5 Habits I Do Every Single Day To Grow

I’ve built a life structured around daily habits. Habits help remove the challenges that I would otherwise face to reach my goals. I like to imagine my goals as being on the other side of a wall. Habits are steps that I stack on top of each other, which eventually become tall enough to allow me to climb over that wall and get to the other side. I have multiple habits that I do every single day to reach my goals. One of my main goals, though, is progress. I want to continually grow, learn, and become my future self. Here are the top five habits I do every single day in order to grow.

5 Habits I Do Every Single Day to Grow

  1. I prioritize the top 2-3 tasks for that day. Every morning, I wake up and sit down with my planner and morning coffee. I write down specifically the top essential tasks that would catapult me forward the most. I used to write down a whole to-do list (to be honest, I still do) but I focus on the top few that would have the most impact on what I am trying to achieve. I like to tackle these tasks early in the day when I have the most energy. All other tasks get pushed back to make way for these things. The key is to be mindful about how many to choose. If I know I will have a busy day at work, I will only write down 2 things. It makes it way more doable!
  2. I write for 30 minutes, usually in the morning. Writing is important because it’s the way I organize my thoughts. I do my best thinking, reflecting, and organizing when I write. It is crucial for my personal growth and learning! Finding time to write used to be difficult for me, until I realized that I needed to create the time. I also have difficulty writing when there are distractions around. Even the drop of a needle can cause me to lose focus, which makes it complicated since my husband has been working from home these last two years. I finally realized that what worked for me is waking up insanely early, at the cat’s first meow. Typically, I force myself out of bed around 5:45am, before my husband gets up for work. The coffee helps! The real secret, though, is having a game plan for success. I make it easy on myself by prepping my coffee the night before. I charge my laptop and set it on the table. I go to sleep early. I give myself a time to wake up by (5:45am) and a place to be (at the dining table). I create a routine so my body just goes through the motions. I make it EASY for myself. I now dedicate 30 minutes every day to write.
  3. I read for 20 minutes. It shocked me to learn that most adults stop reading books after graduating from college. To this day, I still say that reading is my number one super-power. I not only learn from non-fiction, but I also understand people and the world better through fiction. I read self-help books, science books about health and the environment, life-style books about slow-living, autobiographies of famous people, you name it. I never miss my reading. I challenge myself to read at least 24 books a year, but end up reading around 30 books a year.
  4. I initiate a positive interaction with someone. I have a tendency to focus inward on myself and my goals. Even though I consider myself a giving person, I sometimes find that I have blinders on. When I am focused, I ignore what’s around me. In the past, I have even ignored my own health and body! As I got older, I realized the importance of focusing outward, keeping relationships, and helping others before myself. Every day, I initiate a positive interaction with someone, via text, email, phone call or in person. If it weren’t for the people around me, I would never have gotten to where I am today. I recognize that investing outwards is an important way of investing in myself.
  5. I reflect on what went well today and what can improve tomorrow. I gratitude journal by writing down three things that went well that day. Then I think about what I struggled with and why. I can either choose to improve tomorrow on what I struggled on, or to improve further on something that went well. It is not the experiences that make us wiser, but the take-away we get from our experiences. Therefore, reflections is a key part to growth!

Of course, the key to creating good habits is setting yourself up for them. I like to choose a planner or journal that would trigger my good habits. One of my favorites is Monk Manual. This planner really outlines an intentional lifestyle. I highly recommend it! And if you liked this post, you may want to check out what I do to become 1% better every day. I have multiple goals and personal growth is just one of them.

New Year Resolutions for 2021

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There has been talk that there is no need to write resolutions for 2021, and I get it. People are tired, fatigued from the pivoting we did in 2020, not to mention all the politics and the social conflict. I understand the difficulty in creating expectations that will challenge us further for the year ahead (stretch us past our limits, some will say), but I beg to differ on the writing of resolutions front.

As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extra-ordinary destiny.”

I have found that the times in my life that have been most tough are the moments right before big change happened. Stead-fastness is what we need during this transition. We need to courage to believe that 2021 holds the potential to be the most amazing years of our lives.

