“Habits Maketh Man”

Raffles statue, Singapore.

With a new city, country, and career trajectory, and inspired by The Power of Habit and Awaken the Giant Within, I feel like I have the opportunity to create new habits to serve my life, too.  The questions I’ve been asking myself on a more or less weekly basis:

  • How can I be happier every day?
  • What can I do to improve my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health?
  • How can I work better with people?
  • How can I work better with myself?
  • What should I avoid in order to improve my life?

Taking these questions, and then designing my days, has made me realize how crappy some of my former habits were, and how I might need to change around my days to maximize my efficiency.  Things I’ve been working on:

A morning routine:

  • Up at 6:20; coffee with either organic butter or coconut oil; shower, shave; answering my Personal Power questions; 20 minutes of meditation; breakfast scramble with pulled pork, kale, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, and eggs; 30 minutes of working on personal projects; then walking to CodeClan for the day.  My goal is to physically and mentally prepare for the day by getting my mind clear and getting protein and nutrients into my system.

Food Changes: 

  • I’m not consuming sugar or wheat during the week, but I give myself cheat days on the weekends.  The thing is, when I eat ice cream or pizza on the weekends, I end up feeling terrible, so I don’t have much motivation to do so anyway.  Mix that in with running and occasional Krav Maga (I’m injured now but WILL be back) and I’ve gone down two belt sizes.

Practicing Smiling: 

  • A few weeks ago, I was walking to class and kept seeing dour faces on the streets.  I decided to do something I call “practicing smiling”: I walk around and just smile, at buildings, at myself, at other people.  At first, I was really worried about people scowling at me, or asking me “what are you smiling at?” in a menacing way, or somehow being rude.  The reality: I end up smiling for thirty minutes or so before class, and instead of people being rude, I’ve had dozens of people smile back at me, say hello, wave, and just generally be friendly.  Tourists come up to me almost daily to ask me for help and locals strike up conversations while we’re waiting for a light to change.  It’s making me happier, and it seems to be making everyone around me happier, too.  It also sets me up to keep smiling throughout the day.  That’s thirty minutes every morning very well spent, with absolutely no downside that I can see.  (Why was I worried about people being rude?!?)

Daily blogging.  

  • I’m still waiting to see where this takes me, but it’s great to have an outlet to just share ideas that isn’t the short Facebook status updates.  I’m contemplating shutting down my Twitter account, actually, and I’ve already disabled Instagram.  The distractions haven’t been worth the…well, I was going to say rewards, but I don’t think there are rewards to most social media use, honestly.

Weekly email.  

  • Basically, when I check my email – which I’m trying to do infrequently – I delete all the commercial email immediately without checking it.  Then, I will take personal email and use Inbox to push it out of my inbox until either Wednesday or Saturday.  Then, I batch-process email on those days.  My inbox is clear, my stress levels are down, my focus is up, and nobody has complained.

Phone Habits: 

  • I try to make phone calls instead of texting, and I rarely check texts.  I also have my phone on Do Not Disturb all the time, and I keep it in my backpack, not my pocket.  During class, I turn both my phone and my computer to airplane mode so that I can’t access anything but the lessons.  (The temptation of social media and news and any other worthless distraction is too great.)


Sitting up straight.  

  • I did an Alexander Technique course a few years ago, and I’ve been trying to improve my posture since then.  It was originally frustrating to catch myself not sitting or standing “correctly,” but now, I just see it as a habit that I can work on.  If I’m slumping, I just adjust.  I’ve found myself needing to make fewer daily adjustments, and I feel better.

In bed by 10, asleep by 10:30.  

  • This one is VERY difficult to pull off, but I think it’s very worthwhile; getting enough quality sleep has an incredible effect on my awake time.  Also, while I am in awe at the stamina of the other CodeClan students who can go out until 1 a.m. and show up in class the next day still drunk, then manage to get the homework done and play ping pong…well, I’m not that capable.  When I sleep enough, though, I’m pretty much unstoppable.

Pomodoro Technique for working.  

  • 25 minutes of work, then a break.  Repeat.


  • I don’t listen to podcasts when I’m walking through the city, and I often don’t listen to anything when I’m running; I think I need to give my brain time off to just think and relax.  CodeClan is intense enough; I feel much better without constant stimulation at other points.

No caffeine after 12:00.  

Reading 30 minutes a day.  

Daily exercise.  

Keeping my hands out of my pockets, and not crossing my limbs.


  • All of these are growing and evolving.  I’m always experimenting and trying new things, because life is growth.  I’m sure in a few weeks, I’ll have new ideas and insights.  Until then, I’m sitting up straight.


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