Success is a pretty subjective thing. Everyone has their own definition of it. Generally, success is often associated with professional achievement, financial security, and perhaps even a fulfilling personal life.
Every successful person’s story is different. However, it is worthwhile to study the habits of successful people that put them on the path to success.
Here are 5 habits of successful people that we can emulate:
1. Learn something new every day
Tom Corley, author of the book “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life” studied the habits of hundreds of self-made millionaires and found that a great majority of them allocated at least 30 minutes or more to reading and self-improvement every day. Their literature of choice included biographies and self-help books.
Biographies provide a look into the lives of influential people throughout history and give us a chance to learn from the greats. Reading and learning from the experiences of others can help us avoid their mistakes and emulate their exemplary practices in our own path to success. As Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Nowadays, there are numerous ways to learn and improve ourselves. There are audiobooks, podcasts, and online courses, all of which we can easily access through our smartphones. Listening to an audiobook or podcast during your commute to work or while doing chores around the house is a great way to learn new things and gain a different perspective on various issues.
2. Dedicate time to a hobby
For successful entrepreneur Halle Tecco, founder and CEO of Natalist, a women’s health startup, making time for gardening is crucial. It gives her time to slow down and clear her mind for new ideas. Even on the busiest of weeks, she emphasises the importance of finding time to do something outside of work that gives you joy.
It doesn’t have to be gardening, of course. Find an activity you enjoy doing, be it sports, physical exercise, writing, cooking, or others. Spend some time every week on your hobby, either in solitude or in the company of others, whichever you prefer. Don’t think of these activities as a waste of time. They act as positive outlets for stress and give you something to look forward to on bad days or weeks.
3. Take several walks a day
Jeb Banner, founder and CEO of Boardable, a board management software company, takes a few walks throughout the day. These walks help him to clear his mind, come up with solutions to outstanding problems, and be more productive.
Physical exercise such as walking is said to improve one’s brain function and overall mood. When we feel stressed or stuck, walking away from the source of our negative emotions for a bit can be helpful. Walk it off, as they say. Go for a walk, meet different people, start interesting conversations, and try to clear your mind. Come back to your work with a fresh pair of eyes and perhaps a new idea or two.
Of course, CEOs and upper management in general may be in a better position to excuse themselves for a quick walk multiple times a day. Other employees may not have that luxury, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the benefits of a quick walk. Visit a washroom on a different floor, take a different route to the IT department, or walk to a nearby café for lunch. These short and sweet walks provide us a chance to take a break. Plus, we may bump into someone, start a conversation, have a few laughs, or even get inspired in the process.
4. Keep an idea journal
Sometimes inspiration strikes when we least expect it. When we suddenly think of good ideas, if we don’t capture them or write them down, we may get distracted and forget about them.
To overcome this problem, Mike Ward, CEO of ThriftBooks, an ecommerce business selling books, keeps an idea journal. He uses the notes app on his phone and has several notes organised topically. Whenever an idea comes to him, he quickly jots it down before he forgets.
Having an idea journal allows us to capture new ideas and get back to them later when we have time to spare. We can then assess the feasibility of the ideas and develop them further. You never know which idea will turn out to be the next big thing, so jot them down!
5. Pay yourself first
This term is usually used in the context of personal finance. Pay yourself first refers to setting aside a portion of your earnings for savings and investment purposes before you start spending. In an interesting article on Forbes, Marc Emmer, a consultant who has coached over a hundred CEOs, uses this term in reference to time.
Imagine time as a currency you spend on different things. Pay yourself first and spend time on the things that enrich your life such as family, friends, hobbies, and exercise. Outside working hours, schedule your time wisely. Do a midweek check-in and assess whether you’ve spent time on the things that matter to you.
At the end of a long workday, sometimes all we want to do is order takeout and binge-watch Netflix. Indulging in some me-time every now and again can feel good, but we must make it a point to catch up with friends and family, spend time on a hobby, or learn new things. Making plans ahead of time can help to combat that feeling of laziness that creeps up on us at the end of the day.
Make dinner plans, agree to play badminton with a friend, or schedule a session with a teacher or coach to pick up a new skill. After a day's work, you may want nothing more than to go home and relax. However, when you follow through on your plans, you’ll end up feeling pretty happy and satisfied.