203 Good Daily Habits: The Ultimate List to Build a Great Life
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It's hard work to build multiple good habits into your life. The challenge that many people have is knowing where to start.
That’s why I’ve compiled this list of good habits. 203 good habits, in fact, to inspire and motivate you, and hopefully, encourage you to make some positive changes in your personal life.
I’ve categorized habits to make this page a simple to read and easy to use resource. Peruse this list of good daily habits to find the routines that will change your life!
This list can be used in a variety of ways. You write a few down and try to do them throughout your day.
Many of these items may seem a bit like “common sense” but when you try to combine a few of these that you do not currently do on a routine basis into a daily routine, you may be surprised to see how big of an impact these small good habits can have on your life.
No matter what you decide to do, try to incorporate some of these daily habits in your life. If you want to get results with these routines, then it's best to do them on a daily basis.
What You Will Learn
- Good Wellness Habits
- Good Social Habits
- Good Fitness Habits
- Good Health Habits
- Good Career Habits
- Good Personal Habits and Hobbies
- Good Lifestyle Habits
- Good Keystone Habits
Good Wellness Habits
If you want to be happier…
- Talk with a positive person.
- Express gratitude by writing down three good things that happened to you each day. (This gratitude journal can help you.)
- Laugh – even if you have to force it. The mere action of laughing releases endorphins. If you get stuck, here are 27 funny podcasts you can listen to.
- Get some sun (or a happy light, if it’s a gray day.)
- Move your body (walk, exercise) for 20 minutes or longer. In fact, you can build a great habit by starting a walking routine.
- Walk a dog or pet an animal.
- Ask for a hug from one person a day.
- Call an old friend or relative.
- Invest 30 minutes a day doing a hobby you enjoy and find relaxing. To get started, here are hobbies for men and hobbies for women.
- Buy something new (even something small, like a new type of coffee.)
If you want to manage stress more effectively…
- Breathe deeply for at least two minutes. Focus on your breaths. To learn more, check out these 71 mindfulness exercises.
- Stretch different body parts for ten minutes.
- Listen to something calming and distracting (i.e. music) unrelated to whatever is stressing you out.
- Cuddle (with a lover, friend or even a pet – physical touch is comforting.)
- Detach from the source of stress (excuse yourself from a meeting, take a break from a project, remove yourself from an argument) for a five-minute break.
- Sniff lavender or geranium essential oil (both lower blood pressure.) Here are a few essential oils that can help you reduce anxiety.
- Sit in the sun (outside) for five minutes.
- Paint a picture.
- Talk to a friend for ten minutes, even if just to hear about his or her life.
- Spend ten minutes grooming (nails, bath, hair.)
- Take a nap.
- Chew a piece of gum.
If you want to be more confident…
- List three things you genuinely like about yourself. Read those three things out loud. Do this daily.
- Stand up straight. Let your hands hang naturally at your sides.
- Dress in clothes that flatter you.
- Outline your thoughts/words before you enter an intimidating situation. Being prepared will help you feel more confident. Bring cheat notes if acceptable.
- Refuse to fidget. Instead, go to a private place (car, restroom) where you can stretch and get out the jitters. Then focus on relaxing.
- Pay attention to the other person instead of your own insecurity.
- Repeat a mantra in your head. Here is a list over 1,000 positive affirmations you can add to your daily routine.
- Take a small risk daily. Find something that makes you a little nervous, like talking to strangers, and strive to do it one time every day to build your confidence.
- Ask for compliments from a trusted friend or relative.
If you want to become more spiritually-minded…
- Devote 15 minutes a day to reading a spiritual text (Bible, spiritual book, spiritual workbook.)
- Walk in the woods.
- Perform one thoughtful act of kindness for a stranger.
- Give up one physical pleasure or material possession.
- Join a group of like-minded individuals from whom you can learn and be inspired.
- Look up at the stars.
- Enjoy a sunset or sunrise.
- Write out how a person you encountered that day could enrich your life journey.
