“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” —John C. Maxwell
The direction of our lives is decided more by the daily choices we make than anything else. And these choices are more influential to the person we are becoming than we often realize.
Habits become ingrained, automatic, and often slowly creep into your life so subtly that they become routine. So if you want to change your life, start by changing one thing that you do each day.
But change can be hard. So let me offer today, a list of 7 simple, daily habits that will positively change your life forever.
Most of these habits can be completed in just a few minutes each day. And each of them I have seen personally alter the trajectory of my life.
1. 3-Item To-Do List.
The 3-item to-do list has revolutionized my life. Every morning, with my cup of coffee, I write down the three most important tasks that I need to complete that day. It is a practice I cannot recommend enough.
The 3-item to-do list will keep you focused on your priorities. But more than that, it will allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day (assuming you accomplish them). It has taken away my feeling of “I never get enough done” and replaced it with “I accomplished my most important work.” And that is a beautiful feeling.
When I lived in Vermont, I had a mentor named Jeff that I looked up to quite a bit (still do actually). Jeff used to ask me and other men an unusual question when we would spend time together.
He’d ask, “So, are you staying physically active?”
I used to think Jeff was concerned with my physical health—which I’m sure he was. But as I have embraced a daily practice of exercise, I have learned the benefits are not just physical, they are mental and emotional as well.
Jeff knew physical activity was an important key to a healthy and productive life.
Don’t overthink “exercise daily.” This doesn’t need to be a 3-mile run or tennis match every day. Go for a walk, stretch, mow the lawn, workout to a YouTube video, or have sex.
3. Turn off Television.
Not only are the negative effects of TV detrimental to our lives, the opportunity cost is great. There are just better, more life-fulfilling things we could be doing with our lives than watching someone else live theirs.
When we decided to watch less television years ago, we were immediately forced to fill our evenings with something else. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to find a more life-giving activity than television.
We spent more time together as a family. We spent more time outdoors. I began to write more. I visited the gym more frequently. I took more control over my life and my decisions.
These are all good things—healthy habits—and cutting out television provided opportunity for me to accomplish them. The same will happen for you.
4. Practice Gratitude.
Say a prayer. Keep a gratitude journal. Meditate. Or discuss the high points of your day over dinner with your family.
Whatever works best for you, express gratitude at some point every single day.
Gratitude reframes our circumstances. It drives out discontent. It directs our attention to the good things in our lives. It brings attentiveness and intentionality. And it more appropriately positions our attitude in relation to the universe and world around us.
Gratitude, as a habit, is a discipline to practice daily. Because when gratitude is the hardest to find, is when we need it the most.
5. Write something.
Every day, sit down and write something. Anything. It can be a 3-sentence post on Instagram, a 3-paragraph private journal entry, or a 3-page blog post to share with the world.
Where your writing ends up means far less than the impact it will have on your life.
The habit of writing will force you to see the world in a more observant way. You will rethink conversations, circumstances, and relationships.
I once heard an old quote by Dawson Trotman, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and fingertips.” And I cannot tell you how true that it is. Writing helps us think better and interact better with the world around us.
I was recently asked on Twitter, “With the growth of YouTube and video content, do you intend to keep blogging?” My response was, “Yes. I have found that I think and live better when I write—because it forces me to become more observant. I am a better person because I began writing.”
6. Reset Your Kitchen.
Every night, before you go to bed, clean your kitchen.
In a practical sense, it will help brighten your mood in the morning. After all, there are few things less desirable early in the morning than needing to clean up yesterday’s mess.
The habit helps brighten your morning in the kitchen… and quickly spills over into other daily habits focused on keeping your home tidy. By the way, if resetting your kitchen every evening seems too difficult, you’ll find it easier if you own less stuff.
There is something magical about not dragging yesterday’s mess into today—and this practice extends far beyond clutter.
7. Eat Together.
I realize, of course, if you live alone, this final habit may not apply. But I fear there are too many people living together who are also not applying this habit to their lives.
If you are a parent… or a spouse… or a partner… or a roommate, make every effort to eat one meal together each day. When shared with others, food becomes a bonding experience that is difficult to replicate anywhere else.
Meals around a table are one of the rare moments in our day where we sit down facing one another. As the food nourishes our physical body, community and relationship feed our soul. It is difficult to be an intentional parent or spouse without sharing meals together with those we love the most.
Again, this daily habit may not be possible for everyone. But if it is, do not neglect to make it a priority—there are many who would gladly switch places with you.
Pick a habit above and begin practicing it daily. Just one—not all seven.
Once you take control of your habits, you begin taking control of your life. Any from this list will lead to positive results.