20 Simple and Free Habits That Will Change Your Life Today

My father told me I'd never be a model. I'm practicing anyway. :)

My father told me I'd never be a model. I'm practicing anyway. :)

As many of you already know, my sudden transition to plant-based living seemed to catalyze a chain reaction of ambitious goal-setting in my life.

About three months after changing my diet, I felt the sudden and surprising urge to start running (read: I hated running). But somehow I went from barely being able to complete one full mile to training for an ultra in the span of three years, and now I've got my heart set on 2017's Brazos Bend 100 [as a primer to eventually completing Badwater one day, of course].

After completing a difficult program for nurse anesthesia, I've set my sights on paying off my >$100k student loan debt in two years or less, and buried myself in budgets and Dave-Ramsey-esque cash-only envelopes (In 4 months we have paid down >$25,000. It works). 

Then, I read about the US tax code and learned about how people can change the world by combining business with passion. So, here I am, burning the midnight oil learning to write and start a business.

I used to think that maybe it WAS the food; that somehow clean-eating and kale salad after kale salad somehow made me into this person that was suddenly full of energy + willingness to tackle new ideas.

But that's total bullshit.

Veganism has great benefits. But it's not just the food. It was the habits I learned to develop surrounding food. 

Changing small, actionable habits every day will literally change your life. Once I realized that habits were the key, I truly began to understand why some people believe that anything is possible.

No, really. Anything.

Don't believe me? Ask Leo Babauta of the world-famous blog Zen Habits. He's applied the same principle to his life, and man-- it looks pretty great from where he sits.

Or, ask the Iron Cowboy. He completed 50 Iron-Man Distances in 50 states, in 50 days last summer. And everyone told him it was impossible. 

Talk to Josh LaJaunie, who lost 200+ pounds and now runs ultra marathons for fun, all while living in the deep South of Louisiana. His whole family believed that what he did was impossible.

The hardest part about habits is actually doing the work. And that's the overhanging lesson from all of this: stop waiting for the right moment. Stop waiting for Monday, or January 1st, or a move to a new city.

Just start with the next habit.

Here are some of my favorites:

1) Find a like-minded community for each goal you want to set. Interact with them online, attend local meet-ups, or make a phone call once a week. 

2) Understand the problems you want to solve, and consistently write down your motivations for fixing them.

3) Find a source of information about your goal. For me, it's books and podcasts. Listen/read/scroll every day.

4) Write down a check -list of actions to complete, step-by-step. Put this in a place where you'll look at it. 

5) Find out how to motivate yourself. For example: I know that if I spend money on something, I can't let it go to waste. So as a motivating factor in running, I sign up for races in advance (and pay for the plane tickets) to solidify my resolve in training.

6) Keep a gratitude journal. Write down something to be thankful for every day.

7) Meditate in the morning or evening for 5 minutes/day. Use an app. I like Headspace's Take 10 Challenge.

8) Create a budget, and give yourself an allowance. Make two: one for your current spending habits, and one for your aspirational spending habits. Calculate how much money you'll save with the new budget. 

9) Pay for things in cash. 

10) Seek out others who have not only survived a "divine moment", but thrived after the struggle: divorce, new onset of chest pain, a chronic disease now threatening your life, death of a family member, a spiritual revelation, a number on the scale, loss of a job, new-onset depression, or the arrival of a child. 

11) Talk with a real-life mentor or role-model at least once/week in person or over the phone. 

12) Practice holding yourself accountable to your actions and choices without shame or judgement. If you don't run today, don't give up on the whole week. Just start again tomorrow.

13) Have a friend hold you accountable to your actions and goals. Use deadlines.

14) Cultivate self-awareness through exercise at least 3-4x/week. 

15) Cook at home on the weekends. 

16) Make a never-ending bucket list.  

17) Breath. In moments of stress, in moments of pain: bring yourself back to the breath. 

18) Surround yourself with real (or virtual) people that are smarter than you. 

19) Embrace the internet. Embrace free knowledge.

20) Realize that your money, time, and attention are assets companies kill for: be selective about your most valuable commodity. 

I hope you enjoyed my healthy habits. using the principles in the above list, I have gone on to release fear and attempt to face new challenges that I never would have dreamed of tackling before. As Angela of RunLikeKale told me 3.5 years ago: "It's all in your mind".