When you hear yourself complaining about what appears to be a slow rise to success, I recommend immediately googling “habits of successful people” and really listening to the messages being shared on blogs and vlogs that are available, quite literally, at your fingertips. Are you engaging in these behaviours, or the opposite?
Here are a few that have worked well for me:
1. Wake up early
If you grew up with a parent telling you that the “early bird gets the worm,” you may be tempted to roll your eyes at this one. The bottom line is, however, that the advice is sound. People who wake up early tend to get more done, have more energy and time to reflect, are more self-disciplined, and are more alert when the opportunity strikes. Your parent was right. Skip the snooze button.
2. Show up on time
You may think that showing up half an hour late to your friend’s birthday dinner is inconsequential to your success. What harm could it do, right? But firm habits die hard. By being on time, we show our respect for others’ time. We inspire trust in people and become more highly valued. When a business opportunity strikes, or a job becomes available, your friend is unlikely to extend the lead if they think of you as the flaky, tardy, no-show. When a promotion comes around, and you’re always at your desk five minutes late, guess what? It will be the early bird who gets that worm, even if you’re the more productive bird. Show up on time.
3. Acknowledge and seek to understand the beliefs and values of others
He who stands for nothing falls for everything. In the same light, he who stands against everything without making the effort to understand it risks missing out on valuable learning. You may not value the same things as other people; this does not mean that you cannot learn from them anyway. Engage in open discussion and approach people, especially those who really challenge your paradigm, with integrity. It is the mark of a wise person to hold two opposing beliefs in his/her mind at once with the full acceptance that they can both be, given the context, entirely true.
4. Do the math
Before making any financial decision, do the math. As Dave Ramsey points out, most people who are 10k in credit card debt did not go out and make one 10k purchase beyond their means. They made a thousand 10 dollar purchases beyond their means. Do the math.
5. Take responsibility for your failures
Playing the victim puts you in an eternal cycle of failure. Acknowledging and taking responsibility for your failures means that you can learn from them, and won’t make the same mistakes again. As a result, you will be better positioned to succeed.
6. Engage in intentional positive thinking
What we think, we become. Our thoughts may appear to be hidden in the most private crevices of our minds, but they manifest in our lives in a very transparent way. If you think you can do it, you can. If you think you can’t do it, you can’t. Be intentional about your thoughts and think like somebody else is watching. Recognize the potential for success, and then go get it.
7. Practice gratitude every day
Like all good things, gratitude requires practice and persistence. Don’t cheap out on the time you need to say your thanks. If you see the beauty in life, life will reflect more of its beauty at you. It may be a cliche, but “smile, and the world will smile back at you” is a piece of advice you should be taking very seriously. Successful people take the time to give their thanks to God, to others, and to the universe. They recognize the abundance, and so their life reflects more of what they are grateful for right back at them.
8. Design your home with heart
Where we live and where we work are the two most constant spaces where we spend most of our lives. Regardless of size, location, or monetary value, home is really where the heart is. Your home and office are visible reflections of your mind. Keep them organized and clean. Get rid of the clutter. Just as a healthy mind lives in a healthy body, so does a healthy soul live in a healthy space. Successful people only keep what is useful to their growth. If it no longer serves a purpose, get rid of it.
9. Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place
Rumi was not particularly talking about success when he wrote those words, but he did touch on a very profound cornerstone in the path to success. Being adaptable is key to achievement. You have one lifetime and there is a big world out there to explore. Don’t confine yourself to a corner. Be ready for change, and make the most of it. Successful people do not let a place dictate their happiness or strength of spirit. They are strong wherever they are placed, like boulders.
10. Remember that you are mortal
You have one life, and it will come to an end. It could be in 60 years, in 10 years, or tomorrow. Coming to terms with this will keep you alert to the fact that a moment spent cannot be regained. You cannot buy back time. You cannot make more time. You cannot press rewind; at least not yet! Make the most of every moment. Do not put off until tomorrow what can be done today. Successful people are always moving. Leave stagnation for the dead.
BONUS 11. Take care of something other than yourself
If you have children, you already know that caring for another soul can really light a fire under your ass. You might not be ready to have children, so adopt a pet. Save an animal from an unfortunate fate and take care of it. If you cannot adopt a pet, engage in charitable donations or volunteer work. Successful people give back to their communities because they know that what goes around comes around. What you put into the world, you will get back two fold. This, I can promise you.
And remember… we design our own luck!