“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

Habits are more important than your desires, dreams or goals.

I mean think about it: It’s not about what you hope, pray or wish for, but what you do repeatedly day after day that counts.

The problem is that most people are in the habit of doing all the wrong things.

In this week’s article I want to count down the top 50 habits of smart and successful people. This is the first of a five part series and if you implement these awesome habits I promise you they will change your life forever for the better…

50. Yoga

Yoga is one of the greatest habits of all time. I love Yoga and recommend it to everyone.

Unlike weightlifting which is about strength and resistance and often has a ‘no pain no gain’ type of approach, Yoga is about non resistance and letting your body relax into positions and postures without forcing, pushing or resisting anything.

I didn’t start yoga until 2012 but once I did I did 325 days in a row. (I don’t do things by halves). If you’d like to try yoga but find yourself thinking: “I’m not very flexible”, don’t worry about it. When I started Yoga my body was tight, tense and rigid and I was the least flexible person in the class. If not the world. I couldn’t touch my toes and I couldn’t get into half the positions. But slowly I improved and that’s what yoga is there for – to allow your body to reach it’s full potential and to move and perform the way it was meant to.

Benefits of Yoga:

  • It’s addictive, fun and good for you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually
  • It’s gentle and kind on your bones, joints and tendons and takes them through a full range of motion
  • It’s great for relieving tightness and tension in the body
  • It’s a great way to detox, relax and unwind at the end of a long day
  • It’s great for preventing and recovering from injuries
  • It improves your balance, coordination, flexibility, focus and strength
  • It makes you more conscious of the way you walk, move and sit
  • It makes your body smarter and makes you more aware of your breathing, posture, emotions, energy, environment and surroundings
  • It helps you to reach your full physical potential
  • It makes you much better at every other sport (martial arts, pilates, rock climbing, running, swimming etc.) because it makes your body smarter and more flexible

If you would like to try yoga there are many different types:

  • Ashtanga
  • Bikram
  • Hatha
  • Hot
  • Iyenga
  • Kriya
  • Kundalini
  • Vinyasa
  • Yin

If you’re not too sure which Yoga style is best for you I recommend taking a bunch of different Yoga classes to compare them until you find one you like best. Most classes are only one hour long and only cost $20 so what do you have to lose? You can do it before or after work or on a weekend.

Personally my 2 favorite styles of Yoga are: Hot Yoga and Yin Yoga.

Hot Yoga is practiced in an almost sauna like room (40 degree Celsius/104 degree Fahrenheit temperatures), which makes stretching easier because your body is warm and because of the heat you get a good sweat going which allows you to clean out your pores, detoxify your body and it’s also great for your skin.

Yin Yoga is my favorite style of yoga. Yin is a very gentle and meditative style of yoga where you sit in positions for up to 5 minutes and really let go and sink into the position allowing for a much deeper stretch. The thing I love most about Yin is that it gives me the extra time I need for my body to completely let go and relax into the position whereas in many other styles of Yoga the teacher is asking everyone to change positions every 20-30 seconds and that’s when my body is just starting to finally get into the position.

49. Audiobooks and Podcasts

Audiobooks and podcasts are a winning habit. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for over 10 years now and what I love about them is that they don’t add any extra time to your day. You can listen to audiobooks whilst you’re doing you’re driving, walking, commuting to and from work, exercising, shopping, stuck in traffic or anything else.

Audiobooks and podcasts are great for people who don’t have time to read and/or don’t like reading. Instead of having to sit down and read you can go about your day and have someone else read to you and if you make it a habit you can easily listen to a book a week.

I listen to audiobooks and podcasts almost everywhere I go. I have a 60GB Samsung S6 Edge and 80% of it is filled up with audiobooks, interviews and podcasts with just 20% being music. My favorite podcasts are the Joe Rogan podcast, London Real and Tim Ferris’s (critical thinking and personal development). I also love listening to my favorite spiritual teachers: Adyashanti, Gangaji, Jed McKenna, Mooji and Sadhguru.

Believe me: If you’re going for a walk, shopping at the supermarket, stuck in traffic or waiting at the airport for several hours with no one to speak to and nothing to do, having a great audiobook, interview or podcast ready to listen to is a great way to pass the time. Without adding any extra time to your day you can be entertained and educated and take an interesting and educational journey to other times and places.

It doesn’t matter what your interests are, there is an audiobook or podcast available on every subject imaginable for you to listen to. You can listen to actors and athletes, celebrities and comedians, entrepreneurs and CEO’s, inspirational and motivational speakers, personal development and self-help gurus, psychologists, spiritual teachers – anything and everything.

PS: If you want to listen to someone but they haven’t released an audiobook and don’t have a podcast, you can still find interviews and talks you like on YouTube and convert them into MP3s with free online YouTube downloaders. I love doing this. I’m not just doing my shopping or walking through the park, I’m walking through the park listening to Elon Musk, JK Rowling, Oprah, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett etc.

