Positive change rarely happens without effort. It’s usually the result of careful cultivation. So when you’re ready to change your life, you’ll want to develop routines and practices around your goals.
Intentional practices can be the most important part of your day. You can structure your life around useful routines that help you create the reality that you want to experience. It starts with identifying practices that will support your physical, mental, and spiritual flourishing.
Here, I’ve arranged a buffet of practices that have worked for me or people I know. I hope that they serve as seeds to get you thinking about the kinds of practices you might be able to implement in your own life. Take the suggestions that work for you, and notice the changes that come into your life as a result.
For me, meditation is the practice of becoming aware of your thoughts.
Meditation grows your awareness that you are not your thoughts so that you can create space between yourself and the things that you think.
There’s an element of acceptance involved. In meditation, you may allow certain thoughts to come through you that you wouldn’t have expected. You can then witness those thoughts and be with them.
Also, you can observe the sensations in your body and determine how the sensations generate your thoughts or the thoughts create your sensations.
Meditation is an opportunity to witness and explore your sensations, your emotions, and your thought processes. You can listen to what’s going on inside yourself and use that awareness to contribute to greater resourcefulness throughout your day.
#2) Free Writing
As part of your meditation practice, you could incorporate free writing. This is an idea that comes from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
In free writing, you sit down and write about three pages of content every day. The format doesn’t matter. It’s simply stream-of-consciousness writing in which you dump the thoughts in your brain outside of yourself. You’re getting them out of your head and onto the page.
Free writing can inspire creativity. It opens your channel to allow something larger than your ego to flow through. The creativity you unlock can be useful in business and life.
I see breath as this amazing thing that stands in the intersection between the past and the future. There’s the breath we’re letting go of and the breath that’s about to come. And so, for me, breathwork is both a physical practice and a spiritual one.
Anytime I notice tension in my body, including the beginning seeds of nervousness or anxiety, I take that as a cue to take a big, deep breath. I call this Breath to Surrender.
It starts with a full exhale to clear out the stale air — think of it as doing a little dusting. And then you take a deep, deep breath, expanding your lungs to their absolute capacity.
Finally, there’s an audible sigh. The sigh helps your diaphragm snap back so that it relaxes very quickly.
I’ll often think about the word “surrender” along with this practice. I find it useful for softening and relaxing and allowing the world to be the way it is.
#4) Night Walking
Some people are morning routine people. They start their mornings with a slate of intentional practices designed to usher them into the day. I am not one of those people.
The night is my time. In particular, I value my routine of night walking. When I’m ready for my nightly walk, I round up the dog, grab my phone and earbuds, and get a little high.
For me, night walking is a keystone practice. A keystone is the stone at the top of an arched doorway. It holds the whole arch together. In a similar way, making that one decision to walk leads to an array of other practices that contribute to my becoming who I want to become.
As I walk, I can listen to podcasts or books to inspire my coaching practice or my creative endeavors. I can stop and do Tai Chi on a bridge in the woods, or I can stretch on a nearby playground. If I have my affirmation beads with me, I can run 108 reps of those.
I make this one decision to take a walk, and then I benefit from the constellation of activities that go along with it. It’s been life-changing for me.
If I didn’t have this practice, I wouldn’t have the business I have right now. I wouldn’t have the life I have right now. This is my source of becoming better at every aspect of my life.
I encourage people to find keystone habits for their own lives. I recommend a physical practice of some sort because that leaves your mind open to other things, and I think that’s an important part of this. When I’m on a walk, I can think or talk or listen, and I don’t have anything else competing for my mental time.
For you, too, walking, whether at night or during the day, could be your keystone practice. You could also go a different direction with this; other ideas include soaking in a hot tub, taking a bath, or going for a drive.
#5) Posture Checks
Like everyone else, I have to pee every day, so I’ve decided to create an intentional routine that I can run through during that time.
It’s an ergonomics practice in which I check in with my whole body posture. As I stand there over the toilet, I run through the Tai Chi checklist.
Since I pee every day, I can be sure that I’m going to practice my posture checks every day. In fact, I end up doing this routine multiple times each day.
The practice of yoga can be useful for anyone with an active mind. Getting into your body brings your awareness out of your thoughts and into the different ways in which your body is moving.
You can focus on what’s happening in your heart and your limbs, and that may change your thinking for the rest of the day.
Dance is a form of intentional movement paired with music. Through it, you can work through the feelings in your body in a physical way.
Some people pair this activity with weed as a way to open the door to their creativity. Sometimes it brings some anxiety too, but that provides the chance to face the anxiety and tame it — slay the dragon if you will — while in that high state.
That may help reduce a person’s general anxiety and provide a sense of groundedness.
Sometimes there are things going on — thoughts or feelings or circumstances — that don’t seem to align with the reality I want to experience. In those moments, I pause and remember, “It is okay.”
This has sounded like a lot of things to me over the years. Various mantras I’ve used to remind myself of this have included:
- There’s only one of us here.
- Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.
- It’s okay to have this experience. It’s okay to feel like this.
In doing this, I remember that okayness doesn’t happen out there in the world somewhere. It happens within me. And these mantras help me cultivate a practice of things being okay exactly as they are.
When you have a particular trigger toward someone, Byron Katie has a tool that you can use. It’s called the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, and it’s free to download.
You can use that worksheet to get out all the judgments that are going on in your head. Then you can practice self-reflection and look at all the ways you are that thing you’re judging. It helps you take your own advice or develop more compassion for the other person.
This can be a really powerful thing. Instead of believing that someone else needs to show up differently, you’ll learn to show up differently yourself and hold yourself to a higher principle.
#10) Gratitude Practice
Through gratitude practice, you can cultivate your awareness of the things you’re enjoying in your life.
Perhaps that will come in the form of questions that you share back and forth with another person. Ideas include “What was your favorite workout today?” or “What are you liking about this moment?”
Gratitude journaling is another option. That could mean writing a list of all the things you’re grateful for, but it could also involve just keeping track of all the things you’re working on in your life and keeping an eye out for those little moments of progress.
Often, gratitude will naturally flow from this practice of noticing your growth. That gratitude can help you cultivate a more resourceful mindset, even when circumstances in your life might be trying to take you down.
Beginning any of these 10 practices could help you improve your life and create the reality you want to experience.
To learn more, check out the podcast episode I did on this topic with my friend Clayton Olson. As you hear us chat about how we’ve used these practices in our own lives, you may find inspiration for your own daily routines.