Success can often seem like it’s all down to the big, shiny achievements in life, like movie contracts and billion-dollar deals. But the truth is that when high-achievers are asked to share the secrets of their success, they often mention daily habits that sound insignificant but get huge results. With this in mind, here are five of the most popular ones:
- Rise with the larks
High achievers tend to be notoriously early risers, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. But if you want to join the 6am Club, 5am Club or even (gasp) 4am Club, you have to put a few smart strategies in place. A good start would be to train your body clock with ‘sleep hygiene’ — essentially, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
Why it works: The early morning hours are especially good for focused activity, so getting up at dawn will give you a head start on your goals.
- Write morning pages
Entrepreneur and podcaster, Tim Ferriss, swears by this practice. Invented by creativity expert, Julia Cameron, the key is to scribble down three stream of consciousness pages first thing in the morning, making sure not edit what you’ve written. Do this every day until it becomes a habit and keep a notebook by your bed to make it easier.
Why it works: Morning pages give you the chance to write down any niggling thoughts, fears and worries as soon as you wake up. This unclutters your mind, allowing you to focus on your goals clearly for the rest of the day.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise
It’s easy to use busyness as an excuse for avoiding a workout, but exercise is essential for peak physical and mental fitness. High achievers know this, which is why they always make time for a workout. For instance, Dame Anna Wintour might be the editor of Vogue, but she never misses her daily 5.45am tennis lesson.
Why it works: From boosting endorphins to busting stress, exercise will help to keep you laser-focused on your goals each day
- Read the right books
Ask a successful person what books have inspired them and they’ll probably be able to reel off a list straight away. In other words, high achievers tend to be focused, strategic readers. That’s because they know that by absorbing wisdom from history’s most notable people, they can learn from their failures and triumphs. So no matter how busy you are, make time each day to enjoy a good book — even if it’s just 15 minutes before bedtime (Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is often a reading list favourite of successful types).
Why it works: Reading gives you a chance to learn from some of the smartest people in history. In essence, think of it as having the world’s highest achievers as your mentors.
- Practice gratitude
It might sound twee, but a gratitude journal is a practice that many successful people swear by, including Emma Watson and CrossFit champ, Anníe Mist Þórisdóttir. The key is to pick five things that you are grateful for, big or small, and write them down daily.
Why it works: Reflecting on the things that make you happy each day will help you to stay positive and adopt a more constructive attitude to challenges.
Successful habits don’t happen overnight. So why not pick just one of these tips to start with, practice it for a month and see how your life improves? Who knows, you might find yourself that much closer to achieving your dreams…