A Baby Steps Guide to Enhancing Your Lifestyle

Lose weight. Wake up earlier. Spend more time outdoors. Many of us go our entire lives chasing such lifestyle goals.

Fortunately, recent psychology has taught us why these goals are so elusive, and how to catch them.

What follows are 3 simple tips to add to your arsenal, and a list of 17 lifestyle goals to consider. Godspeed!

Tip 1: New goals are worthless without new routines

Goals feel good. Goals sound good. Unfortunately, creating goals requires zero effort for a reason. Goals aren’t accomplished without actions, and actions don’t regularly happen without routines.

If you haven’t changed your routine, nothing will regularly bring you back to the actions that support your goal, and you will fail.

Think about one of your current lifestyle goals. Is it accompanied by a very specific, routine-based goal?

For example, rather than say “I’m going to lose 10 pounds.” Say “I’m going to do this specific fitness class every Sunday night.”

The difference is small but mighty.

Tip 2: Tweak your environment

Whether we like to admit it or not, our clothing and environments massively influence how we act. Anything from the state of our bedrooms to how we feel in our new shoes send ripple effects through our psyche, affecting our behavior.

Want to work out more? Consider buying a set of nice workout gear. Want to be more reliable? Start by keeping your room clean. Want to spend more time outdoors? Get a new pair of hiking boots.

Tip 3: Consider removing rather than adding

Oftentimes the key to doing X is eliminating the things you choose to do instead of X.

Want to read more often? Stop watching TV. Want to spend more time hanging with friends in person? Deactivate Facebook for a while. Want to go to the gym more? Think about what you do instead of going to the gym, and make those things really hard to do. You’ll be amazed how often the gym is more appealing than staring at a blank wall.

17 Recommended Goals

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas in line with the principles above.

Getting offline

1. Designate one day a week (the same day each week) as “no screens day” at home. No TV, computers or phones

2. Buy a small basket and put it on a counter in your home. Designate this basket your “phone home.” When you get home, put your phone in the basket and don’t remove it unless you need it for something

3. Put a note next to your interior doorway that says “Do I need my phone?” If you don’t actually need it, leave home without it

4. E-mail 1 friend about starting a book club this week

Health and fitness (ish)

5. Revamp your fitness gear. Buy new clothes, running shoes, yoga mat … etc.

6. Rule: Before you leave your bedroom each morning, make your bed and tidy up. This tiny environmental tweak might be just what you need to feel more disciplined

7. Rule: When eating alone, always make your own food (rather than pickup or delivery). It’s nigh impossible to control our diets when we’re with others, so focus on what you eat by yourself

8. Buy a bunch of morning fitness classes and book them. Our willpower is sapped by the evening. This is far more effective than an open membership, where you have the option to never use it

9. Revamp your cooking gear. Buy a nice new pan … etc.

10. Download and experiment with Headspace, a free app that will walk you through learning how to meditate

11. Buy the Five Minute Journal. It asks you a few simple questions each day that will help you stay in tune with what’s important to you

Getting out there

12. Put a recurring reminder on your calendar for every Sunday to e-mail 1 person you need to catch up with

13. Stop using your phone as your alarm, as it’s too easy to snooze. Buy a cheap alarm and set it up on the opposite side of your room

Meaningful connection

14. Rule: Always call people on their birthdays, rather than Facebook post or text. This is a great way to reconnect and is (sadly) becoming a pleasant surprise

15. Deactivate all social media for 1 week of each month. Many of us know someone who has done this. They never regret it

16. Rule: Pick a route that you regularly walk (say, from your car to your office), and give a simple “hello” and a smile to a person each day

17. Address people serving you at counters (e.g., Starbucks) by the name on their name tag

Life is a work of art, and we’re constantly honing our craft. We’ll never be perfect, but if we can take the tiniest of baby steps every day, one day we’ll look back and see that we’ve climbed a mountain. Godspeed!

Photo credits: 1