Can you accomplish more and be more successful?
Of course you can! You always have the ability to accomplish more and be more successful. It starts with the right mindset, followed up by focused action and then, follow through.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
There are plenty of opinions when it comes to how long it takes to develop new habit – to accomplish more or to be more successful. For years, the common thought or belief was that it took about 21 days to develop a new habit.
This number comes from a widely popular 1960 book called Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon who noticed his patients seemed to take about 21 days to get used to their new faces.
For years after this his book was published, Maltz’s work influenced nearly every major “self-help” professional from Zig Ziglar to Brian Tracy to Tony Robbins. And as more people became familiar with Maltz’s work, 21 days became the commonly accepted amount of time to form a new habit and become more successful.
When we want to be more successful, sometimes we need to be patient.
While clearly some are able to conquer habits within 3 weeks, others have struggled mightily to make the adjustments within that time period.
Phillippa Lally is a health psychology researcher at University College London. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Lally and her research team conducted a study dedicated to figuring out just how long it actually takes to form a habit. This is key when we want to be more successful.
The study examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person chose one new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.
You can be more successful with repetition. On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.
And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
While 254 days might seem like an eternity to some, keep in mind that the average person in the US now lives to almost 79 years of age, meaning that they will be alive for over nearly 29,000 days. So 254 days is only about .8% of the average life. And if you are lucky enough to tackle a new habit in only 18 days then that is only about .06% of the average life.
So let’s buckle up and create some new habits, some winning habits. Here is a look at some of the things that the most successful people do on a regular basis.
‘Start your day before you end your day.’ Jim Rohn used to say this about preparedness. Successful people plan things in advance. Take a couple minutes before going to bed to plan out what tomorrow will look like. This way, your body and mind can already begin to prepare for tomorrow. When you wake up, you will have much greater clarity as to what needs to get done.
Wake up early
High achievers are not sleeping until the crack of noon, and they don’t roll out of bed 10 minutes before shuttling off to work. They are up early taking care of business during the most productive time of day, and the majority have a highly regimented routine.
Get the tough stuff done first
We all have tasks that we really don’t like to do. Start to get those out of the way early. As the day drags on, the likelihood of the difficult tasks getting done decreases. So take the initiative, bear down, and prioritize to get the hard things (or the most essential things) out of the way while you still have the energy.
Invest in yourself
While this can be highly individualized from person to person, the bottom line is that you need to invest in you. Taking time to exercise is important for both mental and physical well-being. Having a balanced, healthy diet and drinking lots of water are essential. For some, meditation helps with focus. And for others, reading fuels their minds. Find the best ways to invest in yourself that give the biggest returns.
Turn a negative into a positive
Yes, it is true – even the most successful people fail. However, when achievers do fail, they don’t wallow in self pity and become discouraged. They use the failure to determine how they can be better next time, learning valuable lessons and applying them going forward.
Align yourself with the right people
You are a reflection of who you spend the most time with. This being the case, choose to spend more time with positive, like-minded people who are also driven to achieve.
Have life balance – work life balance is vital to success
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Not only will Jack be dull, but he won’t be as productive if it’s all work. Researchers at Stanford University found that any time spent working in excess of 55 hours a week is counterproductive. Having a balanced life is essential to overall happiness and will prevent burnout.