How you can Change Your Life with Small Habit Changes
We have some terrible habits but getting the whole family on board feels impossible. So I, Ms Aspiring Millionaire, decided to do some for myself.
The idea behind Atomic Habits and The Compound Effect is essentially small changes e.g 1% at a time add up. The same as compound interest makes a real difference over time, so do habit changes and they don’t have to be big.
Too often we set out with the greatest intentions, overhaul our whole life, commit to 2 hours a day at the gym then within a few months we fail miserably. Or we pay ourselves last and never save or invest anything.
But if we make a tiny change and build on it over time, eventually, those small changes make a big difference. The small changes are doable. It doesn’t feel like a burden and it can be applied to every area of our lives.
Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.
1. Pay Yourself 1%
Generally, it is recommended we save at least 10% of our income, if not more. For many, this feels impossible. But what about 1%? If you’re paid $1,000 a week that means only $10 needs to be transferred to savings.
Surely, if you can live on $1,000 you can learn to live on $990? Transfer that 1% immediately and let it grow. As you get comfortable with that, make it 2% or $20, then 3% or $30. Eventually, you will be saving 10% or more.
I read about this in-depth in Profit First. If you are a business owner, Profit First is a must-read.
We adjust the rest of our lives and budget to that missing money. So pay yourself first.
2. Invest 1%
The same as paying yourself first, invest first. Start with 1% and build from there. You can invest as little as 1% on some platforms. Commit to it and soon you will have a larger portfolio than you could imagine right now.
3. Do 5 Minutes of Exercise
It might not seem like much and it won’t make much of a difference in the beginning but you need to start somewhere. Squeeze 5 minutes of intense cardio in, do 10 squats before your shower or when heating something up in the microwave and you will quickly be doing more exercise than you thought.
Ideally, you’d commit to 30 minutes a day to maintain health but you have to start somewhere. Start with 5 minutes if you need then increase to 10 then 15 and so on until you are doing a full workout you want to do.
4. The 5 Second Rule
Mel Robbins is famous for this. Basically, make a decision and count down to make it happen. Instead of laying in bed all morning, countdown from 5, the same way NASA does then get out of bed! She has a whole book on how this can be applied to your life to snap you out of negative thinking and motivate you to make changes.
5. Ditch the Drinks
Whether it’s alcohol, energy drinks or a daily coffee it adds up. Not only financially but it takes it’s toll on your health too.
Go through your bank account and have a look at how much money you spend on drinks you want to reduce or quit. For me, it was a daily energy drink which is terrible for my health. There is literally nothing good in them but I was addicted hard.
To stop this habit, I decided to start transferring the amount I would have spent on the drink to a special savings account every time I resisted buying it. For a long time, I have wanted to buy a new rowing machine. I’ve never owned one and it is my favourite machine in the gym. Ideally, I’d love to have a full gym set up next year.
Once I started transferring the amounts, it added up quickly. That $2 to $5 here and there was $14 to $50 a week! Since I can’t use a rowing machine for a few more months, this gives me time to change this habit and save enough to get something I really want instead of wasting my money on drinks.
If you struggle with addictions, there is help out there. Support groups, counselling etc. For alcohol, check out Alcoholics Anonymous.
6. Create a Morning Routine
Recently, I tried The Billionaire Morning Routine. As a mother of 4, pregnant, juggling business, real estate, studying and doing it on my own while Mr Aspiring Millionaire is in another state studying, it was a little tricky some mornings. However, it taught me a lot.
I used to always have a morning routine and it is recommended by every successful person I know. Getting up at 5am is working well for me. Getting time before the kids get up, doing some yoga, having my vitamins and smoothie, journalling and prepping for the day sets my whole day up.
With time to myself and some organisation, my whole day goes smoother, I am calmer and much more productive.
Check out The Miracle Morning for tips on your morning routine.
7. Get up Earlier
I used to sleep as long as I could because I struggled to get to sleep. A few habit changes and now I rise at 5am before my kids wake at 7am and it is amazing.
Start with getting up 5 minutes earlier and going to bed 5 minutes earlier if you have to.
