When you know you need to make a change, the number of choices and “should”s in the world can overwhelm you. It can feel difficult to know what exactly to try next. Let’s talk about the top five things you should be working on. But…

There’s no list here, because you haven’t written it yet.

Below you won’t find twenty things to do when you wake up or the habits of successful CEOs. (Why is “meditate” always on these lists? People love telling each other to meditate.) There’s no universal list for making you your best you. In the next three minutes, you’re going to create that list for yourself.

First, don’t trip on other people’s habits.

Other people’s ideas are cool for getting started, but you’ll waste energy and money if you choose habits that aren’t right for you.

Perfect examples: getting more sleep. Eating colorful vegetables. Meditating. These are all fantastic habits (I mean it — I have studied them all in my time), but sometimes a fantastic habit isn’t for you. Does thinking about it make you feel any amount of dread? Then it’s a Misplaced Enthusiasm Habit (MEH), because your passion for it is nowhere to be found.

Look down the road. You’re feeling good now, chilling out and reading blog posts. Then life gets stressful, like during a move or near an important holiday. And you drop to-do items that aren’t essential — rightly so. But dropping a habit temporarily will cut down your chances of picking it back up. Even if you master a MEH, it won’t generate as much long-term satisfaction as a habit that reflects your values.

Start with something you won’t discard in hard times: start with what matters to you.

The trick is to start with why, then figure out the what.

Now’s the fun part where we talk about how you pick your daily habits. It’s simple:

Think about the kind of person you want to be. What does that person do?

Imagine the best version of yourself. You’ll know it if you feel excited. You’ll know it if you can see a lot of yourself in that person already.

You’ll get the greatest, longest-lasting shot of momentum and inspiration by working toward the best version of you. On hard days, it’ll feel faintly reassuring. On good days, it’ll feel like a drug. You’ll master these habits faster. You’ll do them better than anyone you know.

At Habitry we call this “living in accordance with your values.” Living in accordance with your values is what we really mean when we use the word autonomy.

I hope that you now have an idea of what this best version of you is, but it might take time if now is the first time you’ve given yourself permission to ponder it. Talk it over with a friend or start writing out your thoughts.

Got your best self in mind? Now let’s list the five things.

Now ask yourself: what traits does that person have? What do they do every day?

You’ll create that best self by building their habits. Identify five things you’re pretty sure the best version of yourself does every day. Drop the MEHs. Check out how this exercise works out with different people.

Leigh, 32

“I want to build a successful business. A good business leader is organized, always learning, and productive.”

Every day, that person…

  1. Learns something new or reads the news
  2. Talks to someone about projects they’re working on
  3. Makes the bed
  4. Makes decisions quickly
  5. Takes walks

Note that Leigh’s five habits are all things she can do every day in some form.

Vernon, 28

“The kind of person I want to be is a coach. Active, strong, and empathetic.”

Every day, that person…

  1. Exercises or practices a sport
  2. Eats vegetables with every meal
  3. Gets plenty of sleep
  4. Shares useful health information with someone
  5. Practices problem-solving techniques when people ask for help

Would you tell Vernon he has to put meditation on his list? No, because it’s not essential for who he wants to be. Maybe he’ll get around to it later.

Darren, 41

“I want to be creative and have a lot of good friends.”

Every day, that person…

  1. Finds something funny or artistic to enjoy
  2. Works on a creative project
  3. Finds something to be grateful for
  4. Makes conversation
  5. Follows social media updates from friends

Darren isn’t worried about getting lots of sleep, even though he knows it’s good for him. It’s worth it to him to stay up an extra 15 minutes a night reading Instagram.

Still stuck? Answering these two questions might help.

What compliments do you most like to receive from others? Some possible answers: “You’re so talented”, “You’re the funniest person I know”, “You’re the best at figuring stuff out”, “I admire your work ethic”.

How do you want to feel as you go through your day? Some possible answers: supported, calm, vigorous, joyful, energetic, inspired.

What to do next with your list of five important habits:

Inspired yet? Ready to change everything? Now’s when I remind you that you’ll be most successful if you start with just ONE thing.

Just one. Pick the most important habit, figure out the smallest first step, and get started.

We created an interactive guide to help you figure out what that next one thing should be. Take five minutes to work through “How to Prioritize Like a Busy-Ass Grownup” to figure out the first habit you want to work on. If you choose to provide your email address, results will be emailed to you.