Continual activity directed towards a goal creates a sense of momentum or as I like to say progress . In other words your habits determine your progress and overall your successes and failures. We all have good and bad habits that are derived from the relatively small decisions we make every day. In turn, our habits are directly correlated and caused by our minuscule day to day choices.
“Success is actually a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.” – Gary Keller, The One Thing
Instead of hearing about habits from me I figured I would pick the brains of those far smarter than I. Amazing people like, Elon Musk, Gary Keller, Napoleon Hill, Stephen R. Covey and more!
Habit 1, From The One Thing
Cut The Crap. What Do You Really Need To Get Done?
In a world of constant stimulation everything can feel like it is an immediate priority. A common mistake many make is falling victim to too much opportunity and for lack of a better word, distraction. Trying to do too much at any given time forces you to not give projects the time and dedication they need to be done exceptionally well. As Gary Keller states in The One Thing“Success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.” Although many things will pull at you throughout your day you must narrow your focus to the one thing you need to do to make progress in your goals. I talked about progress and the massive life changing power behind it in my last article!
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How to do it:
Gary Keller’s advice for fighting distraction is to start blocking your schedule. For example allocate 3 hours every morning from 9am to 12 in order to do your one thing. Don’t allow emails, kids, eating, or anything else to distract you from getting this important work done. Those can come before or after but NOT during. “Where I’d had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too.” – Gary Keller
Habit 2, From 50 Life and Business Lessons from Elon Musk
“Lesson 19: You will put your best efforts into pursuing an idea if it excites you. Yes, there has to be a business case for that idea too, but it is far more rewarding (and more likely to succeed) if your business is also a passion.” – 50 Life and Business Lessons from Elon Musk
Be passionate about your career and the work you do. Create a life you love living. Structure your habits and environments around this deep burning passion.
How to do this:
Figure out the top 5 things that make you smile and make habits that begin to incorporate those activities into your life on a daily basis if possible. Be passionate about life, your career, your mental and physical health, your opportunities and the wonderful people you get to surround yourself with. Create habits and environments that fuel your passion!
Habit 3, From The One Thing
Identify Your “No’s”,
Often times we set our goals and create our action plans to complete them. What we fail to do is identify what we will have to say no to. In The One Thing, Gary Keller explains that identifying what we must say no to is what I believe to be the most imperative part of realistically achieving any goal. The action plan we must take to achieve the goal is important but identifying what you will not be doing in the future proves to be far more imperative. For example if you are trying to lose weight your action plan may look something like this: I will go to the gym 4 times a week and do a mix of cardio and weight training. I will eat healthy whole food meals for breakfast lunch and dinner. This is an excellent plan but if you want true success in meeting your goal you must identify what you will be saying no to. I will say no to my snooze button even when it is cold and I am tired because getting to the gym before work is a must for me. I will say no to the holiday office treats when we are at our end of the year party. I will say no when everyone stops at a fast food spot for a quick bite even though it’s convenient and I am hungry. I will say no to myself when I try to use a holiday or long weekend as an excuse to skip the gym. What you have to say no to is far more crucial in your success than what you get to say yes to.
How to do this:
In order to successfully reach your goals you must create an environment that promotes, encourages and supports your goals. You want to create an environment that supports your time block and your ability to say no to the things that do not help your progress. Avoid situations that will chip away at your success. Playing off of the previous example we discussed, when it comes to losing weight and eating out make sure you’re choosing restaurants that set you up for success. There are far more healthier option at a Panera than at a Mcdonalds. Always remember to keep your goals in mind when you are making decisions and choices.
“What I’ve learned is that when you clear the path to success – that’s when you consistently get there.” – Gary Keller, The One Thing
Habit 4, From Think and Grow Rich
This is something we are all guilty of. Procrastination. Pushing things off till later or saying oh I can do that next month or next year. Unfortunately we all fall victim to procrastination at some point. It is the most common reason people fail. It is the reasons so many elderly people say the common phrase of “I wish I had”. We procrastinate because we believe we have time and we can do it later. We procrastinate because we are unsure in ourselves and we don’t know if we are ready. All of these are excuses that we create ourselves. If you want something to get done. Do it. Excuses result in that thing not getting done. If you are ok with a goal never being achieved then maybe procrastinating isn’t all that bad. But if you want to lose the weight, get the job, make more money, become more fulfilled then procrastination is your all time enemy. If the thought of not achieving that goal could crumble you from the inside out… eliminate procrastination now!
