By Michal Stawicki
I study successful people and I found six common areas they focused on. Whether they succeeded in sports, art, business or spirituality, these themes repeated themselves. Below are my conclusions. I may be wrong, I may not cover all the angles, but these are the most common habits I found among successful people.
It’s pretty hard to become a better version of yourself if you don’t know what you are improving on. To map out your journey you need a starting point as well as destination. And because you change all the time, you should study yourself all the time.
“Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves–their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.” —Peter F. Drucker
The habits that can help you in this area:
There are zillions of benefits to meditation, including increased focus and finishing at a lower blood pressure. Of these, I consider self-awareness the biggest benefit. Usually, you just automatically respond to your subconscious thoughts. Meditation makes you aware of those thinking patterns and allows you to step between the impulse and your response.
Capturing your self-talk on paper is very enlightening. It’s a powerful tool to clarify your thoughts and to gather plenty of data on yourself.
I journal six days a week and review my entries on Sundays. Sometimes, I write about my emotions and recent events, but always from the perspective of asking why this small trigger released such a strong emotion or what caused me to behave in such a way yesterday.
But most often, I simply research my internal world, journaling about my doubts, dreams, fears, aspirations, etc.
While meditation gives you self-knowledge on emotional level, journaling gives it on both emotional and intellectual levels.
A successful person rarely doesn’t care about their health. It was more common in the past, when people moved more and were eating real food, not the semi-chemical crap we consume now.
But even back then folks like Benjamin Franklin recognized the importance of exercise and diet. Nowadays, health and success are almost synonyms. Of course, you can be sick and still become a better version of yourself. It is simply much fricking harder.
My friend, Rebecca Patrick-Howard has a rare genetic disease and is dying much faster than most of us. Yet, she also moved from depression and being broken into the realm of successful authors who support their family from writing in a few short years.
I’m a very healthy person, but I don’t sell as many books as she does. I cannot imagine how I could’ve succeeded with my books while battling with constant pain and dozens of pesky afflictions connected to her disease.
With today’s health fad we all know what to do to improve our health. You know it too. It’s time to do, instead of contemplating.
Every single day. We are spiritual creatures in physical bodies. We need to move our bodies to stay in decent shape.
b) Eat Well
There are plenty of different diets. Some of them come from religion or lifestyle choices. But there is one truly healthy rule: eat as many unprocessed foods as possible.
What’s “processed?” You know this as well. An apple was on a tree a few days ago. A pizza was not.
c) Sleep Well
Eight hours a night is a rule of thumb. Sleep needs are individual. Some people need more (for example, Matthew McConaughey sleeps 8.5 hours a night), some people need less (I’m fine with 7-7.5 hours of sleep). Humans in natural conditions sleep 6.5 to 7.25 hours.
Find your sleep needs and get enough sleep.
d) Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is one of the modern world’s curses. Another rule of thumb is drink 8×8 ounces or 2 litres of water a day. Those needs are individual too. A tiny gal needs less water than 7-feet ogre.
And don’t drink empty calories (soda). That’s not a path to good health.
Successful people deliberately network with others.
“Your network is your net worth.” ― Tim Sanders
Your worth is not only monetary. I think, the financial aspect is the least important. Your self-worth is determined to a huge degree by the people you associate with. Successful people understand that and that’s their primary motivation for cultivating their network.
a) Thank You Notes
People don’t even take time to thank others nowadays. You will stand out using this simple technique. Handwritten thank-you notes are more powerful. They’re rare in the digital age.
You can send a short audio or video. They’re more powerful than a simple email.
Testimonials are like public thank you notes. Write reviews, give testimonials, share them on your social media. The receiver will appreciate it.
It always pushes the envelope a bit. When you have to work on common projects your level of interaction increases naturally.
d) Spend Time
This simple networking method always works. You should apply it especially with the people you look up to. The more you can be around your mentors, the faster you will emulate them in your life.
Successful people are obsessed with their vision, whatever it is. But first they need to create one. That’s why I started with self-knowledge. It takes some soul searching to discover (Victor Frankl said “detect”) your life mission.
Once they realize what they want to achieve, they keep that vision in front of their mind as often as possible. Average people are often amazed by the drive of successful people. But this drive is not a result of a single enlightenment, as we like to imagine. Successful people habitually refer to their vision every day.
a) Personal Mission Statement
Well, you need to first create one. Once you have it, there are many methods to use it. You can read it, listen to it, repeat in your mind, visualize it and so on. The point is to refer to it every single day, so your mission is always in your mind’s agenda.
b) Vision Board
Humans think in images. If you have a visual reminder of your purpose, you can look at it multiple times a day.
You can simply imagine the joy of fulfilling your purpose. Visualizing yourself in the process of getting there would be even better.
The biggest mistake you can make is to think that you are finished learning when you earn your degree. Education is a lifelong process.
And it is you who have to take charge of your education. Today’s education systems are outdated and expansive. What is more, you need proper learning habits. It’s no longer about appearing in the class 5 days a week. It’s about studying on your own as often and long as needed.
Read books, blog posts or articles in specialized magazines- whatever makes you more knowledgeable about your subject.
YouTube has countless hours of useful lectures, workshops and speeches. You can convert them into audio and listen to them while doing semi-mindless tasks like driving or washing dishes.
It’s not my cup of tea, but there are people who learn well from watching videos. If that describes you, go for it.
You retain more if you teach what you’ve just learned, because you create more associations to your knowledge. Also, your students may challenge your assumptions and you need to reflect on your knowledge base to come up with convincing arguments.
There is no better learning method than practice. Each time you use your knowledge you gain experience and create more associations. Practice makes you also a better teacher. Internalized knowledge is four times easier to transfer than dry theory.
Successful people recognize the utmost importance of habits in their lives. They don’t let their habits be a conglomerate of social and physical environment. They consciously work on avoiding bad habits and developing good ones.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
I don’t have useful habits here for you. My point is, you need to analyze, develop and maintain your habits. Self-knowledge and education are very handy for accomplishing that goal.
I have two great resources for you:
a) Tiny Habits course which is free, short and easy. It also teaches the basics of habits development by implementation and experience, not pure theory.
b) My blog post series Infallible Framework for Habit Development explains in great details all the necessary elements to develop lasting habits. When I stuck to this framework, I always succeeded. When I didn’t follow it, the output wasn’t as good.