8. Night Routine
Set up a night routine for success. Switch off devices 1 to 2 hours before bed and do not keep them in your room. Read, shower, brush your teeth and wind down so when you go to bed, you are ready.
I also like to do a ‘brain dump’. This includes writing in my journal, listing 3 things I am grateful for and having a list to dump all my thoughts or things I think I need to do. Getting it out of my head makes sleep much easier for me.
9. Set Your Most Important Tasks
I do this at the end of the day to prepare for the next day. Once I have finished any work or study or whatever it is I have done that day, I make my list of the 3 most important things for me to do the next day.
Having them written out gets it out of my head and means when I finish my morning routine, I am straight into the most important tasks for the day, often completing them before my kids are up which makes life so much easier.
Use an app such as Balance to start meditating. I used to think this was one of those things people say they do to sound cool but it really does help. By meditating I sleep better and think clearer. Often, when meditating of a morning, answers I need come to me later that morning because I have had time to slow down, breathe and think.
What are some small habits you could change for success?
How do Billionaires use Their Time to be so Successful?
A morning routine for me makes a huge difference to my day. When I don’t stick to my routines (which are doable no matter where I am), my mental health suffers.
Recently, I came across the Billionaire Morning Routine. Often, they come across to me as something only men who have a wife at home doing it all can do. Or someone already wealthy enough to afford a nanny/housekeeper to assist in getting kids ready in the morning.
My Situation: Pregnant, 4 kids, Business, Study, Everything…
As a mother of 4, who is also 6 months pregnant, these routines look ambitious. With teens, a 7-year-old stepdaughter who does not live with us, a 9-month-old AND Mr Aspiring Millionaire in another state, barely contactable for 4 months, I have a lot on my plate already.
I also manage all our finances, a couple of businesses, am studying, can’t get my son into childcare yet (on the waitlist) and everything else e.g. visa application, all life paperwork that needs to be done etc.
Having been a single mother of 2 previously, life feels like that again. Mr Aspiring Millionaire is not financially providing, I am. He is also unavailable for emotional support or anything else right now. We barely get to say good morning or good night. So, it is extremely similar to my previous single mother life, only with extra people I have to provide for and extra work to do.
What is the Billionaire Morning Routine?
The Billionaire Morning Routine includes:
Recall your dreams
Make your bed
Drink a large glass of water
Meditate for 20 minutes
1 to 2 mins exercise/movement
A cold shower
Your usual get ready routine
Write your to feel list
Write your to be list
Read for 20 to 30 minutes
Drink a brain food smoothie
Seem like a lot? Some mornings it certainly felt that way. But at the same time, most of these were habits I already tried to implement in my life, not in this order though.
Most morning routines I see consist of people getting up at 4 or 5 am. I’ve never been a morning person per se but I am trying. Since the sun is up around 5 am now, I am waking naturally to it.
Some mornings, my son wakes too. As cute as he is, I do wish he slept those mornings until 6 am to give me an hour.
The key to getting up early is going to bed early too. Switch off screens an hour or two before you plan to go to bed. Have a wind-down routine so when you get to bed, you sleep easily. This is where I fall apart. My night routine is a mess but I am working on it.
Recall Your Dreams
Usually, I have the most vivid, wild dreams friends and family have ever heard. When I was younger I kept a journal to write in when I woke. I haven’t done this for years but now have one sitting on my bedside table.
The reason behind recalling your dreams is because our dreams are our subconscious processing things. Sometimes they can have meaning and help you work things out.
Make Your Bed
Making your bed first thing means you have already achieved something for the day. Another perk is every time you walk into your room it looks tidier and you are less likely to want to crawl back into it.
Ask my parents, this is something I have been hopeless with my whole life. Mr Aspiring Millionaire often didn’t have a bed so rarely made it either. Since my son sleeps in the cot next to the bed, I don’t want to make it and accidentally wake him.
Some mornings when he woke up with me, I did it before heading downstairs. Other mornings, if he was not awake, I did it later when he got up.
Drink a Large Glass of Water
Our bodies are mostly water. Overnight, we sweat and get dehydrated so need to refuel. Drinking a large glass of water is extremely beneficial for overall health and is super quick.
