“Be careful of the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful of the friends you choose for you will become like them.”
—W. Clement Stone (1902-2002) Author/Businessman
It is a fact of life: success is hard; failure is easy. If you want to succeed in life, you must do what needs to be done, work hard every day and never give up. If you wish to fail, you need to do whatever you feel like doing: sit on your butt and never start so you do not have to give up.
For those who are seeking the easy way in life, I have seven simple reasons that you stay right where you are. Each of the seven habits require you to do very little, and can be done by anyone and they are guaranteed to work when followed.Advertising
1. You are lazy.
There is a difference between being lazy and getting rest. Rest requires you to do something to rest from and as French Dramatist, Jules Renard said, “Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.”
When we are lazy we take little notice that life is passing us by. To the lazy person, there is always tomorrow. To the success-minded person, there is only today. Since you cannot relive yesterday, and tomorrow never really gets here, all you have to work with is today. This dilemma is always ignored by the lazy person.
2. You are negative.
Many people develop the habit of negative thinking more out of convenience than out of experience. They think that somehow, if you believe everything will fail, then you just don’t have to try.
Success-minded people understand that positive thinking is not pretending that everything is find and happy. In fact, positive people see life as it really is. What success-minded people know is that for every problem there is a solution and for every challenge is a greater benefit.Advertising
3. You make excuses.
Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “He who is good at making excuses is good at very little else.” One of the keys to success is that of personal responsibility. Excuse making robs us of the ability to take control and make changes in our own lives. It is always easier to blame someone or something for the fact that we just are not willing to put forth the effort to win.
Success-minded people are responsible people. Rather than spending their time thinking up excuses, they use their energy to think of answers. If you do not have excuses you have nothing you can do but succeed.
4. You hang out with defeated people.
It really is amazing that we become like the people we spend time with. If you are with people who are lazy, defeated and empty, you will become the same way. Then again, I believe that is the purpose for the company we choose. If our friends are not achieving anything, then we do not have to feel guilty for not achieving either.
You will find that successful and productive people spend their time with other successful and productive people. Those who can perform better than we can and are better skilled than we are help to pull us up and make us better. Another fact of life: It takes no effort for a dead fish to float downstream.Advertising
5. You settle for the way things are.
“Sure I would like to succeed in life,” someone says, “but this is just the way it is and I cannot do anything about it.” This is what many really believe. Our Creator, in His great wisdom, gave us control over only one thing in the entire universe that is ourselves. Not only can you control your life, you are the only one that can.
One reason that some folks succeed and some just float downstream, is that those who succeed refuse to settle for the way things are. It is as former President John F. Kennedy said, “Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.”
6. You expect nothing.
It is simple to figure out, if you expect nothing you will never be disappointed. Of course you will never get anything either. After all, we get what we expect to get. If you expect nothing or if you expect bad things, you get them. If you expect success or good things, you get those too.
Success-minded people expect to succeed, so they do. They expect to face challenges, so they face them willingly. They expect to win, so they win. It is as the great Zig Ziglar said, “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”Advertising
7. You read nothing.
People who are successful read. People who are not successful do not read. Therefore, I really don’t think that many of those who I talk of in this piece are reading this at all. So why write it? To remind you, success-minded people, that your success and ability to achieve are not just by chance. It happened because you happened.
If you are still on that road to the achievement of your goals, keep going. Remember these lessons and do what it takes to win in life. It will take hard work, commitment, determination and desire to succeed, but these are the very things that make up the success-minded person. The fact that you read things that help you develop and learn is proof of that fact.
Featured photo credit: Sleepy bulldog by sabianmaggy via Flickr via flickr.com
Last Updated on March 21, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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) 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
More Resources to Help You Build Habits
- How to Break a Bad Habit and Retrain Your Brain
- Understand Your Habits to Control Them 100%
- How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop
- How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way)
Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com
|||^||Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox|
|||^||Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?|
|||^||Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit|
|||^||Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes|