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Unconventional Habits of Really Successful People

Unconventional Habits of Really Successful People
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We all want to find success. However, we don’t just want to find success, we want to really make it big.

Children and adults today want to grow up to be Steve Jobs… or the actor that stars as Steve Jobs in one of three biopics. But, as any successful person will tell you, it is not enough just to want to be successful. There are certain traits that successful people have that help them get to where they are and where they want to be.

These traits are often very subtle. They don’t usually include getting up early or getting enough exercise. Neither do they include being practical — like making sure your devices are fully charged and starting the day with a killer to-do list. These things are a given when you are successful. If your life is taking off, you don’t have time to sleep until noon. You probably don’t have time to sleep until seven in the morning!

Here are five unconventional, yet subtle, habits of the most successful people:

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They Are Modest On The Outside

A really successful person is often proud of what they do. But, they will not be the ones who are showing off their success by bragging.

In many cases, people who show off their wealth and success are overcompensating for other failures. The truly successful people do not need to do this. Not only do they not need to do this, they often do not have time to seek other people’s approval.

With this in mind, Steve Jobs’ wardrobe choices become much more understandable.

They Don’t Just Say “Yes”

Any motivational speaker will tell you that you need to start saying “yes” if you want to really take advantage of all the opportunities in life. However, that is not universally true.

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You need to learn the difference between saying “yes” and saying “yes” to the right opportunities. If successful people said yes to every great opportunity that presented itself to them, they would run themselves into the ground.

You also need to learn that not every great opportunity will get you where you want to be. When you find something that will help you get to where you want to go, you should almost always say yes. If it is not in line with your pathway to success, you need to learn how to say no.

They Consider The Return On Investment

Many of the most successful people in the world are more worried about return on investment than anyone else. In particular, they worry a lot about how and where they spend their time.

Time is a construct that you use to organize your days. But as they say, time is money. Successful people choose to spend and invest their time wisely.

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For example, a successful person would consider what would most benefit their goals before making decisions about what they will do that day.

This is how CEOs and other executives choose which meetings to attend. For many CEOs, it makes little sense to invest time in some things. The reason your CEO is not at the company conference is because their time is not well invested in the travel, preparation, and time spent at the conference. That time could be better spent doing things that will show a real return on their goals.

At the same time, you should think about how you spend your leisure time. If you can spend five hours a day on Netflix, you are likely not investing your time in something productive and worthwhile.

They Work Anywhere

Most people think that you work at the office. If you’re busy, you might take your work home with you. But successful people know how to get work done wherever they are.

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This is not just about going into a coffee shop and plugging into a task. A successful person sees every connection as a possible opportunity. They can remained switched on for incredible amounts of time. Hence, they do not miss the small things that other people might.

They Dedicate Time To Answering Emails

Emails are one of the most cumbersome parts of business. Most people receive dozens of unnecessary emails every day. If you are a successful person, you could see hundreds of emails daily.

Emails are necessary, but like other office infrastructure, they are distracting.

Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, manages his emails by send them into a safe box. He then answers all of them at the same time the next day.

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This is a smart strategy because it allows you to complete one task and then move on. Emails can serve as huge points of distraction. When you find basic hacks like this for keeping up with busy, but important, work, you can consider yourself to be in the realm of the successful.

Successful people are not successful because they get up early. They are not successful because they are former athletes. Successful people become very successful when they actively find ways to make both their time and money work for them in the best way possible.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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