“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”— George S. Patton
Developing Successful Habits
At the heart of all that we are and do are our habits. Our habits are derived from repetitious behavior over time. The mind etches them into patterns called neural pathways. These neural pathways help to govern our lives and make everyday tasks simpler. But, we don’t all have habits that serve us. In fact, most of our habits aren’t success habits; most of our habits are bad habits.
The bad habits are what set us back. They’re the late-night snacking on not-so-healthy foods, or the over-watching of television, over-surfing of the Internet, smoking cigarettes when we know we should be quitting, and just about anything else. You know what your bad habits are. And, you know what your good habits are. The problem is that most peoples’ bad habits outweigh their good habits.
So, how do we fix this and develop successful habits that will help us in life? And, what are the top must-have success habits that will help us make progress rather than push us behind?
Succeeding in Life Takes Harboring Success Habits
We all want to be successful in life at something. We all have hopes and dreams. Some of us plan out our hopes and our dreams, then push tirelessly toward them every day and don’t relent until we accomplish what we set our hearts on. However, that some of us is a very low number.
According to a University of Scranton study, the number of people that accomplish their goals is actually just 8%. Only 8 out of 100 people who set a goal on New Year’s actually accomplishes it. Astonishing? I think not. We’ve all been there before when we’ve set goals, got excited about them, then when that excitement wore off, so did our drive to pursue those goals.
However, when we have success habits, pushing towards our goals becomes simpler. In fact, achieving our hopes and our dreams becomes effortless. All you have to do is etch those new must-have success habits into the neural pathways of your mind. Just as you would, say, reach for a cigarette or candy bar without thinking about it, you’ll institute these must-have success habits without thinking about them.
What are the Must-Have Success Habits?
These core 10 must-have habits to succeeding in life are a filtered down version of a longer list of 100 success habits that I’ll feature in an upcoming post. But these are the absolute must-have habits in life that you should harbor. Why are they must-haves?
Well, when you have these habits, you can be assured that you’ll push through your present-day limitations and make the breakthroughs in life that you’re hoping for. If you implement these on a daily basis and you don’t give up on your hopes and your dreams, then you can accomplish anything you set your heart on.
Now, don’t get this “twisted” so-to-speak, because these habits might come across simplistic in nature, but they’re so highly critical to the achievement of just about anything.
So, what are the habits?
Habit #1 – Set Goals Daily
The first must-have habit is to set your goals every single day. Don’t just set them and forget them. It doesn’t work that way. Set your goals every single day and look at your progress. Even if you set long-term goals, you have to review them every day. Break them down into smaller goals and milestones that you can accomplish daily.
Goal setting is an important skill to have. I’m not talking about something obscure in your mind. I’m talking about setting actual goals down on paper that you can see right in front of your eyes. They have to be visceral. When your goals are real and on paper, something changes – something just clicks in your head. You have a target.
The habit of goal setting is a must-have success habit because everything in life revolves around your goals. If you set your goals properly, and you know what you want, when you want it by, and why you want it, then your life takes on an entirely different meaning. You have some sense of purpose; you’re not just going about your day on an autonomous zombielike auto-drive.
To develop this habit you have to spend the initial time writing out your long-term goals, then break those down into shorter goals. Then, this must-have success habit will only take 5 minutes of your time each day. All you have to do is look at your milestone goals (i.e. your weekly or monthly goals), then break out your daily goals. Make this a habit that you do every single day! Spend just 5 minutes of your time jotting out the day’s important tasks, and do it habitually.
Habit #2 – Manage your Time Efficiently
The second must-have success habit is the ability to manage your time efficiently. Time management is essential to succeeding in any area of your life. We all know just how much time we waste on a daily basis doing things that we probably shouldn’t be doing. We excessively surf the web, chat on social media, text message with our friends, watch television, go out too often, and so on.
But, to manage your time efficiently, you have to get organized. This literally only takes a few minutes each day. The first thing you’ll need to do is adhere to the must-have success habit #1 and set goals daily. When you break your day down into what you need to do, you can categorize the importance of those things. Based on the Eisenhower Principle of time management, everything can be categorized on a scale of urgent and important.
So, on this scale, there are four quadrants based upon the urgency and importance of any task. Tasks can either be (1) urgent but not important, (2) urgent and important, (3) not urgent and not important, or (4) not urgent but important. Too many of us waste our time with the not urgent and not important tasks in life. These time wasters can kill our progress.
