Published on December 17, 2020

15 Simple Habits That Will Make You Successful

15 Simple Habits That Will Make You Successful

The conventional wisdom of success that relies on willpower, motivation, and forcing ourselves to change tends to be ineffective at best and downright wrong at worst. Instead, what if you could move towards your goals with small, simple habits designed to make you successful every day?

The great news is that you can.

While most of us are taught to use willpower to achieve goals, research by Roy Baumeister of Florida State deemed it to be a finite resource. In other words, it runs out surprisingly quickly.[1]

However, humans are designed to combat our limited willpower through habit formation. By doing so, you can start today by incorporating small, simple habits that are easy to do. In this article, you’re going to learn 15 simple habits that will make you successful and create momentum in your life.

If you use these long enough, they will transition into something you barely have to think about doing and instead are naturally compelled to. Let’s dive into these simple habits of success.

1. Gratitude

The first successful habit on this list is gratitude, We hear about gratitude all the time—but science backs it up. Those who express gratitude increase well-being, can focus more on what’s working, and overcome challenges at a faster pace.[2]

By shifting from our problem-seeking monkey mind to what’s working in our lives, we shift our emotions and set the tone for the day.

Write three things you’re grateful for in the morning, and start your day empowered.

2. Airplane Mode

In a world of endless distraction, protecting your most prized real estate of attention has to be a priority. Instead of immediately grabbing the phone and starting the day off being reactive, choose to take control and start the day on your terms.

To do so, start the day on airplane mode for at least 15 minutes and work your way up to 60 minutes or more.


3. Physical Movement

Physical movement is vital for our health, it but may be even more important for our mindset and neurochemistry.

John Ratey MD, who wrote Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, found countless research to support that physical movement is crucial to creativity, motivation, and mental performance.[3]

Start simple: time yourself doing one activity for at least 10 minutes.

4. Creative Work

Remember that creative activity you used to do but then life got in the way? We all have one thing we love doing that makes us feel better. Creative work is an often ignored successful habit.

Doing something creative every day flexes a much-needed muscle, which translates into other projects you’re working on. Set aside at least twenty minutes every day to work on something creative.

5. Appreciation

When was the last time you received a handwritten note or a video on your phone from someone expressing their appreciation for you?

Become the person who sends these messages—and watch how they not only deepen connection but make you feel better, too.

This is the old “helper’s high” at work here—lifting others is a key source of happiness.[4] Send at least one appreciation message every single day.

6. Focused Time

Who would you imagine to be more productive—someone who works 55-hours a week or someone who works 70?

If you guessed the latter, you’d be incorrect. Research done by Stanford showed that productivity diminishes after 40 hours and falls off a cliff after 55.[5] In essence, those extra fifteen hours are a total waste of time.


In other words, less is more. To make focus a habit, start with 25-minute Pomodoro sessions at least once a day, and build your habit of focused time from there.

7. Mindfulness

The habit of mindfulness through meditation is shown to increase well-being, boost creativity, and provide some much-needed perspective.

However, many people complicate this habit and think they are “doing it wrong” if they have a particularly tough meditation. Nothing could be further from the truth—meditation is simply a practice.

Spend at least five minutes being aware of your breath, in silence, or using a guided meditation.

8. Journaling

Writing things down in a journal doesn’t only create clarity, it also amplifies meaning and allows you to recognize patterns of thinking and behavior.

Journaling can be used in various ways—to deconstruct success, to work through difficult emotions, or to reflect on our day to day experiences. Either way, it is a potent tool for self-discovery and reflection.

Make it a habit to journal once a day for at least five minutes by reflecting on your day, asking open-ended questions, or exploring emotions.

9. Learn Daily

Anyone can have above-average expertise in nearly any field through learning for at least ten minutes a day. Sounds crazy, right?

Think of it this way: ten pages of reading a day amounts to an average of 18 books per year! If you do this for three years, you’ve read 54 books on one topic—more than enough to make you skilled and sought after.

Constant learning and education is a successful habit shared by many successful people. Set a marker for learning every day—whether ten pages a day or a specific time you’re blocking out.


10. Close Open Loops

You likely don’t hear about this one much, but here’s why this matters: right now, you likely have “open loops” in your brain that you haven’t closed.

An “open loop” can be a message to respond to, a decision you must make, or anything that is pending. By keeping these “open”, you drain your energy and willpower and limit your ability to focus. Make it a habit to close at least three open loops every day to create clarity and practice the skill of decision making.

11. Set Boundaries

We tend to respect people who set boundaries and are willing to say “no” to requests that aren’t aligned with their priorities, but we’re not skilled at doing this ourselves.

