10 Good Habits: Little Acts That Make a Difference
"We are that which we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit." —Aristotle
While I wouldn’t agree that we’re defined by our actions since as Christians we find our identities in Christ, I do agree with Aristotle in that excellence isn’t a one-time act, but a continual journey of repeated actions.
We all have habits, both good and bad. Some habits seem to develop on their own without our realizing it, while others are adopted intentionally.
And then there are some habits that seem to be the bane of our existence.
In our journey to excellence, it’s up to us to take control of our habits, and not let them control us. We have to eliminate the bad, and choose the good, heeding Paul’s advice in Titus 2:7: “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works.”
Perhaps you want to develop good habits, but need a little inspiration to get started. Here are some good habits that can help your “pattern of good works” long after your college days are over.
1.) Catalog people.
Networking is invaluable after college. But you don’t have to wait until after graduation to start practicing this vital skill.
Keep a notebook, and whenever you meet someone new that you may come in contact with again, write down that person’s name. Write down where he is from, where you met him, his major or occupation, any of his family or interests that he mentions, and any prayer requests that he might have—anything that will help you remember that person.
I wish I had started this habit before starting college. If I had, I know that I would be able to have longer, stronger conversations with So-And-So and What’s-Her-Face whom I say “hi” to occasionally, but don’t bother to pursue any further interactions because I can’t even remember what class I had with them.
2.) Read current events every day.
Isn’t it annoying to find out about major news—through Facebook? As much as I dislike reading the news, I’d rather keep myself updated rather than learn about thing through Facebook. I’m sure that if I read current events every day, I would probably have more to talk about with my friends at the dinner table, too.
3.) Arrive early—but not idly.
This one has been a personal struggle for years. In the past, I had the good habit of arriving early everywhere (to chapel, to class, to services, to meals, to events, etc.) but I didn’t bring anything with me to work on in the meantime. Now, I always have things to work on—but I don’t arrive early enough to have enough to time to work on them. I can’t seem to synchronize these two habits.
Maybe you’ve mastered them? If not, then try! Being punctual and being a wise manager of your time are admirable qualities.
4.) Reduce screen time at night.
I’m sure many of us are guilty of going to bed and waking up to the glow of our screens. We know that we shouldn’t. But how can we stop?
We must discipline ourselves. We must plan to accomplish the work that needs to be done on our phones and computers at least an hour before bed, say goodnight early, and then find something else to do that doesn’t require staring at a screen. My roommate reads her Bible (a physical Bible, not an app) before turning off her light and going to bed. For others, winding down with a shower and reading some textbook material before bed works well.
Stay productive in whatever you choose to do—but try keeping that productivity away from screens. Your brain will thank you.
5.) Give thanks.
Everyone appreciates a “thank you,” including the Lord.
At the end of the day, reflect on the good and bad things that happened, and think about how you can be thankful for them. Write down three things that are blessings—be specific. A heart of thankfulness is a heart attuned to God’s work in our lives.
6.) Make an agenda for every day.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by 30,000 projects all due within three days, I grab a 4x6 card and outline an agenda for those next few days, allotting blocks of time to each task to be fulfilled. When I accomplish a task, I cross it off. To my surprise, I usually over-estimate the time I need for each task and end up having time to spare.
I’m always amazed by how much I can accomplish when I follow my to-do list. I wish I did it every day—not just when I’m overwhelmed and under a time constraint.
7.) Eat more slowly, consciously.
For years, I have been a slow eater. But recently, I’ve been catching myself in the dreadful act of shoveling food into my mouth at an unseemly fast rate.
Eating slowly can help your digestion and hydration, and also help you feel more satisfied with less food. If you’re in the same predicament as I am, try eating with your left hand. I used to do this, and it was quite effective. Another trick that helped me was to count every time I chewed, and try to chew each bite as many times as possible.
Also, scrolling through Pinterest on my phone while I eat helps slow me down, too—but this I only recommend when you eat alone.
8.) Stay hydrated.
Keeping a water bottle with you and drinking from it throughout the day is a great healthy habit. It’s encouraging to see so many water bottles on campus, already! But some of us think we’re camels, and have yet to take up this habit.
Also, some health apps like MyFitnessPal have an option for tracking water intake that can help motivate us to drink more.
9.) Memorize Scripture—and references.
I admire people who can not only quote Scripture perfectly but also recall the corresponding Scripture reference.
I can’t. I can remember verses I memorized in the 6th grade, but to my shame, I have no idea where those verses are found in the Bible.
It’s a habit I’d like to start: to memorize Scripture and Scripture references and commit them to my memory forever.
10.) Interact with new people.
Our campus is a unique place. You can jump into a conversation with almost anyone and not have to worry about “stranger danger.”
Freshmen generally do a good job taking advantage of this unique aspect of PCC. But as semesters pass, many of us veterans tighten our circle of friends and limit our interaction with people we don’t know.
But we have a privilege, and we should embrace it! Interacting with our peers is a good practice for future interaction in the workplace and in the ministry.
What habits will you implement in your life? Remember, habits don’t define us. But habits can significantly improve our lives and create a framework for productivity!11