You’ve probably realized by now that making a change in your lifestyle—which usually involves developing a new habit to take the place of a bad one—is hard. Really hard.
Back in January, I offered some insight about an “experiment” I found on Steve Pavlina’s website. He suggested giving yourself a 30-day “trial run” when attempting a new habit, similar to the risk-free 30-day trials that companies offer consumers before they have to make a final decision whether or not they’re going to purchase a product or service. After your 30 Day Habit Trial, you can decide if you want to stick with your new habit or go back to your old ways.
Right now my schedule is pretty wacky while I travel. Even though I’m having a blast, I don’t have all the creature comforts of home. Living out of a backpack and sleeping somewhere new every few days isn’t the best time for me to start working on a project like this, but I’m really excited about starting the 30 Day Habit once I get back to the States in a few months.
Developing Habits is Really Hard
I can’t speak for everyone, but I want to get the most out of life and be the best “me” that I can be. My guess is, a lot of you share that belief. We all want to live better lives and most of us try to do so by setting goals to achieve. It doesn’t sound so bad when you look at it that way, but making permanent changes to your behavior is incredibly difficult.
Attempting to do things like give up cigarettes, cut back on fast food or begin a regular fitness routine can literally seem like torture at first—simply because just you’re not used to it and it would be easier to go back to your regular ways.
If eating healthy, losing weight and getting in shape were simple, we’d all be strutting around town with rock-hard abs and ordering salad for lunch every day. Besides, a lot of people think that “getting healthy” means that they can never eat another piece of cake, and the idea of never, ever smoking another cigarette sounds like agony. Permanent changes just sound horrible because permanent implies forever, and that’s a long, long time.
Daily Success Habits to Develop
Humans are creatures of habit which is why trying new things can be such a pain in the neck, but I can think of dozens of things that most people do on a daily basis. Sounds cheesy, but every day you most likely brush your teeth, take a shower, read the news online or in the paper, eat breakfast, go to work or work from home, check your email, check for regular mail in the mailbox outside, etc.
These things are just habits that we almost forget about because we do them regularly. If you’re so accustomed to doing something that it’s like second nature to you, you don’t even think about it—you just “do it” automatically.
If you’re honestly, truly looking to improve your life in general, you’ll need to make changes in several different areas. If you decide to give some of these a whirl for the 30 Day Success Habit challenge (and I hope you do, because I’m planning on it once I get back home) my guess is you’ll be willing to stick with most of them once your “trial run” is up. The new habits will also start to seem like second nature before long.
Below you’ll find some suggestions that you should try to incorporate into your life for at least 30 days. I’ve grouped into appropriate categories. Some categories have more habits than others, but you’ll see as you read that some things can actually overlap and fall into two or more categories.
1. Let Me See Those Pearly Whites! Brush your teeth twice a day and floss single every day. This might sound like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many people skip out on oral hygiene.
2. Stay Hydrated. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Staying hydrated will keep you energetic throughout the day and help you feel full—which means you won’t be as tempted to reach for unhealthy snacks loaded with empty calories.
3. Ease the Jitters. Avoid caffeine for the next 30 days. Coffee and soda are available in decaf versions, so give your heart a rest. Besides, all the water you’ll be drinking will make sure you’re not thirsty!
4. Exercise. Do some sort of exercise each day. The human body needs periods of recovery in between workouts, so try mixing in different activities. You can go running or biking one day, lift weights the next day, or even take a yoga class. Try things you’ve never done before—you might like them!
5. Quit Smoking. You knew I was going to cover this one, right? Tobacco is bad—it’s that simple. It causes cancer, emphysema, and heart disease … not to mention bad breath, yellow teeth and an empty wallet.
6. No alcohol. It doesn’t matter if you like to party hearty or you only have a drink every once in awhile—give up the beer, wine and booze for 30 days. You can do it, and you’ll be amazed by the changes you notice in yourself.
7. Go Vegetarian. Do not eat meat for an entire month. There are other forms of protein out there, so you’ll survive.
8. Go Vegan. If you’re really feeling brave, see if you can go vegan—no meat or animal byproducts for 30 days.
9. Eat 6 Small Meals a Day. Eat smaller, nutritious meals 6 times a day as opposed to 3 large meals. You’ll get to eat more often and you won’t stuff yourself silly. The 6 meal routine actually helps a lot of people lose weight.
