If I had to pick five habits that I consider life-transforming, they would be the following: waking up early, meditating, exercising, reading books, and focusing on your passion.
You might have a different opinion, and that’s fine, obviously. These are the activities that relate to me. I personally have benefitted tremendously from these, and maybe you will too. You really can’t go wrong with any of these. They are powerful!
Wake up early
Wake up early every day, no just on workdays. For me, no matter what, I have to be up before 9 am, and I follow this rule religiously.
It doesn’t mean I won’t wake up even earlier - it just means that this is where the line is drawn (it applies even if it’s Sunday or if I happen to go to bed at 5 am).
For most people, waking up before 9 is probably a no-brainer. But, for me, I have always been struggling with this. I sometimes woke up at 2 pm or even at 4 pm.
Waking up so late made me feel miserable as I felt that I wasted a whole day. Therefore, this habit has had an enormous effect on my life. If you want to find out how I did it, search my blog, I have an article about it.
Many successful people also swear by waking early. Early mornings are a perfect time to do your work (passion), read a book, build your business, or something else that would benefit you. You have full energy, and there are no distractions and unpredictable variables distracting you.
It’s one of those activities that a lot of people don’t do because they don’t see immediate results. Or they think it’s a waste of time.
The effects will come, but they slowly and without any obvious signs. It’ll take time before you notice a change.
For me, the main benefit is that I feel a lot calmer in chaotic environments and situations. I don’t become immediately as reactive as I did before. Also, I’m quite sure it has helped me more in controlling my emotions and in my focusing ability.
Essentially, meditating is exercising for the mind as you’re strengthening your prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain associated with rational thinking and decision making. You will be a lot better prepared to resist urges and impulses.
There’s a reason we’ve all heard it a thousand times. It’s because it works. You must exercise!
Starting to read books was probably one of the main factors that got me out of a negative downward spiral I was in for years.
Good non-fiction (and some fiction) books offer substantial value.
I think it’s crazy that people who are really successful in their fields have brain dumped all their knowledge into a 10 dollar paperback. They teach you everything they know and tell you how to get what you want - and most people don’t bother. They play games on their phones and browse IG instead.
I know why actually - the author Carol Dweck explains in her book” Mindset” that some people have a “growth” mindset whereas others are in the “fixed” mindset. But that’s another story.
So, read non-fiction books on business, money, psychology, self-help, marketing, and of course (auto)biographies.
“Deep Work” by Cal Newport was one of the first self-help books I read, and it’s still one of the best ones I’ve ever read. Sometimes I think that this book saved my life. For me, this book is not just about the importance of being able to focus, but it also opened my eyes to the whole self-improvement world.
Do your “one” thing
The concept comes from the book called “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller. The basic idea is this: find out what is the most important thing for you and do it every day. Maybe it’s writing, painting, photography, building your brand, religion, bodybuilding, or something else.
Everyone has their “one” thing. It’s the thing you’re passionate about, and that fuels you when you do it. This is an important indicator! It has to give you energy - otherwise, it’s not your thing.
So, if you’re depressed or feel your life is in a rut, implement these habits. At least try them before taking any anti-depressants.
The combination of clearing your mind and body from toxins and negative thought patterns (meditating and exercising) coupled with adopting your mind to a growth-mindset and feeding it inspiration (reading books), and giving you a sense of purpose (doing your thing), is extremely powerful. Probably more powerful than any medication.
PS! As a “bonus”, I would add eating healthy - or rather - avoiding junk food (sugar, processed foods, white bread). The problem with junk food is not only that it makes you gain weight, but it also lacks in nutrients. Lack of nutrients will affect negatively your body as well as your mind.