"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
A badass man charts his own course through life. He doesn't float through life on a whim, waiting to see what comes his way. He isn't beholden to societal norms or what others expect of him.
He does what he wants, he is the person he wants to be and he develops himself according to the traits and values he holds as important.
But when it comes to the process of actively working on yourself as a man, habits are crucially important.
It's all very well to set the intention of becoming fitter, more organized, more comfortable in social situations or better in your relationship. But it is the daily routine and the regular pursuit of incremental gains that will get you there. It's not enough to want something, you have to make it happen.
The person you are now is result of all of the choices, actions and habits of your past self. In the same way the person you will be in the future will be the result of the choices, actions and habits of your current self.
If you want to become a better man, you need good manly habits. You can't develop yourself on intention or willpower alone.
This is my list of manly habits that you should consider implementing. It is a lot of work to try and change a habit or instill a new one, so just choose one and focus on that for the next month. If you succeed at instilling that habit, then come back and try another one.
Health and Fitness
Regular exercise is one of the keys to good health and good self esteem. Ideally you would have at least some form of daily exercise, with 3 to 4 challenging work outs per week, with a good balance of strength, flexibility and cardio.
However if you are starting from nothing, you might last for a week or two on a full routine and then burn out and give up. It is better to start small, even with one exercise session per week, and be consistent. Once you have embedded your once a week habit you can build it up from there.
2. Eat Right
A key habit for young men to embed is healthy eating. It's easy to go into a phase after leaving home of subsisting on pizza and beer for a few years. But that can't last forever. If you want your exercise to count, you need to be doing it right in the kitchen. And if you want your body and mind to feel good and perform you need to be fueling them appropriately.
It doesn't mean you need to give up all unhealthy food. Aiming for 80% of your meals to be nourishing whole foods is realistic and achievable, while still allowing the odd cheat meal and minimal impact on your social life.
Of course this means you also need to learn how to cook.
3. Improve Your Posture
Years spent sitting in classrooms, lecture halls and offices mean young men grow up with hunched shoulders, stiff backs and a lack of flexibility.
A great habit to get into is daily stretching and strengthening of key muscles that control your posture. For me this is separate to my main workouts.
Not only is it great for your health but it's great for your appearance.
4. Get Outdoors
Men are wild animals. They shouldn't be boxed up and caged. In many parts of the world, people leave home in the dark and arrive back home in the dark. The day is spent toiling away with no chance to connect with nature or see the sun.
Make it a daily habit to get outside, even if it is just a five minute stroll, get out of your building and enjoy the outdoors.
On the weekend get to the park or the beach and go for a barefoot walk. A few times a year get out into the wilderness to unplug and recharge away from all the distractions of the modern world.
5. Goal Setting
Regular setting and review of your goals is a good habit to keep you on track in life. You need habits to get you to your goals, but goal setting in itself is a habit. It's the time you take to stop and take stock of the progress you have made with your routines and to think about the bigger picture and recalibrate.
Daily routines are great because they are easy. As long as you actually do them then everything runs on autopilot.
But what about the variety in life and all the curve balls? You need a system in place to manage and filter all the things competing for your time and attention so you can get things done.
I think weekly planning is the best habit you can focus on to help you manage your time. You sit down for about an hour on a Sunday evening or first thing Monday morning and plan your week. You then review that plan and tweak things every morning.
Since I implemented this practice I have felt more productive and less stressed. With the bigger picture view of weekly planning I know I am making progress on my long term goals, without missing any urgent or important day to day tasks.
7. Master Domestic Chores
Cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing. A man needs to learn to master all of these basics as well as fit them into his weekly routine.
The military is big on training recruits in these domestic tasks for four key reasons. The first is purely practical in that when a large group of people live together in close quarters they need to be clean. The other three are all about developing the person. They want you to become self reliant, disciplined and have attention to detail.
If you can't cook and don't know how to keep your place clean and tidy then these are important habits to develop.
8. Listen and Be Empathetic
Empathy is the ability to understand other people's perspectives and feelings. It allows you to relate to them better and makes them feel valued. If they are friends, family or your girlfriend then this is an important trait in enabling you to meet their emotional needs.
A boy looks out only for himself. A man takes care of others. In order to do that effectively you must be empathetic.
Empathy isn't something you have to be born with. If you don't have a well developed sense of empathy or you aren't good at listening, it is something you can develop with a bit of conscious effort.
9. Give Compliments
As well as being self absorbed, youth often think of life as a zero sum game. In order to elevate yourself you have to take from others. This is why bullying is so rife - people think that putting others down, makes themselves look better.
The real world isn't like this at all. A man understands that we all benefit from other people's greatness and it is in your own best interests to build up those close to you and help them cultivate self esteem.
Developing the habit of giving compliments is a wonderful way to give to others and show your appreciation for what they do.
