A good habit is one that takes little effort but can have an enormous impact on your life.
Automating your savings, reading, exercising — these are examples of small habits that make a big difference.
At the same time, they’re not hard to do.
My personal belief is that I’m not particularly talented; I’ve just been able to develop good habits in areas that matter.
These habits have compounded over the years.
For example, for around 10 years now, I’ve read a book a week.
I’ve even gone as far as tracking these habits (as well as bad habits) in a spreadsheet.
In every area of your life, there are small habits that can make a big difference.
Below are 100 examples of good habits from my own life and/or backed by research.
You don’t need to start every habit. But chances are there’s one, two or maybe even 15 that can make all the difference in your life.
Let’s dive in…
100 Good Habits That Make A Big Difference In Your Health, Wealth, & Happiness
- Set financial goals. Make your money have a purpose by setting financial goals at least once per year. You can even use an annual financial checklist.
- Revisit your financial goals monthly. Set a time aside at least once a month to track your progress.
- Look at your budget weekly. See how you’re doing, adjust if necessary, and check for any errors.
- Invest the gap. At the end of the month, whatever the difference is between your income and expenses, put it towards your highest financial goal.
- Set up auto-payment for all your bills.
- Ask for a second opinion. Make a habit of asking for a second opinion from someone you trust before a big purchase or investment.
- Treat every dollar the same. Don’t treat money differently depending on where it came from. A dollar will always be a dollar. For example, don’t splurge because you got an end-of-year bonus. Look at that money as the same as the income you received throughout the year.
- Make financial decisions in the morning. Never make a financial decision when you’re tired. Always wait until after a good night’s sleep.
- Review your credit. Check your credit score and credit report, and look for opportunities to increase your score at least twice a year.
- Make your money invincible. Hide money from yourself as much as possible by automating good behaviors. Think 401(K) deductions, automatic IRA withdrawals, and transferring money immediately from your checking to savings.
- Rebalance. Review your investments once a year to see if your asset allocation matches your risk. If you have a 401(K), use a free service like Blooom to analyze your current investments.
- Review fees and payment schedules. Review any bills annually for hidden fees. In other words, can you save money by paying insurance in full? Can you save money buying your own modem as opposed to renting it from your internet provider?
- Review your employer’s benefits package. Employers add benefits all the time. Sit down and read through your entire benefit packet once a year to see if there are any opportunities.
- Always work towards a sign-up bonus. When it comes to travel rewards, my rule of thumb is that I’m always trying to work towards a sign-up bonus. Between my wife and I, that means we apply for around one new personal and one new business card each and every year. The results? Tens of thousands of dollars saved in travel. To learn how to use credit card points for free travel, check out my in-depth guide to travel hacking.
- Increase your savings rate regularly. If you’re in savings mode, set a calendar alert to increase contributions to your 401(K), IRA, or any other investments. A 1% increase every quarter will increase your savings rate by 10% in just 2.5 years.
- Increase your principal payments regularly. If you’re in debt payoff mode, increase the automatic payment amount in small increments monthly. Even $10 a month more will save you a lot of money.
- Wait 30 days on any purchase over $100. Give yourself some time to evaluate your wants and needs. Often, you’ll find that the desire to make the purchase has waned — and you’ll be glad you saved the money.
- Wait one day to make an online purchase. Wait at least one day on any online purchases, in order to help avoid overspending.
- When you do decide to shop online, use Swagbucks. It’s an easy-to-use shopping portal where you can get 2-10% cash-back on your purchases with almost no effort (and yes, it’s totally legit).
- Shop for your insurance. Make it a habit to see if you can find a better rate at least once every other year. (This is often an easy win that can save you hundreds of dollars.)
- Put a subscription on hold. Think of things like premium TV, clothing subscription boxes, and so on. You don’t have to cancel them, but take a break and see if you really miss the product or service. Go back to it if you do. Often, you’ll find you’re just as happy without it.
- Use notifications for gifts. Don’t wait until the last second to buy someone a gift (when it’s easy to overspend). Instead, when you go to put the event in your calendar, set an alert two weeks out to notify you.
- Only buy what’s on your list. This is one of the best ways to save money at the grocery store.
- Scan your receipts. Earn cash-back with Ibotta by taking pictures of your receipts when you’re done shopping. Read our iBotta review to learn how.