If you want to be more mindful…
- Take up meditation. Start with 15 minutes a day. Find a quiet place, set a timer, close your eyes and focus on your breaths.
- Pay attention to the details of now. What color is that butterfly? How does that salad taste? How many shades of green can you see right now?
- Consciously let go of worry or regret. Tell yourself “Future Me will take care of that” or “The past is the past.”
- Focus acutely on an immediate sensation, like how great it feels to be tucked into your comfy bed, or how invigorating that brisk wind is.
- Invest emotionally in a current interaction. How does your friend feel about her problem? What emotions are you feeling right now? What can you do comfort/inspire/rejoice with the person you are with right now?
Good Social Habits
If you want to make a new friend…
- Make a conscious effort to smile — even if you have to fake a smile.
- Make eye contact with someone new.
- Introduce yourself to someone new.
- Ask open-ended questions about this new person’s preferences.
- Talk about common ground issues.
- Find a way to laugh together. Tell a joke, make a self-deprecating statement or engage in an activity that makes you both laugh. Laughter is bonding. And if you're not a naturally funny person, this article can help.
If you want to show you are interested in finding someone to date…
- Invest an extra twenty minutes a day in personal hygiene. Don’t leave home without being showered and groomed.
- Identify a few outfits where you know you look good and wear them whenever you go out.
- Refuse to gripe, complain or talk about anything negative.
- Relax. Roll your shoulders, sit up straight and open your stance. Uncross your arms and let your palms rest open, facing up. All of this sends the vibe that you are confident and approachable.
- Establish and maintain eye contact. Hold the other person’s gaze longer than you usually would, but not so long as to stare.
If you (women) want to be perceived as sexier…
- Show a little skin. Choose your favorite spot (shoulders, legs, arms, decolletage) and wear clothing that shows off that one area.
- Wear red. Try red lipstick, a red shirt, red shoes, red nail polish… studies report that men will think of you as sexier and more attractive.
- Lean closer to him.
- Brush up against him.
- Wear heels.
Wear red. Try red lipstick, a red shirt, red shoes, red nail polish… studies report that men will think of you as sexier and more attractive.
If you (men) want to be perceived as sexier…
- Stand tall (straight posture.)
- Roll your shoulders back.
- Initiate a gentle touch without hesitation. Brush up against her; touch her arm during the conversation. Touch the small of her back as you hold the door open for her.
- Wear slightly dressier clothing than is required in each situation.
If you want to be a better lover…
- Pay attention to how your lover is responding.
- Hold off on eating anything substantial in the two hours before you expect to make love. If you must eat in that time frame, keep it light and easy to digest.
- Engage in prolonged eye contact.
- Set up a sensual environmental. Clean up the bedroom; light candles.
- Get in touch with your playful side. Laugh; relax; have fun.
Good Fitness Habits
If you want to lose weight…
- Reduce your sugar intake.
- Eat six small, healthful meals a day to keep satisfied and on track.
- Eat that first meal within 30 minutes of waking up to jumpstart your metabolism. One thing you can try is to consume a green juice powder first thing in the morning.
- Move your body for ten minutes or longer first thing in the morning. A brisk dog walk or ten minutes of an exercise video is a perfect way to increase your metabolism. Here is a list of 11-morning workout routines you can try from the comfort of your home.
- Work out for a total of an hour a day, five days a week. If you can break that up into two workouts, you will benefit even more (since you will create two spikes in metabolism that day.)
- Drink a glass of water in the morning and before each meal. Here are 3 of the best water filter pitchers to help you do this.
- Fill your plate with vegetables and lean meat; use fat, grains, starch and sugary foods as condiments.
- Replace something white (starch, processed foods) with something green, orange, red or brown (vegetables, protein, lentils) at every meal.
- Try a new physical activity (rock climbing, whitewater rafting, yoga, dance class.)
- Walk your dog (or a neighbor’s dog,
- Park in the furthest parking spot.
If you want to gain muscle…
- Make protein the focus of every meal. We recommend trying one of these five protein powders.
- Perform a set number of squats every morning before work. Increase the number of squats every week.
