More extroverted. Makes sense. No one achieves anything worthwhile on their own; the ability to engage with others, build relationships, motivate, and inspire all are important. (But it’s also true that introverts can be wildly successful.)
More conscientious. Also makes sense. Making smart decisions, focusing on long-term goals, setting a good example. In fact, research shows that people who marry someone conscientious tend to earn more promotions, make more money, and feel more satisfied with their work.
More emotionally stable. Obviously: Making emotional decisions can derail progress toward long-term goals.
Less neurotic. Yep: When you’re moody, anxious, worried, or afraid, it’s hard to be as successful as you otherwise might be.
More self-centered. Hmm. That doesn’t sound so great. But, then again, as Adam Grant says, humble narcissists have very high expectations for success but also understand that great achievements are almost always the result of collective efforts.
I am a firm believer in the power of positive habits.
It’s so easy to point at the clouds and say, “This is where I want to be.”
Anyone can do that.
The challenge is to get your hands dirty and do what you need to do each and every day in order to turn those dreams into a reality.
1. Keep your first promise of the day.
The first promise all of us make to ourselves every day is what time we’re going to get up.
And you know what? A large majority of us break that promise.
The alarm goes off. You hit snooze. And without even meaning to, you’ve already started the day on the wrong foot.
You made a promise the night before that you decided not to keep.
Get in the habit of practicing making a promise to yourself and keeping it.
This is about more than just “waking up.”
This is about the habit.
2. Dress for success.
Look good, feel good.
Part of your morning routine should involve embodying the energy you want to bring into the world.
This has less to do with “looking professional” and more to do with getting yourself in a positive frame of mind.
When you feel comfortable in your own shoes, you carry yourself with a different energy.
It’s the energy that matters.
3. A meditative moment.
Before the chaos of the day begins, take a moment to yourself.
For some, this is meditation.
For others, it might be reading a few pages out of a book, or sitting quietly with a cup of coffee and the newspaper.
But take a moment and feel the calm of the day. It will help you later on, should a storm hit (metaphorically).
You’ll think back to these early morning moments of calm and remember that life is full of waves.
It’s all about riding them out.
4. Eat lunch!
So many people underestimate the value of taking a break for lunch — even if it’s just 15 minutes to eat a sandwich.
Personal health is so important to the long game, and if you ignore it, then you’re only setting yourself up for a much bigger problem down the road.
If your schedule is so busy you can’t make time to feed yourself, something is out of balance — and I promise you, it’s not the lunch that’s the problem.
5. An afternoon moment.
How many people take five minutes in the middle of the day to just reflect on where they’re at?
Not too many.
Instead, once our days get started, we push and push and push until we land on our couch at 9 p.m. and say, “Wow, I am exhausted.”
Life is not a sprint. Life is a marathon.
Instead of having only a quiet morning and/or a quiet night, make time to have five minutes of quiet in the middle of the day as well.
If it’s “impossible” to find that, then excuse yourself to the bathroom for those five minutes.
Everyone has to use the bathroom, right?
Whatever it takes, make those five minutes happen sometime in the afternoon.
You’ll be amazed at what five minutes of quiet can do for the rest of your day.
6. Find some free time.
If you’re a driven individual, the concept of “free time” doesn’t really exist.
Free time is more time you can spend working toward your goals.
However, in the long run, this can also produce problems.
Everybody needs time to unwind.
It’s not the length of time that matters as much as the quality of time.
An hour completely detached from your daily grind is much more productive than 5 hours detached in which you mentally punish yourself for “taking a break.”
Free time is crucial, especially for creatives.
Let your mind wander.
Take a step back.
See the forest instead of the trees.
7. Manage your money, don’t let your money manage you.
A lot of stress is rooted in money.
But is it really money’s fault?
Or is it rather our relationship with it?
Take the time to learn a bit about finance and how you can set yourself up for success.
Implement positive habits here and then stick to them.
Put away a chunk of each paycheck to a retirement account.
Put away another chunk to your personal savings. Make purchases within reason.
And then once a month, do a quick review with yourself and look at where your money is being spent.
The more diligent you can be here, the more you will be able to build habits that set you up for the future you truly want.
8. Introduce yourself.
When was the last time you struck up a conversation with someone on the train?
At the grocery store?
In line waiting for your coffee?
You never know who you could meet — and it’s these moments of serendipity that keep life moving in a playful way.
Some of my best business connections I met through random conversations at the gym.
Some of my favorite stories have been the result of deciding to talk to someone new.
Make it a habit to introduce yourself to people who cross your path.
It’s the easiest way to keep life interesting.
Building off the above, it’s so easy to fall into routines of going to same places, ordering the same dishes, meeting up with the same people.
Make it a habit to explore new things.
If you’ve been wanting to go to that new coffee shop down the street, then go.
If you’ve been thinking of trying a new restaurant, make a reservation.
It’s never going to happen unless you make it happen.
10. Keep a journal and sleep.
And of course, there are two of the most underrated habits in the world — journaling before bed, and then actually sleeping.
The reason I advocate so much for journaling before bed is because it is one of the few moments during the day when all is calm.
This is time that is best used to reflect, see how the day went, see how you feel, see how you can improve for tomorrow and then set your intention.
The other reason it’s crucial to do this right before bed is because it will then soak into your subconscious while you sleep.
If you can make this a habit, then you will find yourself consistently waking up the next day very clear on what you need to do in order to be successful.
