First we form our habits, and then our habits form us. What new habits will you choose for your transformation in 2014?
The end of a year is a good time to look at your life to determine what needs to change. As I’ve learned from my friend Dr. Nido Qubein, President of High Point University, bad habits are easy to make and hard to break; good habits are hard to make and easy to break.
What habits might you need to change in 2014? Better yet, what habits would most benefit you? I suggest five that are simple, but from personal experience, I know they can transform your life:
1. The Exercise Habit
There are few habits that offer more benefits both physically and psychologically than exercise (learn about the many benefits of exercise here). Even 20-30 minutes of walking each day can go a long way towards improved health, yet the National Cancer institute found that fewer than 5% of American adults get at least 30 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity. And sports physician Jordan Metzl says, “Exercise is the best preventive drug we have.”
Want to shape up for the New Year? Consider starting with these suggestions.
The key is to do something regularly to stay in shape. Look at exercise as an investment in yourself, not a burden. Once you develop this habit, you’ll feel better, have more energy and likely a renewed enthusiasm for life.
2. The Study Habit
After high school or college, many abandon the habit of study because they found it a tedious obligation rather than the chance to expand their intellectual world.
An autodidact is someone who takes responsibility for his or her ongoing self-education. Technology has made it easier than ever to learn faster. To get started, here are 10 things you can do to become an autodidact.
Design your learning program around these two questions:
What do I most need to learn to get better?
What do I most want to learn because I’d enjoy it?
Start with 10-15 minutes of focused study a day and see what happens.
3. The Prayer/Meditation Habit
While an increasing number of Americans don’t identify themselves with a specific religion or denomination, the majority of Americans still believe in God and acknowledge a spiritual component in their lives.
Prayer is very important to me as a follower of Christ (here are some insights on what the bible says about prayer), but I know that people of different faiths and spiritual disciplines consider meditation as vital (this article explains meditation for beginners).
If you are a person of faith, why not increase your emphasis on prayer or meditation in the coming year? Don’t wait until you only have a specific need or request; make them a daily habit.
4. The Reflection Habit
We rarely get insight by accident. Learning from our lives requires we slow down periodically to reflect on what’s happened, why and what we’ve learned. Reflection enables us to extract meaning for our life from our experiences and thoughts.
Here are some helpful ideas on how to reflect on your life. Don’t let the important lessons of your life get lost in the rush.
5. The Creation Habit
In the age of the consumer we’ve forgotten about the process of creation. There are fewer people who make or craft things for a living. Automation and industrialization have made it easy to exchange money for objects. But I think we lose an important aspect of our lives when we aren’t creating.
Whether writing a poem, building a dog house with your kids, playing music or gardening, all these activities fill what I believe is a creative imperative that we all possess. Certainly doing things for others–acts of service–can be considered among the highest forms of creation.
What habits would you add to this short list? And what benefits have you received from the good habits mentioned above?
I wish for you a new year filled with health, happiness and growth.
Happy New Year!