Being pregnant, I am encouraged to drink a glass for myself and a glass for my baby. My preference is to keep 2 glass bottles of water in the fridge (they are 800ml each) plus one with a herbal tea bag, totalling 2.4L I will drink throughout the day, sometimes more.
Plus, I have a separate glass for taking my vitamins. If I am active, I drink more as well.
Gut health is directly linked to overall health. Years ago, I was paralysed on and off for 7 months with level 10 pain. Meaning pain so intense I would blackout. It happened again in early 2017. I know it is connected to stress and gut health.
Vitamins and probiotics help with this. Foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented foods have probiotics which I eat regularly. Taking pills and drinking kombucha also helps increase the probiotics I consume.
For other vitamins, I take Elevit for the pregnancy, along with iron and magnesium because my pregnancies drain that from me. Evening primrose oil and fish oil are two more I take which when I do it properly are great for my hormones and overall mental health.
Talk to your doctor or see a nutritionist or naturopath or other professional for advice before launching into a bunch of vitamins. Get a full blood test done to see what you actually need.
Meditate for 20 Minutes
Meditation clears your mind, helps you focus and often provides unexpected answers. Every single successful person I know practices it. It also helps you stay calmer which makes decision making easier.
This was possibly the hardest part for me to implement. I kept worrying my son would wake up or when he was awake, I couldn’t do it. Meditation is easier for me to do during one of his naps or before I fall asleep.
Personally, when I couldn’t do it, I found as long as I managed at least 5 minutes or did some yoga or EFT, I still saw the benefits.
1 to 2 mins exercise/movement
Get moving. Whether it’s squats and push-ups, a quick yoga stretch or star jumps, do something. Since I live in a 2 storey home, I am going up and down my stairs a few times. I also aim to do squats before my shower every day.
A Cold Shower
So many people struggle with this part. When we were in Vanuatu, we had no hot water. The same for the Solomon Islands. Coldwater doesn’t bother us too much although since being in Australia again, I refused cold showers.
Cold showers wake you up! I found it better than anything to wake me up and get me focused first thing in the morning.
My first morning I did not plan well since I needed to wash my hair, shave my legs etc. Which meant I would switch the cold on, get wet, turn it off, do what I needed, turn it back on and repeat that process.
Whereas when I have hot showers, I let the water keep running as I do it. So this saves money on water as well as helps me wake up and focus.
Your Usual get Ready Routine
Hair, makeup, get dressed, brush teeth, whatever you do to get ready of a morning, do it after your shower.
If I’ve washed my hair, I like to allow it to almost fully dry before finishing it with a dryer and brush to straighten it. So usually, I do half this routine, finish whatever else I am doing then dry my hair quickly before my teenagers go to school.
The process of making tea, if done with loose tea leaves is therapeutic for some people. Since I drink cold herbal tea, I tend to prep that bottle and pop it in the fridge for this step.
Journal your thoughts out, plan your day and focus on what you want in life. Goals don’t happen unless they are written down and acted upon. By writing them down, you are setting your mind to work to make them happen and confirming to yourself daily, this is what you will do.
With the Billionaire Routine, I began journaling morning and night. Nighttime journaling was reflective where as in the morning I was writing about what I will do and the life I want.
Write Your “To Feel” List
How do you want to feel? Happy, confident, productive, calm? Write it down.
Write Your “To Be” List
Along with how you feel and your other journal writing, what do you want to be?
Read for 20 to 30 Minutes
We learn so much when we read. Choose any book and read for at least 20 to 30 minutes. I always have a book with me and read it often. My aim is to read a book a week, always.
Drink a brain food smoothie
Brain food smoothies have berries, non-dairy milk e.g. coconut or almond and other beneficial ingredients such as avocado and spinach.
In mine, I add a scoop of collagen, a teaspoon of cinnamon and sometimes chia seeds too. If adding chia seeds, drink it quickly as they expand.
How Did I Go With the Billionaire Morning Routine?
With mixed results, I persisted for a while. It was not too different to my regular morning routine (when I got to do that) but I wouldn’t do it forever. I truly believe while it was beneficial, creating your own morning routine is more important.
I threw up in the middle of yoga so that was less than ideal. With virtually no morning sickness during my pregnancy, this was unusual for me and I suspect it was simply not enough food, too much water and my vitamins making a bad stomach combination.