Of course, every individual reacts to trauma differently. Personally, I like to face trauma head on and conquer it (case in point: My Decision to Aggressively Tackle My Student Loan Debt), but even I have challenges that I find difficult to face. However, to give up altogether?! No, that isn’t me, and I don’t think that’s you either.

If you feel like resolutions are a bit too much, just write ONE like I did in 2018, after I went through the most roller-coaster year of my life (which was also the most pivotal!). For the more motivated, try beginning with the end. And for those who really can’t bring themselves to pull out paper and pen at this time, no worries – there is always the opportunity to write resolutions in the middle of the year. Let’s not let the New Year define our opportunities to create change.

I, for one, am excited about what 2021 could bring. My gleaming eyes are looking ahead to a bright future. I’m a dreamer and an optimist, so I wrote a lengthy list of resolutions. 2020 was a year that forced me to slow down. I dissociated myself from my own identity to unearth the real me, an experience that I recently wrote about here.

Each year, I focus my resolutions around a theme. Last year was about self-care in many forms, including taking care of my surroundings and home, focusing on my health, and slowing down enough to give myself time to recharge. In the process, I discovered balance, kindness (towards myself and others), and my place in this world. All of this sets me up nicely for a wonderful 2021.

My focus for 2021 is to make it the year of my most meaningful work.

I feel more grounded in my being that I ever have, and the purpose of creating space the previous year is to fill it as intentionally as possible. This is not to be confused with more work but rather quality work. I am not only referring to professional work either, encompassing work on my relationships, on my home, on my spirituality, and on my self.

In order to set myself up for success, I paired my resolutions with actionable and measurable goals. Maybe you’ll find a few that resonate with you. However, I would highly recommend writing your own first, before allowing someone else’s (mine included) to influence your hopes for the year to come. And if I don’t get around to it, I wish you and yours love and light in the New Year!

My 2021 New Year’s Resolutions

  • Focus on Health
    • Make exercise routine. Focus on the exercises that are enjoyable, like running, swimming and yoga to make it more sustainable. Goal: Exercise 5 days a week.
    • Eat more veggies and fruit. Goal: Incorporate these into meals at least 5 days a week.
    • Eat to be satiated, abandon gluttony. Goal: Aim to only be 80% full.
    • Sleep on a consistent schedule. Goal: Try to sleep between the hours of 10pm and 6am.
    • Wake up at a consistent time. Goal: Get up when you feed the cat, instead of crawling back into bed.
  • Focus on Having Less
    • Less Instagram. Goal: Limit yourself to 15 minutes per day.
    • Less Shopping for both the self and the home. Goal: Spend only $35 on fun money each month. When you feel the need to buy something new, write the reasons why what you have is enough. Wait at least one month before buying something you want.
    • Less obligation and responsibilities. Goal: Practice responding with “Can I get back to you?” to give yourself the space for consideration.
  • Focus on Creating Your Best Work
    • Prepare each morning for the day ahead. Goal: Meditate each morning to clear the mind. Prioritize your tasks for the day ahead, and delegate or de-clutter as many as you can before beginning work. Put on an outfit and get ready as if you are going into work to create that separation between work and home.
    • Be on time to show respect for other people’s timelines. Goal: Show up to work, appointments and events at least five minutes early.
    • Study dentistry to invigorate a passion towards the profession. Goal: Complete 50 CE units this year.
    • Provide usefulness to others via the blog so that I may make a living helping people virtually. Goal: Create digital downloads, consider intentional living consultations, and work on writing a book on living intentionally.
    • Create the ideal WFH space. Goal: Carve out a dedicated area in the home for work. Make it a sanctuary.
  • Focus on Creating a Good Home
  • Focus on Spirituality
    • Meditate more often. Goal: Use the Tide App 5 times a week.
    • More outdoors time to reduce cortisol levels. Goal: Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking or hiking in nature three times a week.
    • Have more gratitude. Goal: Write the top 3 things the be grateful for each morning. Thank my food and my things for gracing my life.
    • Reflect on a quote each morning. Goal: Find a quote that speaks to where you are in life and share it each day with others.
    • Spread goodness. Goal: Volunteer once a month. Call three friends and family members each week and tell them why you are grateful for them.
  • Focus on Myself
    • Make time to read more books, which will expand your knowledge, perspective, and experience. Goal: Read two books a month.
    • Learn a language or musical instrument. Goal: Learn French enough to be able to have conversation and learn two songs on either piano or guitar each month.
    • Get into drawing again. Goal: Complete two drawings per month.
    • Reserve the evenings for relaxation and rejuvenation. Goal: Put the phone away one hour before bed.

