1. Stop consuming caffeine
Although people think they perform better on caffeine, the truth is, they really don’t. Actually, we’ve become so dependent on caffeine that we use it to simply get back to our status quo. When we’re off it, we underperform and become incapable.
Isn’t this absurd?
With healthy eating, sleeping and exercise, your body will naturally produce far more and better energy than caffeine could ever provide. Give it up and see what happens. You will probably get withdrawal headaches. But after a few days, you’ll feel amazing.
2. Pray or meditate morning, midday and night
In a recent interview at the Genius Network Mastermind event, Joe Polish asked Tony Robbins what he does to get focused. “Do you meditate? What do you do?” Joe asked.
“I don’t know that I meditate. I don’t know that I want to meditate and think about nothing,” Tony responded, “My goal is clarity.”
Instead of full-on meditation, Tony has a morning routine that includes several breathing exercises and visualization techniques that get him to a state of clarity and focus. For me, I use prayer and pondering (my version of meditation) as the same vehicle.
Whatever your approach, the goal should be clarity and focus. What do you want to be about today?
What few things matter most during the next 24 hours?
I’ve gotten the best results as my morning prayer and meditation are motivational, my afternoon prayer and meditation are strategic and my evening prayer and meditation are evaluative and educational.
3. Read one book per week
Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. It is common for the world’s most successful people to read at least one book per week. They are constantly learning.
I can easily get through one audiobook per week by just listening during my commute to school and while walking on campus. Taking even 15–30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information changes you. It puts you in the zone to perform at your highest.
Over a long enough period of time, you will have read hundreds of books. You’ll be knowledgeable on several topics. You’ll think and see the world differently. You’ll be able to make more connections between different topics.
Reference #19 on this list if you feel you’re “too busy” to read one book per week. There are methods to make this task extremely easy.
4. Write in your journal five minutes per day
This habit will change your life. Your journal will:
- Clear your emotions serving as your personal therapist
- Detail your personal history
- Enhance your creativity
- Ingrain and enhance your learning
- Help you get clarity on the future you want to create
- Accelerate your ability to manifest your goals
- Increase your gratitude
- Improve your writing skills
- Lots more…
Five minutes per day is more than enough. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, recommends writing far less than you want to — only a few sentences or paragraphs at most. This will help you avoid burnout.
5. Marry your best friend
For all the productivity and success advice I’ve read, shaped and marketed for dozens of authors in the last decade, I’ve never really seen someone come out and say: find yourself a spouse who complements and supports you and makes you better. — Ryan Holiday
Research done by economists have found — even after controlling for age, education and other demographics — that married people make 10 to 50 percent more than single people.
Why would this be?
Being married gives you a higher purpose for being productive. You are no longer a lone ranger, but have another person who relies on you.
Marriage also smacks you in the face with what’s really important in life. Sure, hanging out and partying are fun. But too many people get stuck in this phase and miss the meaning that comes from building a life with someone.
You will never find a better personal development seminar or book than marriage. It will highlight all of your flaws and weaknesses, challenging you to become a better person than you ever thought possible.
6. Make a bucket list and actively knock items off
Most people have it backwards — they design their ambitions around their life, rather than designing their life around their ambitions.
What are the things you absolutely must do before you die?
Then design your life around those things. Or as Stephen Covey explained in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end clearly in mind.”
7. Stop consuming refined sugar
If you stop consuming sugar, your brain will radically change. Actually, study after study is showing that refined sugar is worse for our brains than it is for our waistlines. According to Dr. William Coda Martin, refined sugar is nothing more than poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins and minerals.
Again, like caffeine, if you stop eating refined sugar, you will experience some negative withdrawals. But, like any good habit, the effects of this will be seen in the long-run. What would your health be like a year from now (or five) if you were completely refined sugar-free?
8. Fast from all food and caloric beverages 24 hours once per week
One-day (24-hour) food fasts are a popular way to maintain health and vigor. Fasting leverages the self-healing properties of the human body. Radical health improvements occur when the digestive system is given rest and the organs get ample time to repair and heal themselves.
A regular practice of fasting can:
- Improve digestive efficiency
- Increase mental clarity
- Increase physical and mental vigor
- Remove toxins
- Improve vision
- Give a general feeling of well being
Like all the other habits, fasting gets easier with practice. I’ve been fasting for years and it’s one of the best things I have done for my health.
