Good to Great Habits - Computer keyboard

6 Proven Habits that can take you from Good to Great

Habits make or break you. Sound like a cliché?

But here’s one cliché that has stood the test of time and deserves its place in the Hall of Fame for Clichés.

Your habits determine how far you will succeed in your professional and personal life. The Great Philosopher Aristotle had this to say about our habits.

“Quality is not an act, its a habit.” ~Aristotle

1. Morning Routine

A great morning routine is at the top of every successful individual’s list of habits. From Presidents to CEOs, Writers and Bloggers, Bodybuilders, Athletes and every individual at the top of his field will tell you that his success is because he efficiently utilizes those crucial hours in the morning.

Benjamin Hardy, author of the book Will Power Doesn’t Work, advocates the time between 5-7 am to be the most productive for him and attributes all his success to achieving a peak state in this time. He dedicates his morning hours to prayer, reading, and learning.

So what do you actually do in the morning?

Firstly, meditate. Meditation is not some hocus pocus magic technique, nor is it the deep breathing techniques practiced by all those yoga Gurus, meditation is mainly about introspection.

How you meditate is your choice completely! Ray Dalio, the billionaire investor practices Transcendental Meditation. Robert Green the author of 48 Laws of Power practices a form of Zen meditation.

Meditating will boost your creativity, give you mental peace and therefore help you take better decisions.

After meditating for some time plan out your day.

And most importantly spend your mornings reading and learning.

2. Reading

“Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.” ~ Charlie Munger

I cannot advocate reading enough. If you truly want to be a master in your field, you must be willing to spend most of your time learning.

You must Read, Read and then Read some more.

Read Fiction, Non-Fiction, Autobiographies, Poetry, History, Science Fiction… the list goes on. Everything you read will give you perspective, it will give you a peep into the author’s soul. You will learn about their hopes, dreams, and fallacies. You will live many lives while you read.

We can never learn everything from experience, we just never live long enough, so read a book and practice vicarious learning.

Reading will give you skills you didn’t even know you were acquiring.

Read to learn, read for entertainment, read while you eat, read while in the toilet and read when driving, hello audiobooks!

The only way for you to excel in life is by learning and for continuous learning, you must read.

If I haven’t made myself clear, Read!!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

3. Journaling

Journaling can and will change your life.

Writing down your thoughts is known to be highly therapeutic and helps you de-stress.

It also helps you figure out your goals and how you can achieve them. This is similar to meditation, but instead of sitting silently and not thinking, you sit down with a pen and paper and make an effort to think.

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius practiced journaling every day in the morning, his journals were found and published. They are called Meditations Marcus Aurelius and serve as one of the main manuals for Stoics the world over. It is one of those must read books that has the ability to change your life.

A journal will help you take inventory of your life, it will help you stop and think about not only what you are doing but why you are doing it, and that is more important than the what.

4. Schedule/To-Do List

If you’re working on several projects which will be the case, if you’re trying to do more in less time, then it is a good idea to prioritize, lest you get overwhelmed

So scheduling is your best friend.

Create a daily To-Do List of your tasks. Obviously, the most important tasks will go at the top and the less important ones below those.

What I have realized from doing this is that I can focus more readily on the tasks that are a priority, the tasks that I can’t handle today are postponed for the next day. With time you will become more efficient and require less time to do the same number of tasks.

5. Working with Purpose

You will never know where you end up if you don’t know where you’re going, or something like that.

Basically what I mean is create and set time-bound goals.

Having an aim will keep you motivated and help you prioritize your life based on your goals.

I have a great example of this. In 1979  the Harvard Business School did a study on goal setting, they asked all the students from the class, the same question

Have you set written goals and created a plan for their attainment? 

What they found out was,

  • 84% of the entire class had set no goals at all
  • 13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans
  • 3% of the class had both written goals and concrete plans

Then 10 years later they followed up with these students and here is what they found

  •  13% of the class that had set written goals but had not created plans, were making twice as much money as the 84% of the class that had set no goals at all.
  • 3% of the class that had both written goals and a plan, were making ten times as much as the rest of the 97% of the class

So there you go. I don’t think you need further proof?

6. Find a mentor

Like the Saint Kabir said

“गुरु बिन ज्ञान न उपजै,
गुरु बिन मिलै न मोष।
गुरु बिन लखै न सत्य को,
गुरु बिन मिटे न दोष॥”

(English Translation)

“Knowledge doesn’t blossom without a Guru,

There is no Enlightenment without the Guru,

You cannot recognize the Truth without the Guru,

You will not get rid of your Sins without the Guru.”

It is also very important to pick a good mentor, one who knows what he’s doing and can lead the way for you. Find a mentor who inspires you, believes in your potential and makes you think like you’ve never thought before.

A mentor has the ability to unlock doors for you, you ever even knew existed.

Warren Buffet as a young man took on Benjamin Graham as his mentor and credits a big part of his success to him.

If you can’t find a mentor, find a community of like-minded people, with similar goals.