Setting boundaries is a habit and could mean to create a calendar every week and sticking to it. It could mean having a conversation with someone about our current focus. Or, it could simply mean saying no.

To make setting boundaries a habit, find one way every week to ensure you protect your time, energy, and attention.

12. Seek Novelty

Another successful habit you should practice is seeking novelty. While morning routines, focused time, and mindfulness are all important habits, even the best activities need a boost. Enter novelty, which is the simple act of experiencing something new to provide a spark of ideas, insight, or perspective.

For example, changing your workout routine, reading a book in a genre you would otherwise discount, or even taking a new route home from work. All of these are simple ways to introduce novelty. Add in a weekly dose of novelty to your schedule and make it a habit.

13. Celebrate Wins

We’re often the worst people to see and recognize our own growth, especially those who consider themselves high performers. However, there is immense value in owning and celebrating wins by taking a step back and reflecting on how far we’ve come.

By doing so, you’ll focus on what is working, harness progress, and drown out the part of you that relies on pointing out how you could be further along. Celebrate three wins every day by writing them down.

14. Prioritize White Space

Creating pockets of white space in life is setting time aside to unplug, recharge, and get some much-needed downtime in a world full of stimuli.


Many tend to treat this time as “wasteful” or when they do use it, it’s scrolling through social media or other distractions. Instead, use this time to be with yourself and the people you love.

Carve out daily white space as a habit and remember that it’s much less about quantity than it is about quality.

15. Shutdown Routine

The last successful habit on this list is having a shutdown routine. The personal growth space is littered with morning rituals for success, which are no doubt powerful—but what about shutting it off?

In a remote-work world, we can find ourselves more “on” than ever. Instead, create a simple shut down routine at night by reducing electronic use, celebrating wins, and doing anything that signals to your brain that it’s time to rest.

This habit is one you create. For example, a shutdown ritual could be closing the laptop, cleaning the home office, and putting the phone away to be with family.

Success Is Not a Trait, It’s a Habit

We tend to think of success as a set of traits or genetic make-up someone else has, but it’s not true—success is about the actions we regularly take that turn into habits.

Think of your habits as the auto-pilot mechanism on the cross country flight. The pilots do the heavy lifting for take-off and landing and then step back and do maintenance during the flight.

You can do the same for your life by making your success and growth a habit instead of using willpower or discipline.

Start small, keep it simple—and watch the magic happen.

More Articles About Successful Habits

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via



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Tommy Baker

Expert on human potential and reverse engineering success.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

If you are like most people, you probably have big goals and dreams that you would like to succeed in — you want to be the top in your career, live a healthy lifestyle, or flourish in your relationships.

Everyone dreams of a positive future, but most people don’t realize the secret to a truly successful life:

You determine your future in the way you spend your everyday moments. If you want to be a successful person, you must consistently develop good daily habits. As Aristotle pointed out:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.

Building positive daily habits is a huge challenge, but can you imagine the amazing things you could accomplish with just a little commitment and determination?

Creating lasting, healthy habits is the real key difference between people who are successful in life and those who are unsuccessful.

You might be wondering which specific habits make the biggest difference. Not to worry, I’ve compiled a comparison list to help you get a jump start on a successful future.

1. Successful people embrace change. Unsuccessful people fear change.

Change is a constant for all of humanity, and it is important that you develop a positive relationship with it.

When unexpected or unwelcome changes arise, ask yourself how you can embrace it instead of running away. A few practical ways to reverse a change-fearing mindset include:

  • Take a moment to recognize and address any fears associated with the upcoming change.
  • Communicate with a person you trust about your negative feelings toward change.
  • Practice positive thinking, which you can read about in the next section.

2. Successful people exude joy. Unsuccessful people think, say and do negative things.

A joyful, positive disposition can seem like a distant reality in today’s cynical world, but it may be easier to achieve than you think. All you have to do is notice the good things around you and practice being thankful.


Mindfulness and gratitude are not just buzz words – choosing a positive attitude can honestly change your life. Many studies have found that thankfulness leads to greater happiness. Furthermore, research indicates that gratitude may even have a lasting positive impact on the brain and overall mental health.[1]

3. Successful people forgive others. Unsuccessful people hold grudges.

As a human being, you have likely been offended or hurt by others plenty of times. Don’t give in to the temptation to hold a grudge. Let it go.

Note that forgiving someone does not equate to giving up your boundaries (which are very important) or even admitting that the offending party is right. You should choose to let go for your own peace of mind.

4. Successful people track progress. Unsuccessful people just criticize.

Some kinds of criticism, such as constructive criticism, are good for personal and professional development. The kind of criticism I’m talking about is the pessimistic, nagging, unhelpful variety. This is the kind of criticism in play when you are unfairly harsh to yourself or others.

