-fiction for this to be beneficial. Yep, you read that right! While it can be tremendously helpful and interesting to read personal development books or content geared toward your field, it isn’t necessary. You can get profound benefits from reading fiction as well. It increases your vocabulary, improves your writing skills, and stimulates creativity and out of the box thinking. So, if Lord of the Rings or Outlander are your faves… indulge away! It’s good for you… REALLY!
Check out a book from the library, order one online, or download one on your tablet and get reading! It can be very helpful to set up a reading space or schedule time in your calendar. I highly recommend paper books at night to prevent screen exposure before bed but other than that you can do as you wish here.
P.S. I usually have a fiction book at the ready for daytime reading but I only read non-fiction at night so I don’t stay up late reading.
Again, you’ve probably seen this one before but I’m going to dig in and get a little more specific here. Not only is it important to journal about your day or to emotionally regulate and process things but it’s also important to journal about your future dreams and plans. And my all-time favorite journaling, writing letters to yourself, is essential too. There’s really nothing fancy about journaling and you can simply do it in a spiral notebook but here’s the thing… if you love pretty journals, buy one and USE IT! You deserve to write in something beautiful even if you’re a terrible writer (and don’t worry, your writing skills will improve from journaling without even trying).
Get a paper and pen… it really is that easy. Sometimes starting with a prompted journal makes creating the habit easier. Anyone else get writers block when journaling… yeah, thought so. If you’re looking for a great self-discovery journal you can find one here and if you prefer online journaling with both prompted and unprompted options take a look at Your Amazing Essentials.
8. Success Set-Up
This is the one that at first glance has everyone scratching their heads so if it sounds completely unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone.
I sometimes also call this “daily reset”. Every single day I take the time to reset for the next day (I do it at night because I’m a night owl but you could also do it in the morning if that works better for you). This means tidying up the house and starting the dishwasher, taking a look at my schedule and todo list for the next day, and possibly even packing a lunch or two.
Creating intention around setting yourself up for the next day makes all the difference in the world. It allows you to go through the day feeling confident and purposeful and prevents you from wasting time and energy wondering what you should be doing. In addition, this is a huge stress reducer and reliever, and you can even get your whole family in on it.
Set aside some time in your day to get yourself re-set. If you’re a morning person, it’s often best to do this in the morning and if you’re a night owl, at night. You can include your family by scheduling a tidy time for after dinner or the beginning of the kid’s bedtime routine. I find it’s helpful to include little prizes or incentives to the kid who picks up the most or is most helpful (they get to pick breakfast or the morning cartoons for example), set a timer for 15 minutes and get to work on the house. Then be sure to set up your schedule and todo list and prep any food you need to.
7. Morning Routine
If you happen to be a morning person you might rank this higher than the bedtime routine but I’m not, so here it is kicking off the top 6.
Getting your day started on the right foot is incredibly important. What that right foot is varies from person to person but it’s important to know that setting up a set of morning rituals can drastically change the rest of your day.
When you wake in the morning much of what you do happens on autopilot. This means that whatever you put in your morning routine will become pretty much automatic, so this is a great place to habit stack. That said, be sure to take on only one new habit at a time and don’t put anything into your morning routine that you hate so much that it encourages prolonged snoozing.
Take an inventory of what you already do in the morning than make a list of anything you’d like to add (maybe some of the things on this list). Add one new habit to your morning routine per month until you have it exactly as you like.
Your morning routine can be as long or short as you like and can start at the time that’s best for you in the season of your life. You do NOT have to wake up at 5 or even 7 to have an excellent morning routine.
6. Bedtime Routine
Here’s the big secret no one is sharing… your day starts the night before! It might sound a little silly but there is nothing more important to having a happy, healthy life and accomplishing your goals than getting an excellent night’s sleep and that starts with a great bedtime routine. And listen… if you’re a night owl this is even more important for you because it’ll keep you from staying up until the wee hours of the night.
Essentially all it takes to have a great bedtime routine is a set of activities you do every night before bed. This signals your brain that it’s almost time to sleep and encourages melatonin production. While these activities can cover a wide and varied range I recommend a 2-part bedtime routine.
Reset: Set myself up for success the following day (including a brain dump, calendar review, and household re-set)
Rest: Get ready for bed by enjoying some mellow, restful activities (chamomile tea and a non-fiction book are at the top of my list).
In the same way you set up your morning routine, set one for bedtime. Be especially mindful of turning off all screens at least a half and hour before bed to ensure restful sleep.
5. Alone Time
Even if you’re the most extroverted of all extroverts you still need alone time. Spending some time observing your thoughts and emotions and creating some curiosity about who you are and what you want helps you stay authentic and rooted in a world that is every changing and filled with pressure.
This means not only spending time alone every day but spending at least 15 minutes distraction free. Could you be journaling? Absolutely! But watching Netflix, scrolling social, reading, or shopping on Amazon don’t count.