Surround yourself with people who have goals and will help you in achieving yours.

Make it a habit to be the dumbest person in the room and it will redefine your life.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” 
~John Donne

And finally, I will leave you with another great quote that summarizes this article.

“Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him.” ~ John Locke

If you liked this post, please leave me a comment!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for fun updates!

13 virtues of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Moral Virtues of Self-Improvement

After I read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I was very impressed with his life and achievements. Benjamin Franklin played many roles his life, he was a printer, a writer, an inventor, a public servant and one of the Founding Fathers of America.

But what struck me most was his ability to introspect.

Through introspection, Franklin devised an action plan for achieving perfection in his behavior and hoped that it would help him achieve his goals in life more easily. He identified his fallacies and came up with his own strategy of overcoming them.

Of course, he was after all human and couldn’t completely get over these shortcomings, but he left a blueprint for the world of self-improvement, these he called the virtues.

These 13 virtues of conducting oneself through life are enumerated for your benefit and mine.

 

“Look round the habitable world, how few

Know their own good, or, knowing it, pursue!” 

 

The 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

1. Temperance

“Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation”

Temperance has two meanings self-control and complete abstinence from alcohol.

Although abstinence is not what Franklin was referring to, he merely meant that a person must have control over himself and not indulge too much in food or alcohol, so as to harm his health. Benjamin Franklin attributed this virtue to his good health and composition.

He did live to be 88 years.

2. Silence

“Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation”

With silence he meant to control his tongue, so as not to waste his time and that of others in idle gossip and unnecessary conversation.

Since gaining knowledge was also a high precept in his life, Franklin observed that it was more important for him to use his ears rather than his tongue for this endeavor. Hence, silence was high on his priority list.

He also wanted to get rid of his habit of prattling, punning and joking.

3. Order                                                                                                                                                                                    

“Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”

He intended for this virtue to award him more time for his projects and studies.

But this is the virtue he struggled with the most.

As Walter Isaacson has mentioned in his biography of Benjamin Franklin, “He was a sloppy man, and he eventually decided that he was so busy and had such a good memory that he didn’t need to be too orderly.”

4. Resolution

“Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve”

Was meant to help him stick to all the other virtues.

There are several examples of Benjamin making resolutions in his life, at one point he did become a vegetarian, which he gave up after some time.

5. Frugality 

“Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself i.e waste nothing”

He believed that industry and frugality would help him become debt-free and give him the independence he required in life. Franklin mentions in his autobiography that his wife too, was frugal and industrious just like him. He writes,”We kept no idle servants, our table was plain and simple, our furniture of the cheapest. For instance, my breakfast was a long time bread and milk(no tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen porringer, with a pewter spoon.”

6. Industry

“Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions”

As an example, his entire life was dedicated to Industry or constant work. As a printer in his initial years, then a public servant and always a writer and inventor.

Franklin considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction. His father repeated a proverb of Solomon’s to him in his childhood, “Seest thou a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men.”

As mentioned by Franklin, he did meet five Kings in his lifetime and even dined with the King of Denmark.

7. Sincerity 

“Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you, speak, speak accordingly”

Sincerity was very important to him, he believed that it attributed to him the confidence of his country and the honorable employment that he received from the government and the Regency.

8. Justice 

“Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty”

The greatest example of serving Justice can be seen in his proposal for levying taxes. The taxes at that time were standard for everyone irrespective of their assets or income, so Franklin proposed that the taxes should be levied in proportion to the property owned by an individual, this he proposed in the Junto(his own secret society), even though this idea took time to materialize it showed you insight into Franklin’s character.

9. Moderation 

“Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve”

10. Cleanliness 

 “Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation

As an example, Benjamin Franklin on observing a poor woman sweeping the street outside where he was living when in London, he came up with a plan to keep the streets clean. He wrote to Dr. Fothergill, “For the more effectual cleaning and keeping clean the streets of London and Westminster, it is proposed that the several watchmen be contracted with to have the dust swept up in dry seasons and the mud raked up at other times, each in the several streets and lanes of his round; that they be furnished with brooms and other proper instruments for these purposes, to be kept at their respective stands, ready to furnish the poor people they may employ in the service.”

11. Tranquility 

“Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable”

12. Chastity 

“Rarely use venery but for health or off-spring, never to                                                          dullness,weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation”

13. Humility 

“Imitate Jesus and Socrates”

Originally, there were only 12 virtues enlisted by Franklin but he was informed by a friend that he was guilty of “pride” and so he added Humility as a virtue.

Franklin wrote,”In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility”

 

These virtues were a pragmatic endeavor by Franklin to achieve his goals in life.

He approached these virtues in a very simple manner

And like him who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but works on one of the beds at a time.

Franklin made a small notebook in which he allotted a page each for each virtue, he created seven columns on each page, one for each day of the week. He also made thirteen rows on the page and wrote the first letter of each virtue in each of those rows. He decided to tackle one virtue each week, while also marking the faults of the day on this chart. With each week he saw an improvement in himself and thus with time had less faults marked on paper.