Good habits are the key to success. If you have goals that don’t seem to be getting any closer, it’s because you haven’t developed your habits.
With every year that passes, you find yourself stuck in the same place. Struggling professionally. Nowhere near your ideal body. Without the social life you’re after.
You told yourself this year would be different. You read books about success. Even wrote down your goals. And yet, instead of taking strides towards them, you fell off the path…
The question is: how do other people avoid these obstacles so easily? What’s the difference between you and those who already have what you want?
You may think it’s some secret strategy or genetic superiority.
The truth is a lot simpler…
Successful people have fantastic daily habits.
Mediocre people tend to have tons of unhelpful ones.
Here are some of the greatest habits commonly adopted by the world’s elite, and how you can adopt them without a huge struggle.
Why Are Good Habits So Important?
Good habits are positive behaviors that come naturally.
Once you develop good habits, success is no longer based on what you do. It’s based on who you are.
A killer set of abs. A thriving social life. Or a bulging bank account. They’re all acquired through good habits.
When you set yourself for success, it’s hard to lose. If you practice a new useful behavior consistently — whether it’s exercising or saving money — it becomes a habit. And once it becomes a habit, the behavior is automatic. It’s part of who you are. Results follow without having to think about it.
Of course, if these things are looking unhealthy, that’s also based on your habits. Most people aren’t aware of how to develop good habits and stick to them. Some aren’t even aware of what habits would help them improve their lives.
Learn how to develop good habits and you have a huge headstart. You won’t have to wrack your brains looking for the solution to success or wrestle with your willpower.
You’ll just win.
Why Is It Difficult to Adopt Good Habits?
Essentially, the brain only wants to keep you alive using as little effort as possible. The less conscious decisions it has to make, the better. Studies show up to 45% of daily decisions are based on habits.
The human brain loves habits, due to its desire to not work hard. It also loves certainty, due to its primary function of keeping you alive. After all, there’s far less danger of dying (immediately) through doing the things you’ve always done. Even if they’re ‘bad habits’ at their core…
It also explains why it takes so much willpower to try something new.
However, if you can push through those tough first few days, your brain begins to accept the new behavior. It has seen evidence that the activity is safe.
After a while, it takes more mental effort to resist it than accept it.
How To Choose Good Habits
The first step to choosing good habits is envisioning your ideal end result. What are you hoping to achieve?
Write it down. It will serve as a powerful motivation, especially if you include WHY you want it. How will your life improve if you succeed? How will it make you happier? Create a detailed vision you’re compelled to chase.
From there, research people who have reached your goal. This will prove your dream is possible. It’ll also provide a source of good daily habits to copy.
Most celebrity entrepreneurs have revealed the habits they credit for their success, such as Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. Even if you don’t want to work as hard as the world’s elite, you can still improve your life by stealing their habits.
Let’s now explore some common habits of the world’s most successful people.
Good Habits For Health and Fitness
Regular Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise doesn’t only provide physical benefits. It’s great for your mental health too.
In Thomas C Corley’s study of 177 self-made millionaires, some 76% of them engaged in aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
Studies show it increases your body’s glucose production. Glucose is frequently dubbed ‘brain fuel’ because of the mental energy it provides.
Exercise also increases the production of dopamine, dubbed the ‘happiness chemical’. It’s a proven method of releasing stress and alleviating anxiety. Studies have also suggested it boosts creativity and productivity.
Preparing Your Own Meals
Healthy eating is another habit which provides a huge list of physical and mental benefits.
It’s simple enough to create a healthy eating schedule on a lean budget. You just need to get organized.
Choose a time to travel to the farmer’s market and bulk buy your ingredients. Dedicate a few hours to batch-cooking your meals for the week.
No wonder it’s practiced by so many Olympians.
Good Habits For Finance and Wealth
Create a Household Budget
Maintaining a household budget is the best habit to help you save money.
Start by writing down your dream purchase, when you’d like to buy it and how much you need to save per month to do this. You now have a savings goal.
Next, create monthly budgets for each area of your spending. This could include food & drink, transport, rent/bills, leisure, children etc.
Finally, track your spending to ensure you stay within budget. Adopt a minimalist living to be frugal and save more in the long-term.
Stick to your budget and you’ll have your dream purchase by your deadline.
A household budget helps to encourage frugality and discourage impulse spending. You’ll feel more motivated to engage in other good financial habits once you’ve got this in place.
It just takes a few minutes a day to keep your budget up to date. Personal finance software, such as Mint, Moneydance or You Need A Budget, can assist you.
Financial audits are crucial in a business setting but can be equally important for your household budget.
This involves frequent checks as to whether you’re spending your money as wisely as possible.
Do you have the best deal on your insurance, utility bills or tech contracts? Are there any upcoming journeys you can save money on by booking in advance? Are your savings earning as much interest as possible? Do you have any unnecessary direct debits that need canceling?
It could be beneficial to conduct these audits at least quarterly.