Toss unfounded criticisms aside and consider tracking your “wins” or your progresses, no matter how small. Take mental notes or keep a progress journal.

If you have a solid sense of what you have achieved, you will be less tempted to be hard on yourself.

5. Successful people share information, data and ideas. Unsuccessful people hoard.

If you have useful information or generate brilliant ideas on the regular, your first instinct may be to keep it all to yourself for personal gain and solo recognition.

Instead of hoarding bright ideas, share them with your team. Your talents will be on display for the team, and the team will be able to support you and make your ideas a reality.

6. Successful people are humble. Unsuccessful people talk more than they listen.

Humility is key. The ability to listen to other people, really listen and understand, is essential to success in both work and relationships — and to listen you have to be humble.

Everyone has experienced the frustration of being in a one-sided conversation. When someone approaches you with a question or concern, put your own world aside for just a moment and give them the kindness of your full attention.


7. Successful people take risks. Unsuccessful people take the easy way out.

The next time your heart is racing and you want to walk away, consider embracing the risk. You never know what might happen if you take a chance.

Embracing risks looks like accepting the speaking engagement even though it seems a little scary. Success takes the courageous route, not the easy route.

8. Successful people learn, improve and read every day. Unsuccessful people stop learning.

Instead of binge-watching a show tonight, save an hour before bed to read a book and expand your mind.

Unsuccessful people are afraid to be flexible – they don’t challenge themselves to learn new things. Avoid this pitfall by exposing yourself to new thoughts and ideas every day.

9. Successful people handle problems well. Unsuccessful people act before they think.

The next time you run into a problem or even an emergency, try to work through your initial panic reaction with a few deep breaths.

Instead of acting rashly, think through your next actions as quickly but as logically as you can.

Learning to handle problems thoughtfully is an absolutely essential tool in the successful person’s toolbox (that’s you!).

10. Successful people accept responsibility for their failures. Unsuccessful people blame others.

Along with a previous tip about humility, this is one of the hardest things you’ll ever learn to do – but also the most rewarding. When you’ve failed, you must fight the urge to pass the blame. Successful people are able to fail honestly and gracefully.

And, hey, don’t feel bad about failing. Some of the most successful people in the world have failed too many times to count. It’s all a part of the process.

You can check out this article for more tips on how to fail well:


How Failure Helps You To Succeed and Grow

11. Successful people work with passion and commitment. Unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement.

A short and sweet lesson for you:

You should never expect to achieve the things you want without working hard.

Follow your passion and stay committed to pursuing it. Work hard and stick to your habits every day. You’ll earn your reward.

12. Successful people spend time with the right people. Unsuccessful people think they already know it all.

A lot of people miss out on useful relationships and information sharing because they think they can do it all alone.

Spend time with people who inspire you, spur you to be a better person, and remind you that you can’t go it alone.

13. Successful people make to-do lists and maintain proper life balance. Unsuccessful people waste their time.

Ah, time management. Unsuccessful people never master the art of organization and planning.

Here are a few tips for you when it comes to time management:

  • Make to-do lists. Seriously, this will help you. Make time to do it every morning, evening, or whenever you are able.
  • Keep track of your time. Are you happy with the way you are currently balancing things? What changes can you make?
  • Keep a calendar full of your long-term goals (see next tip).

14. Successful people write down goals and think long term about their burning desires. Unsuccessful people get distracted every day.

Why is it so important to keep a long-term goal calendar? Here’s the deal:

The things you are passionate about today need a backbone.


Give your passionate ideas sustainability by writing down goals and staying on task instead of succumbing to distraction.

15. Successful people compliment others. Unsuccessful people try to bring others down to their level.

There is no greater confidence than saying “no” to sudden jealous or envious feelings and choosing to sincerely admire someone’s talents instead.

Unsuccessful people live in a world driven by competition, but successful people know that building people up is far more rewarding than bringing them down.

16. Successful people want others to succeed. Unsuccessful people secretly hope they fail.

In the same vein as the point above, this tip is all about good intentions.

Care for the people around you. Encourage them toward their successes. Hoping that others fail will not help you at all.

17. Successful people know their purpose and mission. Unsuccessful people don’t know what they want to be.

The last thing that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful people is one of the most important:

Keep your mission in mind.

Don’t be swayed to and fro by passing emotions and events. Know who you are and pursue your dreams wholeheartedly.

Final thoughts

Above all, stay confident. Truly believe that you can be and are successful. Strive to prove it in your day-to-day habits and activities!

What are you waiting for? Choose one of the habits above and get started today.


Featured photo credit: Unsplash via


[1] Berkeley University of California: How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

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