Despite what you see on social media, life for most people is a very toned-down experience.
I know that’s certainly the case for me (and most likely with you too). And quite frankly, that’s the way I like it; I prefer structure in my days—this way of life keeps me centred. As such, I fill my schedule with routines and rituals that balance me out, ensuring I remain sharp and focused in my life.
These are what I refer to as my self-improvement habits.
Although that may be a little misleading, as I consider them more than mere habits, they are a way of life for me at this point. Moreover, they contribute to a fulfilling lifestyle that keeps me engaged, and guess what… they can do the same for you.
So keep reading to learn the 5 self-improvement habits that changed my life.
I began working out every day at the tail-end of 2020.
Since then, I’ve run a couple of marathons, started Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and even travelled through Asia training in martial arts. As a result, I can confidently say that few things have had a bigger impact on me than athletics. Whether it’s running, weight lifting, callisthenics, martial arts, or anything in between, daily physical activity is one of the best self-improvement habits you can adopt.
Why? One of the cornerstones of a high-quality life is health and fitness.
Therefore, if you fall short in this area, everything else becomes compromised. But more than that, an active lifestyle will lead to many benefits, such as:
- Weight management
- Improved cognitive function
- Enhanced emotional and physical well-being
- A stronger body that can stave off disease and illness
- Better heart health
- Reduction in anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions
- Strengthening of your bones and muscles
In my opinion: You are not serious about self-improvement if you don’t make your health a priority. Full stop. And the best way to start is to take up some form of athletic activity and make it a part of lifestyle… forever.
2. Public Speaking
I gave my first speech in March 2017.
It was on the topic of Hip Hop culture at the University of Calgary. Since then, I have given hundreds of talks, most of them based on self-improvement, discipline, healthy habits, high-quality living, etc. Public speaking ranks as one of the most important skills you can learn.
It’s a challenge for most people; however, if you develop this skill, it will more than pay for itself—personally and professionally. Public speaking can help you:
- Develop confidence
- Grow your network
- Bolster your career
- Improve your writing
- Become a critical thinker
- Strengthen your communication skills
- Expand your influence
- And much more
Most people have an irrational fear of public speaking. And that’s one of the main reasons why they will benefit from it the most. However, the truth is once you overcome that initial fear, speaking in front of crowds actually becomes exciting more than anything else.
I began reading daily in July 2017.
This habit was actually the beginning of my self-improvement. It was the first practice I incorporated into my life that stuck. That was nearly 6 years ago, and I have not missed a single day of reading since.
This habit allowed me to build my foundation.
I have read over 130 books (some of them dozens of times) and own a personal library valued at nearly $3000. Needless to say, reading is among the best self-improvement habits I’ve adopted.
How Reading Can Impact Your Life
Here are the effects this discipline has had on my life and what you can expect once you start practicing it consistently:
- Emotional and Mental Stability: Many people associate reading with simply accumulating knowledge. And while that is a benefit, it’s not the only one. Reading offers a sense of stability in life as it is a calming habit. So no matter what you’re dealing with, you know that at the end of the day, you can relax, crack open a good book and get lost in the words on the page.
- Inspiration and Direction: Many books I’ve read have inspired me to move in new directions in my life. Without the influence of certain books, I would not be the man I am today. And the same will happen to you if you begin reading enough. Over time, you’ll resonate with certain ideas, concepts, and beliefs. And naturally, you’ll take them on as your own as you incorporate them into your daily life—it’s an uncanny experience.
- Knowledge and Understanding: And of course, the fundamental reason people read in the first place is to expand their understanding and grow their reserve of knowledge. The more you read, the more you understand and can articulate topics, thoughts, and concepts. This degree of articulation enhances your personality by making you more refined and sophisticated.
4. Cold Showers
I began taking daily cold showers in September 2020.
It started off as a challenge to myself; however, after a period, the burst of adrenaline, the feeling of self-control, and the enhanced productivity I experienced from this practice became too addicting to stop. Two and a half years later, I’m still going strong with this daily ritual.
But here comes the good part…
Cold showers offer many health benefits as well. Many of these advantages more than make up for the shocking discomfort you experience when hopping into that icy receptacle. These benefits include:
- Improved metabolism
- Stronger immune system
- Alleviation of localized pain
- Reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety
- Enhanced focus and concentration
- Improvement in mental health
- Healthier hair and skin
These and many other advantages make cold showers one of my favourite self-improvement habits. I understand if you’re a bit skeptical. But don’t be… the health benefits of this practice are backed by science. Numerous studies have been conducted by prominent researchers, and the results speak for themselves.
Cold showers are a net plus in your personal development journey. There’s a reason why the practice of cold water therapy dates back thousands of years.
5. The One-Two Rule
This one may seem unusual; however, it has proven to be incredibly effective as far as self-improvement habits go. In fact, it can revolutionize your life if you apply it. To illustrate, I have a quick personal story of this rule in action.
I began a daily journal in 2019. Every evening, I would take 5 to 10 minutes to write about my day; this helped me to…
- Clear my thoughts
- Relieve stress
- Keep track of my goals
- Structure my days
- Build my focus and discipline
Soon after, I started writing my first book, which was then followed by my first blog. And in September 2021, a little over two years after starting, I was working as a full-time writer for one of Canada’s top digital marketing agencies.
And this is only one example; there are many more in my life I have of following the one-two rule. But by now, you may be wondering: what is the one-two rule?
The philosophy states that if you choose one skill and practice it every day for a minimum of two years, you will arrive at a professional level of proficiency.
Now, you may not be world-class (yet), but you will be at an impressive level. People will notice, employers will want it, and you will be in a position to make a living doing what you love.
The problem is that it takes time. Most people are looking for a quick fix or magic bullet to rapidly and magically solve their problems. But you need at least two years of daily concentrated effort to see the results of the one-two rule.
And most people are simply not willing to put in that kind of time and effort, even though the time is going to pass anyway.
Final Thoughts on Self-Improvement Habits
The better you become, the better your life becomes. And the best way to improve yourself is to ensure your habits are conducive to a happy healthy life. Because it’s not what you do every now and then that makes a difference in your life, it’s what you do every day on a continual and regular basis.