If you want to change your life, you must change your habits. In my book Rich Habits I highlight which habits have the most impact over your life and in my followup book Change Your Habits Change Your Life, I explain how to make habit change quick, painless and permanent.
Below I share some of the key habits to adopt for the new year along with some of the strategies to make habit change easier. Pick the ones you want and focus on them for one year.
I will pursue a dream or something I am passionate about on the side that could one day reward me financially. This year will be the year I invest in myself.
We are given this great capacity to dream. It’s hard-wired into our DNA. Yet, somewhere along the way, we cast our dreams aside. It’s never too late to dream. Grandma Moses began painting at age 80. Colonel Sanders was in his early 60’s when KFC was born. Ray Kroc was 52 when he founded McDonald’s.
The ability to pursue your dreams never dies. You are never too old to pursue a dream Take an hour out of your life and script out your ideal life. In 1,000 words or less, paint a picture, with words, of the ideal, perfect life you desire. This exercise will rejuvenate you, inspire you and help you to dream again. Don’t let life pass you by without pursuing your dreams. We are infinitely greater than we ever imagined.
I will do one thing every day that helps move me forward in achieving my goals in life and realizing my dreams.
A dream is a desired future outcome. It is a destination. A goal represents some future action you intend to take. Goals are your transportation system and dreams are your destination. Because goals require action, you have control over whether or not you take that action and achieve your goals. Do one thing every day that will help you move forward in realizing your dreams.
I will commit to reading 30 minutes every day to learn more about my job, my industry or some dream I am pursuing.
Perhaps the most significant self-improvement Rich Habit I uncovered in my five-year study on the daily habits of the rich and poor concerned reading. Wealthy, successful people are voracious readers. They devote significant time every day to reading for self-improvement.
I will seek to build one new relationship with a successful person.
Wealthy, successful people are very particular about who they associate with. Their goal is to develop relationships with other success-minded individuals. When they stumble onto someone who fits the bill, they then devote an enormous amount of their time and energy into building a strong relationship. They grow the relationship from a sapling into a redwood. Relationships are the currency of the wealthy and successful.
I will devote 20 minutes a day in developing a new skill.
Wealthy, successful people all have one thing in common: ongoing, daily self-improvement. Each individual has a circle. Inside that circle are the things you are comfortable doing. Those things inside your circle represents your comfort zone. Most do everything humanly possible to stay within their comfort zone. When you do things that are outside your comfort zone and outside that circle, it causes discomfort. But each time you engage in a new activity that causes discomfort, you expand your circle; you grow as an individual. Stretching your circle by engaging in new activities that cause discomfort is necessary if you want to grow. You can’t succeed in life by staying in your comfort zone. You have to expand your circle in order to become successful in life.
You have to engage in activities that cause discomfort and this means you must experience the pain of growth. Those who do not succeed in life, avoid doing things that cause them discomfort and pain. As a result, they never grow into the individuals they need to become in order for success to visit them. Start stretching your circle today. Never fear the pain of growth. It is that very pain that makes you stronger and helps you grow into the person you need to be in order for success to visit you.
I will commit to exercising aerobically 20 minutes every day because I know that aerobic exercise increases brain performance and will help me in my career.
Exercise has many beneficial health effects. Aerobic exercise, in particular, increases the volume of oxygen and glucose delivered to the brain, helping nourish brain cells. It also helps keep the weight off, improves muscle performance and improves digestion.
But, perhaps even more important, aerobic exercise has a profound effect on your mental outlook. Studies have shown that daily aerobic exercise fosters a positive mental outlook. It increases positivity, optimism, confidence, cheerfulness and has a calming effect on the amygdala.
I will adopt a frugal mindset.
Being frugal requires three things:
- Awareness – Being aware of how you spend your money
- Quality – Spending your money on quality products and services and
- Bargain Shopping – Spending the least amount possible, by shopping around for the lowest price.
On its own, being frugal will not make you rich. It is just one piece to the financial success puzzle, and there are many pieces. But being frugal will enable you to increase the amount of money you can save. The more you have in savings, the more options you have to make money. Having money set aside in savings allows you to take advantage of opportunities. Without savings, opportunities pass you by.
I will start a fact binder in which I will right down everything new I learn about my job or industry during the year.
Wealthy, successful people read an average of 30 minutes each day. Their reading topics? Career-related, self-help, educational, biographies, history, current events and anything related to a major goal or some extracurricular pursuit. While reading is important, retaining important information uncovered in your reading is critical to learning new facts and information. One strategy to do this is the Fact Binder. In your Fact Binder create various topic sections that are meaningful to you. Each day, after reading, add any new facts or information to your Fact Binder. You can even add a section titled: “New Words” where you add any new words you come across in your reading. Writing down what you read has a way of reinforcing what you just read. Abraham Lincoln would write things down 3 times in order to commit them to memory. The physical act of writing somehow acts to create a new neural pathway that allows the new facts or information to stick. Once a week go over the new information you added. That will help reinforce the learning.
I will limit recreational screen time to less than one hour a day.
Time wasters come in many forms: TV, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, watching YouTube videos, trolling the Internet, Netflix, video games, etc. Excessive screen time takes you away from pursuing dreams, goals, reading to learn, exercising, work and other productive or creative activities that move your forward in life. Make this year the year you limit your time wasters, particularly recreational screen time.
I will call everyone important to me on their birthday. I will not Facebook them, or tweet them or text them. I will call them on the phone.
Happy birthday calls are a strategy the wealthy use to grow their relationships. Making happy birthday calls keeps your relationships on life support. At least once a year you will have to talk to your relationships. 25% of the time, the recipient of a happy birthday call will reciprocate, taking that relationship off life support. Making a phone call personalizes the birthday and separates you from the rest of the crowd.
I will pay an extra $100 a month towards my mortgage.
Small things sometimes pay big dividends. Getting into the habit of paying an extra $100 towards your mortgage significantly reduces the amount of interest you pay on that mortgage plus it shortens the term of your mortgage.
I will have $100 a month automatically deducted from my paycheck or bank account and invested in a savings account.
Saving is a habit that most people are not taught at an early age. Only when we become older and wiser do we understand the importance of saving. Don’t wait until you’re old to get into the habit of saving. If you can’t afford $100 a month make it $50 a month or $20 a month. The important thing is to forge the savings habit now.
I will take the 100 Day Challenge in which I do not charge anything on my credit cards for 100 days. For 100 consecutive days I will pay for everything with cash or my ATM card.
Using credit cards to pay for everyday living expenses is a Poor Habit. Credit card use can easily get out of control. If you need to use credit cards to pay for ordinary living expenses, that means you are living beyond your means. Take control of your life by taking control of your finances. For 100 days try to go without using credit cards and use cash or your ATM card instead. After 100 days, a habit will begin to form. One that sets you up for success for the rest of your life.
I will devote 30 consecutive days to tracking every penny I spend.
Do you know where your money goes? Some do. They’re called self-made millionaires. If you want to walk in the footsteps of the wealthy, one of the footsteps they take is paying attention to what they spend their money on. Spending awareness helps you uncover erroneous or excessive vendor charges. It also forces you to think about where your money is going. Spend just 30 days tracking everything you spend. At the end of the 30 days review where your money went. You’ll be surprised what you may find.