“How do you do so many things? When do you get the time?” — the one trait you need to master to be successful
Successful people are simply those with successful habits — Brian Tracy
“How do you do so many things? When do you get the time?” — the two men were seating across me.
Both in their early thirties, one was quite relaxed, wearing a tweed jacket. The other wearing a suit, seemed under the weather, probably stressed out. He was talking fast and complaining about how little time he has.
It was late afternoon. There was a glow in the environment — the one you see from a setting sun in a crispy day. The cafe was buzzing. Doing the usual brisk business.
I was in the middle of reading “Whiplash” — an interesting read.
Some people are born with the capacity to juggle multiple things without much of an effort. Others just struggle to get a few things done.
Why is the difference? Can this be mastered?
The short answer is, yes. It is all about building the right habit. Our habits turn into the foundation of our success over time.
Here is how to build a habit that helps you to be successful:
One of the imbalances in life is the disparity between your daily existence, with its routines and habits, and the dream you have within yourself of some extraordinarily satisfying way of living — Wayne Dyer
Start with taking notes of how you spend every day.
Do it for two weeks. How much time are you spending doing things that matter? How about times spent on social media? Are you spending the time to learn something new?
It can be rough estimates. What is important is to take stock of how you are spending each day.
2. Make a list:
The only proper way to eliminate bad habits is to replace them with good ones — Jerome Hines
Once you have tracked your daily life, identify the priorities. The habit with the highest leverage. Decide which habits you want to take out and replace the space with good ones.
For example, having a proper sleep may have the highest impact on your other actions during the day.
How do you prepare and make time for more sleep? Cut out the time you spend on emails before going to bed? Identify an area and commit yourself to make the change.
3. Start Small
Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step — Lao Tzu
One of the mistakes we make is to try to make the change too quickly. Habit is not formed overnight. It is formed by making small increments, consistently.
Take any area, let’s say you want to build an exercise routine of one hour every day. You hardly exercise now. If so, start small. Maybe 10 minutes a day.
Increase the time you spend by 1% every week. Stick with it and keep continuing small increments.
4. Make the bad ones difficult
Most people don’t have that willingness to break bad habits. They have a lot of excuses and they talk like victims — Carlos Santana
How do you stop habits that you do not want? Make it difficult to follow. If you have a tendency to check emails when you are in a meeting, keep your phone away. Do not take your phone to meetings.
From the time we have an urge to the time we take action, there is a gap of few seconds. Use those few seconds to restrain yourself. You will be in better control of your destiny.
5. Leverage on existing ones
Achieve success in any area of life by identifying the optimum strategies and repeating them until they become habits — Charles J. Givens
We all look forward to doing one thing or other. Something we like. If you like listening to music but do not like to go for exercise, merge the two. Listen to songs only when you exercise.
If you like to go for a walk but do not like to listen to a podcast, listen to podcast when you go out for a walk.
6. Do not overestimate
Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years — Bill Gates
We overestimate our capability to do something. Even when the truth stares at our face, we continue to believe that we can make it happen. This results in us to ignore the process. And procrastinate.
If we skip exercise for a few days, we tell ourselves that we will pick it up later. This rarely happens. We end up falling into the bad habit.
But if we stick to the practice and continue with small increments, we can achieve a miracle.
7. Use peer pressure (selectively)
Peer pressure has many redeeming qualities. It is the pressure of our peers, after all, that gives us the support to try things we otherwise wouldn’t have — Bill Treasurer
We tend to stick to a habit when there is a peer pressure, good or bad. Use peer pressure selectively to build good ones.
If you are planning to lose weight, join a weight-watcher group. If you are planning to learn a new language, join a group that will keep you honest to yourself.
While we are at it, do not give in to peer pressure when you are trying to stop a bad habit. Select your friends carefully. It is said we are the average of five people we mix with.
Write your own book.
8. No hype!
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on — Robert Frost
Just head down execution. Wake up. Follow the design you have drawn yourself. Stick to the plan. Don’t allow the external events change your routine.
You will have surprises. Good or bad days. Specially the bad ones will sap you of the energy.
It will be too easy to skip the practice. Self rationalisation will kick in. Your mind will try to convince to stop and that you can always pick up later.
Don’t let it happen.
I wrote a post on how to get out of bad times here.
9. Enjoy the Moment
I decided to fly through the air and live in the sunlight and enjoy life as much as I could — Evel Knievl
Learn to enjoy the struggle. It is the persistence that will help you build the habit. Reward yourself along the way. The way we think has been developed over thousands of years. Our minds continue to look for reinforcement.
Make sure to celebrate victories as you continue to build a good habit.
Before you go…
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You may also like my 27-pages Free ebook — a collection of selected blogs. It will give you specific steps (specially check out the seven steps to make tough choices in life) to follow to be successful in life and career.