You deserve time with yourself. Every. Single. Day and that’s why you’ll find this tip in so many of my other posts about subjects like finding yourself and intuition. (Did I mention this is an important step to connection with your intuition and recharging if you’re an empath? Yeah…)
This is the easiest one of all… just go be alone! With 5 kids and a husband who works from home, this was one I had to be mindful of scheduling. I like to spend some quality time alone in my bedtime routine, but you can do it anytime you like. Maybe you prefer to have your morning coffee alone. Perfect. You do you and enjoy every second!
4. Goal Work
Here’s the thing every successful person does every single day… goal work! Now this doesn’t mean that you’re spending hours behind your computer screen or in the gym every day but it does mean that you set aside a little time for tasks you need to accomplish, and mindset and connection work you need to do to accomplish your goals.
Our goals are accomplished through consistent small steps not giant leaps and that means putting in time every day.
Break your goal down into monthly and weekly items and schedule them into your planner. Then be sure to prioritize getting those items done.
Everything changes when you start looking for reasons to be grateful, and by everything, I mean the only thing you can control, you. it isn’t that the world actually becomes a better place or that your life becomes so much easier, but it sure feels that way! Whether you believe the world and your life are good or bad, you’re right. So, when you’re looking for the bad, the unfortunate or the unlucky you’ll find them but when you’re looking for the blessings, the joy, and the goodness, you’ll find that too. Now I know that some believe that you draw to yourself what you’re looking for and focusing on and that may be true, and you may in fact increase all the awesome in your life by focusing on it. Or you might just think you’ve increased the awesome because you keep finding so much to be grateful for. Does it really matter? I mean either way don’t we all want lives filled with blessings, joy, and goodness.
You may have heard that the best thing to do here is to keep a gratitude journal and write 5 things you’re grateful for every morning.
Here’s the truth…
You can do it morning or night
You can write your gratitude anywhere (you don’t even have to keep it all in one place)
If you’re having trouble starting a gratitude practice, stick post-its to your mirror or coffee maker and write 5 things every day. It’s way easier than keeping track of a journal and remembering to write in it and works just as well.
I know… this is supposed to be number 2 but here’s the deal I honestly couldn’t decide which should be #1 so these last 2 are tied.
The biggest thing most people struggle with is their self-esteem, self-image, and self-worth, and that’s where affirmations come in. It turns out saying nice things to yourself in the mirror has been scientifically proven to rewire your brain and changes the way you automatically think of yourself (learn more here). Think of affirmations as gratitude turned inward. Just as gratitude changes the way you see the world; affirmations change the way you see yourself. They give you confidence, a sense of worthiness, and the ability to face your fears and accomplish your goals.
I teach a whole class on affirmations and I’d love for you to check it out in my Facebook Group. Essentially you write your affirmations and recite them to yourself in the mirror twice a day, out loud. If this is hard for you, join the crowd. I really struggled to create an affirmation practice .
- It’s ok to start with just one.
- you can start by only writing them in a book or on your mirror.
- It’s ok to only say them in your head.
- Just get started.
1. Celebrate Your Wins
I mean, for real… how could I pick!
We get so caught up in that finish line that we tend to forget to celebrate along the way and that’s exactly why we lose steam. And when we do, we start beating ourselves up and undoing the good work we’ve done so far.
It’s time to change all that! It’s time to let go of perfection and destination happiness and celebrate our progress along the way. We do that by writing 3 – 5 accomplishments every day. No matter how challenging or lazy your day was, you did something and it’s important to be mindful of that. Why? Because this is the most powerful way to create momentum, keep you moving toward your goals, and keep you feeling amazing about it!
This one really belongs in your bedtime routine (though I like to review them in the morning and throughout the day as well). You can do this exactly the same way you do your gratitude practice. As a matter of fact you can even keep them in the exact same place!
I know… this is a HUGE list and a LONG blog post. Possibly my longest ever! You might be all fired up and want to take on all of these tomorrow or you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Either way, my advice is exactly the same. Remember that it takes about a month to create a habit and there are 12 items on this list. That means you can take on one per month and within a year you’ll have established all 12 life-altering daily habits and be well on your way to accomplishing your goals. I’ve even created a free resource to help you get started!
And if you’re wondering where self-care fits into this list, well… it’s everywhere, in each and every step. Everything from connection to accomplishments is a form of self-care. Just imagine what your life will be like, what you’ll be like, the kind of example you’ll be setting, when you’re practicing 12 different forms of self-care every day! Here’s the thing… you deserve to have an amazing life because you’re amazing, you matter and your purpose matters! The world is waiting for you, get started today! (Don’t forget your Habit Change and Tracker Resource)!
Which habit will you be taking on first?
P.S. I’ll be sharing my best tips about creating these habits and why it matters in my podcast Small Steps, Right Direction episodes 15 – 23. Be sure to tune in on your favorite podcast streaming service and get the inside scoop!