Are you interested in supercharging your daily life in order to achieve more output? Do you believe you need more motivation? Perhaps you wish you just had more discipline so you could get more done or achieve a fitness or business goal.
But the answer doesn't lie in motivation or even in discipline. Whether you want to embark on a fitness journey, start a business, be a better friend, be a better parent or spouse, developing daily habits is the simplest and most proven-effective way to get there.
My definition of a habit is something that you do on a regular basis that no longer elicits a stress response. It no longer causes you to debate with yourself whether you’ll do it or not.
Brushing your teeth is a perfect example. Another term I like to use for habit is “a daily non-negotiable”. Something that you’ll do no matter what the circumstances.
Yes, motivation is great when you feel it, but it comes and goes on a day by day, even hour by hour basis. Having a lot of discipline is what many people believe is key in order to be a high achiever.
While this is partially true, high-output individuals rely on the habits they’ve cemented into their lives to get more out of their days. Sure, it’s fair to say that some people have more discipline than others. Other people don’t really care whether or not they have discipline or not. They’re content with their situation as is, and just fine being a “regular guy or gal”.
This blog post, however, is for those who are not willing to accept mediocrity. It’s for those who want to take their lives to the next level. No matter the area in life in which you’re looking to increase your output, there are a few powerful daily activities you can do to get the needle moving.
If you’re able to take the 5 topics of this blog post and establish them as habits, you’ll soon be on the path to success. I understand that some of them may be uncomfortable. But if you want to go above and beyond and get the most out of your life you’re going to have to embrace discomfort.
No one does anything extraordinary by just residing daily inside their comfort bubble. Obviously, there are more pieces to the puzzle than what I have in this one blog post.
Obviously, you’ve got to put in the work. But these 5 habits will make that work more rewarding, easier to focus on, and even more enjoyable. You’ll be stacking wins daily and able to achieve anything you put your mind to.
Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep For 8 hours. Some people may only need 7 hours of sleep, and some perhaps feel better on 9. But if you want to be able to perform cognitively, physically, creatively, socially, and mentally, you must sleep.
I have a full blog post on sleep (because 1 paragraph is not nearly enough), so I won’t get into the weeds. Just know that if you think sleep is something that can be sacrificed to have more time to work, you’re sorely mistaken.
Sacrificing sleep for work results in less productivity. So you spend more time only to get less done. By getting adequate sleep, you’ll be more focused, in a better mood, more motivated, more creative, more energized, better at making decisions, and better able to regulate your hunger and cravings.
Unfortunately in this day and age, especially in the entrepreneurial and military world (both of which I’m currently a part of) prioritizing sleep is perceived as a weakness. If you’re not “always grinding”, you’re not putting in enough effort. What many people don’t understand is how much the opposite is true.
Studies show that when people work 60 hour weeks, they’re no more productive than those working 40 hours. That’s 20 hours of time completely wasted. Think about what you could do with 20 extra hours. If you have a family, that’s more time with your spouse and kids. If you have fitness goals, that’s more time to work out, prepare healthy food and learn about fitness. It’s also more time to sleep.
If you’re consistently getting great sleep, you can get more done in 3-5 hours of focused deep work than you could in 10+ hours while running on inadequate sleep. I usually get at least 2 (sometimes 3) hours or work done before the sun comes up. Why? I go to bed early, sleep 8 hours, and wake up focused and ready to take action.
Although it’s not a requirement, people who go to bed early and wake up early tend to be more successful in life. But regardless of whether you’re a night owl or any early riser, I challenge you to prioritize sleep for a week.
Stop watching Netflix marathons late into the night. Have a “screen curfew” where you’ll stop all screen use (TV, computer, phone). Get to bed on time and sleep for 8 hours. See how you feel. See how much you get done. You’ll likely never go back to your old ways.
In 2022, many of us seem to be stuck in this world of constant comfort, convenience and entertainment. People are terrified of experiencing boredom. The thought of having to sit still with nothing to do, nothing to eat, nothing to drink , and nothing to look at makes a lot of us uncomfortable and even downright anxious.
The problem is, never allowing yourself to “just be” can lead to anxiety, brain fog, lack of motivation and drive, mood swings, and depression. The fix, however, is really simple, and will just take a bit of effort on your behalf. To get out of (or avoid getting into) this rut, a daily mindfulness practice can help tremendously.
This doesn’t have to be anything too hippy or “woo woo”, but practicing mindfulness each day can have a profound effect. How do you do it? It’s different for everyone.
If you find that you’re a more anxious “wound up”, always on the go type of person, perhaps sitting still and doing some deep belly breathing may work well. Another great technique for this type of person is to combine mindfulness practices with one of the later tips; getting cold. If you’re able to get uncomfortably cold and focus on your breathing in order to get yourself through it, that may be just the right activity for you.
If you’re someone who isn’t fast moving and tends to experience lots of brain fog and sluggishness, perhaps utilizing some Wim Hoff breathing techniques where you’re stimulating your sympathetic nervous system might work well for you.
Other techniques like journaling, meditation, focusing on your breathing for one to several minutes, picking a small point on the wall and focusing on it and nothing else for a few minutes, walking in nature without a phone (barefoot if the environment permits) all have their value in achieving mindfulness.
