A big part of our lives consist of habits. Whether it is a morning routine or a bedtime routine, these habits can help you… or hinder you. For example, if you play games on your phone before bed, it may take longer to actually fall asleep either because you either play games longer than you planned or you can’t shut your brain down or both. That’s bad. On the other hand, if you set a consistent time to wake up, then work out and have a healthy breakfast, you are starting your day on a positive note. That’s good! Think about some of your daily habits. Are they positive and healthy and lead you toward your goals? Or are they unhealthy and destructive and lead you away from where you want to be in life?
If you research successful people, you will see that they do things every day that help them accomplish their goals. They do things every day that make positive impacts on their future. Over the years, I have read a lot of articles and books around what successful people do every day. When I decided to look into this a little more for this blog, I found that there are a LOT of articles and blogs on the internet that discuss success habits of successful people. So I decided to read as many of these articles as I could over the last several weeks and I took tabs on what they were all saying. Here is what I found:
Plan Your Day
Successful people map out their day the night before. They have already mapped out their goals and the plans to achieve them so it is somewhat easy for them to determine what needs to be done on a daily basis and plan their days accordingly. Of course, life doesn’t always happen according to plan but, when you start with a plan, it is easier to adjust your day as needed without losing momentum.
It also helps to prioritize your action items so that you are doing the most important things, the things that will give you the most bang for your buck, in the morning when you have the most energy.
I recommend giving yourself stretch goals as well. A stretch goal makes you reach further than you think that you can. Let’s say you have a goal to save $10,000 in the next year so that you can take that vacation that you have always dreamed about. Your stretch goal could be to save $12,000 so you can upgrade your hotel or your flight or spoil yourself in some other way during your trip.
I noticed that many of the articles discussed how successful people meditate on a daily basis. There are a few different ways that you can meditate. You can use the time to clear your brain and focus on your breathing. Some people use the time for visualization and positive thinking, which can improve mood and clarity. What I have found works for me is to have a quote that really inspires me and repeat that several times during my meditation. The quote might be about business, physical or relationship goals… Whatever I feel like focusing on that day. I find a quiet spot and I repeat it to myself for the first 5-7 minutes and then I transition to focusing on my breathing for the last 5-8 minutes. It took several months for my brain to stop wondering off and thinking about other things, and to be honest, it still does a little bit but that’s ok. It is a work in progress. I have found that having quiet time for even 15 minutes a day (sometimes twice a day) to reflect on career, health and relationships has helped reduce stress. I feel more centered and calm.
Another success habit that was mentioned a lot is making health a priority. Actually, there weren’t many articles that did NOT mention a healthy routine of some sort. Some included both a daily workout as well as a nutritious diet, although most focused on the workout. Research shows that working out can boost creativity and productivity. Everyone knows the benefits of a good workout and a healthy diet so I won’t go into too much detail on this one. Like you have heard time and time again, nutrition and exercise positively affects every area of your life, from your mood, to your energy levels, to sleep and everything in between. I have found that a morning workout energizes me for the rest of the day. I get up an hour early and find I am less likely to come up with excuses NOT to work out. The “I’m tired” excuse just doesn’t cut it anymore. My only advice is to pick an exercise that you enjoy. It can be as simple as a morning walk or a bike ride, yoga, swimming, skiing, jogging or a combination of two or more of these. I have also found that I am sleeping better at night since I have started working out in the morning, which leads me to the next success habit…
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is critical to your mental health and memory function. If you are not a morning person, I completely relate to you on this one. I am a night owl, NOT a morning person. I have found that, when planning the next day’s activities, if I give myself something to look forward to, it is much easier to get out of bed before the sun comes up. I have also learned that hitting snooze only gives me time to think of reasons why I should not get up… so I really do recommend putting the alarm clock on the other side of the room so you are forced to get out of bed if you have a hard time waking up early.
