Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Great Gatsby.” Photo: Warner Bros.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished your first task of the day.” This quote is a snippet taken from a speech made by retired US Navy Seal, William H. McRaven. The soldier’s similarly titled book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World is considered as one of the world’s most helpful self-help guides.
The #1 New York Times bestseller espouses the idea that if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed – attesting to the power of daily habits.
Of course, you can ignore daily habits and adopt a negative mindset about being successful — that “Nobody is going to see it,” “I don’t have what it takes,” or “It’s going to slip away from me anyway.” But that is just a defeatist attitude. The winners in society say: “Absolutely, why not?… I can do it.” And they start towards it day by day.
Let us pose a question: Do you think that Bill Gates of Microsoft, Richard Branson of Virgin Group, or billionaire media executive and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey wake up in the morning, don their attire, and leave for work with rolled shoulders, head hang low? The answer is no. Instead, they hold their heads high and walk confidently to face the challenges and opportunities of the day.
When you consider that you spend, on average, one-third of your day in bed and that the simple daily habit of making your bed when you wake up is not only good practice, but also inspires discipline and positive attitude, the worth of seemingly mundane daily tasks become immediately evident.
Good daily habits can boost your mood, confidence and set you up for a successful day. Repeat good habits daily and you will have an overall good week, year, and even rest of your life.
So, if you are committed to improving your situation and being successful, you must understand that the implementation of a lifestyle change for success implies that a routine is followed and habits are formed. When you forge a habit that improves one area of your life, this automatically triggers a desire for improvements in other areas of your life, as researchers from Indiana University have found in what they have termed as "The Transfer Effect."
The No. 1 factor that can help you shake off your chains and become wealthy and successful is changing your daily habits. It may not be easy, but you can start small and build from there.
Daily Success Habits of High Flyers
Anyone can look busy — but that doesn’t mean they are achieving much or what matters. High-flyers around the world all repeat the same rhetoric of “it’s about working smarter, not harder.”
To work in a way that moves you closer to your dreams, you need to use your time very wisely and think about what you are doing. Ask yourself: “What benefit is this task having?”
Often people jump to the wrong conclusion that a CEO or director of a company does not have time for anyone. In fact, they probably have a lot of time – the only difference is they establish priorities and boundaries, and don’t waste precious time on tasks that won’t produce desired returns. They are deliberate on what they choose to do on a daily basis.
Without further ado, here are some of the top daily habits that successful people swear by — if you can adopt them, then you too will be on course to achieving great success in your life.
1. Set goals
How do you know what you’re trying to achieve or your situation is changing with having goals? One problem many people struggle with is setting clear goals - don’t be among these people.
That said, don’t just run off to grab a pen and A4 notepad to detail your lofty ambition of becoming CEO of a company. Instead, create a list of actionable and achievable, yet ambitious goals. These need not be a 15-year plan, they should be for today, tomorrow, and next day.
In other words, make a habit of setting clear goals for each day that lead towards achieving your big, ultimate goal. Tick them off as you go and before long you will be able to reach your dreams.
Keep in mind always that the most successful people on the planet focus on their goals and dream setting, which entails pursuit of a dream and the goals behind it every day.
2. Rise early
Whether it is world leaders, top creative performers, or leading business brains the world over, it should come as no surprise to you that almost all of the world’s success stories comprise of individuals who rise early and actively beat the sun in its morning rise.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson starts his day at around 5.45am, which may seem early to some, but not to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. Mr Cook wakes up at 3.45am! By the time the world is coming round and waking, successful men like these ones have ticked off a number of items on their daily to-do-list, including responding to emails, and of course, sinking a cup of coffee or tea.
Thomas Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, conducted a study involving more than 200 self-made millionaires from which he found that 44 per cent of rich people were awake three hours or more before their working day officially started.
Your number one marker for success is a healthy body and mind. You won’t be truly successful and happy if you are weak and constantly ill. A healthy body is paramount, and that calls for eating healthy and exercising regularly to stay fit and strong.
To maintain strong and healthy muscles, bones and general physique, as well as maintain a sharp mind, exercise daily. Excercise will also trigger diet as the Transfer Effect kicks in. You'll usually see someone start eating more healthily not long after starting a new gym regime - even if diet changes weren't originally part of the plan.
In his Rich Habits study of millionaires, Thomas C. Corley observed that among the constants he’s recognised for being successful and wealthy across the board were an avoidance of junk food and a continuous, structured habit to maintain fitness through exercise.
Regardless of whether it’s running, lifting weights, yoga, or aerobics, exercise will make you more energetic, competitive and boost your self-esteem and drive to reach your dreams. Completing daily meditation sessions can also be very beneficial for reducing stress and improving your mood.
Daily self-affirmation boosts your belief in yourself and your abilities, which fires you up to achieve all that you set out to achieve. It’s a powerful way to build your self confidence to do what you need to do now in order to be who you want to be tomorrow.
If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? Success spans a wide variety of things, but it basically starts with what you believe and tell yourself every single day.
5. Read, read, read
It’s may be easier when you’ve just had an exhausting day at work to come home, put your feet up, and mindlessly start browsing social media or binge watching shows on Netflix. However, what do you benefit from that, apart from more exhaustion and overwhelm?
The “poor habit” of sitting on the couch and watching TV all the time is bad because it leads you to other “poor habits” such as eating junk food.
Instead, consider how best you can spend your downtime to not only rest, but also improve yourself one way or another. Highly successful and wealthy people use their free time to read. In fact, studies have shown that 88% of wealthy people spend at least 30 minutes every day reading non-fiction materials.
Read daily too to increase your knowledge related to your career, industry, the world, and life in general. Successful people swear by this daily habit that helps them maintain and improve their skills and knowledge, while making them virtuosos in whatever it is they do.