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10 Small Things People Always Overlook Which Actually Matter To Success

10 Small Things People Always Overlook Which Actually Matter To Success

The quality of your life comes down to the quality of your habits. No success can happen overnight though it sometimes seems so. Every success is made out of little things, little habits which you do regularly every single day, every week.

Success is not that difficult if you decide to take one step at a time. Doing little things, small habits consistently with all your heart makes you efficient every single day and the compound effect of doing so will bring success in your life.

So, what are small habits which matter to success?

1. Take 10 minutes for concentration every morning

Every morning as soon as you go out of your bed and before you start thinking of all your emails you have to open take just 10 minutes to quietly sit down and focus your mind on the goals and good things you would like to achieve in your life.
Don’t let all the problems you have to solve that day to interrupt your concentration time.

This little habit won’t take much of your time but will make you start your day with a fresh mind. It will fuel your mind with success.

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2. Take notes

Wherever you go take your notebook (or your smartphone) with you so you can quickly write down little ideas which can suddenly pop out of your mind during the day. In this way, you will never run out of new, bright ideas which are necessary for any success.

“…my most essential possession is standard sized notebook… …I carry those everywhere and write down all the comments that are made to me by Virgin staff and anyone I meet.” – Richard Branson, a billioner, founder of Virgin Group

3. Don’t check your email box before 10 o’clock

When you start your working day do your most important thing first. Everything else will just distract you. Forget about your emails. They can wait for 2 to 3 hours by the time you finish a great part of your most important thing of that day.

By doing so, you focus all your efforts on your most important thing which matters to your success instead of doing urgent things which can only take your time.

4. Make your ‘to-do’ list every night

Every night before you go to sleep write down 5 most important things which you need to do the next day.
But remember this: don’t make a list of 20+ things but only 5 things otherwise you will easily slip into a habit of doing too many things and your productivity will considerably drop down.

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To lead a life of success, you need to do just a few things every day, efficiently.

5. Read inspirational books for 30 minutes every day

Success leaves clues. So reading books about successful people will inspire you and broaden your view.

“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job” – Jim Rohn

6. Make time limits throughout your day

This little habit can considerably shorten your way to success.
For every task you have to do, make a time limit. Putting a time limit can force you to be very effective and productive and you will be left with much more spare time at the end of the day.

Tomorrow, before you start checking your email box decide how much time you will spend on it. And follow this practice for all the other tasks, too.

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7. Use your smartphone for calling, too:)

Yes, it seems funny but sometimes we get so much into using all functions of our smartphones that we forget to call people. Don’t just send messages. Call people and talk to them. Success comes with people.

Speaking in person is the most effective way to interact with people but if you can’t do it, forget SMS’s and emails, pick up the phone and talk to them. Messaging and emailing is only the third option.

“I don’t use email or a computer, I do everything in person or on the phone” – John Paul DeJoria, a billioner, co-founder of Paul Mitchell Systems and founder of Patron Spirits

8. Take 30 minutes of your day for a physical activity

Take 30 minutes of your day for doing sports because success loses all its meaning if you don’t feel well. Doing jogging, fitness, yoga or any physical activity for just 30 minutes a day can make you body fit and your mind fresh.

“Take care of your body, it’s the only place where you have to live” – Jim Rohn

9. Make positive affirmations during the day

Saying to yourself: “I am great, I love myself, I am on my way to success”, can lift your spirit high when you feel tired or when things don’t go the way you wish them to go.

A tip: Do your affirmations every day, a few times per day, constantly so when you really need them to lift your emotions up they will be already deeply rooted in your subconscious.

10. And finally, every night say “Thank you”

Before you go to bed, say a little “Thank you”. Be grateful for all the opportunities you had that day.

All successful people know that success come only to people who are grateful.

WHEN YOU FEEL you don’t progress as fast as you would like and that you are wasting time doing small ‘unnecessary’ habits remind yourself of this fact:
The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.

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Featured photo credit: Victor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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