Make sure you have a good bedtime routine so that your body and your brain are ready to go to bed at the time that you choose. Do not turn on the TV or spend time on your phone / tablet once you are in bed. One article I read actually said that to test how much sleep your body needs, you should go to bed at the same time every night and let yourself sleep until you wake up. Your body may need to catch up on sleep so you may find that you sleep later the first few days. Once your body catches up on the sleep it needs, you will wake up when your body is rested. This way you have an idea of how much sleep that you need every night. So, for example, if you go to sleep at 10pm every night and you naturally wake up at 8, 9 or 10am for a few days and then start waking up at 5am without an alarm, that means that your body needs about seven hours of sleep every night to be fully refreshed.
Successful people are always focused on continuous learning. There is always room for personal growth. Whether it be learning new skills, reading, watching podcasts, or interviews or information courses, there is a plethora of information out there. I read somewhere that Mark Cuban reads three hours a day. Bill Gates, who’s net worth is $86 billion, reads an hour a day and Elon Musk used to read four hours a day when he was younger!
Learning is continuous. You can also learn from biographies, history and self-help books. I have found that it is helpful to organize the lessons I have learned. That way, if I need to reference it again, I don’t have to search too far before finding what I need. You can use a shoe box, an app on your phone, or simply keep track of them on paper and then file them according to topic. I use my computer to store all my notes. If I am reading, I love the fact that Kindle actually has a feature that filters what you highlighted so you can easily see what you thought was important. I even highlight different items in different colors. So, for example, if it is something that really speaks to me, I will highlight it in yellow. If it is something that I can use during my coaching sessions, I highlight it in blue. Quotes I like are highlighted in pink, and so on. Use what makes sense to you and helps you keep track of lessons learned.
Success comes down to the decisions that you make every day. Successful people do things that get them closer to accomplishing their goals. They do things that make a positive impact on their future every day. Not just when they feel like it. Every. Day.
How do you implement success habits? Here are a few steps that will help you get started:
- Write a list of all the things that you might do as success habits. A few examples of positive morning habits would be getting up 60-90 minutes early, working out, eating a healthy breakfast, meditating for 10-20 minutes, or reading for 30 minutes. At night, you might choose to read before bed, stretch, or write 5-10 items in a gratitude journal.
- Choose 1-2 habits as a starting point. So, for example, I wasn’t being consistent with my exercise program so I decided to get up 60 minutes earlier every morning and workout. I ride my bike for 30 minutes and walk/run on my treadmill for 30 minutes.
- Do this success habit every day for at least 30 days. I have found that it helps to have a calendar and cross off the days that I complete all my success habits. I like seeing all the bright X’s… and the more X’s I see, the more motivated I am not to break the chain!
- After 30 days, add another success habit … like eating a healthy breakfast
- After 30 days, add another success habit … like reading for 30 minutes every night
- After 30 days, add another success habit … like eating a healthy dinner
These habits may be uncomfortable at first. It will not feel natural. I know, for me, getting up early and exercising is the one that I picked to tackle first because I am not a morning person. Not even a little bit. I chose this goal because, when I was younger, I used to get up early to workout and I remember the feelings of accomplishment on those days. It seemed like I got so much more done! So, as of August 1, my morning routine includes getting up at 5:40am and exercising. I try to eat a healthy breakfast too but so far, that is not happening consistently so that will be what I add as of September 1, along with reading for 30 minutes as part of my bedtime routine.
Think about the power of adding on at least one new success habit every 30 days. Can you imagine what life could be like after a year of adding even ONE success habit a month? You could have 12 new positive habits that are getting you that much closer to the life you want. If they are health habits, you could finally have the healthy body and amazing energy. If they are financial habits, you could be debt free or traveling to places you have never been.
One quick note, I found an app the other day for my iPhone that tracks my success habits for me too. It is called Productive. The free version lets you track up to five habits. It shows a “life log” that tracks the number of “perfect days”, current streaks, and your best streak as well as some other data. If you need to track more than five habits, you can have an unlimited version for $13.99 for 12 months. They have 3-month and monthly payment options as well. Like I said, I just found it a few days ago so I haven’t had too much experience using it.
If you have already put success habits into play in your life, feel free to share what they are and how they have positively affected your life!