Our success habit, then, must be to first attack tasks that are not urgent but important. These tasks are the long-term goals that we have in life. All you have to do in order to develop this habit is to spend your first 10 minutes of your day writing out what you intend to accomplish. Then, organizing them into the four quadrants and tackle the not urgent but important tasks first.
Then at the end of the day spend another 10 minutes writing out what you did, what quadrants those tasks fall under, and how well you were able to stick to your morning schedule. This is by far a must-have success habit if you want to achieve long-term goals in any area of your life.
Habit #3 – Measure and Track Everything
One of the most vital success habits to have is the propensity to measure and track everything. From your goals, to your time, to your finances, to your weight, and everything in between, by tracking over time you’re getting an idea of your progress or deterioration. If you don’t track, and your results deteriorate over time, then you can see it clearer and make efforts to fix it.
This success habit doesn’t take that much time. There is some initial setup, say in building a spreadsheet that can help you track things like your weight, your expenses, and so on. But, the daily input of the numbers doesn’t take that long. Getting into the habit of doing this is the hard part.
So, all you have to do is commit to spending 5-minutes each day tracking everything. You can do it in the beginning of the day for the prior day or at the end of the day for that same day. If you promise yourself you will only spend 5 minutes doing something, your brain realizes that it’s not a huge hurdle for it to make. In fact, any of the 10 must-have success habits won’t take you huge commitments of time. What it will take is actually engaging in them day after day.
When you engage in the success habits daily, your mind builds those neural pathways that can help us along our way. So many of us have bad habits that have been carved into our neural pathways that we must build new empowering habits through the same repetitious behavior. If you’re committed to doing this, just promise yourself 5 minutes each day for each of these habits. That’s all you have to start with.
Habit #4 – Budget and Spend Wisely
This is a success habit that a large majority of individuals around the world must implement who don’t have unlimited resources. Oftentimes, we’re impulsive with our spending. We don’t spend wisely and tend to base our decision-making processes to purchase something on the subconscious inner-wranglings of our mind. We’re not sure why we bought something, we just knew we had to have it.
This is a product of misinformation by the conscious mind and an all-out manipulation by the subconscious mind. When you don’t budget yourself accordingly, the ego has a funny way of shrouding our behavior in excuses. You simply had to have that “something” because it was on sale and it might never go on sale again. You know the drill, don’t you?
So, budgeting and spending wisely is a success habit that most of us know we need to implement but that so many of us simply choose not to. So, how do we choose this habit over the bad habit of over-spending? If you can take 10 minutes every single day to budget and track your spending wisely, then your ego will have less misinformation to hide behind. You can use a smartphone app to track your purchases or use the trusty old notepad and pencil.
This won’t be easy at first. Like any of the other success habits mentioned here, it’s going to take effort. But all you have to do is commit yourself to 5 or 10 minutes every day. If you can do that, then you can build on the momentum. The hard part is merely getting started.
Habit #5 – Pay yourself First
One of the most important financial habits for success is paying yourself first. When you pay yourself first, you’re saving and investing your money just as soon as it hits your bank account. You should make it a habit to deduct at least 15% of your income from your paycheck automatically. Find an investment program that will make the deductions and put your savings on autopilot.
This takes literally minutes to do through online banking. If your future means something to you then this is a must-have success habit. The goal here is not only to put saving on autopilot, but to review your investments daily. Spend 10 to 15 minutes each day reviewing your investments and directing your investments in the right direction.
Paying yourself first is a habit that invokes so much more than just putting money-saving on autopilot. When you pay yourself first, this success habit actually activates a part of the mind that tells yourself that there’s more than enough to go around. It’s a visceral mental shift that occurs. Even if you say that you don’t have 15% of your income to put away, that’s when you really need to do so.
Change your lifestyle. Make a dramatic shift. You won’t be able to make significant progress in life without these kinds of success habits that will empower you and allow you to build a foundation for growth in the future.
Habit #6 – Exercise Every Day
Exercise doesn’t have to be an enormous mental hurdle. Commit to 15 minutes every single day. Start by walking around the block in your neighborhood. What you’ll notice is that the most difficult part is getting started. But if you commit to just 15 minutes every day, then your mind can’t argue with you. Your subconscious can’t help you reason your way out of why you don’t want to exercise today.
This success habit is important to your health, your vitality, and your overall energy level. Learn to embrace this. If you have a hard time getting started in the morning, then place your running shoes and clothes next to your bed. When you open your eyes in the morning, lace up, get dressed, and hit the ground running (or walking). Don’t even think twice about it.