Because of that, I cut yoga short and got in the shower. That’s when I realised, I need to wash my hair, shave my legs and usually, I do a full body scrub on that day of the week. So I did it all, despite the cold.
That morning I managed to complete the routine, cold shower and all before my son woke up.
I felt great all day and could see why people do it.
My son decided to wake up at 5 am which meant it took almost 2 hours to complete the routine, combined with taking care of him. I juggled doing the bits I could while feeding, changing and taking care of him.
This morning made me feel only those with a nanny or extra help can truly do this sort of routine. I felt a little defeated but the rest of the day went fairly well.
I was exhausted. Again, my son woke at 5 am and my teens at 6 am. This morning was a mess as so much was going on and my son did not go down for a nap until 10 am. He was clingy, grizzly and when he finally dropped, so did I. I finished the routine at lunch.
A hot mess is how I would describe it today. I was emotional, exhausted and barely got through the day, let alone being able to do the morning routine. I tried but it was a miserable failure today and I felt it by the end of the day.
Part of this would be the fact we returned from a trip only a few days ago and are still trying to settle back into a routine. This means, our sleep is all over the place. My stress levels go through the roof when I don’t get enough sleep, motivation falls off the face of the planet, I eat bad and it’s a vicious cycle because the next day is always worse.
I did not even bother trying the routine this morning. I knew where I was at mentally and since it was my son who woke me, I just tried to get on with things as best I could.
I think this is the reality many mothers face when trying to juggle everything. Some days it simply becomes too much.
On the upside, while I didn’t get the morning routine done, I did finally get a block of time to work and sorted out a lot of other things. Including an evening routine, I know used to work for me.
Again my son was up early making it harder this morning. However, I did what I could then headed out for 4 hours to work without the kids.
This morning, while journaling, I had an epiphany of sorts. It certainly lightened my load and made me see a clear path to obtaining what I want.
Another day where it felt impossible. I gave up trying to get it done in the morning specifically and juggled a lot. The morning routine is not ideal for me but I do find incorporating as much of it as I can into my day is beneficial.
What Will I Keep Doing?
It was an interesting experiment. Overall, I can see the benefits of all of it and when I do have a solid morning routine, I am definitely calmer, happier and a better person. Problems are easier to solve, I feel healthy, I eat better and take care of myself.
However, this morning routine isn’t the one that made me feel or behave at my best. It is similar to my original morning routine and I will definitely adapt my routine having done that.
My Morning Routine
Wake with the sun. Since I don’t work outside the home and I am doing a better evening routine as well, I am asleep earlier in the evening and naturally arising around 5 am.
Recall my dreams in my dream journal which I keep next to my bed now.
Make my bed when my son wakes up. Glance around the room and do a quick tidy of anything if necessary too e.g. take washing downstairs.
Drinking a large glass of water will always be part of my morning routine. I don’t drink coffee so this is my wake up.
Breakfast of either a smoothie or a smoothie bowl or similar. Once I have had this, then I take my vitamins and probiotics. I can’t do it the other way around.
EFT every morning. Even if it’s only a 5 minute one, I will do EFT for whatever I feel inspired to in the morning.
Yoga which I use as part of my meditation. During my yoga I can often visualise the life I want, clear my head and heal from past hurts.
A cold shower I discovered wakes me up so I will continue with this. I live in Noosa, Queensland which is a warm climate. If I lived in a cold climate I don’t know if I could do it.
My usual get ready routine which includes a full dry body brush and 10 squats before my shower. Twice a week a full coffee body scrub. Every day I file my feet and massage moisturiser into my whole body.
Each morning and evening I do a skincare routine, brush my teeth and do my hair and makeup. At some point in the morning, I open all the curtains, windows and doors to allow fresh air and sunlight in. Then I turn on the diffuser to give my house the scent I love.
Journaling every morning including my to feel and to be list. Along with drawing a self-care card for the day to focus on. Adding at least 3 things I am grateful for and 3 things I want to forgive.
Reading I do throughout the day and before I go to bed so I might not continue that in the morning for more than 1 page or 5 minutes.