10. Become an Early Riser. Wake up an hour earlier than usual each day. If this seems impossible because you need every bit of sleep you can get, find the things that bring low value to your life and eliminate them.
Personal Development Habits
11. Learn Constantly. Carry a book on personal development or business everywhere you go and develop the habit of reading whenever you’re doing nothing. Quit killing time with gossip magazines or your Blackberry while you’re in a waiting room or commuting on the train—learn something worthwhile.
12. Become Solutions-Oriented. When you find yourself faced with a problem, begin searching for a solution to fix it rather than complain about what’s going wrong. Complaining doesn’t get anything accomplished and you’ll still have to fix things anyway, so why do it?
13. Adopt the 80/20 Mindset. Analyze every aspect of your life and figure out which 20% of your actions are bringing you 80% of your positive results. Spend the next 30 days concentrating on those areas that bring results.
14. Visualize Your Life. Get yourself a giant dry erase board from an office supply store—it’s going to become your “vision board.” Spend at least 30 minutes each day with your vision board visualizing the things you want to achieve and receive within the next year, and write them on your board. Make lists, draw doodles, tack pictures up on the frame or stick post-it notes up there to help you with this—whatever works for you.
15. Enjoy Life. Look for enjoyment throughout the day, and do at least one selfish thing that brings you happiness every single day.
16. Get Out. Don’t let cabin fever get the best of you! Spend a little bit of time each evening doing something outside your house. You can walk to a park, go see a movie, listen to live band, meet up with friends, or even sit and read a book at a coffee shop.
17. Broaden Your Horizons. Spend an hour each day listening to a style of music that you “don’t like.” See if you can learn something from it and besides, you might wind up liking it after all.
18. Stop Blaming Others. Don’t blame others for your actions. Figure out what you did to get yourself into this boat in the first place, fix things as best you can and vow to never do it again. Own up to things you’ve done in the past and correct any mistakes that you’ve made in the past. Quit burning bridges.
19. Smile throughout the Day. People respond differently to upbeat, positive people. Become one of those happy people.
20. No cursing. We all do it (well, most of us do it) but there’s really no need. There are a lot of other words in the dictionary.
21. Keep a Journal. Get a notebook and begin the habit of recording your inner-most thoughts and aspirations on a daily basis. You’ll be able to look back on things after the fact, and it’s a tool you can use to solve some of your major problems.
23. Don’t Complain. Some people complain about anything and everything—no matter how minute. Shut your mouth if you feel something bad coming out. If you slip and catch yourself complaining, realize there’s no use and stop while you’re ahead.
24. Volunteer Your Time or Donate to Charity. Spend an hour or two each week volunteering for a worthwhile cause or make a donation to a charitable organization. You don’t have to donate money—giving things you really don’t need to someone who can use them is a good idea, too.
25. Get Inspired. Listen to an audio book, read a chapter or a book, or watch something inspiring before going to bed each night. You’ll remember what you heard or saw as you try to fall asleep and again when you wake up in the morning.
26. Stake the ‘Time Vampires’ in Your Life. Don’t allow people ramble in your presence. You don’t have time to listen to them drone on and on, so ask them to get to the point when talking to you.
27. Start Making Pre To-Do Lists. Write out your ‘To-do list’ every evening before you go to bed instead of when you get up in the morning. This practice lets your subconscious work on the problems that need to be accomplished while you sleep—plus, you’ll hit the ground running when you get up since there’s no need to make a list in the morning!
28. Realize that You’re Not That Special. Only sign in to your social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn once per day. They can be great tools but also massive time wasters. It’s easy to get caught up in reading everyone else’s updates and looking at their photos, but if something really critical happens you’ll find out anyway. Trust me— life will go on without you checking Twitter every hour.
29. Check Your Email at Certain Times. Depending on the nature of your job, schedule specific times when you check email—possibly once in the morning and again later that afternoon. Otherwise, you’ll waste half your morning in your in-box.
30. Leave Your Message After the Beep! Don’t pick up the phone from mysterious numbers—let them leave a message so you can decide whether or not to call back later. Make it a practice to not return calls from people who only suck the life out of you—and the above-mentioned ‘time vampires.’
31. Give up the Television. Can you even imagine how much more you could accomplish without your daily dose of the boob tube? Give up the YouTube videos, too—they’re just as bad.
32. Avoid Negativity in Your Life. Actively seek out and eliminate any negative influence in your life—friends, relatives, co-workers … there’s no need to hang out with people who drag you down.