Fasting is also one of the most recognized techniques in religious and spiritual practices. I also use fasting to get spiritual clarity and refinement.
Honestly, I could go on for hours about this one. Give it a try. You’ll never be the same.
9. Fast from the Internet 24 hours once per week
Your body gets an intervention when you fast. Your mind and relationships could use one, too. Unplug yourself from the matrix.
If you haven’t caught on already, human beings are highly addictive creatures. We love our coffee, sugar and Internet. And these things are all great. But our lives can be far more enhanced by using these tools in wisdom.
The purpose of the Internet fast is to reconnect to yourself and your loved ones. So, you probably shouldn’t do it the same day you do your food fast. Because eating is one of the strongest ways to form bonds.
You’ll be blown away by how much more connected you feel to your loved ones when you can give them your undivided attention. It may even feel awkward for a while having a real-life conversation without looking at your phone every three minutes.
10. Stop consuming the news or reading the newspaper
Although the amount of warfare and deaths by human hands are reducing globally, you will not get that message watching televised news or reading the newspaper.
On the contrary, these media outlets have an agenda. Their goal is to appeal to your fears by inflating extreme cases — making them seem normal and commonplace. If they didn’t do so, their viewership would plummet. Which is why Peter Diamandis, one of the world’s experts on entrepreneurship and the future of innovation has said, “I’ve stopped watching TV news. They couldn’t pay me enough money.”
You can get high quality news curated from Google News. When you detox from the toxic filth that is public news, you’ll be startled as your worldview becomes radically more optimistic. There is no objective reality. Instead, we live in perceived realities and are thus responsible for the worldview we adopt.
11. Do something every day that terrifies you
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” — Tim Ferriss
But you don’t have to constantly be battling your fears. Actually, Darren Hardy has said that you can be a coward 99.9305556 percent of the time (to be exact). You only need to be courageous for 20 seconds at a time.
Twenty seconds of fear is all you need. If you courageously confront fear for 20 seconds every single day, before you know it, you’ll be in a different socioeconomic and social situation.
Make that call.
Ask that question.
Pitch that idea.
Post that video.
Whatever it is you feel you want to do—do it. The anticipation of the event is far more painful than the event itself. So just do it and end the inner conflict.
In most cases, your fears are unfounded. As Seth Godin has explained, our comfort zone and our safety zone are not the same thing. It is completely safe to make an uncomfortable phone call. You are not going to die. Don’t equate the two. Recognize that most things outside your comfort zone are completely safe.
12. Do something kind for someone else daily
Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed. Has anyone’s burden been lighter today, because I was willing to share? Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there? — Will L. Thompson (music and text)
If we’re too busy to help other people, we’ve missed the mark. Taking the time to spontaneously — as well as planned — helping other people is one of the greatest joys in life. Helping others opens you up to new sides of yourself. It helps you connect deeper with those you help and humanity in general. It clarifies what really matters in life.
As Thomas Monson has said, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” That would truly be a failure.
13. Go to bed early and rise early
According to countless research studies, people who go to bed and rise early arebetter students. Harvard biologist Christoph Randler found that early sleep/risers are more proactive and are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, which leads to being more successful in business.
Other benefits of going to bed and rising early — backed by research — include:
- Being a better planner
- Being holistically healthier as individuals
- Getting better sleep
- More optimistic, satisfied and conscientious
Waking up early allows you to proactively and consciously design your day. You can start with a morning routine that sets the tone for your whole day. You show self-respect by putting yourself first. In your morning routine, you can pray/meditate, exercise, listen to or read inspiring content and write in your journal. This routine will give you a much stronger buzz than a cup of coffee.
14. Get seven-plus hours of sleep each night
Let’s face it: sleep is just as important as eating and drinking water. Despite this, millions of people do not sleep enough and experience insane problems as a result.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) conducted surveys revealing that at least 40 million Americans suffer from more than 70 different sleep disorders; furthermore, 60 percent of adults, and 69 percent of children, experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.
In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month—with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more.
On the flip side, getting a healthy amount of sleep is linked to:
- Increased memory
- Longer life
- Decreased inflammation
- Increased creativity
- Increased attention and focus
- Decreased fat and increased muscle mass with exercise
- Lower stress
- Decreased dependence on stimulants like caffeine
- Decreased risk of getting into accidents
- Decreased risk of depression
And tons more…Google it.