What does your morning routine look like? Have you tried the Billionaire Morning Routine?
3 Tips for Choosing a Charity/Not For Profit
How do you decide which charities are worth it? It seems so many waste a lot of money on admin costs. There are costs involved in running a charity, obviously, but many of these costs can be reduced in various ways. Many suggest 10% of your income but what you choose to do is up to you.
I’ve been on the board of directors for charities as well as being a marketing manager in others and involved as a volunteer on numerous campaigns to end homelessness and domestic violence. Over time, I’ve chosen to support both with time and money.
Here are my tips to choose which charities to support, how to do it and who I support.
1. Which Causes are Important to you?
Previously, I did a lot around homelessness and domestic violence as I left an abusive relationship and ended up homeless with my two young daughters. As such, I was passionate about both of them. I still do some work but since travelling more and beginning a new relationship, the causes I want to support changed.
2. Review Their Staff, Board and Expenses
How much of the money you donate truly goes to the cause? Check their reports, annual statements and review how they do things. This will give you a good idea of exactly how much of your donation goes to where you want it to vs how much goes to salaries, building and other expenses.
3. Look at How you Can Help
Monetary donations aren’t the only way to help. Depending on how you want to help can also enable you to decide which charity you want to support. For example, some only accept money but others allow you to volunteer or donate goods and services.
Which Charities/Not For Profits do we Support?
Our focus is donating in the South Pacific, particularly Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands as that is where our family is and where Mr Aspiring Millionaire has spent most of his life. We still support a few in Australia at different times too though.
Vanuatu Feminist Library
I came across this library last year and can see the difference it makes in the community there. Vanuatu is quite a patriarchal country, education is expensive and many miss out. To combat this and help women become more educated, the Vanuatu Feminist Library stocks a range of books on numerous topics aimed at women.
If you want to support the library, you can send books to:
Lorna Silas Lekal
Ph: +678 5411525
Po Box 6027 Nambatri Area, Vanuatu
Vanuatu doesn’t have zip or postcodes
Assisting women AND saving the environment is what excites me about Mamma’s Laef (pronounced Mama’s Life). Making cloth pads for women, cloth nappies for babies and masks when needed. Plus they run educational programs including one run by men for men about menstruation.
Menstruation has traditionally been taboo in Vanuatu and many other countries in the South Pacific. Because it is not spoken about, some specific beliefs and traditions around it and the lack of hygienic supplies available on outer islands, women die.
Mamma’s Laef is saving lives, educating people, reducing the waste from disposable products and changing their country. They are also supported by New Zealand. Find all the ways you can help as well as their social media channels here.
We do business loans through Kiva because the money can be loaned again after it is repaid. I’ve been donating through Kiva for years and have found my loans in the South Pacific are repaid the fastest, meaning I can lend even more.
This is slightly different but something that can help others. It is not a Not For Profit though as you will make a profit from it. Plenti is peer to peer lending like Kiva but instead of being focused on countries where lending is difficult, it’s for anyone. You also earn interest on these loans. Get $50 when you join and invest here.
Pack For A Purpose
When we travel, we support Pack For A Purpose where possible. This is where a business in the area will collect supplies for hospitals, schools and other needs in the local community. For example, in the Solomon Islands there are two businesses we support who do this: Dive Munda and Solomon Islands Discovery Cruises.
Both of those businesses also have a strong focus on training local women in diving, hospitality and providing opportunities for youth as well.
How you can Support Not For Profits
Donating money is the most obvious option and usually includes a tax benefit if you donate over $2. Since we typically support not for profits overseas, we don’t get a tax benefit.
Aside from money, here are a few other options:
- Donate what they need. Some charities do call outs for what they need in terms of supplies.
- Share their content. Follow them on social media, like, comment and share their content.
- Participate. If there is a specific walk, run, bike ride, morning tea or event you can participate in, get involved.
How did you choose the causes you would support and how do you support them?
9 Questions to ask Yourself to help you Determine your why so you can Achieve Financial Freedom
Growing up, I thought it was so cool to meet a millionaire or aim to become a millionaire. As I got older, I realised the real goal is financial freedom through various sources of income. Rental properties, businesses and shares quickly became interesting to me.