- Adhere to maintenance schedules. Following your home, car and appliance maintenance schedules can help you save money in the long run by avoiding costly breakdowns.
- Check Craigslist. Before making any big purchases, check sites like Craigslist.
- Download the Library extension. This extension tells you if a book you’re viewing on Amazon is available from your local library.
- Download Honey. This extension will cycle through available coupon codes to find the maximum savings on your online purchases.
- Get Capital One Shopping. A free browser extension that’s similar to Honey, it will show you whether or not Amazon is currently offering the lowest price on a given item. You can read more about it in our review. Note that you don’t have to be a Capital One cardholder to use it.
- Negotiate subscriptions at least once a year. Negotiate any monthly subscriptions like cell phone, cable, or internet. Or, you can have Trim negotiate for you.
- Compare three quotes. Whenever making a purchase over $100, get at least three different prices.
- Be the planner. Plan ahead of time fun, frugal activities that will fill up your weekend. Here’s a list of fun things to do on the weekend that are either cheap or free.
- Take a survey a day. Using a site like Survey Junkie can earn you a nice little side income.
- Play videos in the background. You can get paid to watch videos while working.
- Write every day. One of the reasons I started this blog is because I love to write. Nothing puts me in a better flow state, and therefore a better mood, than writing. It’s also proven to be a great way to organize my thoughts around a lot of important areas in my own life.
- Write one thank you note a day. This was actually Mark Zuckerberg’s goal a few years back.
- Ask for a raise annually from your employer.
- Look for a higher-paying job at least once every other year.
- Send a weekly recap to your boss, explaining what you accomplished over the past week and opportunities to bring more value to the table.
- Don’t talk bad about coworkers. There are a lot of downsides and absolutely no upsides.
- Schedule time for email. Don’t keep your inbox open all day. Instead, schedule set times to check and respond to email throughout the day.
- Reward yourself whenever you feel like you’ve stretched and grown beyond what you thought was possible.
- Send congrats. Whenever you hear of someone’s success, send them a quick congrats and encouragement for the road ahead.
- Read one article a day. Whatever your #1 career goal is, read an article per day on accomplishing that goal.
- Learn one new skill a year. Develop one new skill per year, which will increase your value to others. Examples include negotiating, persuasion, decision-making, persuasion, design, writing, etc.
- Surround yourself with smart people. Aim to go to at least one event every month where you feel like the least-experienced person in the room.
- Smile whenever you meet someone. First impressions make a big difference.
- Give praise. Don’t let good work go unnoticed. Actively reach out to others to tell them they’re doing a great job.
- End the day on a question. This is a habit I learned from Josh Waitzkin on the Tim Ferriss podcast. In a nutshell, the habit is to ask yourself an important question at the end of the workday and let your subconscious mind think about it until tomorrow.
One of my favorite researchers right now is a man named John Gottman.
His lab has gotten so good that they’re able to predict divorce in a relationship with over 90% accuracy.
He’s transformed what we know today about building a healthy, happy marriage. Here are five habits he recommends (and one of my own).
- Ask how your partner’s day was. Get a sense for how your significant other is doing every day by just this simple question at the end of the day.
- Kiss for six seconds. A daily six-second kiss has been shown to increase emotional and physical intimacy.
- Know the Magic Ratio. For every negative interaction you have with your spouse, have five (or more) positive interactions.
- Have a date night. Plan at least one date night per week.
- Hold state-of-the-union meetings. Have an in-depth conversion at least once per week with your spouse to discuss areas of concern, both personally and as a couple.
- Set a calendar alert for special occasions at least 30 days ahead of time. Special events like anniversaries and birthdays can creep up fast, but they’re worth celebrating; a calendar alert can help you plan ahead and ensure a memorable experience.
As a father, one of the most important skills I’ve been focusing on lately has been parenting.
The aforementioned John Gottman is one expert in this field I turn to, as is Dr. Laura Markham, author of the book Peaceful Parenting. And I’m a big fan of John Medina, author of Brain Rules for Baby.
Here are three small habits I’ve learned from these experts that have helped me become a better parent.
- Schedule 15 minutes with each child. This has a big impact on how each of my kids acts the rest of the day.
- Give 12 Hugs a day. Family therapist Virginia Satir has a great quote: “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
- Say “wow, you really worked hard.” Always compliment their work ethic instead of their talent.
- Plan your day. Take a few minutes in the morning to set your agenda.
