“It’s important to be obsessive about the behaviors that serve you well.”

– John Irving

The quality of your life is closely correlated to the behaviors that you engage in.

If you have bad habits, you will always want your life to be different, but if you have excellent habits, you will experience pleasure and satisfaction in your daily life.

I believe that I have always known that; yet, I wish that I had paid more attention to it earlier. Isn’t it true that it’s better to be late than never?

“Habits are the unseen architecture of our everyday existence,” explains Gretchen Rubin, the writer of Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits.

Because we tend to repeat around forty percent of our actions on a daily basis, our routines have a significant impact on both our present and our future. Changing our routines will result in a change in our life.

I have wasted far too much of my life worrying about the past and dwelling in regret, all the while wondering why life needed to be so difficult.

I searched for help from other sources in the hope that someone would come and rescue me. There was never a savior that arrived, or at least there was never one that made a difference that lasted.

I always found myself in the same position, which was to wonder why other people appeared to be so content with the lifestyles they were leading, while I continued to have a strong urge for something distinct I really couldn’t even name, though I attempted in vain to do so. I found myself in the same boat every time.

I was positive that if I established ambitious objectives and devised ambitious strategies, it would make a world of difference for me.

In most cases, my lofty objectives and extensive preparations would be scrapped before the following new moon.

Even when they did, though, the things that I anticipated would bring me joy ended up failing to do so. Things that I had anticipated would offer me a sense of calm instead served to aggravate me due to the fact that they did nothing of the like.

I work in the field of strategy as my day job. I consider the myriad of factors that play a role in the formation of circumstances and investigate the many avenues open to me for influencing those settings to more closely align with my ideals.

It turns out that sometimes you don’t need to completely redesign anything; sometimes just a few simple adjustments may make a significant effect.

The proverb states that in order to move a huge ship, you need enormous sails, but in order to alter the course of the ship, all the captain has to do is make a little adjustment to the rudder.

The second portion of this proverb states that if the ship is not moving, there is no purpose in altering the rudder since you will not progress in your journey.

Your daily routines are like little rudders that can steer your life in whichever way you want if you pay attention to them.

The movement necessary to experience the positive changes in your life that you are seeking is the choice to engage in beneficial habits on a daily basis.

I like to think of myself as a bright person, but one thing I failed to see in my own life is that the tiniest adjustments that are made consistently over time have the potential to move the mountains that I want to move.

My life started to be filled with miracles right about the time that I realized how much power even the smallest adjustments could have when they were consistently put into practice.

The following are some of the straightforward practices that I’ve sought to establish as part of my daily routine and which are proving to be really beneficial for me.

1. Meditation

Sure, yeah, I know. Everyone advises you to meditate, but have you ever considered the possibility that individuals who advocate meditation are really providing you with a valuable insider’s tip (no pun intended)?

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I, like with a lot of other individuals, have a hyperactive mind. The most of the time, it is nothing more than a mouse dressed up as a monster, but it enjoys nothing more than telling me about all of its concerns and warning me of potential dangers that, in truth, aren’t all that dangerous.

It’s exhausting, but my mind likes to go back over past events and conversations and experience them over and over again. Daily meditation has proven to be the best treatment for the nonstop mental chatter that plagues me.

I don’t engage in activities that are very difficult. I simply find a comfortable posture, put on some soothing background music on Spotify, and concentrate on my breathing as I do it.

When I am aware that my mind is straying, as it so often does, I bring my attention back to my breathing and try to concentrate on that.

During periods of relative quiet, I often find that answers come to very perceptive questions that I had no idea I should be asking.

2. Kind, Loving Self-Talk

My inner dialogue hasn’t always been very kind, especially in the past.

In point of fact, I was my own worst adversary, a persistent bully whose vicious remarks would leave me dejected and unable to face the world with any feeling of self-worth or confidence. In other words, I was my own worst bully.

This self-deprecating dialogue with myself did not develop by chance. Its origins may be traced back to when I was a youngster.

I was raised in a Roman Catholic family with seven children (one of my siblings passed away before I was born), two busy, weary parents, and constant financial hardship throughout my whole childhood.

My father suffered with both alcoholism and mental illness throughout his life.

This, in conjunction with my mother’s behaviors of enabling as well as her own struggles with poor self-esteem and depression, determined how the home was managed.

The activities of the whole home were centered on finding solutions to problems caused by the father.

Even though I put forth a lot of effort to win my father over as a child, it always felt like nothing I accomplished was up to his standards, no matter how hard I tried.

I yearned for his affection and longed for his favorable attention. Either he ignored me completely or he criticized me, and when he did criticize me, he often did it in the worst manner possible.

I found that I naturally gravitated toward using that harsh tone in my internal conversation, and I continued to engage in those vicious mental monologues for years and years.

I told myself that I was simply maintaining my high standards, since after all, who doesn’t want to have high expectations?

Isn’t it true that a parent would only criticize his daughter in order to assist her in becoming a better person?

Consequently, I continued to be critical of myself; but, it never occurred to me that my father lash out at me because his whole life seemed to be a disaster, and therefore, by the grace of God, the one thing he would have control over would be his children.

There I was as an adult, using continuous and harsh self-criticism as a method to be flawless as a means to receive the affection and attention I so desired from the people in my life.

I did this so that I could get what I so desperately needed from those people. It was a tactic that was never going to be successful, therefore we had to abandon it.

After analyzing the sarcastic and degrading tone of my internal monologue, I came to the conclusion that I would never treat another human being in such a contemptuous manner; hence, why was I allowing myself to engage in such incoherent self-discussion? I deserve better—we all do!