You don't have to kiss ass or go overboard. But something as simple as giving one compliment a day can get you into a great habit.
10. Be Punctual
Some people are chronically late. It's a bad habit that they have formed an it can be very difficult to turn it around. If this is you, then listen up, because punctuality is a critical habit in making you a better man.
Here are the problems that being regularly late cause:
- It shows you do not respect the time of the person you are meeting
- It shows you are unreliable and not well organized
- It is rude
- Like it or not it affects people's opinion of you, particularly in the workplace or in business
- It means you will be flustered rather than prepared
And here's what being punctual can do for you:
- It builds and strengthens your discipline
- It shows others that you respect them and their time
- It shows others that you are reliable, well organised and on top of your game
- It means you are always prepared
This habit is something basic yet fundamental in Western culture. So many people are unorganized and late, that you will stand out by being a man who keeps his word by arriving on time.
11. Give A Firm Handshake
Did you know that the handshake you give is based on habit?
When someone extends their hand to you, you don't have time to think about what type of handshake you will give in response. You just react and shake their hand.
If you aren't happy with the weak handshakes you are giving then make a conscious effort to build a new habit.
Practice with someone you know first and then keep your handshake technique at the forefront of your mind when you go out to practice in the real world. Over time you will build the habit and a strong confident handshake will become your default option.
12. Look People In The Eye
Do you confidently make eye contact with strangers on the street or do you spend most time staring at your shoes.
Making eye contact and holding someone's gaze demonstrates confidence and self assurance. Looking away demonstrates insecurity and weakness.
If you aren't good at making eye contact with people then practice it. Make it a habit to walk along the street with your head held high, looking people in the eye.
13. Keep Your Word
One of the key differences between a boy and a man is that a boy depends on others.
Someone between boy and man can look after himself, without depending on others, but is useless at providing for others. He is unreliable and self absorbed.
A man provides for, thinks about and is there for others. To do this he needs to be reliable and that means keeping his word. If you say you are going to do something, follow through on it.
If you are notorious at flaking out and not following through then look to consciously build this habit.
14. Take Care Of Your Appearance
Just as it is important to keep your house in order by keeping on top of your domestic chores, it is equally important to keep your physical appearance in order. This means getting in shape, as well as keeping yourself well groomed and dressing smartly.
A man isn't sloppy with his appearance. While it may seem unnecessary, the reality is that most people do judge a book by its cover and first impressions do count. How you appear says a lot about you. If you are unkempt it communicates that you are lazy, untidy and lack self respect. If you look sharp it communicates confidence, self respect and that you mean business.
And as well as the image you are portraying to others, it is very true that if you look good, you feel good. Build the habit of dressing well every day and see what it does for your sense of self.
Outlook on Life
15. Work Hard And Always Be Improving Yourself
Whatever you do in life, work hard, put in your best effort and do it well. Whether it is in employment, you are volunteering or it is your hobby, be professional, reliable and disciplined. Don't do anything by halves.
This is part habit and part attitude. A badass man is always working to improve himself in all areas of life. That's why awesome men tend to be awesome at a lot of things. They are stable and successful emotionally, physically, financially, socially and sexually. They make their living with a specific and useful skill but in life in general they are a jack of all trades.
You can be like this if you create the habit of constant improvement. Whenever you do something do it to the best of your ability, learn from it and always try to get better.
16. Stick To Your Principles
A man won't give up his values and principles in the face of peer pressure. He knows what he believes in and will stand by them in all instances. Of course this means you need to have beliefs and principles you feel are worth defending. If you haven't then start reading and find something you believe in.
17. Don't Make Excuses
As a boy much of your existence was dictated by your parents and your circumstances. As a man your life is in your hands. You can be a victim and complain that you got dealt a rough hand or you can take responsibility for the direction in your life.
To be the man you want to be and to lead the life you want to live requires you to overcome the knee jerk desire to make excuses for everything that goes wrong in your life. Learn to override that reflex and make a habit of taking responsibility for everything. That way you empower yourself to make the changes you want.
18. Be Humble
Being humble doesn't mean you are weak, passive or disempowered.
In fact humble people are often the most secure and confident. Because they are so secure they don't feel the need to parade their achievements in front of others. They let their actions speak louder than their words.
Do you like to talk a big game? If you are, a good habit to consciously work on is to restrain yourself from talking boastfully about yourself.
19. Relinquish The Sense Of Entitlement
Nobody owes you anything in the world. The world doesn't owe you a living, it doesn't owe you a social life and it doesn't owe you a relationship.
You can have anything you want in life but it's not a right. You have to work for it.
This is not an attitude that is very common in modern society, as many young men expect everything to fall into their lap without any effort on their part.
If this is you then you need to change your mindset. Make it a habit to carry the attitude that you are entitled to nothing but can achieve anything through work.
