How can I be more successful in life and business?
They often think it's luck or being in the right place at the right time.
The truth is success usually comes down to the decisions that you make every day.
In other words, it's your habits that often determine your success in any endeavor.
With that in mind, I asked 43 experts and bloggers from various fields (personal finance, productivity, minimalism and self-help) to answer one simple question:
What's your #1 daily success habit?
What's interesting is that 14 experts identified the habit of planning their day the night before (usually through a to-do list) as their #1 habit. On the other hand, eight pointed to meditation and/or prayer (as part of a morning routine) as their trick to being successful. Others credited practicing consistent self-enrichment activities, such as reading, writing or listening to podcasts first thing in the morning.
Read on to find out the details for each success habit…
In order to answer to this question, I first have to define “success”. For me, success is not necessarily money in the bank. Or fame. Or possessions. For me, success is happiness acknowledged. And, for me, happiness is a process, not a goal. Hence, my number one habit for keeping the processes going on is discipline. Or the ability to do things even when I don't like to do them.
I start each day by ‘activating my brain'. This means that I avoid any and all technology for the first hour(s) of the day, until I've achieved a critical mass of internally generated mental focus. I usually do this by reading, writing and reflecting or meditating. This helps to keep me focused and creative throughout most of the remainder of the day, at which point I execute on my to-do list.
My #1 daily success habit professionally is investing 15 minutes every morning to identify my top 3 not negotiable activities for completion today. I do it every day and write it on a post it note that says ‘Today I will …' and list my three.
My #1 daily success habit personally is that every day I send one thank you note (mostly hand written notes) or send one text message to thank someone or leave one voicemail to thank someone.
Hands down, my #1 daily success habit is my morning walk.
I walk four miles (about an hour and 15 minutes for me at a comfortable pace). My morning walk serves as exercise, and a walking meditation practice. I often listen to audiobooks and podcasts for a good portion of the walk, as well.
My morning walk clears my head but also sets the stage for good ideas to “pop” into my head. Some people do their best thinking in the shower…for me it's my walk! This prompts me to journal my good ideas using my iPhone's voice function in the DayOne app.
All in all, my morning walk serves me as a true keystone habit; one that sets in motion a series of additional positive changes that complement and build on one another.
My most important daily success habit is that I schedule everything.
I usually take some time at the beginning of each week to plan out what I want to accomplish each day, and have push notifications sent to my phone to make sure I remember to do these things throughout the week. I schedule everything from my working hours to when I want to go grocery shopping. Everything. At the end of each week I always feel like I've accomplished a lot and I don't feel exhausted because I've planned out my week at a steady, easy pace.
To make this as universally applicable as possible we will strip away the fat and leave you with two words, “Thank You”. If you want to create momentum or ‘success’ in your life through the introduction of one daily habit it would definitely start with those two words. The minute you wake from any form of rest let those two words fall from your lips and be envisioned in your mind’s eye. You may choose to direct these words of intention towards God (source) that you were blessed with another day of life, or maybe even to the fact that you had a bed to sleep in last night. The focal point of this exercise is to recognize that you won’t be starting your day from the position of lack any longer. Watch how different your interactions are throughout the week as you jump out of bed in a triggered state of appreciation for life.
I always write down on a piece of paper what I want to achieve the following day, the night before. I have had this habit for many years now and it improved my productivity tenfold. Knowing what your goals are for the following day means you can get off to a flying start. A sure fire way to become more successful.
My most important daily habit is lists. I write a list every night for the following day. I run through the day in my head and write out every appointment, task and detail that I need to accomplish. I always write my to-do lists for work in the same notebook and keep it in the same place. It helps my day run so much smoother.
My favorite daily success habit is to read for an hour every morning. I think the most successful people are the people who connect the most dots. And to connect dots, you have to acquire as many new dots as possible—in the form of new ideas, experiences, knowledge, and mistakes. Reading for an hour every morning—especially about topics I know nothing about or are out of my wheelhouse—gives me more dots to connect my own ideas to, so I can level up and solve problems more creatively and intelligently.