Good Habits For Productivity
Waking Up Early
Some people are at their most productive in the early hours of the morning. If you’re one of them, why not take advantage by setting your alarm before the crack of dawn?
In Thomas C Corley’s study of self-made millionaires, it was discovered around half of them woke up at least three hours before their workday began. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Virgin boss Richard Branson, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are among those who rise before 6 am.
Your productivity levels will be boosted by the lack of distractions at this time. It gives you a headstart on the day, creating a sense of added control in your life.
This habit isn’t easy to adopt. Give yourself a fighting chance by going to bed earlier. Arm yourself with an outfit already prepared for the day and a list of tasks to complete during these early hours.
Meditation involves sitting still, removing all thoughts and focusing on your breath. It’s recommended to practice it for at least 20 minutes a day.
Those unfamiliar with the benefits may feel like it’ll harm their productivity. A common objection is they ‘don’t have time’ to sit and breathe for 20 minutes a day.
However, during this time, you’ll train your mind to remain focused and not to wander into daydreams. In doing so, you’ll make that 20 minutes and more back with increased productivity.
What’s more, meditation has been known to help improve sleep quality and decrease stress. Studies have also linked meditation to stronger memory and improved physical health.
It could, therefore, be argued you don’t have time not to meditate.
How to Avoid Bad Habits
In his book “The Power Of Habit”, Charles Duhigg explains how habits are formed in three parts.
- Cue — The scenario that triggers the desire to engage in the habit. It’s usually a time of day, a set of surroundings, a specific emotion or a set of ritualized behaviors
- Routine — The action itself
- Reward — The reason you feel good having engaged in the habit. This is usually the satisfaction of a specific craving
With this information, you can replace any bad habit with a healthier one that offers the same reward.
How to Stick to Good Habits
By replacing your bad habits with better ones, you may already be well on your way to success.
After all, the development of most good habits involves cutting bad ones.
- Losing weight involves cutting out snacking
- Productivity involves cutting procrastination and focusing on Deep Work
- Financial prosperity involves cutting your impulse spending
Still, it’s not always easy to stick with the good habits that replace the bad ones. Here are some actions that will help you.
Set Yourself Up For Small Wins
In his book “Atomic Habits“, James Clear explains the importance of setting achievable goals and building on them. Small wins make you feel good about setting targets, highlight your progression and prove that success is possible. Without these stepping stones, it’s easy to get disheartened and give up.
If you have a goal of becoming more active, buy a pedometer and set a target of walking 1,000 steps. Add an extra 1,000 steps every couple of days and you’ll be at the often-cited milestone of 10,000 steps within 21 days. Now, try and stick at 10,000 for the next 21 days!
These small targets stop you from being overwhelmed by your long-term goal.
Remember Your Long-Term Goal
A compelling long-term goal can be your most powerful motivator. If your ‘why’ is strong enough, you’ll find your ‘how’.
Remember your long-term goal at all times. Create a vision board. Make affirmations. Put it on your phone’s lock screen. Whatever it takes.
James Clear suggests framing these goals as the person you’re aiming to become, as well as the things you aiming to get. These types of goals are much harder to give up on.
Create Emotional Leverage
Many people become more inspired by envisioning what their life will look if they don’t become the best version of themselves.
How would it feel if you:
- remained too fat to chase your children around the garden?
- could never afford to take your family to Disneyland?
- were stuck in your dead-end job forever?
Fear is a powerful motivator. The answer to these questions often creates enough of it to kickstart people into action.
Create a Reward For Good Habits
Most vices behind bad habits — including drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes — trigger an immediate dopamine surge in our bodies. This is why they’re so hard to break away from.
Meanwhile, good habits don’t tend to cause any immediate gratification. It can be useful to create your own rewards when you stick with your new habit:
- A square of dark chocolate after you go to the gym
- An hour of Fortnite if you complete your to-do list
- A new shirt if you go for a month without snacking
Without these rewards, day-to-day life will appear miserable and you’ll eventually lose the desire to stay on your path.
Start As Soon As Possible
They say the hardest part of going to the gym is getting in your car and traveling there.
Indeed, the pain of engaging in most good habits is often exaggerated in our head.
That’s why it’s important to do the damn thing as quickly as you can. Have as many aspects of the tasks pre-prepared as possible.
If you’re still not feeling it, give yourself a tiny goal to get started. Maybe it’s just to write the next paragraph of your novel or to upload one item to eBay. Often, you’ll notice the urge to keep going once you’ve started.
The Bottom Line
Success is a hard slog. In the early going, it’s not always fun.
Most of us know what it takes to succeed in our chosen field. Very few of us put in the required effort.
If you ever want to enjoy the fruits of success, you’ll need to train your brain to accept the strain.
And that’s all ‘habit development’ really is: teaching your mind to accept what’s good for it.
By learning how to do this, you can climb to the very top without it even feeling too difficult.