“Most of us go through life as failures, because we are waiting for the ‘time to be right’ to start doing something worthwhile. Do not wait. The time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” – Napoleon Hill
How to do this:
Napoleon Hill explains that “PROCRASTINATION, the opposite of DECISION, is a common enemy which practically every man must conquer.” In order to eliminate procrastination we must make a decision and stick to it. Is this something that needs to get done? If yes, then do it right now. It may be daunting. It may be exhausting. It could be pushed off until later but if is something that needs to get done for you to achieve your goal you must do it immediately. Success does not wait around for those who procrastinate the actions that need to be taken in order to achieve greatness. When faced with procrastination, make the decision to not allow it to get in your way. Do what needs to be done right now.
Habit Tip 5, From The One Thing
Eliminate Willpower From The Equation
Willpower is a controversial subject. Many claim that willpower is like a muscle and the more you work it the more it works for you. Yes that is true but too many people make the mistake thinking that willpower will be there when you need it most. Spoiler alert: It wont! In The One Thing, Gary Keller explains that “willpower has a limited battery life” meaning it is not always there to tap into. Therefore, maximize when willpower is present and use it to create a habit regimen. Create a daily schedule that you stick to regardless of outside influences. These become your non negotiables. They can include your diet, exercise, morning ritual, personal development, time management, water intake, time with kids, meditation and anything else you deem as the most important habits that you desire to practice every single day. As the great Tony Robbins would say, these are the things that are an absolute must, not a should.
How to do this:
Take a few hours. Yes I said hours as in more than one. Take this time to dig deep to your core and figure out what means the absolute most to you in these important sectors of your life: health, love, relationships, finance, career, happiness, mindset, and purpose. What are the things you want to practice and value each and every day? What means the absolute most to you in each of these sectors of your life? What do you want your future to look like in each of these sectors? What actions do you need to implement to get the results you want? Take your answers and write them down on a note card. Stick that note card somewhere you will be forced to see every single morning. These are your non negotiables. When you were in a place of strength, power and love you came up with these core values. These are the habits you want to create that will begin building the foundation of the life you want to live.
Habit 6, From Think and Grow Rich
Become A Master Of Self Discipline
In the book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill presents a list of 30 major causes of failure. These are directly influential of the habits you want to create and your ultimate success. One of the main causes of failure is “Lack of Self Discipline”. In order to achieve success you must be able to control yourself. You must control your mood, your attitude, your actions and your self talk. You must become a master of self discipline by continuously doing what you said you would do. Whether that is going to the gym 4 days a week or reading a book a week or even dedicating every Sunday to learning a new skill to create extra income. Regardless of the goal you have set for yourself in order to achieve it you must master self discipline.
How to do this:
All this means is you must continuously do what you say you’re going to do. Be reasonable about what you can achieve and what you are capable of doing but also push yourself. You never want to lose credibility with yourself. To avoid losing credibility with yourself you must follow through with the standards you set for yourself every single time they are challenged.
Habit 7, From Three Feet From Gold
Tie all of your goals to an emotion. What makes you so passionate about this goal to create an entire action plan? And execute on that plan until you see results wether that take you 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years? What is driving you? What emotions are under the surface once you begin to peel the layers back?
“All thoughts which have been emotionalized and mixed with faith begin immediately to translate themselves into their physical equivalent or counterpart.” – Three Feet From Gold
How to do this:
It is very simple to get emotional about your goals you simply have to tie a strong emotion to your end result. This becomes your “why”. Why you do this every single day and why does this goal matter to you? What will change because you complete your goal? Will this positively affect others? Will it make you feel stronger? Will you be able to help other by achieving this long term goal? Why are you doing what you’re doing every day? What fuels your fire? Dig deep, get emotional and remind yourself every day of your why!
Habit 8, From Think and Grow Rich
One of the reasons people fail, according to Napoleon Hill, is lack of enthusiasm. People fail at meeting their life long goals for lack of enjoyment. I admit, it can be easy to fall into the mundane day to day tasks and activities but I always try to remind myself of all of the things in life that give me energy. What am I passionate about? What do I love doing? I think of all of the reasons I am grateful because I can promise you at any stage in your life there is a lot to be grateful about!
How to do this:
It is simple. Find something you like and enjoy doing. Be grateful you have it. Share your love, passion and enthusiasm with others. Hint: this positivity and level of energy is often times contagious. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself!
Habit 9, From 50 Life and Business Lessons from Elon Musk & Three Feet From Gold
Enjoy Failure, It Is Necessary For Success
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” – Elon Musk
Failure is crucial if you are trying to massively succeed. There is no triumph without trials and tribulations. The road to success is not a straight line. It’s a curved line that goes up and down and sometimes even back and forth. You will fail whether you try to or not. You might as well fail on the road to greatness then fail by lack of trying.