48. Look good

Like it or not: People judge you by the way you look and they treat you better if you look better. People like good looking people. They like sexy people.

I’m amazed at the attention I get and the difference in the way that people treat me when I’m dressed up vs when I dress casual. It’s like I’m two different people.

Benefits of looking good:

  • It’s easier to make friends and to attract the opposite sex
  • When you look good you feel good
  • When you look good you feel confident
  • When you look good people are more receptive to what you have to say which makes influence, persuasion and negotiation a lot easier
  • When you look good the opposite sex is more likely to be attracted to you
  • When you look good you are less likely to get rejected by the opposite sex
  • Employers are more likely to want to hire good looking people

Whilst you don’t have any control over your genetics, you do have control over the way you look and what clothes, colors and shoes you wear.

So do everything you can to look good. Present your best possible side. Wear clothes, colors and shoes that look good on you. Have a nice haircut and take care of your skin, grooming and appearance. You only get one chance at a first impression and you don’t know who you’re going to meet today. If you meet someone you’re attracted to or someone ‘important’ you want to be looking your best.

47. Eat healthy  

Everyone knows the benefits of eating healthy but so few people do.

However the benefits of eating healthy are endless:

  • You will look and feel better
  • You will feel more confident and relaxed and have better moods
  • You will have more energy, power, stamina and strength
  • You will improve your health, fitness and recovery
  • You will gain muscle
  • You will lose body, stomach and facial fat
  • You will sleep better
  • Your thinking will become clearer and sharper
  • You will be able to concentrate and focus for longer
  • Your skin, hair and nails will look and feel great
  • You will reduce the risks of health problems such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke and various other diseases
  • You will live longer and be more productive

So eat healthy. Fruits and vegetables. Chicken and fish. Spirulina. Wheatgrass. Take a multi-vitamin every day. Drink green drinks. Drink WATER. Not coffee. Not coke. Not energy drinks. Not juice. Not milk. WATER.

If you are serious about eating healthy I recommend making it as easy and convenient on yourself as possible. Go to the supermarket and buying lots of healthy foods ahead of time. Most people just eat whatever is around them so if the fridge or pantry is full of healthy foods they’ll eat healthy. If it’s full of unhealthy foods they’ll eat unhealthy. So make eating healthy the path of least resistance. Rid your house of junk foods and have lots of delicious healthy options around including lots of delicious and healthy snacks.

I also think it’s important to look at the reasons people don’t eat healthy…

Why you don’t eat healthy:

  • You’re not in the habit. Healthy or unhealthy, fast food, meat, vegetarian or vegan the body wants what the body is used to. It doesn’t matter what it is. Alcohol, coffee, drugs, fruit or vegetables. If it’s used to fast food and junk food that’s what it wants. If it’s used to fruit and vegetables that’s what it wants. If you’re not used to eating healthy foods you won’t want to eat healthy. But the good news is that you can train your body to want healthy foods even if you love fast food, junk food and sugar. All it takes is discipline and a focused effort. Eating healthy is only difficult in the beginning. Once your body gets used to eating healthy foods it’s actually easier to eat healthy than it is to eat unhealthy because your taste buds have changed and reset.
  • You have the wrong associations. As a kid I loved fast food and junk food (McDonalds, KFC, Pizza etc.) and always had positive associations to it. I also simultaneously had negative associations to eating healthy food and vegetables. In my mind unhealthy food was delicious and tasted good but healthy food was gross so of course I wanted to eat unhealthy food. It wasn’t until I made a conscious effort to eat healthy foods that I developed positive associations to eating healthy and made healthy eating a habit.
  • You don’t know how. Most people are ignorant when it comes to carbs, proteins, fats and healthy eating. I know I was. Apart from drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables, I didn’t really know what was healthy and what was unhealthy.
  • You don’t know where. If the only restaurants you know of are fast food outlets and you don’t know anywhere good to eat healthy of course you’re going to eat unhealthy.
  • It’s not easy. Most people simply do whatever is cheapest, easiest and most convenient. If it’s easier to eat healthy, they’ll eat healthy. If it’s easier to eat unhealthy, they’ll eat unhealthy. Unfortunately in many parts of the world it’s difficult to eat healthy and there aren’t many healthy options. Try going to Las Vegas and eating healthy. It’s almost impossible. Not everywhere has access to a wholefoods or a farmers market. Depending on where you live you might need to make an extra effort to seek out healthy foods.
  • You haven’t experienced it. One of the biggest reasons people don’t eat healthy is because they’ve never experienced just how good their body feels when it’s being fed healthy foods and is running properly. When you eat unhealthy you feel slow, tired, sluggish, grumpy, anxious, aggressive, depressed etc. but to many people they’re used to their body feeling that way and that’s just ‘normal’. They don’t know any different.

