Five habits of wildly successful people — and why you should stop doing them right now

Every time I open Facebook or LinkedIn, my news feed is full of articles like Seven Habits of Ultra Successful People, Some Other Habits of Exceptionally Happy People or something along this line. I got to admit I do want to be Ultra Successful and Exceptionally Happy so I always fall to the click bait.

But what I usually realize is most of these habits is wrong.

Before you’d come at me yelling “dude, but Mark Zuckerberg has like a billion dollars and you don’t” — that’s entirely true. And yet, Mark didn’t get his first billion for following these rules. Let’s say they might or might not help you, but waking up early is not enough to be Ultra Successful and Exceptionally Happy.

Help wherever you can

Here’s the thing. If you’re a somewhat decent person, your subconscious mind already wants to help people. Children for example are naturally helpful when they’re younger, we only learn some time later that we can say no. Still, you’re programmed that in a cooperative environment you are more inclined to help than not.

What happens when someone asks you to help at work? “Can you help me?” This is a natural question. Your colleague is asking whether you have time, energy, etc. to help them. Here’s the trick though: you’ll overthink it. You’ll jump to the conclusion and tell yourself “TO ARMS! I AM NEEDED!”.

Don’t do that.

You have a finite time, and you’ve got to make the most of it. The important thing here is that it’s in terms of quality, not quantity. As James Altucher said,

If something is not a “hell, YEAH!” Then it’s a “no!”

Working 24/7 & Waking up early

Now that you are mentally prepared not to burn out in working for others, it’s time to address the elephant in the room: burning out while working on your own tasks.

The harsh truth is that you can’t be at peak performance every day. Thus the name, “peak performance”. If you lived 8000 meters above sea level, climbing the Mt. Everest would be a walk in the park, you could do it twice a day. You’d only have to cope with not having enough oxygen and freezing your ass off. Let’s just agree that peaks are not designed as permanent habitats.

You definitely have to be on the top every now and then, because you can only grow outside of your comfort zone, but sometimes it’s okay to slow down and look around.

The problem with always giving the best is that you’ll eventually notice that you only live to work, and you’ll usually notice it far after it’s actually giving you a headache. The beauty of burning out is that it can be done many times during a lifetime, so plan to do something against it.

One course of action might be to cut the routine. Your job description is not your identity. Your pay grade is not you. Your job is not your life. Go and excel at your daily job, but also live your life to the fullest. Do you work a lot for a nice salary? Cool, but make sure you have time to enjoy it! Do you enjoy your job? Even better, but go out there and learn something new as well. Or read a book. Or write one. Or whatever, just cut the routine from your life.

God, I wish I worked more during my life.

— said nobody, ever.

Wake up early

Being late to wake every single day ever, I just love this piece of advice.

Tim Cook wakes up at 3:45am so you should too. Michelle Obama starts her daily workout before 5am. PepsiCo CEO Nooyi starts working no later than 7am. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gets four hours of daily sleep.

Stop comparing yourself to these people. Just because Mark Zuckerberg wears the same outfit every day, you don’t have to! Hey, Apple barely innovates anymore, we have a new FLOTUS, Pepsi got served by Coca Cola, Yahoo is flatlining — failure has nothing to do with waking up early, just as success doesn’t. Wake up late if that makes you happy.

Ditch the emotions

What, you want to be a robot? Emotions have their place; if anything, ditch the control that your emotions have over you.

Make your decisions with a cool head, but if you want to be happy, go be happy! (Has anyone noticed the irony of not having emotions in a to-do list of being happy?) And wait, it’s not just about happiness — you can’t be all-positive. Sadness has its own place, it’s essential in coping with grief and failure. Just don’t let it linger.

Read self-help books and articles

Gotcha. Chances are you either came here because you wanted someone to tell you the secret of being successful, or you know me personally. It’s okay.

If I can give you one piece of advice, do not compare yourself to others. Especially do not compare your current self to others during the apex of their career. It’ll only lead to misery. Compare your current self to your potential, and you might actually achieve something.


Originally published at mategelei.com on March 16, 2017.

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