5 Unusual Habits That Lead to Massive Long Term Changes

Unique woman looking at her phone representing unusual habits that lead to long term changes
Work these habits into your life

What are your unusual habits? What are the things that only you do that drive you forward?

Instead of talking about the good habits everyone knows like journaling and cold showers and working out for 20 minutes three times per week, I’m going to offer you a few unusual habits that can change your life for the better.

1. Check-In

Some people meditate in the morning. Others journal their thoughts and feelings, and some remember what they have to be thankful for.

I tried these methods, and for what they’re worth, I always felt like something was missing. So, I decided to mash them all into one.

I do check-ins now.

Here’s how they go:

You find a comfy spot to sit without any distractions (like you’re getting ready to meditate). You could grab a pad and pen, but you don’t have to. You take a breath and get ready to address anything you might be feeling.

You start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What am I doing? Where am I going? Why am I doing it? (The why is most important).
  • If I’m in pain, what for? Where is it coming from?
  • What do I have to appreciate today?
  • What do I have to look forward to?
  • What am I striving toward?

Check-Ins are open-ended. They can take as long as you like. They can be gratitude-focused. They can be goal-focused. Or they can just be about sitting with and observing your feelings.


  • A check-in will get you centered on your purposes and your whys. When things get tough, you’ll remember what your reasons are.
  • A check-in will give perspective on where you are in life, and clarity about where you’re headed. If you hit the ground running without this clarity, you can become disconnected from what you’re doing, and that can add to your daily stress.
  • Checking in everyday makes you more focused and prepared for what is coming. The more centered in yourself you become, the more capable, and mentally healthy, you can get.

2. Talk to Strangers

If you’re an adult, this can actually be great for you.

Being social is a problem for people nowadays. Many are shut-in and socially inexperienced, and they become deathly afraid when they have to make conversation.

But there is a solution to this problem: voluntarily engage with people you don’t know on a regular basis. It’s uncomfortable for sure, but it builds some of the most useful skills of all: social skills.

This could be as simple and giving someone a sincere compliment about their Chelsea boots, even if you don’t know anything about boots. If they look cool, that’s all you need to express. You don’t lie to or bother anyone, you just show up to try and have a genuine conversation about anything.


  • If you can implement these scary little social jumps into your daily schedule, when you’re waiting in line, when you’re out at a bar, or when you’re in a bookstore, your social skills will sharpen.
  • You will learn how to deal with awkward situations and mishaps. You will get tougher when people ignore or reject you (but most people won’t, I find). You will be more prepared for things like job interviews and public speaking. You’ll be able to talk to your crushes.

3. Be Real (Vulnerable)

Following from talking to strangers, this is a social habit you can practice with anyone, even people you’ve known your whole life.

There are few things more powerful than being real. And there are few things scarier than being seen. That’s what vulnerability is — revealing who you are in an honest way.

Here’s an example:

Someone asks you a question at work that you should know the answer to, but you don’t. Do you lie to cover your shame?

Or, do you let yourself be vulnerable and say, “I don’t know”?

Whether that creates a problem or not, people will respect honesty.

This is also true when you tell your loved ones how you really feel about something they do. Or when you reveal something you’ve been hiding from a friend because you were afraid of what they might say.


  • Making a habit of being vulnerable will save your life from fakeness. Your relationships will become deeper, richer, and more authentic.
  • The realness you express will give other people permission to be real too, whether that be work acquaintances or dates.
  • Being real will polarize you. The people you don’t resonate with will leave your life and the people who do will be drawn in.
  • The greatest psychological benefit of vulnerability is releasing shame, and it will, if you allow yourself to be vulnerable with a safe person who you know will listen.

4. Work Slightly Past What You’re Capable Of

This is a concept called moving the needle.

You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew.

You want to take something you’d like to change and only commit to doing it a little bit more than what you’re comfortable with.

For example:

You want to become an early riser. You want to be up before the world and get more done before the sun rises than most people do all day.

Instead of randomly getting up at 4:30 AM, ripping yourself out of bed, not knowing where or who you are, and then falling back asleep until 7:58, start by getting up 15 minutes earlier than usual.

You want to learn to play an instrument but you don’t have much time? Practice only 5 minutes a day. You’ll probably end up doing it for longer, but the daily ritual is what makes the difference.


  • You’ll make constant progress without overwhelming yourself.
  • The point of moving the needle is to make things doable. You put your faith in compound interest to make greater changes over time.
  • You’ll feel good about reaching small goals and sticking to your systems. This positive energy will help motivate you in the long run.

5. Give Yourself Endless Second Chances

This is for anyone out there with a taste for self-punishment and perfectionism.

This might sound dramatic, I think loving yourself means giving yourself endless second chances.

We all fuck up and let ourselves down, and then we have to deal with our own minds torturing us after the fact. Self-defeat starts to feel appropriate.

But treating yourself like garbage won’t fix anything, so next time you feel down, try to give yourself one more chance.

You’re going to need to do this more than once. In fact, if you’re like me, you might need to do it every time you make a mistake. You would give someone you love a second chance, wouldn’t you?


  • You won’t walk around with an anti-self bias. You’ll start having more patience with yourself, and eventually, you’ll forgive yourself for your mistakes.
  • You’ll do the things you’ve barred yourself from doing because you’ll feel like you finally deserve them.
  • Second chances are an antidote to shame.

Tips and Tricks for 2022

You don’t have to do it like everyone else does it. Your habits don’t have to look like what you see on Youtube. You can put your own spin on life and do it in your own way.

Remember: it’s the little things that get you there. It’s the daily rituals, the reminders, the systems, and the effort.

To review:

  • Check in with yourself every morning and see how you’re doing.
  • Make random conversations with strangers.
  • Start being real.
  • Do things that are small and doable.
  • Remember that you’re the one who keeps punishing yourself, and you’re the one holding yourself back.