Whenever I dive deep into the lives of the most successful people, I invariably notice the same thing: the one thing these people have in common is they connect more dots than anyone else. Reading for an hour every morning is my favorite way to do that.
Persistence. No matter what else happens, I keep going. Sometimes things are going well, sometimes not so well. Sometimes things are flowing, and sometimes it feels like I've hit a brick wall. The key for me is to keep going however I can and to never, never give up.
My number one success habit is to create a plan for your day. When doing so, identify the most important tasks that you can complete with the time and resources that will be available to you e.g. time, people, tools etc. You do not have to pack every minute of your day with tasks. Instead, just start with the most important task that you can complete at that time and, when that task is complete; move on to the next most important task. When you create a plan that allows you to do this, you move more effectively through your day. Also, even on days where you don’t get a large quantity of work done, you can still have a great day due to the quality and importance of the work you get done.
My #1 daily success habit is nothing revolutionary, but it works for me. Each night I write out several tasks for the next day — at least one thing for each of my business and personal goals. Then the next day I actually do everything on the list. No excuses. Consistent progress, even if it's slow at times, is what has brought me the most success.
Making a daily plan. It's my operating procedures so I know my firm commitments and priorities. It also acts as a decision making tool to determine whether or not to take action now on new things that come up.
The daily habit that has had the most significant impact on my life would easily be one of the most simple ones – taking 5-10 minutes each night to plan the following day.
I simply review my bigger goals and my plan for the week/month and map out my schedule for the following day. A lot of the time it's pre-planned on a Sunday night but every night offers an opportunity for review and tweaking as necessary.
It means that when I wake up every day and I am 100% clear on what it is I'm working towards.
18. Steve Mueller – Planet of Success
My number one success habit clearly would be the combination of gratefulness and the constant drive for improvement. What does this mean?
First of all, establishing thankfulness as the proper foundation of my life. In my opinion, this is the most crucial step, because it helps to make yourself aware of the beauty of your life. If you cannot appreciate that which you have, it might be very difficult to truly appreciate the things that you are striving for. Many people find themselves in a position of emptiness sometime after reaching their deepest desires. As a result of this, they end up in a constant rat race trying to reach ever more just to fill an emptiness that is within themselves.
Second aspect is to constantly strive for improvement in your life. If you so want, this is a challenge yourself to constantly find out areas of improvements in your private but also professional life. The idea behind this concept is of course to grow inch by inch day of the day. It might appear as a very slow growth, but in the end one realizes that it is a continuous and long-lasting personal growth.
My #1 Success Habit is to Feed Your Mind. Just like we need to feed our body with good nutrition, we need to feed our mind with good information. This can be done in a number of ways, although my favorites are to listen to inspirational and educational audio CD's or MP3's (can be done while driving, or doing household chores) and reading good books on personal development, business or creating wealth.
20. Arman Assadi, solopreneur, writer, and productivity expert at ArmanAssadi.com
My #1 daily success habit is going through my morning ritual, and specifically, doing 20 minutes of meditation.
My ritual is dynamic, but this is the general outline:
Wake up at 6:00 AM
Hydrate: drink a massive glass of water immediately
Exercise: 20 minute jog or quick workout at home
Meditation: 20 minutes (this is the foundation of my morning ritual and a critical piece of my effectiveness)
Empty mind: do a “brain dump" and plan day
Shower: generally begins warm and ends cold
Breakfast: drink a green vegetable smoothie
Learn: 30 minutes of reading a book, catching up on articles, or listening to an audio program
Work: begin working on most important task of the day (highest leverage)
21. Mike Vardy, productivity strategist, creator of Beyond Productivity, and founder of Productivityist
My number 1 daily success habit is my completing my evening routine without fail. I am a night owl, so I know that my awareness and willpower is lower in the morning so by journaling at night and then mapping out my day the night before I end up handling the day ahead with far more missions in mind than questions hanging in the air. The evening routine effectively closes my day, which allows me get to sleep faster, be more restful while sleeping, and then go into the next day with a plan of attack that was developed by a wiser, more coherent version of myself.