20. Be Content
It's easy to look at what everyone else is doing in life and wish you were doing that too. Whether it's travel, career, getting married or having kids it always seems that the grass is greener somewhere else doing something else.
Social media is terrible for this.
If you get sucked into this way of thinking you will never be happy. And instead of chasing your dreams you will follow along with what everyone else is doing for fear of missing out. This will leave you deeply unsatisfied in the long run as you realize that other people's dreams do not fulfill you.
The answer is to form a habit of contentment. This means you stop looking for happiness and contentment in the external world. You realize that happiness and contentment are a state of mind. You make a choice to be content in the present moment.
21. Cultivate Good Non Romantic Relationships
A lot of people say they have no time for small talk and hate networking because it seen as superficial and tedious.
But in fact these are very important skills to have. All relationships have to start somewhere. There once was a time where you made small talk with your best mate. You can't get to know someone until you go through that initial dance. Some (most) people you won't connect with and you'll never hear from them again. But there will be the odd gem that you find.
It's important to reach out and make new relationships, as well as cultivate existing ones. Nurturing relationships is a good habit to be in, so when the time comes that you need something, people are there for you.
The secret to relationships is to be a person of value. You have your limitations and flaws, as we all do, but the reason your friends keep you around is because you offer more than you take away. Having you around is a net gain for them. Keep it that way by being the best person you can be and by being generous with people you love.
22. Work On Becoming A Better Romantic Partner
Relationships take work. It is an inescapable fact.
You will never find someone who is 100% perfect for you. They can be reasonably compatible but the rest takes patience, effort, understanding and time.
You need to be in the habit of working on yourself and improving yourself in order to be a better friend, confidant, partner, house mate and lover.
Even if you are single there are things you can work on so you are ready and prepared when the right girl comes along.
So instead of complaining that you have rotten luck with women or can't find the right girl or that things aren't working out with your current partner, do something about it.
The only person you can control or change is yourself and the only thing you can do to improve your relationship is improve your contribution to the relationship. To do that instill the habit of conscious personal growth with a focus on being a better man and a better partner.
That is, in fact, the whole purpose of this website.
Reading is a way to tap into other people's experience. Any problem you are having in life, someone will have written a book about it. There are thousands of years of accumulated wisdom available to you if you spend the time to look and learn. If you want to level up in life then stand on the shoulders of giants by reading.
As well as gaining wisdom and experience the habit of reading improves your critical thinking, expands your vocabulary and makes you a more well rounded person. A good habit to get into is reading for half an hour every night before bed.
If you aren't getting good sleep chances are you don't have good sleep habits. The best way to establish a good sleep schedule is to go to bed and get up at the exact same time each day, even on weekends. It's also important to have a wind down ritual each night and make sure you stay away from digital devices before bed.
Good sleep is right up there with healthy eating and exercise in making sure that you are firing on all cylinders, so make sure you embed good habits.
It's easy to spend all day connected to your device but it is an unhealthy attachment. You need time to disconnect to recharge your manly batteries. A good daily habit is to stay off digital devices in your first hour after waking and the hour before you go to bed. Have a half an hour break around lunchtime as well.
As well as a daily habit of unplugging and powering down every now and then take a whole weekend off. It will be hard if you are addicted to technology (many of us are without even realizing it) but it is worth it in cultivating stillness and recharging your batteries.
Even better, take a whole week off and head into the wilderness to get away.
26. The Savings Habit
When you first start making a bit of money it's easy to splurge and watch it disappear. Discipline is important for achieving financial goals.
As soon as you start making money you should set up an automatic transfer and move a set percentage of your earnings each paycheck into a savings account. This should be done as soon as the money comes in, then you make do each week with the remainder. This is known in personal finance as "paying yourself first." Rather than spending and then saving whatever is left (which might be nothing), you put your regular savings aside first and then use the remainder for bills and spending money.
27. Be Frugal But Not Cheap
Being frugal is not about penny pinching or refusing to spend money. Rather it is about having the self control to not blow your money on unnecessary items, freeing you up to use that money on things that are more important to you.
Being frugal means you build savings and aren't living paycheck to paycheck. This gives you options in life. You could quit your job, start a business, take a holiday or invest. You still shout your round, buy healthy food and invest in yourself but you are cautious and careful with your purchases.
If you want to become a better man you need to build better habits. They can be challenging to begin with, but once they are set they run on autopilot.
The man you are going to be in the future will be determined by the habits and choices you make now. So make wise choices and build good habits.
You should always be working to improve yourself, so right now that means choosing a habit and working on it daily for the next month. Focus on one habit at a time otherwise you will burn out and achieve nothing.
Imagine what your life would be like if you could set 12 amazing foundational manly habits in the next year.
It's possible if you are disciplined.
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