If you’re like most people, you have some free time every day to choose what to do with daily outside obligations like work or taking care of your family.
What you do with your free time has a direct and profound impact physically and mentally, and you probably repeat some activities each day. They’ve become your habits now.
If we repeat certain behaviors daily, wouldn’t it be helpful to think deeply about what they bring to our life? Any change in them will significantly impact our lives.
Picking the right habits
Now, which habits should you incorporate? Which ones are important? I recommend incorporating two sets of habits.
The first group is whatever brings you closer to your priorities in life. If you’re progressing in your career, and that’s important to you, things like learning more and networking will be key. This group will likely vary on each individual, so I can’t comment too much on that.
The second group is foundational habits. Independently of what you’re doing with your life, they will provide you with a solid ground to build the rest of things.
Most people can incorporate many of these habits in one way or the other. They’re only four, and will take care of your mind, your body and your time.
If you can breathe and get 10 minutes of free time each day, you can meditate.
One thing is certain: until you die, you’ll live with the same brain for the rest of your life (unless we can transplant brains like hard drives in the future, but I don’t think we’re there yet). This means that any work you do to improve how you perceive the world and how you think will go with you for the rest of your life.
Meditation changes everything. Any experience that you have in life (good, bad, neutral) goes through your conscious mind. Life has its ups and downs, but if you meditate regularly, you can control how much anything affects you and your overall level of contentment.
Our bodies will also be with us in everything we do from now until our last day, so taking care of them is our top two priority.
Prioritize unprocessed and unrefined food and avoid sugar, alcohol, and bad fats.
Prioritize strength training over other types of exercise, but combine it with others if you like to practice a particular sport.
If you like to play tennis, or run, keep doing it but introduce at least three days a week strength training. I’ve been following the program described in this great book for years.
If you’ve never worked out or visited a gym consistently, focus on strength training for now.
Strength training doesn’t have to be fun; it is basic maintenance of your body, like brushing your teeth. You don’t need to like it, but when it becomes a habit, you feel you need it.
Just 30 to 60 minutes a week of weight training may significantly reduce your chance of premature death from cancer, heart disease, and other health problems. (Ref).
Add some form of cardio a couple of days a week if you don’t do anything outside lifting weights to maximize the health benefits.
Lastly, we have a finite amount of time in our lives, Around 4000 weeks, so we need to protect it.
If you want to balance your life and still carry on your responsibilities in your job, family, etc., you simply don’t have enough time to be distracted.
Ditch that TV, remove all the distracting apps for your phone, and you’ll realize you can get a lot of time back each day.
You can indulge in a movie or a TV show occasionally, but it needs to be controlled. The infinite scrolling from social media or the constant pressure of watching the last thing coming to Netflix will conflict with your priorities, so put those out of your life.
One caveat about habits before you go.
The main problem with improving your life is that once you’ve done it, and incorporated one of these habits; you don’t remember what it was like before. You might not even value those habits anymore.
If you’re eating healthy and avoiding alcohol, you no longer know what it feels like to wake up one day overweight and with a big hungover from yesterday.
But these habits are your foundation; they provide immense value and a great framework for the rest of your life, so go and start now.