My #1 habit is that every morning when I first sip my coffee, I look out my window at the beauty where I live. I say “thank you" for everything that has brought me to this place in my life. This moment of gratitude opens my heart and keeps me humble so I can use my passion in service of what I am creating instead of falling into fear, eg0-driven decisions and disappointments, or just plain overwhelm by all that there is to do. The longer I can stay in a grateful, happy and hopeful place, the more successful my day is.
In today’s world, we too often fall into the trap of thinking that if we’re not doing something, writing something or actively participating in an activity, we’re not working. Building in time to think, and time for the unexpected, is essential. I try to leave extra time in between appointments, but more importantly, I block out time in my calendar on a weekly basis to plan and strategize. This helps me make sure I’m not only doing things well, I’m working on the right things to advance my business.
My #1 daily success habit is to sit down and create a to-do list, which focuses on what I want to accomplish during that day. I highlight my top priorities and key action steps. This allows me to get into a positive and focused mindset before embarking on my daily activities. When I fail to do this, I find I can get lost in the “urgent, not important" actions and lose traction on my core projects.
26. Mike Schmitz – Asian Efficiency
My #1 daily success habit: Do your most important tasks first – At Asian efficiency, we call this “eating your frog,” a phrase from a book by Brian Tracy that originally came from Mark Twain. The Mark Twain quote goes like this: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The basic idea is that if you do your most important tasks first (when you have the most willpower, focus, and energy) then no matter what else happens during the day you'll have made major progress toward accomplishing your goals.
My #1 daily success habit is to upkeep a task list that is visited daily. By keeping my tasks within a to do system (Remember the Milk for me), I am able to keep my mind clear of holding on to those tasks. I am also able to make sure that I have not overlooked any tasks that need to be completed. My task list is essential for the success of my business and the assistance I give to small business owners!
Honestly it feels weird to answer definitively because, as a stay-at-home mother of three young children, “success” is a word I would rarely choose to describe my daily experience. 🙂 In the name of answering the question directly, however, I'd have to say prayer. Intentionally choosing to pray continually throughout the day is one way I stay connected to the Creator, grounded in faith and hope, and oriented correctly in priorities. Prayer has the ability to turn around even the most difficult days and the most stubborn of bad habits.
My #1 daily success habit is to read and write every day. I know that sounds simple, but in practice it's challenging. When we're busy, we can get caught up with the concerns of our day or simply wanting to relax with friends. Both are important cues to stress, but no matter the busyness of my day, it's vital for me to read and write. I read everything from non-fiction to sci-fi, and I love everything I can get my hands on. Right now I'm reading Einstein's biography by Walter Isaacson and I have a whole lineup of fiction when I finish. By reading and then writing every day, I train my brain to incorporate new words, sentence structures, and styles. I'm able to add flourish to my writing, while gaining inspiration from new authors. As a writer in many forms — from scholarly articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals to personal finance articles on my blog — this skill is essential to my work.
My #1 daily success habit is writing. I write for a living, so there’s that, but writing is a fascinating way to explore your inner thoughts. I’ve never met someone who has journaled and said that it wasn’t worthwhile. There’s something special about exporting your thoughts to a new place where they become independent. When a thought is detached from you in that way, you can analyze it more objectively and learn a lot from it. Others can learn from it as well, which is why I write books!
The habitual component of my writing is extremely important. Before, I would write 1,000 words one day and then not write for several days. When I created a mini habit of writing 50 words per day, I wrote at least a little bit every day, and magical things started to happen. My writing improved from daily practice, my resistance to write decreased, and my output increased by at least 4x! Whether or not you consider yourself a writer, there’s a lot of benefit to be gained by doing something as simple as journaling about your thoughts or your day. Commit to a small, too-easy-to-fail daily goal and you’ll be surprised at the difference it can make!
My #1 daily success habit? Just do the work anyway even if you don’t feel like it. Feel f**ked up and do it anyway. You can’t escape the feeling of boredom, tiredness and even dread. So even if you don’t feel up for it, just do it anyway. You’ll feel accomplished after that.