15. Replace warm showers with cold ones
Why would he do such a thing?
Cold water immersion radically facilitates physical and mental wellness. When practiced regularly, it provides long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that improve the quality of your life. It can also increase weight loss because it boosts your metabolism.
A 2007 research study found that taking cold showers routinely can help treat depression symptoms often more effectively than prescription medications. That’s because cold water triggers a wave of mood-boosting neurochemicals, which make you feel happy.
To me, it increases my willpower and boosts my creativity and inspiration. While standing with the cold water hitting my back, I practice slowing my breathing and calming down. After I’ve chilled out, I feel super happy and inspired. Lots of ideas start flowing and I become way motivated to achieve my goals.
16. Say “No” to people, obligations, requests, and opportunities you’re not interested in from now on
No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no. — Derek Sivers
Your 20 seconds of daily courage will most consistently involve saying “no” to stuff that doesn’t really matter. But how could you possibly say “no” to certain opportunities if you don’t know what you want? You can’t. Like most people, you’ll be seduced by the best thing that comes around. Or, you’ll crumble under other people’s agendas.
But if you know what you want, you’ll have the courage and foresight to pass up even brilliant opportunities — because ultimately they are distractors from your vision. As Jim Collins said in Good to Great, “A ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity.”
17. Say “thank you” every time you’re served by someone
It’s amazing when you meet someone who is expressively and genuinely grateful. It’s amazing because, frankly, it’s rare.
I remember one day while working as a busser of a restaurant as a teenager. Every time I went by a certain table, whether I was refilling waters, bringing food, anything…the kid at the table (no more than 20 years old) graciously said “thank you.” I even heard him from close proximity saying it to all the other employees when they stopped by his table.
This experience had a dramatic impact on me. It was so simple what he was doing. Yet, so beautiful. I instantly loved this person and wanted to serve him even more.
I could tell by how he looked in my eyes when saying “thank you” that he meant it. It came from a place of gratitude and humility.
Interestingly, one study has found that saying “thank you,” facilitated a 66 percent increase in help offered by those serving. Although altruism is the goal, don’t be surprised as your habit of graciously saying “thank you” turns into even more to be thankful for.
18. Say “I love you” three-plus times a day to the most important people in your life
According to neuroscience research, the more you express love (like gratitude), the more other people feel love for you. Sadly, people are taught absurd mindsets about being vulnerable and loving in relationships. Just this morning, my wife and I had to coax and prod our three foster kids to say one nice thing about each other, and to say they loved each other.
It took several minutes for our 8-year-old foster boy to muster the strength to say he loved his sister. Yet, all of our kids constantly berate and belittle each other.
You know the feeling: when you want to say “I love you,” but hold back. What a horrible feeling.
Why do we hesitate to express our love?
Why do we hesitate to connect deeply with others?
This may be strange, but if you tell your friends and family you love them, they’ll be blown away. I once knew a Polynesian missionary who told everyone he loved them. It was clear he was sincere.
I asked him why he did it. What he told me changed my life. “When I tell people I love them, it not only changes them, but it changes me. Simply by saying the words, I feel more love for that person. I’ve been telling people all around me I love them. They feel treasured by me. Those who know me have come to expect it. When I forget to say it, they miss it.”
The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. –Harriet Beecher Stowe
19. Consume 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up
Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. Similarly, Tim Ferriss, in his book, The 4-Hour Body, also recommends 30 grams of protein 30 minutes after waking up.
According to Tim, his father did this and lost 19 pounds in one month.
Protein-rich foods keep you full longer than other foods because they take longer to leave the stomach. Also, protein keeps blood-sugar levels steady, which prevents spikes in hunger.
Eating protein first decreases your white carbohydrate cravings. These are the types of carbs that get you fat. Think bagels, toast and donuts.
Tim makes four recommendations for getting adequate protein in the morning:
- Eat at least 40 percent of your breakfast calories as protein
- Do it with two or three whole eggs (each egg has about 6g protein)
- If you don’t like eggs, use something like turkey bacon, organic pork bacon or sausage or cottage cheese
- Or, you could always do a protein shake with water
For people who avoid dairy, meat and eggs, there are several plant-based proteins. Legumes, greens, nuts and seeds all are rich in protein.
20. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts on 2x speed, your brain will change faster
Listening to audiobooks at normal speed is so three years ago. There is a trend—particularly in Silicon Valley—to listen to audiobooks at 150 or 200 percent called “speed listening.”
In 2010, the tech blog GigaOm suggested “speed-listening to podcasts” as an overall time-saving technique. Software called FasterAudio promises to “cut your audio learning time in half.”
If you want to get hardcore, a particularly useful tool is Overcast—a podcast-playback app with a feature called Smart Speed. Smart Speed isn’t about simply playing audio content at 150 or 200 percent of the standard rate; but actually attempts algorithmically to remove fluff (e.g., dead air, pauses between sentences, intros and outros) that bulks up the play time of audio content.
Use this technique and you’ll be consuming as much information as you once consumed caffeine.
21. Decide where you’ll be in five years and get there in two
How can you achieve your 10-year plan in the next six months? —Peter Thiel
There is always a faster way than you originally conceive. Actually, goal-setting can slow your progress and diminish your potential if you rely too heavily upon it.
In an interview with Success Magazine, Tim Ferriss said that he doesn’t have five or ten year goals. Instead, he works on “experiments” or projects for a six to 12 week period of time. If they do extremely well, the possible doors that could open are endless. Tim would rather play to the best possibilities than get stuck on one track. He says this approach allows him to go drastically farther than he could ever plan for.
22. Remove all non-essentials from your life (start with your closet)
You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything. —Greg McKeown
Most of the possessions you own, you don’t use. Most of the clothes in your closet, you don’t wear. Get rid of them. They are sucking energy from your life. Also, they are dormant value waiting to be exchanged for dollars.
Getting rid of underutilized resources is like injecting motivation and clarity into your bloodstream. While all of that untapped energy gets removed, a new wave of positive energy comes into your life. You can use that energy in more useful and productive ways.
23. Consume a tablespoon of coconut oil once per day
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
Here are 7 reasons you should eat coconut oil every single day:
- It boosts HDL (good) cholesterol and simultaneously blocks LDL (bad) cholesterol buildup
- It has special fats that help you burn more fat, have more energy, and maintain healthy weight
- It fights aging and keeps you looking and feeling young
- It reduces fever and acts as an anti-inflammatory
- It is antibacterial and thus wards off possible illnesses
- It improves memory and cognitive functioning (even for people with Alzheimer’s)
- It can boost testosterone for men and balance healthy hormones level for both men and women
Coconut oil is a healthy alternative to caffeine. Eating a small amount will give you a shot of energy without the side-effects.
24. Buy a juicer and juice a few times per week
Juicing is an incredible way to get loads of vitamins and nutrients from fruits and vegetables. These nutrients can:
- Help protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer and various inflammatory diseases
- Guard against oxidative cellular damage from everyday cellular maintenance and exposure to chemicals and pollution.
There are several approaches you can take to juicing. You can reset your body by doing a three to 10 day juice “cleanse.” Or, you could simply incorporate juice into your regular diet. I do both from time to time.
I always feel enormously better after juicing. Especially when I get lots of intense greens like kale into my system.
25. Choose to have faith in something bigger than yourself, skepticism is easy
In the timeless book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill explains that a fundamental principle of wealth creation is having faith—which he defines as visualization and belief in the attainment of desire.
As he famously said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”
If you don’t believe in your dreams, the chances of them happening are slim to none. But if you can come to fully know the things you seek will occur, the universe will conspire to make it happen.
According to Hill (see page 49 of Think and Grow Rich), here’s how that works:
- “Faith is the starting point of all accumulation of riches!”
- “Faith is the basis of all ‘miracles’ and mysteries that cannot be analyzed by the rules of science!”
- “Faith is the element that transforms the ordinary vibration of thought, created by the finite mind of man, into the spiritual equivalent.”
- “Faith is the only agency through which the cosmic force of Infinite Intelligence can be harnessed and used.”
- “Faith is the element, the ‘chemical’ which, when mixed with prayer, gives one direct communication with Infinite Intelligence.”
Like expressing love, in our culture, many have become uncomfortable with ideas like faith. Yet, to all of the best business minds in recent history, faith was fundamental to their success.