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8 Things Successful People Do Day By Day

8 Things Successful People Do Day By Day

We all think about success, and we should, because the road to self-improvement comes from within, not from some exterior source. It is a good idea to be introspective and to strive to pinpoint bad habits as well as good ones, not just in a business sense, but also in private life situations. Still, introspecting only gets us so far. Trapping yourself inside your head and trying to figure everything out by yourself is usually not the best approach.

This is why we study our role models and strive to see what it is that they do in their everyday lives that makes them so successful. We are all aware that success doesn’t happen overnight (except in some extreme cases) and we want to pinpoint things that we can apply to our everyday lives in order to improve our chances for success. Here are some great examples.

1. Don’t just think, act

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney

Like mentioned in the introduction, don’t get stuck inside your head and forget to move forward. There are thousands of people with great ideas floating around their heads, but their inability to act on them is what ensures that they never go further than the fantasy stage. This doesn’t mean that you should set off without planning things out, but if you wait for the conditions to be perfect, you will never move beyond the starting line.

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Always remember the famous words of Walt Disney: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

2. Persevere in the face of adversity

It is very easy to live under the illusion that the famous and successful don’t make mistakes. I mean, if you want an example of famous failures, I’ll give you three: George Lucas’s Star Wars episodes I, II, and III. Still, he managed to pull the whole thing off and turn a profit in the end.

Everyone makes mistakes and has difficult situations during the work day, which can sometimes turn into long-term trouble. Reminding yourself: “Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.” This is the philosophy behind the success of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, basketball players of all times, Michael Jordan. It is a simple thing, but has tremendous impact if you adhere to it.

3. Keep confident with daily effort

This is what gets people confused a lot. In order to be successful, you need to be introspective and self-analytic, but you also need to avoid doubting yourself too much. Naturally, when you dwell on a problem for a long time, you are bound to come up with more than a few ways that things can go terribly wrong. This is where people choke up and fail to meet the challenge.

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“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not,” wise words by Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful people in history, and she couldn’t be more right. Integrity is the road to confidence.

4. Research and read as a part of being

“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” — Bill Gates

This quote has really set the standard for the age we live in. You need to be informed, up-to-date, and constantly focused on news and innovations in order to remain competitive in the fast-developing environment that we are a part of. Reading books, articles, being interested in various media, studying — all of these things make you better and more capable of dealing with adverse situations, which will open more opportunities. So, pick your way to work on self-improvement, and see how it enriches your life.

5. Don’t shy away from exercise

More and more modern work environments are actually desk jobs, and although it may not seem so, having a desk job comes with its fair share of health threats — the biggest issue being sitting in a chair for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

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The body can’t function properly when not exercised properly. That’s the way we are wired and we need to deal with that. If a busy woman like Anna Wintour, Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, can find time in her schedule to play tennis for one hour a day, so can you. I’m not saying you can’t succeed without exercise, but if you decide to avoid it, your success might seem hollow as you sit on your throne with an aching back and a tired body.

6. Calm your mind and banish stress

Yes, work equals stress. Truth be told, some work environments are less stressful than others, but each and every one includes stress. If you do not manage it properly, it can turn into anxiety and other, more severe, psychological conditions.

Arnold Schwarzenegger had problems with anxiety when he was starting to make it big, and his answer was transcendental meditation, but that was the 70s. Don’t get me wrong, meditating can be great, but it is not the only way to vent stress. Playing a videogame to chill out and relax has become a broadly accepted way to deal with stress.

7. Be mindful of your reputation

If you want to be a professional, you need to be mindful of your image and strive to maintain it. This may seem easy to do, but in the words of Warren Buffet: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

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The true sign that you are on the right path to success is when you start worrying about your reputation, since it may directly impact how you progress.

8. Always look for something new

In the end, you can always start something else. Even if things go bad, always strive to leave a clean slate and don’t lose hope. Sir Richard Branson said it best: “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming,” so don’t despair. The path to success is filled with many dead ends.

Attitude can be the most important thing. I mean, none of these people had to push themselves throughout their entire lives or needed to reach the peaks they reached in order to live well, but they did it anyway. They enjoyed the struggle and welcomed challenge. That’s what it’s all about!

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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