“At one time or another everyone is filled with fear; the only difference between those who are successful and those who are not is that successful people keep going anyway – despite their fear.” – Three Feet From Gold
How to do it:
Get comfortable with the fear of failure. How do you do this? Go all in on your goal whatever that may be. Give yourself the clarity you deserve to go for something you truly believe in. Ignore any outside influence whether that be friends or family that say or think that you may not be able to do it. If this is your vision give yourself the power to see it through to fruition. If things don’t work out as planned and you fail…please do not forget that you only fail if you do not learn anything from the experience. A true learner can never fail. Build yourself back up and try again!
Habit 10, From Think and Grow Rich
Start Strong But End Even Stronger
The final reason that we will discuss as to why people fail is the lack of persistence.
“Most of us are good “starters” but poor “finishers” of everything we begin.” – Napoleon Hill
How many of us have started something strong but ended it relatively weak? I know I have. Especially around the New Year people make resolutions and set goals that they forget come the first of February. Do your future self a favor and stick to what you start long enough to see progress from your actions. Start strong but end even stronger.
How you do this:
In the book Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill lays out 4 Steps to develop persistence. Live by these 4 steps and persistence becomes momentum that fuels consistent action which eventually turns into you achieving your goals.
A definite purpose backed by burning desire for its fulfillment
A definite plan, expressed in continuous action
A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influence, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends and acquaintances.
A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose
“The majority of people are ready to throw their aims and purposes overboard, and give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. A few carry on DESPITE all opposition, until they attain their goal. Those few are the Fords, Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Edisons.” – Napoleon Hill
Habit 11, From The Richest Man In Babylon
Start Saying Yes
George S. Clason explains in The Richest Man In Babylon, that luck is formed from merely accepting opportunity. Take advantage of the current place you are in and maximize on what you have for resources around you. Luck comes to those who are preparing and looking for an opportunity.
How to do this:
I am not going to tell you to say yes to every opportunity that ever comes your way since some will not serve you. I do want to make you question each presented opportunity. Opportunity can sometimes be difficult to see and capitalize on. Try thinking: Is this something I could benefit from? Is this something where I may be able to add value to someone else? Is this a generally positive opportunity? Could I learn something here? If the answer to any of these questions are yes… then start saying yes! Good luck comes to those who take advantage of opportunity.
Habit 12, From Managing Oneself
Peter F. Drucker discusses, in the book Managing Oneself, the importance of knowing yourself. How do I perform? What are my strengths? What environments do I thrive off of? Am I a reader or a listener? Do I learn best from teaching others? Do I respond well to challenges, stress or pressure? Or am I the type of person that responds well to structure and deadlines? These are all questions we must ask ourselves. Knowing the answers to these questions can allow us to create environments in which we work optimally. This may be one of the last habits but I believe it is the most influential in true success.
How to do this:
There is no easy or quick way to figure yourself out it takes time, patience and practice. Learning what works and what does not work for you will take time. In fact it will most likely take a lifetime. I am still learning new things about myself every day! What you can do right now is take some time to think and reflect on some instances and environments where you excelled. Also think about some environments that were either destructive or counter productive. Begin to identify the patterns within yourself. Then, begin to construct your actions around the environment in which you thrive most. For example, if you’re the type that works best with others than maybe try finding an accountability partner or even do the activity/habit together to make it more fun. If you’re trying to implement a new habit maybe try to find someone who is also trying to implement this habit and you can begin the journey together. Identify where you shine and triple down on that entity to ensure success.
Habit 13, From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
In order to get what you want out of life you have to be a go-getter. You have to figure out what it is that you truly want. Then you must create an action plan to get it. You can not simply wait for good things to come your way. You need to go out in the world and claim what’s yours. In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey states that “Many people wait for something to happen or someone to take care of them. But people who end up with the good jobs are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves, who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, to get the job done.”
How to do it:
After reading Covey’s book I have created a simple 4 step plan to be proactive in my goal setting. This is the process I personally go through when goal setting and it is pretty much applicable to any goal you may have
Set your goal.
Make your goal tangible. Be reasonable. Make the goal measurable. Be specific.
Write down WHY this matters to you.
Why does this goal matter to you? Why is this something you would like to accomplish? Tie this to an emotion. How will you will feel when you achieve your goal? How would you feel if you never achieved this goal? What would that pain be like? Dig deep and spend some time on this one!
Create an action plan
Do some research to figure out how you can accomplish this goal. What needs to be done every month/week/day to eventually meet your goal.
Hold yourself accountable.
Have high standards for yourself. If you want this goal to be accomplished what do you need to do everyday to accomplish it. If you don’t meet your own standards how will you ever reach this goal? Remember, you never want to lose credibility with yourself! Stay consistent,