Intentional Living: A Sample Morning Routine

Firstly, a mere word on routines. Routines are founded on habits, and part of habit creation requires that one just bites the bullet and trains the self to have muscle memory. I was not born with great habits, nor am I always good about them. Habits continually shift, depending on your needs of the season. In my case, it’s due to an ever-changing philosophy. My list undergoes a remodeling quite frequently. I find that I work best when my habits have triggers – events that remind me to do something. Additionally, I have found that the reward system does not work well on me. I don’t care for rewards too much, so they are not good motivators. The best motivator for me lies in the doing. An afternoon in idleness makes me glum, so routines help me stray from that negative territory. Pursuit of happiness, et al. Of course, your routine formation and motivations may be different. This difference will change the way your routines are made, or even which ones you end up adopting. When I list my routines here, it is not the end-all by any means. Consider it just a sharing of what I do.

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For me, my morning routine looks like this:

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays

  • 6am – Trigger: Theo the cat meowing –> Habit: Get up to feed the cat.
  • 6:01am – Trigger: Turn on the kettle on the stove –> Habit: Don’t go back to bed, lest you forget the kettle.
  • 6:05 am – Trigger: Kettle has hot water –> Habit: Make a pour over to take back to bed.
  • 6:10 am – 6:20 am – Trigger: Coffee in hand –> Habit: Sip on coffee and stare out the bedside window as the world wakes. Daydream, plan the day, reminisce on the past, what have ye.
  • 6:20am – Trigger: Coffee is awakening the senses  –> Habit: Read a book or write.
  • 7 am – Trigger: Mike starts his shower –> Habit: Get up and start putting last night’s dishes away and preparing breakfast
  • 7:20 am – Trigger: Mike gets out of the shower –> Habit: Eat breakfast together, pack lunches
  • 8:00 am – Trigger: Mike leaves for work –> Habit: Yoga session
  • 8:45 am – Trigger: Yoga is over –> Habit: Wash the morning dishes, sweep the floors, clean the house
  • 9:00am – Trigger: Dirty from cleaning and yoga –> Habit: Get ready for work.

Leave for the dental office at 9:00am.

Tuesdays and Thursdays

  • 6am – Trigger: Theo the cat meowing –> Habit: Get up to feed the cat.
  • 6:01 am – Trigger: Pull out the mixer –> Habit: Mix bread
  • 6:15am – Trigger: Bread mixed –> Habit: Make Coffee
  • 6:30am – Trigger: Need to add salt to dough –> Habit: Read afterwards or write
  • 7am – Trigger: Need to turn dough –> Habit: Start making breakfast
  • 7:30am – Trigger: Need to turn dough –> Habit: Eat breakfast and prep lunches
  • 8am – Trigger: Need to turn dough –> Habit: Yoga session
  • 8:30 am – Trigger: Need to turn dough –> Habit: write, write, write
  • 9am – Trigger: Need to turn dough –> Habit: More blog work
  • 9:30am – Trigger: Need to turn dough –> Finish computer work.
  • 10am – Trigger: Shape dough –> Habit: Start the rest of the day

The reward is  singular and the same: A productive morning by the time the day actually starts.

If you are having difficulty with changing habits, sometimes it is best to rely on others to make us accountable. Why not try creating a habit with a group? Lastly, in order to create a habit, one must have belief – in the cause, as well as the ability to change.

Care to share your morning routines?

Need help making one? May I suggest the following resources: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.