Having enormous goals for your life is exhilarating, exciting… and at times, utterly terrifying. If you create daily habits to automate certain aspects of your life, however, you’ll create a sturdy foundation to take risks from. Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty, calls these habits “certainty anchors”. They add a sense of reliability to your day so no matter how many risks you take, your habits will always be there to depend on.

How to Develop Daily Habits

As tempting as it is to try and change more than one habit at a time to reach your goals more quickly, the opposite is true. Doing poorly with one habit will have a domino effect on the habits you’re doing well with. The house of cards will topple over and the level of discouragement you’ll feel will make it that much harder to get back on your feet.

Here’s the habit-building process that’s working for me:

  • Focus on building one habit per month.
  • Don’t give yourself a deadline: Some daily habits will be easier to build than others, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to build the habit, as long as you build it.
  • Commit fully and don’t back down.
  • Go easy on yourself if you stumble. Instead of getting angry with yourself, use it as a learning experience. Figure out what caused you to stumble, deal with any external influences causing you problems, and try again.
  • Each time you hit a milestone—one week, one month, six months, etc.—reward yourself in some way. How is completely up to you.
  • Once you’re able to complete the habit without having to think about it, it’s time to move onto establishing your next habit.

Here are daily habits that will make an immediate difference in your lifestyle and help you reach your goals sans Xanax prescription:

1. Visualize

I used to find it hard to fall asleep until I began visualizing how I wanted the next day to go. Instead of my mind wandering from topic to topic, focusing on what “might” go wrong, I started focusing on what “would” go right. If you not only list in your mind what you’re going to do the next day but visualize yourself doing it, this matter-of-fact planning process helps keep uncertainty at bay (and the next day goes much smoother!).

2. Define Your Priorities

One of the big reasons why you’re not reaching your goals is likely to do with how much you have on your plate, professionally and personally. It’s likely you’re trying to do too many things at the same time. Ask yourself: what are your ultimate goals? Once you’ve defined them, drop everything that doesn’t cater to them. You can always come back to these things later, after you’ve established what’s most important to you.

3. Get Up Earlier

I now get all of my important work done before everyone else is even awake—you would not believe the difference this makes! There’s no better feeling than knowing no matter what happens for the rest of the day, you’ve accomplished what you set out to. Bring on the interruptions and distractions; you’ll be armed and ready!

4. Create a Morning Routine

Wake up and do the same things in the same order before you start your day: have a glass of water, exercise, read, etc. Do things that you normally don’t have time for that make you happy. Easing into your day instead of rushing to get started not only depletes your stress level significantly, but puts you in a proactive frame of mind for the remainder of the day.

5. Drink Water

Having a glass of water first thing in the morning helps rid your body of toxins that have been stored overnight. Not only does it aid your digestive tract, it also boosts your metabolism, helping you feel energized sooner.

6. Singletask

Only 2% of the world’s population can successfully multitask. The rest of us posers are serial-tasking: flitting from one task to another, nudging ourselves forward with each instead of focusing on one at a time. I broke this habit by choosing one item on my to-do list, then hiding it in a drawer until I was done. It’s a tough habit to break, but once you do your mind feels clearer, you feel less restless, and the quality of your work skyrockets across the board.

7. Go Minimal

External clutter leads to mental clutter. Do a clean sweep of your home and get rid of everything you no longer use or have never used. By the end of my own clean sweep last year, it looked like I’d been robbed! There’s no better feeling than knowing you actually need and use everything you’re surrounded by. Bonus: you also save time by not having as much to clean!

8. Set Online Boundaries

It’s too easy to get sucked into an online world of status updates, memes, list posts, and videos. Before you know it, over half your day is gone and you have nothing to show for it. This is especially difficult for those of us who work on the Internet. One of the best daily habits I’ve established is not checking my e-mail or social media accounts first thing in the morning. Create specific windows of time for your online tasks. It’s okay to check your e-mail periodically in case you receive urgent requests from your boss or co-workers, but if you check and there aren’t any, abort and get back to your day.

9. Create an Evening Routine

Your evening routine is just as important as your morning routine, as it prepares your body for a solid night’s sleep. Create a relaxing routine that starts about an hour before you go to bed, and use it as your body’s “signal” that it’s time to go to sleep.

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Featured photo credit: Jump off a cliff with a rope.via Shutterstock

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