10 Micro Habits That Will Transform Your Life | Knowledge and joy

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Editor’s Note: While broad, lofty goals have their place, it’s no surprise that some of the most meaningful changes we make in our lives are born of small changes repeated over and over again over time. In today’s post, contributor Megan McCarty shares ten examples of micro-habits that have the power to transform your life.


With each new job, relationship, habit – you name it – I consider learning in small steps. You didn’t jump out of your mother’s womb knowing how to walk, much less run, did you? At first you lay there for months before toppling over, then crawling, then pulling yourself up before staggering a few steps and everyone around you cheering. You got goosebumps on your head and bruised knees, fell down and tripped for years to come, but eventually you got the hang of walking and now you probably take for granted how much easier it makes your life.

The same slow and steady learning process can be applied to these life-changing micro-habits as well. The trick to make a habit to stick with starting now, starting small, and mostly just starting in general.

Here are ten of my proven micro-habits that will make you feel more organized and in control in a wildly unruly world.

1. Ask yourself, “What is the good thing to do?”

When I have the opportunity to wait a few seconds to hold the door open for someone, I do. If I’m able to spend an extra five minutes in savasana, I’ll take it. If my friend has struggled with a difficult pregnancy, I check in. Why? Because it’s the nice thing to do.

Doing the nice thing is not about recognition; it is a many times daily reminder to do the kind thing for both others and yourself, especially when no one is looking. You want to condition your brain to think considerately, no matter how small it is. Remember though: If the “nice” takes advantage of you, your time or your generosity, then it’s not nice to begin with. Know yours borders.

2. Enforce a one minute rule.

Credit to The happiness project author and overall very smart woman, Gretchen Rubin, for this rule of life. It’s easy: If a task takes less than a minute to complete, encourage yourself to do it on the spot. Recycle junk mail, hang up your coat, reply to that text, close the silverware drawer, screw the lid on the peanut butter.

It’s easy: If a task takes less than a minute to complete, encourage yourself to do it on the spot. Recycle junk mail, hang up your coat, reply to that text, close the silverware drawer, screw the lid on the peanut butter.

Most of these everyday tasks only take seconds, but when put together they can quickly feel overwhelming. “I’ll do it tomorrow” turns into another “I’ll do it tomorrow” and then “What’s one more day?” Don’t even think about it. Do it now.

3. Add one more.

Include one more vegetable on your plate. Drink one more glass of water every day. Learn another sentence in Arabic. When they one more become part of your routine, consider adding – you know where this is going – one more.

4. Know how much money you have.

Knowledge is power, even if that knowledge reminds you of how terrible your credit card debt is. To become financially secure and being confident starts with consistently having an accurate idea of ​​how much money is in your accounts. Make it a habit to check into your accounts often, whatever that means to you. When you have a better idea of ​​how much money you have, as well as how much you’re spending, you’ll make more informed decisions whenever you’re tempted to spend frivolously.

Remember – and this is coming from someone with serious money anxiety! – there is a fine line between keeping track of your accounts and obsessing over every penny. I’m the biggest cheerleader for financial literacy, but when the markets crashed this spring, I deleted the shortcut to my financial advisor’s site from my browser and chose blissful ignorance over stress from something I couldn’t do anything about. Understand what you can and cannot control and focus your attention on what you can, such as squirreling away for an emergency fund or not buying that impractical jumpsuit.

5. Write it down.

Do you really think you’ll remember the funny thing your toddler said this morning at noon, much less a few decades from now? And why do we trust our brains that have been through enough lately, to remember exactly what we need at the grocery store to make that Alison Roman recipe?

When that little flag in your head – “I have to remember that” – starts waving, write it down immediately. That could mean quotes, presenting ideas to the hard-to-buy in your life, restaurants you want to visit on your next date night, or anything else you’re likely to forget. Make lists, lists and more lists, either with good old-fashioned pen and paper or in the Notes app on your phone.

6. Organize your calendar – weeks, months and, if applicable, years in advance.

Routinely carving out time to organize your online calendar helps you see important events, such as upcoming bills, birthdays, and events, weeks and months in advance, signaling that you need to prepare.

In my Google Calendar—bless that piece of internet gold—green events indicate when scheduled payments come out of my bank accounts. Four times a year, additional green events remind me to pay my quarterly taxes – two weeks before they are due, giving me room to get my money in order. My yoga instructor’s birthday is noted every December 10th through 2023. There is a work project I need to check in on in the early summer, but I would never remember that on my own; everything work related is color coded corals. I plug oil changes into my calendar weeks before I need them to get them on my radar in case my schedule fills up and I have to push it back.

7. Bring one thing.

My nightstand would be overflowing with a collection of water glasses, tea mugs and kombucha bottles if I didn’t bring one with me every time I made a trip to the kitchen. When you have your hands free, ask yourself, “What can I bring?” Apply this to a specific room, your office, or your car—any area of ​​your life that can quickly become overwhelmed by clutter.

8. Learn to prioritize your future self.

Sounds boring, right? It won’t be boring when you can retire early and lounge on Spanish beaches all day because you’ve made decades of decisions to get there. On the other hand, a lifetime of living in the moment can be self-defeating and set you back in the long run with all kinds of health: physical, mental, relationship, and financial.

Take a micro-moment to consider. What could be the consequences of having unprotected sex with him? I have to drive home – do I need another drink? Do I buy these shoes or contribute to my IRA?

The good news is, sometimes the wild decision is what is best for your future self. Sometimes the frozen pizza at 2 a.m. the future-oriented choice if it helps you from being hungover tomorrow. Learn your perfect and probably ever-changing balance between what you need now and what you will need in the future.

9. Get rejected more.

I was rejected no fewer than four times today. It didn’t feel good per se, but I recovered faster than the last four rejections. What is there to lose? Remember, the worst they can say is anyone the is, is no.

If there is one lesson I repeatedly learn, it is that we must ask for what we want in life. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. But you have to ask.

If there’s one lesson I repeatedly learn, it’s that we have to ask for what we want in life. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. But you have to ask. Whatever it is you want, career-wise or relationship-wise, put yourself out there exposure therapy for rejection, micro-doses of being told “no” over and over again. It will make the occasional “yes” even more satisfying.

10. Use frustrating moments to practice your patience.

We’ve all been there, at the cafe or the bank, behind the seemingly slowest person in the world. In those moments when there’s nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no reason to get upset, I say to myself, “What a perfect time to practice your patience.”

Also apply the phrase to frustrating moments, like when your potty-training toddler has an accident or you’re tempted to write a snarky work email. Take a few breaths. Notice your surroundings. Have some perspective. And yes, practice your patience.

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