- Perform a set number of pushups every morning before work. Increase the number of pushups every week.
- Lift a set number of weights each morning before your shower.
If you are new to exercise and want to get fit…
- Commit to an easy form of exercise each day. Increase time spent exercising by five minutes a day until you reach your goal of how long you want to work out daily.
- Write down your exercise goal and actual achievements each day. Increase the intensity of your workouts slowly.
- Take your pulse while exercising. Calculate out your exercise heart rate so you know what zone to shoot for while exercising, and stay in the recommended zone.
- Pay attention to how you feel while exercising. Push yourself to the point where it’s tough, but not miserable, each day.
- Schedule exercise like you would appointments.
If you want to improve in a sport…
- Achieve one micro goal per day. You will need to map out your plan to building up to your final goal, breaking this plan down into daily exercise goals. For example, you may decide to perform specific swimming or running drills. To learn more about this concept, read up on the importance of “deliberate practice” and how it can help you master any skill.
- Check-in with a mentor each day. This can be a workout buddy, a coach or even a check-in through an online forum or service.
- Spend ten minutes a day reviewing (in your head, using visualization) pointers you’ve learned from someone who is better than you. Practice with someone who is better than you once to twice a week.
- Read on a sport-specific forum each day.
- Invest in a book on your sport and read a specific amount of time each day.
Good Health Habits
If you want to fall asleep quickly…
- Do not drink alcohol; instead, drink a cup of herbal tea in that hour before bed. We recommend green tea because it's delicious without too much caffeine.
- Exercise, but not within two hours of bedtime.
- Go to sleep at the same time each night…this is just one of thirteen strategies you can use to get to bed earlier.
- Wake up at the same time every morning (including weekends and holidays.) Here are 13 tips you can use to wake up earlier.
- Dim the lights in that half hour before bed.
- Take three to five milligrams of melatonin a half hour before bed.
- Do not drink caffeine after 2:00 p.m.
- Deliberately visualize something pleasant and calming as you relax in bed.
- Snuggle (with a person or pet) – the rhythmic breathing of another living being will help you relax.
- Tense up all of your muscles, and then relax them, repeatedly, until you feel completely relaxed.
If you want to sleep soundly all night…
- Lower the temperature in your bedroom and use a heavy blanket for warmth.
- Cover (or move) all LED lights in the room.
- Turn on a sound machine (ocean, rain, white noise) for the night.
- Meditate, pray or journal for ten minutes as part of your nightly bedtime routine.
- Keep daily activities out of the bedroom; retire to the bedroom a half hour before bed, using the bedroom for sleeping and bed-related activities.
If you want to eat more healthfully…
- Plan your meals ahead of time. (You can learn how to implement this habit and the others in this section by checking out the book “Weight Loss Mastery: 5 Habits to Shed Belly Fat and Keep it Off for Good“)
- Pack (from home) what you need to eat for each day.
- Eat one piece of fruit or one serving of raw vegetables (carrots, celery, cucumbers) mid morning and mid afternoon.
- Don’t carry money for vending machines. Instead eat a snack you brought from home. (Here are some some low carb snack ideas you can try!) Pretend vending machines don’t exist.
- Pack a healthy snack for the ride home from work. Pretend fast food restaurants don’t exist. Here are 56 healthy snack ideas.
- Shop from the outer rim of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy), avoiding processed foods.
- Split restaurant meals in half. Take half home for later, and only eat half of the meal in the restaurant.
- Ask a friend or coworker to split meals with you when eating out.
- Order meals off the healthy section of the menu. Tell yourself you cannot eat anything on the menu that isn’t listed as healthful.
- Order a child-sized or senior-sized meal off the menu.
If you want to drink healthier beverages…
- Add a slice of lemon or lime to your water. Here is a detailed article on how to increase your daily water intake.
- Replace soda with seltzer water.
- Replace cold sugar-sweetened drinks with iced herbal teas or iced coffee (sans cream and sugar.)
- Replace high fat hot drinks with flavorful hot tea or flavored coffee.