Now, whenever those negative thoughts come up, I practice patience with myself rather than giving in to the scolding voice that is putting up the overly critical self-evaluations.

When I see the fearful girl hiding behind those harsh words, I want to send her all the love in the world.

You see, even though I have made up my mind not to give my inner critic any more power over me, I am also aware that the only reason I have ever spoken to myself in such a manner is because I have had a strong need to be accepted and to be shielded from harm.

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The hurtful girl was attempting to grab my attention in the only way she knew how, and those harsh comments were her way of trying to obtain it.

Now, I just appreciate that deep yearning for self-love without chastising the hurting girl.

3. Always Adhere to the Five-Second Rule

I have a lot of respect for Mel Robbins, and the day that I found out about her five-second rule was a really significant day for me personally.

(And I’m not talking about whether it’s still okay to consume food that’s just had touch with the floor for five seconds—a that’s whole other topic!)

In a nutshell, here is Mel Robbins’ five-second rule, which she explains in her own words:

“The minute you have an urge to act on a goal, you must count five, four, three, two, one, and physically move or your brain will stop you.”

You wouldn’t describe yourself as a “morning person,” but you still want to get up earlier each day, right?

Then, as soon as your alarm clock begins to ring, count to five, four, three, two, and one before springing out of bed.

There will be no more pushing the snooze button.

It’s understandable that in the wee hours of the morning, you’d prefer not to get out of bed and enjoy the warmth and coziness of your bed; after all, who wouldn’t?

However, getting out of bed and working toward your larger objectives is more likely to bring you success than lying in bed.

If you take action during the next five seconds, you will make progress toward your larger objectives.

You are going to find yourself in a bad situation if you do not move and if you let your intelligent mind to cajole you into lying in bed for “just a little longer.”

If you want to transform your day by getting up earlier so that you can post that blog you want to write (ahem, what I’m doing now) or do that workout you know your body needs, then prioritize those objectives over getting an additional thirty minutes of sleep and utilize the five-second principle to help you get your body out of bed.

If you want to improve your life by getting up earlier so that you can write that blog you want to write (ahem, what I’m doing now), then make those goals your priority over getting

One of the finest patterns of behavior that I’ve ever developed is adhering to the five-second rule.

I will say, in the interest of complete candor, that I am not always effective in adhering to the rule, but I have found that the more I try, the more often I am successful.

“If your habits don’t align with your desire, then you need to adjust either your habits or your dream,” said the man. ~John Maxwell

4. Nourish My Mental Being

I’ve always thought of myself as a learner, but the truth is that I’m often unmotivated to really learn new things.

If you never expose your brain to any new knowledge, it will be difficult for you to make improvements in your life. Keeping my brain well-nourished on a consistent basis has emerged as one of the most important goals for me.

My goal is to “feed my mind,” and this will look something like this: once a year I will go on a retreat, once a month I will either read or listen to an audiobook, once a week I will listen to a podcast, and every day I will read an insightful article on a topic that I am interested in learning more about.

In my experience, beginning a process is the best way to develop momentum, and as a result, I often surpass even my most modest objectives.

If I want to nourish my mind in a healthy manner, it will need me to give up certain bad behaviors. In this day and age, I make it a point to limit the amount of news I watch.

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Even though I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, I do think it’s vital to restrict the amount of pessimistic thoughts that I let into my brain.

News networks are renowned for repeating the same upsetting stories over and over again, and I try to avoid watching them as much as possible.

By waking up earlier and reducing the amount of time I spend watching Netflix and HBO, I am able to create room in my schedule for the additional reading and activities I do for my own personal development.

I have also adjusted my financial plan in order to be able to pay for the audiobooks and retreats that I want to purchase. It’s a trade-off I’m glad to make, but my budget for things like going out to eat and shopping for clothes is approximately half of what it used to be.

The practice of nourishing my thoughts on a regular basis is allowing me to access whole new universes.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reading about a topic when, just at the right time, the ideal chance presented itself for me to put what I’d learned into practice in both my personal and professional life.

The French scientist Louis Pasteur once observed, “Fortune favors the prepared mind,” and I couldn’t agree with him more if I tried!

5. At Least Once a Week: Subject Myself to an Experience That is Outside of My Normal Routine

If I were a more ambitious person, I may make the restriction that I can only engage in this habit once per week, but for the time being, once per week is plenty for my needs.

The routine of doing the same things in the same manner every day is a life-draining habit, but the routine of constantly challenging yourself to go beyond your comfort zone is a life-expanding habit.

If I had to choose between my life expanding or contracting and shrinking, I’ll choose the former, please and thank you.

Today, I make it a point to be courageous on a regular basis by allowing myself to be seen, enabling myself to be vulnerable, and allowing myself to be inept when it comes to trying new things.

I used to take baby steps outside of my safety zone, but now I’m prepared to attempt anything, even make tremendous leaps.

I walked away from a job that I had been working at for twenty-two years without having another one set up to take its place.

I traveled more than 2,000 miles away from my family and friends in order to live in a beautiful region of the globe, which is somewhere I’ve always imagined calling home.

Because I currently do freelancing, consulting, and coaching work, the amount of money I make may vary greatly from week to week.

I’m never quite sure how much money I’ll make in a given month; in the past, I never could have sustained such a high level of unpredictability.

It is astounding how much your life may change in miraculous ways if you are willing to not be flawless in your own little world but instead choose to deliberately be flawed in a world that can condemn you.

Once you make this choice, it is amazing how much your life can alter. When you put yourself in situations where you may end up on the ground, you are also putting yourself in situations where you could fly.

My experience has shown me that daring will eventually pay off, even if the immediate payoff is not certain. I want to urge you to be bold, because it will completely transform your life.

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