Lofty aspirations, the best of intentions, creating big goals and vowing to stick to them this time. Sound familiar? We’ve all been here – remember that New Year resolution where you promised to exercise for an hour each every day or just “read more”?
While goals are amazing and everyone should have a list of things they are working towards we’re boycotting those crazy big goals in exchange for more achievable goals, called “microhabits”. The problem with goals that are too big is they quickly become burdensome and hence not sustainable.
It’s unrealistic to think you can overhaul your life completely in a month. However, you can absolutely change it for the better in 30 days – and if you keep on track month on month, you’ll definitely feel more fulfilled in life, which is what goals are all about. Successful people – professional athletes, entrepreneurs, actors – are increasingly jumping on board with “microhabits”, many without even realising they’re doing so. Herein lies microhabits biggest power: they are simple and easy to incorporate into your life immediately. They don’t require an intimidating learning curve or an unreasonable amount of your time or energy.
When it comes to establishing healthy habits, you’ll often hear the number “21” thrown about. However, there’s nothing special about 21, but the idea is true. Habits are all about frequency. Do it every day and one day you’ll be doing it subconsciously and it’s just part of your life.
Below are some common and very powerful microhabits to consider adding into your daily life. Remember, 1% positive change in a month is still change!
1. Practice saying “no.”
No! It’s a tiny word that many of us just can’t bring ourselves to say enough. Now more than ever, where we’re fielding requests via every medium – text, calls, emails, social media or in person – our time is precious. It’s a simple fact that taking on too many commitments is counterproductive. Generally, we find saying “no” hard for one main reason: fear of disappointment. Whether it’s not wanting to hurt or anger a friend or you don’t want to seem incapable in the workplace, we say “yes” often more than we should. Yes people avoid saying no as a means of self-preservation but, ironically, it actually makes life harder. Your energy is limited each day therefore it’s important to ensure it is only going toward what you truly care about. There is of course a gentle way to decline rather than an abrupt “NO.”
Here are a few tips:
Explain: follow-up “no” with an explanation as to why. For instance if it’s your boss, explain that by taking on this task you’re conscious of failing to deliver on other commitments. Have an open conversation about what else is on your plate. Your boss may insist this is more important and can help you prioritise.
Pre-empt: It’s easier to pre-empt requests than say “no” after the fact. If you can sense a request coming that you don’t want to commit to just drop a few hints. For example: “Look team, just to let you know I’ve got a few urgent projects on-the-go and I won’t be able to take on anything new this week.”
Consider: If you’re put on the spot and not sure what to our best tip is to get back to them later. Tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and let them know, which they’ll appreciate. Then, if it’s still a no, they’re more likely to understand. “After giving this some thought and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”
2. Read uplifting content before bed
Life coaches and counsellors believe going to bed in a good mood is key to waking up in one. What you do before bed often affects the state of mind you’ll be in the next morning. Try to avoid consuming content that’s ‘depressing’, unfulfilling or– for a lack of a better word – trash. However, it’s important to decompress and disconnect for bed, so find something that’s uplifting but not too intense. Experts recommend reading biographies or self-help books before bed.
Not much of a reader? Try using a mindfulness app before bed instead.
The last thing you do before bed often affects how you think and feel the next morning / Freepik
3. Practice gratitude
While you’re at it, studies show practicing gratitude before bed can lead to a better sleep and more productive tomorrow. Reinforcing what you’re grateful for each day is an effective way to kill negativity and be a more positive thinker. You can do this internally or even better, journal a list of what you’re grateful for. Journaling has many benefits, from relieving anxiety and tension to inspiring creativity and new ways of thinking.
4. Prepare your next day the day before
Organised people are generally more productive. Start your day on the right foot by preparing for your day the night before. Lay out your clothes for the next day, prepare a nutritious lunch to take to work, put your daily vitamins next to your wallet and keys…anything you can do to make your morning less stressful will improve the day’s productivity.
Simply making your lunch for the next day can help set your tomorrow up right.
5. Move for at least 20 minutes a day
Whether it’s stretching, a brisk walk or a full-blown HIIT workout, experts unanimously agree that movement is the best thing you can do for your mental health and happiness. If you’re goal at large is to lose weight or just relax more, then breaking it down into 20 minutes each day of exercise is more achievable.
Lacking motivation? Try our tips for motivating yourself to exercise.
6. Drop bad habits slowly
Instead of promising to give up alcohol, exercise daily, stop snacking and quit biting your nails all at once, focus on one negative habit each month. You’re more likely to fail if you over-commit yourself. By honing in on just one habit for 30 days, you’ll be giving it your all, instead of splitting yourself up amongst everything.
Pick one habit each month that you’d like to break up with instead of trying to do it all / Freepik
7. Reduce your screen time
We live in a time where mindlessly scrolling through news feeds is the new ‘watching TV’. Too much screen time is detrimental for your mental health and self-confidence. Train yourself to limit your “scroll” time each day by just a little – there are even apps and browser extensions that can help you monitor and restrict your usage. While you’re at it, unfollow people that aren’t adding value to your life. Don’t be afraid to hit *delete* on those whose values don’t align with yours or toxic people who just make you feel flat. Make your Facebook feed a place of inspiration and self-growth.
8. Drink one more glass of water
Don’t worry about pressuring yourself to get all recommended eight cups down. Just focus on increasing your overall water intake. Drink an extra glass of water every day for a month, then, when that’s part of your routine, add another. Struggle to get enough H2o? Try one of these apps that help you drink more water.
The recommended daily water intake is 2.7 litres for women 3.7 litres for men / Freepik
9. Be more responsive
If someone sends a text, answer it when you see it. As often as you are able, respond to important emails as they come in. This will ensure that you aren’t left with a backlog of work that needs to be tended to.
10. Be less reactive
When you see or hear something that immediately enrages you or upsets you (even if it’s just a negative thought that crops up in your head) before reacting to it and pouring your energy into it, question it. Learning to take that micro-pause between will change the way you look at everything.
11. Take your vitamins
Finally, the best for last, take your vitamins! We know vitamins boast a multitude of benefits from boosting your energy levels to improving sleep, all for a more productive day, but in order to reap the rewards you need to take them them every day. We recommend leaving your Vitally box somewhere you can’t miss it, that’s next to something you do every day, like your toothbrush or coffee machine.
Our #1 tip for making sure you take your vitamins each day: put them somewhere you can’t miss.
Main image: Freepik