So, you wanna change your life?
I think one of the most powerful things I’ve learned is that changing your life isn’t about making big, important choices. So often we assume improving our life comes from big memorable actions: quitting the job, getting accepted to college, moving somewhere new, starting a business.
But, the truth is, if you really wanna change your life it doesn’t necessarily require one big radical change, but instead requires small, meaningful changes every day. “Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run.”
While there are certainly some big moments that changed my life, looking back I can see it’s the small, little changes and habits I’ve adopted that have made the biggest impact on my life and myself. So, today I want to share 9 little habits I’ve adopted over time that have totally transformed my life. Sure, none are groundbreaking or spectacular, or wow-worthy. But, it’s these little, consistent changes that have allowed me to grow and improve.
1 – Waking Up Earlier
Alright, habit one, I almost hate even saying it because you’re gonna be like “OMG I” M SO TIRED OF HEARING IT.” but yep, it’s waking up earlier.
I know you’ve probably heard 100000 people preach waking up early. It’s like when people say drink more water and it’ll change your life. But the truth is waking up earlier has changed my life and there’s no getting around it so here we are.
I started waking up early in college because I realized it was the only way I could get work done. I just wasn’t someone who worked well late at night. I loved having a little quiet time in the morning to start my day.
As I got older I used these mornings to blog and start making youtube videos while I had a full-time job. Ultimately, that led to me being able to quit my job to work full-time for myself as a blogger and YouTuber.
When I became a mom, these mornings became a key component of my day, allowing me some time to check in with myself, have a little time to myself before starting the day with my babies where I usually had very little time for myself. As a mom, this me time has been so important to my mental and emotional health.
Overall, you can just see how key these mornings have been for me. Being able to get up early and start my day is a little habit, but has led to so many big changes in my life.
2 – Stop Drinking Coffee Right When You Wake Up
Habit number two might surprise you, given my channel name, but I’ve stopped drinking coffee right when I wake up.
I know, I know. But a little while ago I heard something that totally blew my mind and that was that when we wake up our bodies begin producing cortisol and for the first hour of our day it is a peak production time. Now Cortisol is often associated with stress since we create more of it when under stress. But, it also helps regulate our energy and can make you feel more alert.
The reason our bodies produce more cortisol when we’re under stress is that when we’re in a fight/flight situation the cortisol helps to increase our alert-fullness for these situations. (I don’t think alert-fullness is a word, but you know what I mean.) It’s why our body naturally produces it in the morning.
The problem is, caffeine interferes with this natural production of cortisol usually causing it to overproduce.
Anyways, I’m not trying to become a scientist here this is just a little fact I heard and in the article, I heard it in, it said this usually impacts cortisol production throughout the day and leads to the afternoon slump.
Now, I usually struggle from the afternoon slump BAD. Right around 3 pm, I’m in a huge slump. I feel exhausted, want to snack on bad food, and just feel bleh.
When I heard that possibly waiting for the morning cup could impact this. I had to try it. So, for one week I waited one hour to have my morning coffee AND I made sure to have something to eat first. And guys it was amazing.
The afternoon slump seemed to almost disappear. Sometimes I’d still get a little groggy or tired, I mean hello I do have a 2-year-old and infant at home. But, it was SOOOO much less than before and many afternoons I didn’t get the slump at all.
So, yea, sometimes waiting an hour to have my morning cup is hard, but I’ve found it impacts how the rest of my day goes SO much, it’s been so worth it, and such a helpful change!
3 – Eat At Home
OK next up, eating at home. We used to eat SO MUCH more takeout and go out to restaurants so much more. Not only was it killing our budget, but overall I ate way less healthy as well. We eat at home way more than we used to, and I love that it’s helped us slow down and spend more time at home. But truthfully the only reason this is a habit is because I also developed the following two habits:
- Meal planning
- Prepping dinner ahead of time
4 – Meal Planning
Meal Planning. I’ve gotten super good about planning all my meals for the week ahead of time. I write them up on our calendar so I know exactly what we’re having each night. This saves me SO much time and hassle during the week because I always know what’s for dinner. And, it makes planning ahead easy. Not to mention it saves me tons at the grocery store because I don’t end up overspending or having to go back to get more because I didn’t plan. I have way less food waste as well, so overall it’s just a win-win.
If you need some help getting organized with meal planning make sure you check out my meal planning sheets.
5 – Prepping Food Ahead Of Time
The other key to helping us eat at home more is prepping dinners ahead of time. With a toddler and infant, trying to cook dinner at 5 pm is basically impossible. The key for me is prepping it all around lunch. I get as much of dinner ready as I can before 3 pm. Then, when the dinner rush hits, I just have 1-2 steps. I know this isn’t an option for everyone since many of us don’t work from the home.
Another thing I do that could help if this is your case is I usually have one afternoon that’s dedicated to meal prep. So usually Monday or Tuesday I’ll do tons of prep for meals that week, maybe slice the veggies, make any sauces, marinate meats. This way I have even fewer steps the following days when meal time hits.
6 – Never Go To Bed With A Dirty Sink
I’ve shared this habit before and it’s honestly one of the first “little” habits I adopted in my life that changed things so much for me it made me really realize how much little habits can turn into big changes. There’s nothing worst than starting your morning with a dirty sink. So, no matter how tired I am, every night I make sure my kitchen sink is cleaned up.
The reason this habit works so well is that cleaning the sink is a pretty little task. So even if I’m exhausted I can convince myself to take 5-10 minutes to clean it. And every morning, when I wake up it sets my day off SO much better to walk into a clean kitchen ready for the day. And what I love about this habit is it’s a true testament to how little habits can create big change.