How to deal with cravings

If you have a craving for fast foods, junk foods or sugar, I recommend simply eating the bare minimum to kill the craving. So if you have a craving for chocolate, don’t eat a king sized bar, just eat the bare minimum of chocolate to kill the craving like a small candy bar.

PS: It’s OK to eat fast foods/junk foods sometimes (no one eats 100% healthy all the time) but you want the majority of your diet to be healthy. It’s not about what you eat 10% of the time that makes you fat and unhealthy, it’s what you eat 90% of the time.

46. Intermittent fasting

Last year in 2016 I spent 6 months in India and did my very first ever 10 day juice fast at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh.

This was my first fast of any kind. I’d never fasted before and I’d never wanted to. I’ve always loved food and had no desire to give it up.

However the way fasting was described to me made me want to try it…

The benefits of fasting:

  • Alkalizes and re-balances your body
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Detoxing your body
  • Great for your skin and prevents acne
  • Improves cardio, energy and mental clarity (because your body isn’t having to use so much energy to digest food, it frees up your energy for other things)
  • Losing fat on your body, stomach and face. During a fast your body gets its energy not from burning from carbohydrates but from burning fat and converting it into carbohydrates for energy
  • Lowers blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Makes your skin, hair and nails look great
  • Rests your digestive system and gives your body a break
  • Speeds up your metabolism

You can do a 10 day fast like I did, or you can try something called ‘intermittent fasting’ which is like a mini-fast where you give your body 12 hours of digestion time between meals.

How to do intermittent fasting:

  • Eat for 8-12 hours (approx from 7am-7pm)
  • Fast for 12 hours (approx from 7pm-7am) giving your body at least 12 hours of digestion time
  • Don’t eat anything within 4 hours of your bedtime (so if you go to sleep at 11.00 pm, you should have finished eating NO later than 7pm)

In addition to intermittent fasting I also recommend eating foods which are easy to digest.

When you eat heavy meals your body has to work harder to digest the food and it takes up a tremendous amount of your bodies energy (up to 70%). This is why after a large heavy meal you feel tired and sleepy. But by eating smaller meals your body doesn’t have to work as hard which frees up energy for other things such as decision making, problem solving, thinking and getting things done.

Here are some other quick tips to aid digestion:

  • Eat foods which are easiest to digest and are high in water content such as fruit
  • Pay attention to your portion sizes. Don’t give your body too much to digest in any one meal. Try to eat smaller meals, more frequently.
  • Chew your food slowly, and actually enjoy the process of eating. It’s not a race.
  • Drink water between meals as it flushes out toxins in your body.
  • Give your body lots of time between meals to digest the food you have already eaten.
  • Don’t eat anything within 4 hours of bedtime otherwise instead of getting a good night’s sleep, your body has to work hard all night trying to digest the food you have already eaten. If you insist on eating something within 4 hours of your bedtime, eat fruit since it’s easiest for your body to digest.

45. Exercise

Your body needs exercise just like it needs healthy food.

Exercise is a must. It’s great for your confidence, energy levels, health, mood and self-esteem.

The reason most people don’t exercise is not because they’re lazy, but because they haven’t yet found a type of exercise they like.

The key is to do something you enjoy and do it consistently 4 – 5 times a week.

I’ve personally found both Martial Arts (Boxing, Muay-Thai, BJJ and Wrestling) and yoga very enjoyable so I can recommend those, but if you haven’t yet found any form of exercise you like, I recommend trying something you’ve never tried before or have lots of different workout options and switching it up.

Your week could look something like this:

  • Monday – Gym
  • Tuesday – Yoga
  • Wednesday – Crossfit
  • Thursday – Pilates
  • Friday – Running

44. Get a good night’s sleep

Lots of celebrities including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tony Robbins all claim they only need four hours of sleep a night.

Now if you can get by on 4 hours a night that’s great. That will give you around 20 hours a day to pursue your goals and to get stuff done.

But most people I know aren’t like that. I’m not. I NEED 8 hours of sleep. If I get less I’m not as effective and everything tends to go against the grain.

However much sleep you need make sure you get it. Make having a good nights sleep a priority. Don’t try to get by on only a few hours of sleep and expect to be productive and full of energy the next day. Go to bed a few hours before midnight so you wake up early the next day with a fully recharged battery and a full tank of gas.