- Replace regular juice with low sugar juices or flavored seltzer waters.
- Avoid cream and sugar.
If you want to rev up your metabolism…
- Drink a glass of (unsweetened) green tea three times a day.
- Exercise vigorously for ten minutes each morning before work.
- Eat within 30 minutes of waking up.
- Eat six small meals throughout the day.
- Sprinkle cayenne pepper or cinnamon on foods and beverages.
- Add ice to cold drinks.
- Exercise in the cold.
If you want to live longer…
- Floss every night before bed.
- Walk for a half-hour every day.
- Hug someone every day.
- Eat something live (fresh fruit or vegetables) every day.
- Try a new healthy recipe every day.
If you want to live longer, eat something live (fresh fruit or vegetables) every day.
If you want to lower your chances of getting cancer…
- Fill your plate with fresh, colorful vegetables one meal per day.
- Drink green tea every day.
- Make it a point to avoid smoke (including second-hand smoke.) This may mean you ask a roommate to smoke outside or you decide it’s time to quit smoking.
- Stop eating fried food.
Good Career Habits
If you want to be more productive at work…
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- Schedule out your day, setting mini goals and milestones throughout the day. Then race against your self-set goals for accomplishing tasks. You can even use the Pomodoro Technique to create focused blocks of time.
- Take a break every hour. Stand up, stretch, use the restroom or get a drink.
- Schedule your toughest task for your most productive time slot (whenever you typically feel your best) of the day.
- Arrive at work fifteen minutes before you are expected each morning.
- Sequester yourself for 45 minutes each day where you can crank uninterrupted on tasks. Consider booking a conference room or putting on noise-canceling earphones and posting a “do not disturb” sign during this time each day.
- Turn off your email for an hour per day.
- Disconnect from social media for chunks of the day. Read this article if you want to learn more about the dangers of social media.
If you want to advance quickly in your career…
- Be sure to speak up at least once in every meeting. You need to be noticed and heard.
- Show up at the office. Beware of work-from-home arrangements. If you are not seen in the office and people don’t know what you are contributing, you run the risk of getting let go (or passed over for promotions.)
- Rehearse presentations in the mirror beforehand. You should also rehearse important statements and arguments ahead of time so you can work out the kinks.
- Dress one step classier than your coworkers.
If you want to start your own business…
- Invest 15 minutes a day on building a portfolio of work samples.
- Carry business cards with you everywhere.
- Introduce yourself to someone new each day. Networking requires meeting a lot of people. Keep an eye out for potentially important connections. Look for potential clients, coworkers, inspiration, resources and financial partners.
- Review your business plan every night before bed.
- Spend 15 minutes each day learning about the business (reading a book, participating on an online forum, or listening to a webinar.)
- Devote 15 minutes each morning to one action item that moves your business forward (write a blog post, comment on a forum, return a phone call, make one cold call.)
If you want to learn new material…
- Read out loud.
- Record yourself reading key points (you need to memorize) out loud. Replay the recording as you rest in bed, right before falling asleep. To learn more, check out this article, title: The Study Plan Schedule That Actually Works!
- Underline or highlight important information.
- Chew mint gum while you study.
- Pinch yourself or hold a bag of ice cubes while memorizing difficult formulas. The physical sensations will stimulate adrenaline production, locking the formula into your memory.
- Create a poem or song to memorize tough material.
- Use pictures (images, drawings, colors) to link definitions to new vocabulary words. For example, draw a picture that symbolizes a definition.
Good Personal Habits and Hobbies
If you want to write a book/poetry collection/screenplay…
- Write 500 words before you go to work every morning.
- Check in with a writing buddy after you finish your morning writing (send your work for critique or just check in as accountability.)
- Read 15 minutes before bed each night (something in your genre.) This is one of the 18 habits that can help you become smarter.
- Devote half of your lunch break to editing your work.
If you want to explore your artistic side…
- Spend ten minutes a day reviewing artistic work that inspires you.
- Keep a journal with you. Make notes of colors, images and textures that catch your eye. Here are a few of our favorite journals.