I personally fit in with the anxiety, hard charging, never taking a break type of individuals, and cold showers along with some daily journaling have made a massive positive difference in my life. You may think this sounds a bit kooky and you’re welcome to make fun of it all you want (even I make fun of myself sometimes), but it works.
There's a reason some of the world’s most successful, powerful, wealthy, healthy and fit people practice daily mindfulness. And you should too.
Catch Some Rays
Sunlight, particularly soon after it rises, is stronger in it’s positive effects than almost anything a doctor may prescribe you. Getting sunlight (at any time of day) raises your vitamin D levels.
Unfortunately, most of our daily lives are designed to be spent primarily indoors, which is why vitamin D deficiency is so common. Vitamin D is one of the most versatile vitamins due to how many bodily health functions it plays a role in. From immunity, to hormone regulation, to sleep quality, to skin health… Let's just say you don't want to have low vitamin D.
Getting in the sun each day (or getting outside during the day, regardless of the weather) will help improve your overall health so much that you’d be a fool not to make it a habit. It’s very simple, most of us have at least a few minutes a day we can dedicate to getting outside.
If at all possible, the best time to do this is in the morning, soon after sunrise. Not only do you get all the vitamin D benefits, but you also set your circadian rhythm for the day. Evolutionarily speaking, humans are supposed to be exposed to natural light during the day, and exposed to dark at night time. While technology has so many positive benefits, it’s ability to expose us to artificial light 24/7 (unless we’re conscious about it) has proven to be a significant detriment to our health.
If you’re able to expose your eyes and skin to the sun each morning, I can almost guarantee that you’ll notice better sleep almost immediately.
If you have dogs and it’s warm out, walk them shirtless in the morning (if you’re a male, obviously). If you live in an apartment without animals, go outside and stretch or jump rope for a short period of time each morning. If you’re already at work when the sun comes up, plan to go take a break sometime around sunrise. Perhaps take a 10 minute walk or chat with a coworker in the sun for a short while.
There are two very important rules for sun exposure. First off, don’t wear sunscreen unless it’s zinc based and free of harmful chemicals (Banana Boat is out!). Avoid burning (obviously) by slowly increasing your tolerance and wearing protective clothing if needed. And Second, avoid sunglasses unless it’s a safety issue (driving).
Getting sun doesn’t need to be complicated, it doesn’t need to be for a long time (10 minutes minimum), but it should be a daily practice when feasible.
Get Cold Often
Cold therapy; Everyone’s favorite (sarcasm). Being really cold, especially when the source is water, is very very uncomfortable. No matter how many times you expose yourself to cold water, it will remain uncomfortable.
But it can benefit you in so many ways that if you’re able to man (or woman) up for a few minutes a day and practice cold therapy, the benefits you’ll experience will be profound. Being in cold water increases dopamine (feel good hormone) levels in your brain significantly more than cocaine, coffee or any other stimulants you might use to “turn on” for the day.
What’s even better (aside from it being far healthier than cocaine), is that the dopamine levels stay elevated for much longer than using a drug. Depending on how long you’re able to stay in cold water, you could feel the effects for up to a couple of hours.
Additionally, because cold water stresses your system out acutely (while you’re in it), once you get out, the decrease in stress hormones will make you feel calm and far less anxious than before. Calmness combined with dopamine is a feeling that is very very difficult to achieve from anything other than cold water exposure.
How to do it? Start small. Begin with your normal hot shower and turn it all the way to maximum cold for 15 seconds before getting out. Tomorrow, do 20 seconds, and so on. Soon you’ll have no problem staying in for minutes at a time. Just make sure you’re ending on cold, and not making it hot again before turning it off.
Another technique is hot/cold contrast, where you'll go back and forth between hot and cold (I like 60 seconds cold, 30 seconds hot x5). This technique will also promote blood flow and circulation which may speed up recovery! Ice baths and saunas are other great tools for hot/cold contrast.
I know it sounds rough, and it certainly is to start out, but if you give it a try, you’ll be glad you did. I promise, it won’t kill you.
Move It or Lose It
Finally, you’ve gotta move. Movement is medicine, motion is lotion…you get the picture. But it’s completely true. We all know moving more daily is good for your physical health. What most of us overlook is the impact it has on our mental health.
You don’t need to go to the gym and crush yourself every day, you don’t need to go run till you can’t feel your legs, you don’t even need to work out every day, but ensuring you’re prioritizing movement each day will without question improve your quality of life.
What does it mean to move? It’s not complicated, movement is defined as anything other than sitting or laying down. You can do yard work, fold laundry, clean the garage, walk the dogs, strength train, do cardio, play golf, and the list goes on.
Some general movement goals that most people can do (and would certainly benefit from) include lifting weights 3 days per week, walking at least 7,000 steps per day, taking the stairs instead of an elevator when feasible, and even choosing to stand instead of sitting (although you’re not technically moving).
You can certainly move more than that, and if you want to add some moderate intensity cardiovascular training in, you’d be even better off. Bottom line, make an effort to move more and soon you’ll wonder why you didn’t start doing this before!
If you didn’t want to improve your quality of life, you probably wouldn't be reading this post. You’re already most of the way there. The rest is on you to put these tips into action and make them your daily non-negotiables.
I recommend starting with one at a time and once it becomes a habit (something that takes no discipline or motivation to do), move to the next one. Soon, you’ll be performing better in almost every aspect of your daily life.
Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear about the habits you’ve implemented to improve your life.. Leave a comment below!