20 Habits You Must Start Right Now and Be a Better Person

"I'm gonna make a change, it's gonna feel real good!"

No song gets me in as good a mood as Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror. This tune not only packs a motivational punch, but also drives home the point that true change in this world starts with you. (See also: 20 Habits You Must Kick Right Now to Be a Better Person)

So, crank up this MJ classic, start practicing these 20 habits and make that change.


1. Drink 8 Glasses of Water Every Day

You lose plenty of water every day, so to stay on top shape you need to take enough fluids. The eight glasses of water could actually be more or fewer, as long as you reach your daily two-liter goal. If you need some motivation, here is some "water" for thought. (See also: 8 Reasons to Drink More Water)

  • Adequate hydration prevents risks of chronic kidney disease.
  • The more water in your belly, the fewer snacks you will crave.
  • Drinking about 17 ounces of water about two hours before exercise improves your performance.
  • Water helps you manage constipation.

2. Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day

Several health organizations, including the American Heart Association, recommend walking 10,000 steps a day. Walking is one of the simplest ways to keep your weight in check. Buy a simple pedometer for less than $10 on Amazon or score a free one from most health insurance carriers and start accumulating steps by:

  • Skipping lunch at your work desk and leaving the office to eat outside.
  • Having more walking meetings.
  • Taking the stairs.

3. Pick Up a TV Fitness Game

Instead of doing shots every time that your favorite TV character says his catchphrase, start doing squats, pushups, or planks. By turning your favorite TV shows into mini workout sessions you increase the chances of sticking to the "program" (get it?). On top of your favorite shows, you can also watch some high adrenaline shows, such as American Ninja Warrior and Boundless, for inspiration.

4. Make Light of Your Problems

Got anger issues? Use these effective techniques that even a two-year-old can do them.

  • The next time you get frustrated, burst out into singing a silly song, such as Shakes Your Sillies Out.
  • Learn how to take a deep breath with Dr. Oz.
  • Create a scream-free zone: If you yell, others will join you in the yelling, so stop it.
  • Use humor to roll with the punches and brush off troubles.

5. Chase Your Cup of Coffee With a Nap

Here is a hack to make the most out of your next coffee cup.

It takes approximately 15 to 45 minutes for caffeine to reach its peak levels in your bloodstream. Researchers point out that 20 minutes is the sweet spot, so maximize your caffeine rush by taking a 20 minute nap after finishing your cup. You will awaken fresh from both the nap and be ready for action with peak caffeine levels.

6. Take a Hot Bath or Shower At Night

Just like when you were a kid, winding down before bedtime helps your body relax better. Given that your body temperature decreases about two hours before bedtime, taking a hot bath or shower is a great way to maximize this relaxing "cool down" effect and enjoy a better night's sleep.

7. Eat Low Glycemic Snacks Before Working Out

Continuing with the topic of maximizing benefits, here is one for the next time you go for a run or hit the gym. British researches claim that eating low glycemic snacks before working out helps you burn more fat. Skip the candy bar and choose low glycemic snacks such as hummus, nuts, and hard boiled eggs. If you don't have time to grab the right snack, then use this list of portion size for 100+ foods.

8. Wait 30 Minutes Before Brushing Teeth

Most people follow the rule of thumb of brushing their teeth at least twice a day. However, according to the American Dental Association, the timing is also important. Brushing your teeth right before or after eating or drinking something acidic (e.g. orange juice, coffee) or sugary does not only give you a yucky feeling but also weakens your teeth enamel (a protective coat for your chompers). The ADA recommends to wait 30 minutes before or after a meal to brush your teeth so that your mouth's pH has time to balance out.

9. Go Dancing

Getting your groove on has several benefits:

So, pick up a class to learn a new dance, or join a group to show off your moves.


10. Raise Contributions to Retirement Accounts

The clock is ticking. If you haven't started saving for retirement or are saving too little, you need to ramp up. Given that people are living longer and debt levels are on the rise, people need to raise their target retirement savings goals. For example, members of Gen Y are starting to use $2 million as the new goal instead of just $1 million. (See also: 12 Things You Didn't Know About Retirement)

Increase your contributions to your retirement account by:

11. Save for Holiday Spending

Consumer counseling agencies see a 25% increase in people seeking help in the first two of months of every year due to out of control Christmas spending. One of the easiest ways to keep your annual budget in check is to set a spending goal at the beginning of every year, and make a weekly contribution towards that goal throughout the year. This way you will not only prevent credit card debt, but also have less financial stress at the beginning of the next year. (See also: Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today)

12. Get More Freebies

Whoever said that there is no such as a free lunch, surely did not check out our calendar of annual free stuff days. Create a reminder in your agenda or smartphone so that you never miss these freebies year after year. (See also: Never Miss Free Ice Cream Again: Complete Calendar of Annual Free Stuff Days)

13. Shop Groceries Smartly

Don't let groceries be an afterthought. The average American family spends about $6,443 per year on food, which makes the average grocery run about $60. Are you getting the most out of your buck? Make it a habit to:

  • Skip boxed mixes of anything: you save more by buying items individually;
  • Check the clearance shelves for items;
  • Search for alternatives to expensive items (e.g. Pecori Romano and SarVecchio instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese);
  • Find out what times your favorite stores mark down products, especially the meat department.


14. Give More Speeches

The ability to communicate verbally with people is among the top 10 skill employers seek. Public speaking is a skill that is useful, no matter what job you pick up. So, start volunteering more often to give a toast, talk on behalf of your company, present a report to a client, or say grace before a family dinner.

15. Spend Less Time on Your Phone

The more time that you spend on your phone, the more anxious and less happy you feel. Both sensations make you less productive. While going an entire day without your cell make not make feel any better, using it less than usual will help you feel less anxious and more happy.

  • Turn your phone to silent or completely off during meetings so that you can focus better.
  • Leave the phone in your car when heading to a lunch or dinner with clients that you have not seen in a long time.
  • Create an out of office email notice during weekends to reduce the need to check your inbox.
  • Engage in more face-to-face conversations.

16. Listen to Music the Right Way

  • Take advantage of the Mozart effect: lower your blood pressure and calm down by listening to classical music.
  • Boost your workout through power playlists cured by experts on Spotify and Pandora.
  • Have a sharper focus with "chillout music," such as most of Brian Eno's work.

17. Use the Two-Minute Rule

Multitasking can be detrimental to your productivity, except for a single exception. If a brand new task arrives to your desk and you're able to fully finish it in two minutes, then go ahead and do it. The rush of completing an action item so fast gives you a boost to get back on your to-do list for the day.

18. Exploit Your "Golden Hour"

Just like you have a "witching hour," you also have a "golden hour." This is the time that you are at your peak of concentration and are able to tackle the most difficult tasks with the greatest of ease. The great news are that most people have more than just one golden hour. Learn to identify your golden hours and protect them at all costs so that you can get the most done every day.

19. Delegate More

The easiest way to protect your golden hours is to delegate. You don't have to do everything by yourself. Learn to trust others because it makes everybody more productive and builds trust among members of any team.

20. Get Up Early

Productive people get up insanely early. Get a DVR recorder and catch your shows during the weekend. By going early to bed and waking up before the competition, you will be on top of everything and find out that a day has more hours than you think. Join the early bird (and successful!) crowd, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

What are some other good habits that need to be in this list? Please share in comments!

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