As a psychologist, I’ve given this a lot of thought, because no matter what someone coming into therapy says they want to work on, eventually the subject of habits comes up. Usually, we will work to get a particular healthy habit established or eliminate an unhealthy one.
It can take a lifetime to learn how to establish and maintain healthy habits, so think of this as a great adventure or a grand experiment and have fun with the process. Progress, not perfection, is the goal.
These are the habits that have been found to help people the most to feel their best throughout their lives. Consider working to establish one at a time, until it’s “just what you do.” Then move on to another one and get that one going.
Basic Daily Habits to establish:
- Maintain your body and mind through good nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management
- Challenge yourself to learn something new
- Improve your surroundings in some way
- Tend to your important relationships in some form
- Handle something from the earth (flowers, gardening, yard work, chopping vegetables)
- Look for the Good (gratitude practice)
- Connect to Beauty (read, write, listen to music, create or enjoy works of art)
- Create empty space (completely unfocused, non productive time)
- Automate these habits as much as possible
Putting these habits into daily practice involves having or acquiring some skills that are essential to success. You may not have learned how to get a healthy habit established, or to maintain it over the course of your life.
In order to establish the habits listed above and do them on a daily basis, you have to be able to:
- Set clear, achievable goals related to these habits
- Pick 3 things you want to accomplish each day that move you closer toward your goals (preferably one thing related to your work, one to your personal life, and one related to self-improvement)
- Educate yourself on any of the areas you need to know more about to be successful (for example, nutrition, sleep hygiene, meditation, nurturing relationships, automating habits)
- Become disciplined and accountable to yourself
- Understand how to work with time, energy, and motivation
If this sounds daunting, it is! And no one does this perfectly. Learning how to effectively do life planning can be an incredible aid to establishing and maintaining healthy life habits.
Learning how to do anything you’re not currently good at is a challenge, but likely something you will be glad you attempted. If you need help with establishing any of these habits or acquiring any of the skills you need to keep these habits going consistently, I recommend you seek help from someone who not only knows how to do what you don’t, but can teach you how to do it in a way you can understand. That might be a parent, friend, mentor, or therapist. There’s a lot of collective wisdom out there that you can tap into. You just need to ask and be willing to try new things.