33. Take Your Time. Spend a month not rushing towards strict time limits by taking your time. Leave a little bit earlier each day if necessary—getting out of the house 15 minutes earlier is easier than constantly rushing everywhere.
34. Do Productivity Checks. Set reminders on your phone or computer to alert you three times per day. Each time it goes off ask yourself, “Am I being productive or just staying active?” Eliminate any wasteful “busy work” habits that do no good.
35. Ready, Fire, Aim! Making plans is necessary, but stop over-planning things excessively. Use the next 30 days to take action on your major projects without having to worry so much about planning. Get out there and go.
36. Random Acts of Kindness. Do something thing every day for a total stranger. Pay their toll, give them a smile, hold the door for them, or buy their coffee if they’re in line behind you. They’ll be surprised and you’ll make their day.
37. Make a Friend List. Create a list of people that you want to be friends with—people that may help improve you. They can be notable figures in your field, powerful entrepreneurs, members of the opposite sex, etc. Take one action each day to help move closer to forming relationships with these people.
38. Be Completely Honest. Try telling the complete and utter truth for a month no matter what the consequences are. Have fun with this one, but be warned you might make some people a little upset with you!
39. Put a Smile on that Face. Make it a point to compliment three people every single day. Friends and coworkers are fine but even better, do it to random strangers or store employees who look like they’re having a bad day.
40. Play the Confidence Builder Game. Look at every person who passes you by and wait until they break eye contact before looking away.
41. Get Angry! Quit letting people push you around. If you encounter rude behavior from someone, make it a point to confront the person about it and explain what they did to you.
42. Re-establish Contact if You’ve Lost Touch. Call one friend or family member each day to build relationships that you’ve let go over the years. They’ll be surprised and happy to hear from you.
43. Share the Love. Make one romantic gesture towards your significant other each day. It’s all too easy to take people for granted.
44. Approach a Member of the Opposite Sex. If you don’t have a significant other, approach three members of the opposite sex and strike up a conversation. If you seem to click, try to get their number and set up a date. Statistically speaking, you should be able to set up a few dates with just this habit! Who know who you might meet this way?
45. Idea Pad. Begin carrying a small notepad everywhere you go. Some of the best ideas strike at the weirdest moment, so you never know what you’ll come up with when you’re in the middle of doing something else. Develop the habit of recording everything that goes through your head—no matter how simple or how silly. Million dollar ideas come at the strangest moments, so you’ll want to remember yours.
46. One Hour of Success Reading. Make it a priority to read about a topic that’s career related for one hour each day. Go to the library or Barnes and Nobles and find a book about your current field or a business you’d like to break into.
47. “Dial For Dollars.” If you work in sales, figure out the percentage of sales calls that actually turn into sales. Use the data to set the minimum number of sales calls that you need to make every day. Make them.
48. “Writing For Dollars.” If you’re a writer, set a word minimum for each day. Get up in the morning and don’t get up from your desk until you’ve achieved at least this minimum.
49. Begin Outsourcing Things that can Save You Time. Think about everything you do in order to run your business—take 10 or 15 minutes each day analyzing everything you do. Look for opportunities to outsource certain aspects of your work that will save you time and money, and hire someone else to do the work.
50. Ask “Why?” Begin questioning absolutely everything. If someone asks you do an “important” project at work, find out why it’s important. Don’t limit it to work—question things in your personal life, too. Do you really need to do them?
51. Quit Procrastinating. Make a list of the major projects that will be happening in your life for the next few months, and do one thing to move forward each day. Doing a little bit every day is a lot more effective than putting things off til the last minute.
52. Start a Work Log. Record all of the daily accomplishments you make at work, especially the ways you’re helping to improve the bottom line. Use your work log as proof when asking for a raise or when you’re working on your own lifestyle design.
Final Thoughts on the 30 Day Success Habit Experiment
If you decide to join me on the 30 Day Success Habit Experiment and you begin adding some of these positive habits to your life while eliminating others that aren’t helping you out in the long run, give it your best shot and aim to do them for the full 30 days. In the overall scheme of things, a month really isn’t all that long.
After your 30 day “trial period” is up, you’ll need to reevaluate and make some decisions. If something just didn’t work for you, well hey—you tried. If the habit was a success, you’ll probably want to consider adding it to your life permanently. If you’re not 100% certain about a habit, give it another month before making your final decision. I wish you the best of luck!Take Action. Get Results.