When we think about very successful people, we often picture notable leaders like Oprah, Barack Obama or Bill Gates. We may assume that these individuals were born lucky or predisposed to particular talents and that reaching a similar level of achievement is impossible.
However, innate traits are only one piece of the puzzle. As a career coach with more than 10 years of experience in providing advice to professionals, I’ve often found the most successful people reach their goals because of what they do, not who they are. If you have a few personal and professional goals you’d like to tackle this year, here are eight things highly successful people do daily that you can adopt to create the success you want in your life.
1. Reevaluate work and aspirations
Achieving success involves being clear about your goals and constantly monitoring and evaluating the work required to reach them. In a speech to graduating students at Stanford, Steve Jobs mentioned he asked himself the same daily question: “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m doing today?” If he answered “no” for too many days, he knew he needed to change something in his life.
If you find your habits don’t match your plans for the future, you need to adjust your behavior. To start a business, ask yourself what habits to incorporate to move beyond the dreaming phase. Maybe you need to pursue professional development opportunities to learn how to create a business plan. If your business isn’t ready to launch, you may want to find investors to help get it off the ground. The key is to keep moving forward and adjusting your plans if they don’t work out the way you imagined.
2. Consistently exercise
Successful people understand entrepreneurship requires more than hard work and sacrifice and that their physical well-being is key to achievement and overall life fulfillment. In a 2009 interview with Newsweek’s Jon Meacham, Barack Obama outlined his daily routine: starting the day with a 45-minute workout six times a week.
People with consistent workout routines can better maximize productivity as they have increased stamina and energy to get through challenging tasks. If you’re a busy professional, try incorporating 20–30-minute morning workouts into your day to help improve your overall health, reduce stress and create discipline.
3. Understand the importance of mental health
Leaders use a lot of cognitive energy, from absorbing and deciphering information to using their knowledge and skills to make decisions. As a result, successful people know the importance of investing in their mental health to reduce stress and ensure they have the mental clarity to focus on what’s important.
Former Lakers star Kobe Bryant meditated for 10 to 15 minutes each morning as part of his daily routine, allowing him to be calm, focused and at peace. To incorporate mindfulness into your life, consider daily journaling, eliminating distractions or trying a mindfulness and meditation app.
4. Question the status quo
One tactic successful people employ is questioning the status quo and if there’s anything they can do to create change. Misty Copeland, the first African American principal ballet dancer at the American Ballet Theater, altered the image of the ballet industry and challenged the perception that ballet is only for the white and wealthy.
Copeland believes it is her responsibility to acknowledge and share the untold stories of trailblazing Black ballet dancers who came before her. She wants to ensure aspiring young Black ballet dancers and their parents that they do belong in ballet.
Successful people not only embrace new ways of doing things but also lead change in their companies and organizations. Consider making a list of the things you want to change in your organization and start thinking about the specific adjustments needed for improvement. When implementing changes, communicate the “what” and the “why” to your stakeholders. Leaders who explain the purpose of a change and connect it to the organization’s values can create buy-in and motivate their teams to embrace change.
5. Read extensively
As leaders such as Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates know, reading is essential when it comes to learning new things and thinking differently. Buffett estimates he spends as much as 80% of his day reading, Gates finishes 50 books each year and Winfrey has her own book club.
Reading increases cultural awareness and can boost your vocabulary, language comprehension and empathy. Whether you love self-help, autobiographies or literary fiction, try incorporating at least 30 minutes to an hour of reading into your day to grow your knowledge and stay mentally sharp.
6. Maximize productivity
Learning the art of productivity and maximizing your time is essential for success. Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU and entrepreneur, evaluates how he can best use his time at every moment, which may involve writing emails on a plane instead of in the office or delegating meetings to his team members.
Follow the 80/20 rule to maximize your time and enhance your productivity. Block 20% of your daily time to focus on your highest-priority tasks. Even if you can’t complete a task, you’ll still have spent 90 minutes on a top priority.
7. Eliminate small decisions
While having an endless list of options sounds fantastic, facing many small daily decisions can lead to emotional and mental strain, also known as decision fatigue. To avoid having a burden of choices, leaders often eliminate the number of decisions they must make. Three-time Olympic Gold medalist Rebecca Soni says she plans as much of her day before bed to avoid decision fatigue.
“Making choices like what to wear and what to eat in the morning ahead of time lessens the fatigue I feel in making decisions throughout the day,” Soni says. To help improve your decision-making process, create a list of all the small decisions you make in your life and try to make as many of these decisions in advance.
8. Create multiple incomes
One lesson we learned during the economic recession is the importance of having multiple revenue streams. Tom Corley, an accountant and financial planner, surveyed 233 wealthy individuals, predominantly self-made millionaires, about their daily habits. He learned that 65% had at least three income streams they created before making their first million dollars. “Diversifying sources of income allows people to weather the economic downturns that inevitably occur,” he says.
Content marketing expert Neil Patel is an excellent example of how to find new and innovative ways to increase your revenue. He started his first entrepreneurial journey in high school, selling burned CDs and cable boxes to his peers. Patel kept growing his income by building websites, speaking engagements and consulting. He then created multiple companies, including Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics.
Start thinking about the activities you enjoy and how you can monetize them. Be sure you understand the market, your consumer base and your competition. Developing new products or innovative ideas that differ from your competitors is the key to success.
There are many ways to define success, but if you aspire to maximize your productivity, focus and discipline this year, consider incorporating eight things highly successful people do daily into your life.