- Plan your afternoon. Plans don’t always work. So take a few minutes in the afternoon to look over the agenda you created in the morning and then plan the rest of your day.
- Volunteer your time. One study showed that people who volunteered their time felt like they had more of it, not less.
- Have a “stop working” time. Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage and have a set time you stop working each day.
- Make time-wasters harder to do. However you tend to waste time, make those activities a little harder to do. Spend too much time watching TV? Take the batteries out of the remote. Spend too much time on your phone? Use an app like Freedom that limits the amount of time per day you can spend.
- Start with the hardest task. Start your day by completing the most demanding task; the one that will make the biggest impact on your goals.
- Share your goals with one friend. Ideally, one who will hold you accountable. Then, check in weekly with that friend on your progress.
- Make a distraction list. For one week, every time you change tasks while at work, write it down in a journal. I can’t recommend this enough — although if you’re as prone to distraction as I am, you might find the results disturbing!
- Make a “stop doing” list, which outlines the habits and things you’re not going to do anymore. This is just as important as the things you want to do.
- Write down decisions. Write down every single decision you had to make in a day (it will be a lot). Then, look for ways to eliminate and automate as many of those decisions as possible.
- Track your deep work. Keep track of where, when and how long you perform deep work every day.
- Take a break during your workday and for longer stretches on the weekend.
- Have a shutdown ritual. A shutdown ritual is something I learned from Cal Newport.
- Block notifications from your phone. Only allow urgent messages to show up on your home screen.
- Get outside in the sun as quickly as you can after waking up.
- Have a batch cooking day, where you pre-make meals for the week ahead.
- Drink water. Carry a water bottle with you as much as possible.
- Eat a (vegetable) salad every day.
- Get in daily exercise. Don’t have time? Try the seven-minute workout.
- Do five pull-ups. One habit I learned from Pavel Tsatsouline is to put a pull-up bar in a room in your house. Then, every time you walk through that specific door, you do five pull-ups.
- Drink water first thing in the morning. We wake up dehydrated, so it’s important to rehydrate as quickly as possible.
- Wear blue-light-blocking glasses. When on screens after sunset, wear blue-light-blocking glasses. While my wife does make fun of me, it has a big impact on how I sleep. Here’s the pair I have.
- Use a standing desk. Studies show that sitting all day long cuts lifespan by two years. Get a standing desk. Here’s the one I have for my home office.
- Always take the stairs. Avoid escalators and short elevator rides.
- Stick to a designated bedtime. Have a designated time you go to bed and wake up each day.
- Weigh yourself weekly to avoid letting weight-gain creep up on you.
- Track your steps. Similar to the above, tracking your steps brings consciousness to how active you are.
- Eat honey before bed. A small spoonful of honey before bed has been shown to improve sleep quality.
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon. On average, the half-life of caffeine is five to six hours. That means any caffeine ingested in the afternoon is typically still in your system when it’s time to go to sleep.
- Get 10 minutes of stretching a day. To keep your body feeling good, aim for 10-minutes of stretching a day. Once a year, I try to go through Kelly Starrett’s first 100 videos on YouTube.
- Mediate. There are a number of good studies on the importance of meditation. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference. A few free apps I’ve liked are Oak Meditation and Insight Timer.
- Start a gratitude journal. Write down at least five things you’re thankful for every day.
- Work in a flow state. At least once a day, do something without distraction for at least an hour.
- Have a no-screen day. Take a day off screens at least one day a week.
- Plan a vacation. The anticipation of a trip has a positive impact on your happiness.
- Get sufficient sleep. Get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
- Read at least 10 pages a day from a book you consider to be filled with wisdom.
- Start a decision journal. Whenever you make a big decision in your life, write down in a specific journal the reasons why. This is a great way to improve your decision-making process.
- Breath work. When you need to recharge, practice breath work. Even a minute makes a big difference. Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breath is a great place to start.
- Read one new book a year in each category. For each category of your life (health, finances, career, parenting, relationship, social, spiritual, etc.) read at least one new book a year.
- Say something nice to yourself. Most of the self-talk we give ourselves is negative. Make it a habit to tell yourself something nice. For example, every time you look in the mirror after you go to the bathroom, smile and silently say one thing you love about yourself.
- Do a weekly time budget once a year. Aim for an in-depth budget of how you spend a week in 15-minute increments. This is eye-opening!