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.
“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,
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॥”
“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.”
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
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