Do You Practice These 9 Essential Habits?


This post is reblogged and summarized from the Art of Manliness article The Child Is the Father to the Man: 9 Foundational Habits Young Men Should Start Now to Raise Themselves Right

Good habits are hard to make and hard to break. Everyone needs a routine that they can settle into; something that adds purpose to their life and gives it structure. Brett McKay over at Art of Manliness is a big proponent of intentionalism (the art of acting with intentionality, foresight, and planning in order to accomplish your desired goals; as oppose to just flying blind). Recently, he posted about 9 habits men need to start in order to make themselves the men they want to be in the future. I think it applies to women to, so without further ado, here they are.

#1. Save 20% of your money

It’s important to start good habits early. McKay recommends that you start saving 20% of your paycheck as soon as you are earning one. It doesn’t make sense to wait until “after high school” or “after college” because that turns out to be a big regret for many people. Start saving now, and that will help you prepare for the unknown.

#2. Exercise daily

I can’t agree with this one enough. It’s so important to establish an exercise routine so that you can avoid numerous health problems down the road. Along with conquering excessive weight gain and weight related diseases, exercising daily helps you feel better about yourself mentally and emotionally. Get up earlier in the morning to get your workout in, and the rest of the day your body will feel the strenuous effects from your workout. It’s a highly satisfying feeling.

#3. Eat healthy

This may be the hardest of the 9 habits McKay lists. The reason for this is that planning your diet takes a significant chunk of time out of your schedule, and then you have to stick to it. Once you get the planning done, the implementation isn’t so hard, but it does present it’s unique challenges. Of course, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, and this habit is really necessary to living a long and happy life. Better to implement it now than after a serious illness that prompts it.

#4. Plan weekly and daily

I admit to not having implemented this one yet, but I’m getting closer. McKay is a huge fan of this as it’s the core of intentionalism. Basically, the principle is that you sit down and plan out your week and then each day you plan out what you need to get done. McKay has used this extensively, planning his week down to the minute in order to get everything done. I have no doubt that this habit yields great benefits, but I have yet to implement it. Check back with me on that…

#5. Read for pleasure

This one is so key in a digital world, where everything is about speed. I love reading articles, but books have so many benefits that it’s hard to discount this advice. Although he doesn’t say this explicitly, it’s implied that this means physical books. I like that idea, but if you can’t get to a physical book, read a book on your smartphone or tablet device. I just finished “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and have just started another Holmes adventure. Another method I would recommend is listening to audiobooks while driving. I have a lengthy morning and evening drive, so I am currently listening to “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Another good habit along those lines would be to incorporate listening to sermons into your drives. That’s a great benefit for your spiritual life.

#6. Brush and floss

This one seems obvious, but don’t let it slip away from you. Keeping up on your oral hygiene can save you a lot of pain and expense later on in life. If you need convincing, let Owl City instruct you. 

#7. Meditate

McKay is talking about a more abstract kind of meditation that’s focused on relaxing and disciplining your mind. That’s really great, but meditating is actually a very Scriptural practice. Pick a Bible verse and just set aside a few minutes to just think about it. The challenge is actually focusing on what you’re trying to think about, as many distractions are waiting to lure you away.

#8. Journal

Keeping a journal is actually quite fun because you get to look back at what you wrote  years before and laugh at yourself. But in all seriousness, it’s a great practice but hard to make time for. It’s a lot easier to blog nowadays, but there’s something about actually having a book that makes it more worthwhile. This is definitely a habit to seriously consider adopting.

#9. Serve

This is a really great addition to the list. As Christians, we are already called to serve our fellow man, but it is a good reminder that service requires intentionality As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We should take that to heart and adopt a servant attitude towards our God and fellow human beings.

The only habit that I would add is getting up early to do your devotions. It’s so necessary to read the word of God everyday. Jesus is the living water. If we don’t drink, we will die. So read your Bible everyday and be intentional about what you’re reading!


That’s all folks. Be sure to check out the original article over at Art of Manliness!

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