Success is defined by a variety of things for different people. Whether it’s financial gains, happy relationships, career advancement or hundreds of other measures of success, you’ll know that it doesn’t happen by accident. To be successful in anything, you need more than just luck. So, regardless of how you define success, there are a few things you can do each and every day to keep pushing you in the right direction. They don’t need to be difficult or time-consuming, but these habits can set you up for success in all areas of life.
Be Proactive: Planning and prioritising
Put simply, in order to be effective one must be proactive. Reactive people take a passive stance — they believe the world is happening to them. Proactive people, however, recognize they have responsibility — or “response-ability,” which Stephen Covey defines as the ability to choose how you will respond to a given stimulus or situation.
There are no shortcuts to success. One of the best things you can do to start the day is to plan what’s ahead. Most busy people will have a calendar planned out in advance, but if you can break your day up into smaller tasks, it’s easier to get through them.
Jonathan Waecker, chief marketing officer for The Warehouse Group, structures his days into lists and grids, because it makes him feel better about his ability to tackle all those tasks. Being organised and confident can also give you a sense of optimism, which leads to far more productivity than worrying about what can go wrong.
Even if you do it while you eat breakfast, think about what you need to do for the rest of the day and plot it out. Remember to make time for breaks!
Get the right work/life balance
It’s been one of the biggest buzzwords in recent years, but work/life balance is more than just catchy corporate lingo. Successful people put a lot of effort into their work, and that’s partly why they achieve great things. But your work should never come at the cost of your family, friends, or yourself. Make time for the things you really want to do. Even if you rationalise to yourself that work IS what you want to do, you’re running the risk of burning out.
Michele Wilson, co-founder and chief executive of I am Eva and Frankie Apothecary runs two thriving businesses, but work/life balance is still important. She says that after working 60-hour weeks, she now only works around 30 hours each week on a strict schedule and feels much more productive for it. In those extra hours of personal time, she spends it with family and doing things outdoors to keep her spirit strong.
It’s commonly recognised that adults need 6-7 hours of sleep, or more, every night. While the concept of ‘always staying on the grind’ may give you a sense of working hard toward your goals, the reality can be much different. If you don’t get the right balance between work and play, your productivity is likely to decrease, and you also put yourself at risk of mental health issues, burnout and even physical illness.
Simply put, work hard, but not too hard that you ultimately become unproductive or even incapacitated due to burnout.
That being said, hard work is essential if you want to be a success. So, in the hours you’ve allocated to working, make sure you achieve what you need to. Many successful people, such as Banqer co-found and chief-executive Kendall Flutey works long hours on occasion. However, she’s works just as hard to get sufficient rest and down time as well.
Be an early riser
Ever wish you had more hours in a day to get things done? VOILA! Your wish will be granted simply by setting your alarm an hour or two earlier than usual.
You don’t have to fill every second to get more, more, more done, of course. But if you need a little extra time, getting up early gives you a distraction-free chance to take care of things you might not otherwise be able to do.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before: the early bird gets the worm!
Several studies have found multiple benefits for being an early riser- including being more proactive and intuitive. This success habit begets many other success habits, depending on what you do with the extra time. Whether you use this time to ground yourself in meditation or plan your day, you’ll be better equipped to face any challenge that comes your way. Incorporating this habit into your weekly routine helps you stay focused, motivated, and eager to get as much done as possible.
Make the most of each day.
Again, many business people and entrepreneurs have an almost romantic fascination with working long hours and dedicating all of their time to a project. But this comes at a cost to your health. Successful people all over the world will tell you that exercise is crucial to remaining healthy and productive. Even Bill Gates spends some time on a treadmill while multi-tasking, watching DVDs.
Exercise and workplace productivity go hand in hand. When you exercise, you are also increasing blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen your awareness and make you more ready to tackle your next big project. Having more energy means you will feel more awake at work. Being on top of your game will assure that you perform your work correctly and to the best of your ability. If you don’t have time to put in a full cardio workout each day, make small changes to meet your daily goals, such as walking during your lunch period or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, a standing desk is also a better alternative to sitting down all day.
When you exercise, your brain releases serotonin that helps you feel better and improves your state of mind, making the stresses of work easier to handle. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that sends messages to the body to stimulate mood and emotion
There’s perhaps no truer saying than the one about a healthy body and healthy mind going together. Look after your body, and you’ll find you have more energy to handle everything your day throws at you.
There are certain jobs that require a lot of reading. Investor Warren Buffet says he starts his day reading newspapers and in fact, spends 80% of his day reading. His theory is that knowledge is gained through reading, so it’s valuable.
In an interview with The New York Times, for example, Bill Gates shared that he reads about 50 books a year. Gates will actually take reading vacations for 2 weeks at a time.
Elon Musk has said that he taught himself physics as well as rocket science simply by reading a lot of books. Mark Cuban will spend up to about 3 hours of his day reading.
If you look at CEOs in the world, the average CEO reads one book a week. That’s 50+ books a year!
Others may just enjoy reading fiction as a way to relax and unwind. Whether you choose to read self-help, business and motivational books or you just want to learn about something new, reading is a great way to exercise the brain.
Need some tips on how to get started?
- Start reading: Start slow but be sure to start, read just 30-50 pages a day with no distractions.
- Read about topics that interest you: reading is supposed to be highly enjoyable. So, if you’re not enjoying the book you’re reading, then stop reading it immediately.
- Read various mediums: You don’t only have to read books, pick up a journal, a newspaper, and even audio books count.
- Don’t read in bed: If you’re doing work in your bed, for example, you might find it’s hard to focus and start feeling sleepy. This is because your brain has learned to associate your bed with sleep, not work.
Why not follow in the footsteps of the world’s most successful people, simply pick up a book, and start reading!