We all know a successful person when we see one, but what really goes on behind the scenes? In their personal lives, the savvy investors, competent businessmen and A-list celebrities we’ve come to admire each have their own routines and regimes, some stranger than others. While author Leo Tolstoy chose to renounce his money and make his own shoes, and composer Ludwig van Beethoven started each day hand-counting 60 coffee beans for the perfect cuppa joe, that’s not to see it will work for you. No two people are the same and find the balance between routine and reward can be a challenging task.
Truly, the habits of successful people are a mixed bag but there are some consistencies across the board, and it’s here that you can build the foundations for a fulfilled life. You are what you frequently do, and if you switch up your day-to-day to bring these success habits into your routine you’ll reap the benefits in no time. It can take anywhere from 21-66 days of deliberate effort to turn an activity into a true part of your everyday life, so keep checking in and we’ll see you on the other side.
Here are our 10 habits of successful people.
1. Wake Up Early (Without an Alarm)
No day has ever started asleep. That’s a fact. But heaps of days have been wasted sleeping. If you can control your body clock, and routinely nail those 6am starts, you’ll be well on your way to crushing each day. On the other hand, a built habit of snoozing your alarm can leave you groggy and unmotivated in the mornings.
Amazon CEO and former world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos reportedly refuses to set an alarm each night, making sure that he gets at least eight hours of sleep, irrespective of the time. Similarly, media magnate Arianna Huffington does not believe in the premise of an alarm clock. “Just think about the definition of the word alarm,” Huffington said in an interview with CNBC, “a sudden fear or distressing suspense caused by an awareness of danger.”
Historically, waking up early has been an favourite habit of successful people. French composer Erik Satie reportedly rose each day at 7:18am on the dot, have lunch strictly at 12:11pm, then dinner at 7:16pm, ensuring his body clock was firing on all cylinders.
While this may sound ridiculous, there is merit to the success habit. Beginning the day without an alarm and creating a routine allows you ease into the day without the flood of stress hormones you are used to. Whatever you find works to help get you up on time, meet it halfway by making sure you get to bed early. Maybe don’t have that 4pm coffee.
2. Read More
Your brain is a muscle, use it or lose it. While getting sucked into a good book is an excellent way to lose an afternoon, and definitely has its benefits, self-help, non-fiction and improvement tomes are really where you’ll make swole brain gains.
In an interview with CNBC, investor Warren Buffett revealed that he starts every morning pouring over newspapers, estimating he spends at least 80 per cent of his day reading. “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it,” he said.
Maybe start making stops at your local library an essential part of your week. However you find getting books to you works best, but never forget how hungry your brain is for more info, it literally wants to do nothing else but learn, let it play every now and then.
3. Prioritise Exercise
Exercise is the easiest part of your day to skip. ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ has crossed the mind of every casual gym go-er, but if you don’t set aside a specific time to work on your body, one day it will fail you. Successful people will carve out that time.
Take Microsoft founder Bill Gates for example. The tech-wizard and philanthropist reportedly likes to multitask during his morning treadmill workouts by watching DVDs.
4. 15-20mins of Self-Focused Thinking a day
Taking a little break from the intense over-sensory world we live in is an essential habit in almost every success guide we came across. Creating a calm space where you can engage in the kind of deep thought that is necessary to make a real change to yourself will pay off tenfold in a year.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner regularly tweets about his love of meditation, suggesting the practice allows him to strategise and work proactively. “Part of the key to time management is carving out time to think, as opposed to constantly reacting,” Weiner said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
While brushing this aside to make time for others may feel more ‘productive’ in the short term, it’s a quick road to burnout. In life, much like on aeroplanes, you need to help yourself before you’re able to help anyone else.
5. Act Analytically: Organise, Plan and Take Action
Critical analysis is man’s true best friend. Say what you want about the thumb separating beast from man, knowing where to put it has always been a vital facet of our journey from ape-hood. If you apply that same problem-solving aptitude to the issues you encounter daily, you’re bound to find results.
When confronted with a hurdle, you wouldn’t just run at it blindly. Sit back and take the time to work out the height of the problem you face, and which foot you should be jumping off. Planning is instrumental in the story of all success. Making it a habit is a huge step in realising that success for yourself.
6. Surround Yourself With People that Inspire You
By now we must’ve all heard that our incomes are probably the average of our five closest friends. We naturally associate with people we are the most akin to. If you flip that notion and start surrounding yourself with mentors, idols and inspirational figures, you will pick up all that you need to help you. As long as you are providing something in return it’s a certainty that this will lead to improvements in ways you would never expect.
Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Surrounding yourself with inspirational souls can be the doorway to that opportunity.
7. Set Personal Goals and Chase Them
An absolute staple in the skillset of successful people is the ability to turn dreams into reality. Taking a concept from its home, inside your head, and chipping away at every little bit of it, until you have a tangible, existent, object is an unparalleled joy.
Essential in this process is the setting of clear personal goals. Maybe you need a notebook, or a planner, or a whiteboard. But put your goals down somewhere you can see them, it’ll remind you to work towards them and lets you know that through the simple act of putting pen to paper you are have already started to turn thoughts into reality.
8. Have Multiple Incomes
Never have all your eggs in one basket. It’s an oldie, but a goldie. With “gig-based economy” being heard every third word on the news, diversifying your income has become the fresh new thing to be touted as a golden step on the path to success. Essential to this is building your skills and then acting on your new and improved skill set.
It is never too late to start investing either. But do so wisely.
9. Be Frugal Not Stingy
There is a world of difference between frugality and stinginess. Frugality is a developed habit based on not spending money unnecessarily. Stinginess is a miserly connection to money purely in the hopes of amassing enough in gold coins to bathe in.
Frugal people are successful people. They’re smart with their money, they negotiate, budget and save. To this end, keeping a budget is the first excellent step to maintaining true financial freedom. Beyond that, don’t fear spending money, it’s an essential aspect of the world we live in. Just don’t spend money you don’t have.
Remember, we’re all in this together. Whatever your measure for success is, be unashamed and unafraid to broadcast that to the world. You’ll inspire others with the work you do, and open the door up for huge inspiration in return. Once you’ve shown that you’re working on yourself, the offers for improvement will flood in. Chris Rock describes this more elegantly than we ever could:
“I’d always end up broken down on the highway. When I stood there trying to flag someone down, nobody stopped. But when I pushed my own car, other drivers would get out and push with me. If you want help, help yourself – people like to see that.”
What are the habits of successful people?
There are no set rules for what makes a successful person. We've identified a few, tenacity, organisation, commitment.
What are the 5 habits of success?
There are a million answers to this question. We believe there's far more than 5. Ultimately, the habits of success are the ones that work for you. Try something out, if it doesn't work, try something else.
How do you develop a successful habit?
You work at it, consciously, everyday until it's a part of your world. It can take weeks, or months, of repeated action to ingrain a habit.