However, the pursuit of riches is generally an empty one. If you only do what you do to get rich, you will likely lose motivation. Instead, you need to work out why you want to be wealthy, financially free or rich and what that looks like to you.
1. What gets you Going in the Morning?
When you feel really good about the day, what is it that makes you feel good? Is there anything you truly look forward to doing or that lights you up? Make a list of those things.
2. What are Your Core Values?
Aside from basic human needs, we also have core values which drive us. These are things which dictate how we do things, decisions we make and what is important to us.
For me, family first is a big core value and obvious to anyone who meets me. I structured my whole life around my family and am incredibly grateful to come from a large, supportive family. My siblings are my best friends.
3. How do you Want to be Remembered? What Legacy do you Hope to Leave Behind?
When I was a wayward teen, I read about imaging my funeral or 80th birthday and what people would say about me. I wasn’t a terrible kid but knew I wanted to be better.
Sitting down and writing out what I wanted to be remembered for helped define my life purpose and my why for doing what I do. It’s something I have revisited a few times over the years and helped when I was getting clear on my goals for financial freedom.
4. How do you Want to Live Your Life?
Thinking about how you want to be remembered is one thing, thinking about how you want to live and spend your days is another. What do you want to achieve in your life? Are there any experiences you want to have? How can you make those things happen?
5. What Would you do on Your Ideal day?
Your ideal day is…
Take some time to write down exactly what your ideal day would look like. What is your home like, how and where do you wake up, what activities do you do, who is with you etc. Write it all down. Seeing how you want your life to be and how you want to spend your days can be a great way to solidify your why for chasing financial freedom.
6. If you Could do Anything for Work, What Would it be?
This changed a lot for me. Originally, I dropped out of school, worked for the government for a bit at 16 (office work was not my thing) then got a hairdressing apprenticeship. I thought I wanted to do hair and beauty but in reality, I was doing it because it was suggested to me so often and I liked the day spa idea.
One day I’d still love to own a day spa and am grateful for my background in both hairdressing and more recently business and marketing. It was definitely not what I loved doing every day though.
In my mid twenties, I switched to writing. Something I had always loved but was told I would not be able to make a living off it. A decade later and it helped pay for custody, my lifestyle and pretty much anything we want. It also enabled me to get paid to go on once in a lifetime trips and work around my kids so I could be there for them.
Deep in your heart, what do you truly love to do and would do for ‘work’ even if you didn’t have to?
7. What Does Wealth Mean to you?
Being wealthy is different for everyone. Some people are happy to retire and live frugally because time is more important than money to them. Others want to retire with a fat wad of cash, assets and income.
Define wealth and what financial independence looks like for you. Get specific with numbers, lifestyle and income streams as well as what age you want to retire.
8. Happiness: What Makes you Happy and why? What Makes you Feel Fulfilled?
Money on its own won’t make you happy but it sure can help give you a life you love. Ask yourself what makes you happy, what makes you feel fulfilled? What do you want more if in your life?
Time with my family, travel, diving, new experiences and helping others all make me happy and feel fulfilled so I created a business around that.
9. What is Holding you Back?
What are your fears around money? What has stopped you from pursuing your goals or dreams? Often, when we dig a little deeper, we can uncover reasons we haven’t lived up to our full potential or have been scared of making too much, also known as money blocks.
Learning about what has held you back or what you fears are can also help you work out your why. It can also give clarity on what you do and don’t want as you work towards financial freedom.
What is our Why?
Family and freedom. Being able to spend time with them, not having to put our kids into daycare so we could be the ones to raise them, being able to travel. All of these things matter to us.
My mother died at 37 (I was 15), I’ve been paralyzed twice and had other health issues. It took 7.5 years to get full custody of my daughters from my abusive ex and it almost killed me financially, emotionally and physically. As a result of my life experience, I know how important and precious time with my family as well as my health is.
For my partner, he was living and working in one of the least developed countries in the world when we met. He then had to spend some time unemployed as he couldn’t work in Australia. His why stems from being able to provide and have the lifestyle he always dreamed of. We both want lots of time with our kids and freedom to do what we want. Our family is our focus.
What is your why? How did you decide on it?