Benefits of getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Better moods
  • Build muscle/lose fat
  • Feel better and happier the next day
  • Have more energy to think and do
  • Healthier skin
  • Lower anxiety, depression, stress
  • Recharge your battery and give your body and mind a rest
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • You start the day the right way

Here are some tips to getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Go to bed before midnight. Experts say an hour before midnight is worth two hours after midnight.
  • Shop around to find just the right bed, mattress and pillow for you. You might prefer a firmer or softer mattress. Believe me it’s worth the investment. I recently spent a couple of grand on a nice new queen size bed and it puts me into a coma.
  • Have a warm bath or shower before bed
  • Personally, if it’s cold I like to sleep with an electric blanket
  • Read a good book until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer
  • Focus on your heartbeat or watch your thoughts until you can’t any longer
  • Listen to Hypnosis, Meditation or an audiobook

43. Meditation

Mediation is probably the single greatest spiritual practice of all time.

Meditation is life changing. It is one of best things ever physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually. It is powerful, transformative, and life changing.

Benefits of meditation:

  • Meditation makes you more conscious and aware of everything.
    • Yourself
    • Other people
    • The world around you
  • Meditation allows you to see and perceive more clearly. Meditation quietens the mind and allows you to see things more clearly. It reveals blind spots and makes many things obvious that weren’t easy or even possible to see when your mind was busy. The more you meditate, the clearer your mind and your perspective becomes. Some of the deepest and most profound insights and realizations of my life have come to me just sitting or lying down in meditation.
  • Meditation opens your mind. There aren’t a lot of closed minded meditators. A closed mind comes from rigid thinking patterns and from thinking the same thoughts over and over again thousands of times. Meditation however allows you to get some space between you and your mind so that you aren’t so identified with your thoughts. Once you start meditating for long enough you’ll start to perceive ‘your’ thoughts as alien and foreign, and you’ll stop identifying with them as much.
  • Meditation will change your personality for the better. There aren’t too many arrogant, loud mouth, know-it-all meditators. Meditation changes the way you think, feel and act for the better. It makes you calmer, happier, and more peaceful. It makes you more OK and less resistant to ‘what is’. I can tell when someone doesn’t meditate often/at all, because they can’t slow down or stop talking and they get angry and frustrated easily at the smallest things.
  • Meditation decreases anxiety, blood pressure, stress, tension and worry
  • Meditation is good for concentration, creativity, emotional well-being, focus, learning/studying, mood, intuition, mental health and peace of mind
  • Meditation recharges your batteries and gives your body and mind a break
  • Meditation makes food taste better, music sound better and improves your intuition and senses

I recommend making meditation a daily habit for at least 20 minutes a day. You can do it for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night. That might sound like a lot and at first it will probably be incredibly difficult. But the more you persist with it the easier it gets and believe me the benefits are well worth it and you’ll soon want to do it even more.

How to meditate

There are many different ways to meditate and different ways suit different people.

I personally meditate by:

  • Sitting crossed legged with an erect posture and my eyes closed
  • My palms are facing upwards and my thumbs are touching my index fingers

That’s it.

When you meditate…

Do:

  • Let EVERYTHING be EXACTLY as it is
  • Let everyone outside make as much noise as they want to
  • Watch your thoughts come and go and your emotions rise and fall like waves in the ocean
  • Focus on your breath

Don’t:

  • Don’t try to do anything
  • Don’t try to get anything
  • Don’t try to achieve anything
  • Don’t try to get enlightened
  • Don’t attach to or resist anything that arises. Don’t even resist resistance if that comes up. If you feel any resistance to resistance let the inner resistance be there without trying to push it away
  • Don’t judge or label any thoughts good/bad, right/wrong, true/false

42. Inspirational and motivational speakers 

Reading/watching/listening to inspirational/motivational books, blogs, podcasts, seminars, speakers, videos etc. is a winning habit.

I’ve been involved in personal development/self-help since 2001 and believe me it’s a game changer. It’s changed the way I think, act, and live my life for the better.

Spend some time each morning listening to inspirational and motivational speakers like Oprah, Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer because it will put you in the zone and get your mind focused on your goals and what you DO want – not on what you don’t want.

Personal development/self-help speakers can also give you tons of good ideas to improve your life that probably would have never have occurred to you.

41. Written goals 

Everyone has desires, wants and wishes but how many people actually have written goals?

It turns out that only 3% of adults have written goals but those who do are 10X more successful than everyone else.

I spoke in depth about the importance of goal-setting and written goals in my article on The Ultimate Guide to goal-setting and I highly recommend you check it out.

Recap

Let’s do a quick recap:

50. Yoga

49. Audiobooks and podcasts

48. Look good

47. Eat healthy

46. Intermittent fasting

45. Exercise

44. Get a good night’s sleep

43. Meditation

42. Inspirational and motivational speakers

41. Written goals

This is Part 1 of a 5 part series: The Top 50 Habits of all time

Part 2 of this series: Top 50 Habits – Part 2

Part 3 of this series: Top 50 Habits – Part 3

Part 4 of this series: Top 50 Habits – Part 4

Part 5 of this series: Top 50 Habits – Part 5

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Footnote:

Oprah image credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com