These are the top habits that substantially increased the quality of my life:
- Sleeping 8 hours a day, consistently.
- Saving money: I started saving money and, after I set up a good emergency fund in cash, I started investing everything else in a basket of low-commission, index-tracking, ETF funds. The Vanguard 500 ETF is a good starting point. Having money invested and working for me not only had a positive impact on my finances but also on my sleep (see point 1).
- Surrounding myself with people with positive attitude: I ditched fake friends, high maintenance girlfriends, and all other people that actively undermined and ridiculed my efforts. I noticed that a positive attitude from the people around me is essential for my quality of life.
- Stopped shoppingto impress other people (or please them): I noticed this doesn’t work. People are not impressed by your new car or fancy shoes. These fancy things will most probably only trigger envy or other undesirable attitudes towards you. Better avoid the problem altogether and save money instead.
- Stopped watching TV: I sold my TV in 2001 and never bought it ever since. Watching TV now seems ridiculous given the low quality of the programs, amount of advertising and divisive content promoted 24/7 on most channels.
- Getting an above-average health insurance: accidents happen all the time (more on this on point 11 below) and it is better to be prepared. Having a good health-insurance (ie. not the cheapest you could find) also helps sleeping better at night even if you are perfectly healthy (see point 1 above).
- Learning to cook my own meals. Cooking at home is cheaper and, over time, it will also naturally push you to learn new recipes from different countries (a minimum of curiosity and will to learn is necessary): many of these new recipes that I learnt turned out to be new “classics” at home.
- Learned to do my own taxes. I noticed my accountant was very liberal with the amount of taxes I had to pay (with my money, not his) so I learnt how to do my own taxes. This allowed me to find costly mistakes in my accountant’s work and find a better one at a later stage.
- Reducing social media. Removed the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest apps from my iPhone: now I can only access them via my desktop computer or iPad (and automatically reduced my time wasted on Social Media by at least 90%). I notice that the best part is not to have useless, constant notifications on my iPhone (ie. there is a reason why Facebook actually tries to force you to install the App and not use the Safari version of the website). Now I check Facebook/Twitter once a day and I find this more than enough to keep up with the developments in my social circles (ie. mostly cat pictures, memes, pictures of kids, etc.).
- Started reading as many books as possible. I try to read 1 new book a week. I rarely make it, but given that I set up such a high target, in 2017 alone I managed to read 20+ non-fiction books on the most diverse topics, which is already a great improvement from the past.
- Started weight-lifting at the gym. I previously was an active runner. In 2016 I got a serious injury to my knee (torn my left ACL in a ski accident) and had to undergo reconstructive surgery and subsequent 9 month rehabilitation program. This forced me for the first time to train to increase my muscles in other to avoid post-surgery muscle atrophy, and power imbalance between the two legs which would have prevented me to ski again. I hated every single weightlifting session but the improvement in my muscular power, good posture, fat reduction is on another level compared to what I achieved with my moderate running routine.