Also, don’t make any decisions while you’re in bed after you wake up. You’d be too groggy and tired to really feel like you’re up for anything.
Writing my goals for the next day before I go to sleep always helps me stay focused on the important without allowing various distractions to get in the way.
35. Remez Sasson – Success Consciousness
There are many things done each day, so it is not easy to say what is #1. I would say that one of the most important, and which can be placed as first, is to write a few pages every day. This could be a few pages for a new book or a new article.
My most powerful daily success habit is the practice of gratitude. Life (and business) is beautifully unpredictable and taking ownership of my emotions — regardless of the circumstances — is a key component of the positive outcomes I create. I’ve found that even in the most challenging situations there is always a reason to be thankful; it may only be a glimmer of something good — a small kindness extended or lesson learned — but it’s enough to keep me moving forward. Celebrating the wonderfully phenomenal things that show up while also being committed to digging deep and reframing difficult situations is both empowering and energizing; it creates the perfect incubator for success.
I'll confess: habits and I have never gotten along. To me the word ‘habit' has represented beautiful creative thought forced into unconscious routine. Throughout my life, “dug-in” mental patterns have not helped guide healthy choices or positive behaviors, in business or in life! They led me into assuming one action will lead to definite success (ie “Write 500 words a day = book in a month!”), self-comparisons and lofty expectations (ie “If [Successful Person] is doing it, then I will start to do it, too!”). You may feel differently about habits, but if you feel like such habits lead you astray, try my 1 success “habit” instead:
Break one unconscious thought pattern (or habit) on more days than not, and replace it with an action or deed that is self-nourishing. Strengthen and reaffirm your resilience to your (future) goals and dreams by (presently) investing care, consideration, peace and compassion in the nourishing of your body, mind and soul. Cook yourself something delicious, turn off technology, go for a walk outside, take a yoga class, write your lover a letter. Nourish yourself, and relish the openness, presence and creative possibility that always await you.
What's my #1 daily success habit? I would have to say that it's Prayer + Meditation. These two bring so much love, clarity, beauty, grace and wisdom into my life and I would not be able to live without them.
I'd say my success habit is listening to myself. Listening to what makes me come alive. I don't force myself to do things because I think I should, or because I think they'll get me to my goals. My priority is to myself. When I'm doing what I love, I'm already where I need to be. I listen to life, and life seems to work.
My #1 daily success habit is keeping ideas, inspiration, quotes, articles and information stored inEvernote. It acts as my digital brain and allows me to connect ideas that wouldn't ordinarily be paired together. From that cocktail of ideas, new ideas are generated that open up some fun possibilities.
I have many habits that I have developed over time which have all contributed to my success. These habits include daily exercise, scheduling my week and keeping my inbox clear but my number one habit has to be meditation.
My life takes on a different pace and energy when I stick to my daily meditation habit, I have more clarity and focus and I am able to manage the daily stresses of life much more effectively.
My #1 daily success habit is to see the big picture and ask myself if future me would be happy with my daily choices. In the midst of all the pressures on me each day I can lose sight of my life goals and get discouraged. Our life is determined by the daily, seemingly insignificant choices we make accumulating over time. Every decision counts. Keep your eyes focused on where you want to end up and you'll go in that direction.
Definitely exercise. Now that I'm wearing an Apple Watch it keeps reminding me to “fill in the fitness circles” – so every day I try to do something to exercise. I work from home so I have the liberty to for example take a break at 2pm for an hour, go out for a jog or bike ride, come back, take a quick shower and be back at full productivity. This helps me recharge batteries and just feel better overall. And gives me an additional “win” that day. Everyone can make time to get exercise if only a few minutes a day.
My No. 1 daily success habit is to start the day off right. I start each day with an hour of exercise. While I'm exercising, I listen to business books to stay updated on the latest in my industry. A healthy breakfast complete with a fruit and vegetable smoothie comes next, followed by a shower. I relax and think about the day ahead while in the shower. This routine helps me focus and jumpstart my day so that I'm ready to work when I get to the office.
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