This is a habit I adopted probably 4-5 years ago. And it started with just the sink. Then, over time, it really became the whole kitchen, and I found taking the time to tidy the kitchen every night so helpful that now I often do a full tidy of my downstairs before bed every night.
It just took the small habit of cleaning my sink every night to ultimately create the habit where I now tidy a lot before bed every night, and it makes my mornings so much better.
7 – Add Salt To Your Water
I know this one sounds weird but hear me out.
Again I’m not a doctor, very clearly, but I’m just sharing something I learned and how it worked for me.
For so long I worked on increasing my water intake. Everyone touts how important it is to drink more water so I really tried. I was drinking water alllll the time, peeing ALLL the time, and still felt dehydrated. Actually, the weirdest thing was the more water I drank the more thirsty I felt, it was so bizarre.
Then, I heard someone talking about how just plain water doesn’t always hydrate us properly because instead of absorbing into our cells it often just flushes through our bodies without actually entering our cells. Now, there’s a ton of science behind this and along with not being a doctor, I’m def not a scientist so I’m just giving you my cliff notes here.
Basically, by adding some salt to your water (you want a mineral-rich salt like celtic or pink himalayan), it allows your body to better absorb the water into your cells because sodium is an essential electrolyte.
I’ve started having a glass of water with a pinch of celtic salt 2x a day, usually in the morning and afternoon, and then plain water the rest of the time, and I can tell you I feel SO much more hydrated throughout the day. I don’t feel constantly thirsty like I used to and don’t have the issue of drinking more water only to need more and more. Now, I definitely would consider doing some of your own research on this, but for me, it’s been a GAME changer.
8 – Learn To Hit The Reset Button
Learning to hit rest is something I learned in motherhood. You know when you’re having a “bad day.” Like, it seems like everything is going wrong. Your toddler wakes up early, you spill your coffee, the dog tracks in mud, you rip your favorite sweater and while trying to fix it your toddler spills his cheerios all over the floor and that’s all before 8 am?
It’s easy for us to deem the day crap. This is where hitting the reset button comes in. Basically, the idea is that instead of writing off a whole day as bad or hard or unchangeable because of a bad moment (or series of moments), you decide right then—right in the very heat of things—to push the reset button and start over.
Here’s the thing, we tend to wait for a “special time” to restart. We wait until Monday to start a new diet, wait for January 1st to set a new resolution, or say “I’ll start again tomorrow.” The reason people do this is that these are basically very concrete time markers that indicate past vs. present. And looking at time this way, with the distinction of present and past, allows us to disconnect from the past setbacks or failures and say OK that’s behind me that’s over (you know it was yesterday or last week or last year), and so you can then look forward with a new more positive outlook.
But here’s the real trick, you don’t need to wait for one of these concrete time markers to do this. There’s no REAL difference between starting fresh in the morning vs starting fresh right now but our perspective of it.
You literally can start fresh anytime. It does take a little practice. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while now. I find that I can almost immediately hit the refresh button at any point and get that same renewed feeling other people might get from waiting to start fresh tomorrow.
The process goes a little bit like this:
Step one: acknowledge you need a reset. So you might be like “ok, today is going downhill. My toddler threw their breakfast everywhere, I spilled my coffee, I didn’t get to the dishes like I wanted, I didn’t get enough time to work on XYZ,” or whatever. Acknowledge you’re feeling like the day is going downhill or that you’re feeling flustered or in a rut.
Step two: is to start the refresh. So, “OK, my fresh start starts right now. What happened in the past is done. It’s over. I can’t go back and fix it but it has no weight on what’s coming next. Just because all those things happened this morning it doesn’t mean the rest of the day will continue that way. Starting now, it’s a fresh start.”
Like I said, it’s going to take practice to do this. The more you do it the more you’ll find how it can work and the more successful you’ll be at it. A little trick to help as you first start doing this is to pair your reset with some type of feel-good event.
When you first start using the mental reset button, sometimes pairing it with a concrete action can help. Maybe you say, I’m going to run and get a coffee and then do my reset, or I’m going to take a 10-minute walk and then start my reset. Again it helps our brain distinguish past vs present so we can move on and focus on the future.
9 – Be A List Maker
The next habit is becoming an obsessive list maker. I make lists for ALL the things. And, the reason for this is I’m just in a season of my life where I wear A LOT of hats. I’m a mom, wife, homeowner, blogger, YouTuber, and more. There are usually never more than 500 tabs open in my brain at any given moment.
I’ve started making lists for everything that I need to do, no matter how little. The reason is that 99% of the time when I think of something I have to do, I’m not in a position where I can just quickly do it.
So, what used to happen is I’d forget and then a few days later I’d remember again, but not be able to do it… then forget… you see where this is going?
Now, the minute something pops into my head I need to do, I write it down. I’ve started using the ToDoist app recently and I love it because I always have my phone nearby so I can just open it and write down the task. If I have time I can quickly schedule it for a day, or if not I just save it and will schedule out my tasks later when I have time. And you can create subtasks and folders, it’s honestly super simple but also intuitive.
I also love it cause I can use it for brain dumping, which I’ve talked to you guys about before. Like I said sometimes we just have tons of tabs open in our brain and that’s overwhelming. Brain dumping is the process of emptying all those thoughts down onto paper. So whenever I feel overwhelmed like there is too much on my plate, I’ll open Todolist and just brain dump everything I wanna do. Then, once it’s all out of my brain and in front of me as a list, I can schedule it out in a manageable way.
This has helped me SO much to feel less overwhelmed and be more productive with my time.