It might be difficult to start up this success habit, but like any of the other habits, it simply takes some carving of patterns in the neural pathways of the mind. Yes, it’s hard at first, but commit to small and incremental periods of time. You’ll see that once you get started, you’ll keep going. The hard part is getting started.
Habit #7 – Make Healthy Choices
This is a must-have success habit that literally takes almost no time. All you have to do is decide that you’ll make better decisions on a daily basis about what goes into your mouth. Whether it’s food, drink, prescription drugs, or anything else, learn to make healthy choices and not abusive ones. The problem with developing a success habit like this is that many of us simply act from our basal instincts.
So, making healthy choices is a success habit that will reverberate with you in more ways than one. The human body spends more than 50% of its energy digesting foods that are rich in carbs, fats, and sugars. Focus on natural fats and sugars through things like avocados, fruits, vegetables, and naturally-sourced foods.
Making these healthy choices are hard, especially when we’re pressed for time. So, further to the habit of simply making the right choices what you have do is to get organized. Plan your meals in the morning if you have to. Have an apple ready on hand if you get hungry to snack rather than a candy bar because your body will thank you.
Habit #8 – Get Proper Sleep
One of the best habits that seem to allude most people is to get a proper night’s sleep. 6 hours is a must for your body to operate efficiently. If you’re only getting 4 hours of sleep then you’re robbing your body of the energy that it needs throughout the day. By providing proper sleep to your body you’re giving it time to rejuvenate and operate at optimal levels.
Sometimes, however, when we get accustomed to over-working ourselves or over-indulging in things like alcohol or socializing, we lose sight of the more important things in life such as proper sleep. The amount of sleep you get each night should be as important to you as any other success habit. Over the long term, you’re going to need it to keep up with the demands of the world.
When we overlook success habits that have to do with our wellness and we only focus on those that have to do with our monetary gain, we tend to lose out. Don’t lose sight of the more-important picture of your health and vitality as you strive towards your goals. Getting proper sleep should be one of the success habits that are at the forefront of your mind at all times.
Habit #9 – Daily Gratitude
This success habit doesn’t take much time to implement. All you need to do is spend 5 or 10 minutes each day writing out what you have to be grateful for and why. If you say that you have nothing to be grateful for then you’re not thinking hard enough. The problem that we have in life is that we tend to compare ourselves too often to those who are more fortunate than us rather than less fortunate. You have so much to be grateful for!
Developing this habit on a daily basis will take time, but like anything, it will get easier as the days go on. When you wake up in the morning, write out what you have to be grateful for. Even if you’re going through a difficult time, write out something pertaining to your problems that you’re grateful for. Maybe it’s going to help you learn an important lesson you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
Daily gratitude is such an important success habit because the mind has a funny way of changing the prospective lens of our lives when we look for the good in life. When we live a life filled with gratitude, it’s harder to allow the little things to depress us. We can see the bigger picture in things when we’re grateful. So, implement this success habit in your life and write out what you have to be grateful for in your life every single day.
Habit #10 – Take Daily Action
Last but certainly not least in the list of success habits is taking action. You’ve probably seen just about everyone tout this as a key recipe in success, and it’s most certainly true. When you can habitually take action towards your hopes and your dreams, you slowly inch forward each day. Even if the progress is minimal, as long as it’s constant, you can move closer and not be left behind.
But, taking action involves overcoming our tendencies for procrastination, which can be overwhelmingly strong in some people. Yet, like anything else, taking action is a habit that can either be built up or eroded over time. You must get into the habit of taking action, no matter what it takes. Your mind knows what needs to be done, all you have to do is just do it, like the Nike slogan says.
So, how do we make taking action a habit? Well, every single day, find one thing that you’ve been putting off. Whatever that one things is, write it out in front of you. Then, spend just 10 minutes tackling that mental clutter. Why tackle something you’ve been putting off? Well, the mind has a funny way of cataloging clutter; it tends to hold us back and not clear the pipeline towards our goals.
You might have experienced this in the past if you implemented this success habit to tackle something you had been putting off. Once that task was tackled, you felt recharged. A sense of relief overcame you, and you were able to see things clearer and push full steam ahead. Every single day, ensure that you take action and tackle something you’ve been putting off. You’ll come to realize that 10 minutes will turn into 30 minutes and into longer until you clear the clutter in your mind.