- Use your camera (phone.) Snap pictures of anything you come across during the day that inspires you.
- De-stress each night by working on your most recent art project for a chunk of time before bed.
- Rummage through your art supply box each day.
- Play or listen to music. Here are 35 motivational and inspirational songs.
- Watch a YouTube video about your field of art.
Good Lifestyle Habits
If you want to be on time…
- Schedule out your entire day, working backward from appointments. (For more on this, read our article on how to be punctual.)
- Leave fifteen minutes before you think you need to for driving appointments.
- Leave five minutes before you think you need to for in-office appointments.
- Schedule in time for bathroom breaks, talking, coffee breaks, and distractions.
- Sandbag (build in time cushions for all estimates)
- Program your phone to give you reminders.
- Map out alternate routes to places you often frequent (to deal with traffic.)
If you want to be more organized…
- Recycle, shred or throw away junk mail on your way back from the mailbox. Don’t let junk mail (or stupid offers you know you won’t use) even touch the counter.
- Pay bills the same day you get them.
- File paid bills immediately after you pay them.
- Return items to their proper places immediately. Tell yourself counter space is sacred space that is not to be defiled.
- Recycle, repurpose, give away or throw away one item every day (until you don’t have any extra clutter left!)
If you want to quit a bad habit…
- Contract with yourself to try something else for ten minutes before giving in to the bad habit. (For more on this, read this 27-step plan on how to break any bad habit.)
- Identify emotions, places, or experiences that trigger you to do the bad habit. Respond to each trigger with a new habit. For example, if you used to bite your nails while driving, wear gloves while driving. If you used to pluck your eyebrows when nervous, pick up a pencil and draw each time you feel nervous.
- Set up “coping kits” that you can use on the spot. Promise yourself you’ll use your coping kit instead of doing the bad habit.
- Set up immediate reward and punishment programs. For example, charge yourself a quarter every time you swear (swear jar.)
If you want to quit smoking…
- Remind yourself that cravings usually lessen if you delay gratification. Tell yourself “All I have to do is wait ten minutes” each time you experience a craving.
- Suck on a mint every time you want to smoke. Make yourself wait until the mint is gone before allowing yourself to decide if you really need to smoke.
- If you usually smoke outside, force yourself to walk around the block twice before allowing yourself to decide if you really need to smoke.
- If you have certain places you used to smoke, find replacements for those places. Establish new habits, for example, going to a restaurant where smoking is not permitted for lunch each day, or buying coffee in the office instead of walking somewhere (if you used to smoke while getting coffee down the street.)
If you want to drink less alcohol…
- Make yourself drink a full glass of water before you indulge in each serving of alcohol.
- In social situations, set a number of conversations per drink. For example, you might force yourself to mingle with three guests (three full conversations) before you allow yourself to refresh your drink.
- Alternate club soda and alcoholic drinks.
- If you normally pour yourself a drink right when you get home at night, replace this habit with another habit. Walk the dog, take a shower, do an exercise video, or eat a salad before you allow yourself to pour that first drink.
Good Keystone Habits
The following are the most effective keystone habits you can possibly develop. These three can help improve your life in a number of different ways.
If you want to improve in multiple areas at once…
- Walk (or complete some form of exercise) for 30 minutes a day. A daily walk will improve your mood, increase your energy level and will help you manage stress, stay fit and lose weight.
- Replace one main meal per day with a salad or broth-based vegetable or lentil soup. By eating several servings of vegetables per day, you will feel more energetic, lose weight, feel fuller and lower your chances of contracting cancer and many other diseases.
- Schedule at least eight hours (possibly nine – find out what you need) of sleep per night. Getting adequate sleep will improve your mood, give you more energy, make it easier to absorb new material, help you make healthier eating choices and improve your work performance.
Good habits can change your life. You've just read through a pretty massive list of good daily habits that can be developed. Now is the time to take action. You do not need to do EVERYTHING on this list by any means. Just pick one of these habits and make it part of your daily routine!