You will have just spent a whole night planting those “next steps” into who you are — and when you rise, it’ll be time to get to work.
Sleep is so undervalued.
For a long time, I thought the less you slept, the harder you were working.
And actually, that’s true — less sleep and you will feel like you are the hardest working person on the face of this planet.
But that doesn’t mean you’re working smart.
Seven to seven and a half hours of sleep is the sweet spot. If you can get eight, great. If not, that’s OK.
But do not settle for five or six.
A well-rested mind is far more productive than a tired one (regardless of how much coffee you drink).
Good times and bad times. Happy times and sad times.
But always, life is a movement forward.
No matter where you are on the journey, in some way, you are continuing on — and that’s what makes it so magnificent. One day, you’re questioning what on earth will ever make you feel happy and fulfilled. And the next, you’re perfectly in flow, writing the most important book of your entire career.
What nobody ever tells you, though, when you are a wide-eyed child, are all the little things that come along with “growing up.”
1. Most people are scared of using their imagination.
They’ve disconnected with their inner child.
They don’t feel they are “creative.”
They like things “just the way they are.”
2. Your dream doesn’t really matter to anyone else.
Some people might take interest. Some may support you in your quest. But at the end of the day, nobody cares, or will ever care about your dream as much as you.
3. Friends are relative to where you are in your life.
Most friends only stay for a period of time — usually in reference to your current interest. But when you move on, or your priorities change, so too do the majority of your friends.
4. Your potential increases with age.
As people get older, they tend to think that they can do less and less — when in reality, they should be able to do more and more, because they have had time to soak up more knowledge. Being great at something is a daily habit. You aren’t just “born” that way.
5. Spontaneity is the sister of creativity.
If all you do is follow the exact same routine every day, you will never leave yourself open to moments of sudden discovery. Do you remember how spontaneous you were as a child? Anything could happen, at any moment!
6. You forget the value of “touch” later on.
When was the last time you played in the rain?
When was the last time you sat on a sidewalk and looked closely at the cracks, the rocks, the dirt, the one weed growing between the concrete and the grass nearby.
Do that again.
You will feel so connected to the playfulness of life.
7. Most people don’t do what they love.
The “masses” are not the ones who live the lives they dreamed of living. And the reason is because they didn’t fight hard enough. They didn’t make it happen for themselves. And the older you get, and the more you look around, the easier it becomes to believe that you’ll end up the same.
Don’t fall for the trap.
8. Many stop reading after college.
Ask anyone you know the last good book they read, and I’ll bet most of them respond with, “Wow, I haven’t read a book in a long time.”
9. People talk more than they listen.
There is nothing more ridiculous to me than hearing two people talk “at” each other, neither one listening, but waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can start up again.
10. Creativity takes practice.
It’s funny how much we as a society praise and value creativity, and yet seem to do as much as we can to prohibit and control creative expression unless it is in some way profitable.
If you want to keep your creative muscle pumped and active, you have to practice it on your own.
11. “Success” is a relative term.
As kids, we’re taught to “reach for success.”
What does that really mean? Success to one person could mean the opposite for someone else.
Define your own Success.
12. You can’t change your parents.
A sad and difficult truth to face as you get older: You can’t change your parents.
They are who they are.
Whether they approve of what you do or not, at some point, no longer matters. Love them for bringing you into this world, and leave the rest at the door.
13. The only person you have to face in the morning is yourself.
When you’re younger, it feels like you have to please the entire world.
Do what makes you happy, and create the life you want to live for yourself. You’ll see someone you truly love staring back at you every morning if you can do that.
14. Nothing feels as good as something you do from the heart.
No amount of money or achievement or external validation will ever take the place of what you do out of pure love.
Follow your heart, and the rest will follow.
15. Your potential is directly correlated to how well you know yourself.
Those who know themselves and maximize their strengths are the ones who go where they want to go.
Those who don’t know themselves, and avoid the hard work of looking inward, live life by default. They lack the ability to create for themselves their own future.
16. Everyone who doubts you will always come back around.
That kid who used to bully you will come asking for a job.
The girl who didn’t want to date you will call you back once she sees where you’re headed. It always happens that way.
Just focus on you, stay true to what you believe in, and all the doubters will eventually come asking for help.
17. You are a reflection of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Nobody creates themselves, by themselves.
We are all mirror images, sculpted through the reflections we see in other people. This isn’t a game you play by yourself. Work to be surrounded by those you wish to be like, and in time, you too will carry the very things you admire in them.
18. Beliefs are relative to what you pursue.
Wherever you are in life, and based on who is around you, and based on your current aspirations, those are the things that shape your beliefs.
Nobody explains, though, that “beliefs” then are not “fixed.” There is no “right and wrong.” It is all relative.
Find what works for you.
19. Anything can be a vice.
Again, there is no “right” and “wrong” as you get older. A coping mechanism to one could be a way to relax on a Sunday to another. Just remain aware of your habits and how you spend your time, and what habits start to increase in frequency — and then question where they are coming from in you and why you feel compelled to repeat them.
Never mistakes, always lessons.
As I said, know yourself.
20. Your purpose is to be YOU.
What is the meaning of life?
To be you, all of you, always, in everything you do — whatever that means to you. You are your own creator. You are your own evolving masterpiece.
Growing up is the realization that you are both the sculpture and the sculptor, the painter and the portrait. Paint yourself however you wish.