What are the best habits to adopt for health, wealth and/or happiness?
If you’re seeking change but are unsure where to start, this article will probably seem like a rant, because deep down, you already know what to do.
Yet we engage in overcomplication because we’re too lazy to put in the hard work of disrupting our comfortable lives.
So if you’re tired of self-delusion and want some high leverage activities that offer an outsized impact, let’s take a look.
When routines go wrong
Growing up, I never followed strict habits.
At the time, this was fine, as the schedules were largely externally imposed and easily followed.
However, entering adulthood, the training wheels are suddenly removed and we become our own boss, having to take responsibility for getting things done.
This is where good habits start to slip.
Work takes over and instead of exercising after a long day in the office, we hit the bar for drinks.
Rather than honest self-assessment, we placate ourselves by judging indulgences as well-deserved rewards.
However, over time, these treats easily become an ingrained part of the routine.
Humans are often subconsciously motivated by consistency.
Perform an action enough times, even an unhelpful one, and we’re inclined to maintain the pattern, mirroring earlier behaviours.
The problem? These actions and their effects begin to compound.
Whereas we might escape the weight gain of a poor diet during adolescence, the effects are obvious as we age.
Arguably, as our minds and bodies become more fragile, we might paradoxically invest less in our ongoing health.
Therefore, it’s vital to reverse this process and re-integrate high-leverage habits.
The 3 best habits to adopt for success
This is so extremely obvious, it’s almost annoying to write.
Yet so many people are confused when they contract health conditions after stuffing their faces with doughnuts.
You wouldn’t feed a racehorse McDonald’s, so if you desire improved performance, why do you continue to gorge on highly processed foods? Mental.
Is it really surprising that industrialised food companies and big pharma don’t prioritise our health?
You have to step up and get more intentional with what you consume. Unsurprisingly, this involves eating more fruit and vegetables.
Are you a boozehound? Cut back on the sauce and drink more water instead. It’s not rocket science.
When I overhauled my diet after being diagnosed with a health issue, I experienced a large (unintentional) shift, not only in weight but also energy levels and mental clarity.
One piece of advice that I’ll throw into the mix is about intermittent fasting.
I’ve written previously about my failed experiment with eating one meal a day.
Now I practice finishing dinner by 8pm, skipping the normal early-morning breakfast and eating again at 12pm the next day.
This is a 16-8 eating schedule, with emerging research suggesting it can help with a range of health metrics.
This is another habit that is patently obvious to all but the most delusional and is clearly linked to improved health outcomes.
The benefits of getting a sweat on, however you want to do it, are undeniable.
And before you enter a mire of searching for the best Lulu Lemon workout gear or researching the best trainers to correct your dodgy biomechanics, just stop.
None of that crap matters.
If you haven’t got a solid exercise routine in place, stop procrastinating and start with the basics.
Use what you already own and get moving every day. Take action!
That could be a simple daily walk or taking your old, tatty trainers for a run. If you prefer cycling, get on your bike.
But cardiovascular exercise is key – when I started every-ish day running, I enjoyed such a mental health boost, that I couldn’t believe I’d let the habit lapse.
Every morning after getting home, I feel amazing. The runner’s high is real.
On missed days, I really notice the difference, consumed by an antsy sense of irritation.
Only after you’ve got some cardio nailed should you add extras like strengthening and stretching.
Although a few years ago, meditation might have been considered slightly strange and esoteric, I think enough celebrities bang on about it that by now, it’s pretty mainstream.
Well, I’m jumping on the old meditation bandwagon, mainly due to personal experience.
Long story short, I was anxious and confused, and after meditating for a while, discovered a newfound clarity of mind.
Over time, I’ve learnt to better identify my thoughts and feelings as they arise, standing metaphorically back and impartially observing the machinations of the mind.
When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, you’re only a breath and careful placement of attention away from finding a little peace.
Although I’m still unbalanced by certain emotions, I certainly possess the ability to self-correct more easily, which I’m convinced makes me a (slightly?) nicer person to be around.
The results weren’t instant though, and require repeated daily practice, which is where many would-be meditators get frustrated and quit. Don’t be that person.
Now I’m not going to overcomplicate this article by adding in more to-do’s – this is enough to start.
Write a daily list and cross off each activity whenever you complete your habits.
Make them non-negotiable.
If you want to get all fancy and make more data-driven decisions, use an app and monitor your streaks/average daily completion rate etc.
But modern technology is not required. Remember the Rocky Balboa montage – going old school with pen and paper can work just as well.
If you nail these three things on a daily basis, you’ll be far ahead of almost everyone – having eaten well, exercised and meditated, your sleep, for example, will improve automatically.
As long as you give yourself enough hours in bed, your brain and body will rest and rejuvenate, leaving you feeling completely refreshed and ready to go the next day.
Nail these three extremely simple (but not necessarily easy) things and your energy, focus and motivation will increase by default.
There’s a reason that most of the world’s high performers engage in these three practices.
While such habits won’t make you immediately rich and famous, if you want to model successful people, mimic their behaviours.
Through the power of compounding returns, these habits will slowly transform you from your current state into unstoppable future force.