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Positive habits are those elements of your life which lead to a better way to live. It’s creating repetitive actions to reinforce how you think, feel and process various situations. And in many instances, it directly affects success. So, what can you do to create some of these positive behaviors in your life?
That really depends on how committed you are to change. Saying and doing are completely different. It will take motivation from yourself to create positive habits that will impact your life.
Creating a good routine is especially difficult for many freelancers who work from home, such as myself. We don’t have an authority figure to answer to, which makes it more difficult to stay the course and remain productive.
The up-side is many of these will begin to impact you almost immediately.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Being tired all the time can lead to problems ranging from increased stress to the inability to operate machinery. It’s far more damaging than what many might think. While sleep deprivation has a severe impact on mental health1, it can also contribute to physical problems.
It doesn’t mean you’re a strong person for getting three hours of sleep and then facing your day. In reality, you’ll put yourself and those around you at great risk. Consider this, sleep deprivation has a similar impact as alcohol when you’re behind the wheel of a car2.
Get into the habit of getting enough down-time. I know it’ll be difficult for some because of lifestyle choices, career and family. But it’s imperative you try if you want to enhance your daily life.
2. Eat a Good Breakfast
We’ve all heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” That’s because it’s more true than what many believe. A good morning meal can easily set the tempo for how the day unfolds.
The first thing you eat in the morning will affect metabolism and energy levels from the start. Which means not only is a good breakfast great for weight loss, but you’ll find yourself less lethargic and ready to work due to the delivery of prolonged energy3.
Speaking from experience, I know I am far more productive when I take the time to cook up a decent breakfast as opposed to sugar-laced cereals or donuts. For one thing, proteins and good carbs provide a more sustainable form of energy as opposed to a sugar rush.
3. Get More Physical Activity
Exercise isn’t something you should shy away from. Not only does it help keep your weight in check, but it also contributes to keeping yourself mentally and physically functional.
Technically, any physical activity is exercise. For example, go for a walk if you don’t want to do push-ups or sit-ups. I play the Xbox Kinect to burn calories nearly every morning instead of an aerobic routine. It’s all about getting the heart rate up and working into a sweat.
4. Meditate More Often
Meditation is an activity that is great for mind, body and soul. It’s something that has been practiced throughout the ages whether people are religious or not. Use it to center yourself, relax and compose your thoughts on a regular basis.
Meditation isn’t merely for those who seek a spiritual existence. When done right, it will benefit virtually anyone who takes the time to relax. It’s something I try to do on a semi-regular basis.
5. Create a Realistic Schedule
Probably one of the most effective positive habits is to create a realistic schedule for yourself and stick with it. It’s incredibly difficult for some to set aside time for specific activities when working from home, though.
Being self-employed doesn’t mean you can slack off when ever you want. In fact, that’s a good way to find yourself in financial ruin. The truth is, self-employed means you need to put in far more work to be a success.
Setting up a schedule helps manage your day and keeps activities in check. While you can simply wing-it, it often results in chaos. Stick to a plan for being productive while making sure your personal needs are taken care of as well.
6. Schedule Some “You” Time
Even single parents who essentially live for their children need some form of down-time in privacy. When you’re always on the go, you become more irritable, stressed and irrational. These traits are not good for any relationship, let alone one with your child.
Just be realistic when setting aside this “you” time. If you’re spending the majority of your day wrapped up in your computer without actually addressing home issues, it can cause a world of problems.
I know this from personal experience…and the end result is not good.
7. Set Aside Creativity Time
Building positive habits should include some kind of creativity time for yourself and the family. Spending time doing things like writing, painting, drawing or even building a world in Minecraft is therapeutic for the mind7.
This can go along with scheduling “you” time as you can spend about an hour a day doing something constructive. I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of writing more of my book. And on days that I do, I have an increased sense of being productive.
Being creative keeps the mind active while giving you something to focus on rather than the daily trappings of life. It’s kind of like taking a vacation without the expense or the travel time. It revitalizes, renews and refreshes the brain giving you a better chance to think clearly later on.
8. Force Yourself to Achieve Daily Goals
Some of the best positive habits to get into is being able to accomplish your goals. Well, as long as their realistic. For myself, it’s all about reaching 360 minutes of actual time writing for myself and clients.
Once you get into a groove, though, you’ll find some of your goals to be natural. For instance, I had to force myself to write a new personal blog post every day. This usually was because I would forget or think to myself, “eh, not today.”
After pushing myself to write every morning, it’s now the first thing I do without much effort. It’s all about creating a repetitive action to make many things seem less like a chore.
9. Make a List of Habits and Address It
If you want to create positive habits and get rid of the negative, you need to know what those are. Creating a list of the habits you have and the ones you want is similar to a pros and cons list many will use when making big decisions.
The hardest part about this is being honest with yourself. Not everyone wants to admit to bad habits, or even think some habits are indeed bad. But when you take the time and really look at yourself, you might find a great deal of truth and learn quite a bit.
Once you create that list, then you’ll have to address the problems. It takes a bit of brainstorming sometimes, but the end result of addressing your problems is worth the effort.
10. Remove Negative Catalysts
A lot of us have negative elements in our life that only perpetuate bad experiences. And while some of these negative catalysts may be difficult to get rid of, it’s vital that you do. Even if it means severing a relationship.
Don’t view the experience as giving up. Instead, look at it as a way to improve your life, health and mentality. After all, you’re no good to anyone if you’re unable to think clearly or too stressed to move.
I cut off an 11-year relationship with someone who I once thought of as a friend. His actions all but ruined my life and I was simply done. It was a liberating experience and I no longer fear my phone when the text message sound chimes.
11. Center Positive Habits Around Productivity
Try to keep positive habits centered around being productive. For example, I focus on developing a good schedule to accommodate myself and my clients. This means more work for them and time to finish the projects I am working on as well.
If you think about it, something as simple as smoking can center around productivity as well. How much time do you spend smoking instead of working? How much money do you spend on cigarettes? These are only two major questions that will impact being productive whether you’re self-employed or not.
Habits like cleaning the house, exercising, eating the right foods and scheduling your time are productive in their own rights. You’ll feel better about yourself, your home and life in general.
12. Create Personal Case Studies
One of my personal favorite positive habits is conducting case studies for myself. It’s a way to find my limits while adjusting my actions to achieve certain goals. Actually, I mostly do it for the data – I love crunching numbers in spreadsheets.
Here’s an example of what I mean. I use my Fitbit Charge 2 to measure how many calories I burn in a day. I then see what games I play on the Xbox Kinect that burn the most calories.
Another example is how I use spreadsheets to monitor how much I write in a day for my clients and myself. At any point I can look at this sheet and see my average time of actual writing versus how much I make throughout the day.
These are just my examples of case studies. The point is tracking your own data helps show you where problems lie, where your strengths are and what issues you need to address.
13. Practice Makes Perfect
Building positive habits requires practice. Remember, it’s all about repetition and getting into a regular flow. The more often you practice a “habit,” the easier it becomes over time. Before long, you’ll be doing it naturally without much thought.
Even on days you really don’t want to, keep yourself going. Once you start climbing those walls, they become smaller and smaller. The next thing you know, the habit becomes part of your persona.
From the self-employed to the corporate ladder climbers, practicing positive habits will help solidify your career.
Get More Out of Your Life and Career
Developing positive habits is merely a way to enhance your lifestyle. Whether you want fame, fortune or to lose weight, getting into a groove is beneficial. Just make sure you put in the effort. It’s easy to say “well, I tried” after one day. Some habits could take months to grow.