“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” Henry Ford
Habits are pretty hard to shake, especially the bad ones, but given how easy it is to get stuck in a rut, imagine if you could make some really positive habits a part of your daily life. Many of the most successful people in the world share some surprising and not so surprising daily habits that allow them to perform at their optimum while feeling energised and positive and also allowing time for some extracurricular activities.
Our mindset plays a huge part in not only our outlook on any given day but also our potential to excel and moreover get the most out of our precious time. We decided to look at the daily habits of people who’ve achieved wealth, status and global recognition, and find out exactly what it is that makes them tick.
So if you’re someone who habitually presses the snooze button until you can press it no more, or you find yourself routinely charging out of the house with a piece of toast hanging from your mouth as you leg it partially dressed to the train station, take some time to analyse the daily habits of the super successful and implement them into your life.
“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.” Tony Robbins
Rise and Shine
Be they man or woman pretty much every super-successful person on the planet is an early riser. Waking up early is the perfect opportunity to plan your day and get ahead. Many of you will have a routine that has probably been a part of your life for years, waking up at pretty much the same time every day. But just by adjusting that alarm clock by as little as half an hour could provide ample time to pack more into your day. Sure we all need as close as possible to our eight hours, but hitting the sack a little earlier could revolutionise your daily routine.
The evergreen and energetic billionaire Richard Branson certainly reaps the benefits of waking up early doors,
“I like to wake up early; usually around 5am. I get out of bed and do some exercise – play a game of tennis, go for a walk or a run, jump on my bike, or if there’s enough wind, go for a kite surf. Then I eat breakfast and spend time with my family. Exercise and family time put me in a great mind frame before getting down to business. The reason I like to wake up early, is so that I can work through my emails before most of the world logs on.”
The benefits of exercising first thing can’t be underestimated and is another common denominator of the super successful, indeed studies have shown that due to the increased testosterone levels in our body when we wake, exercising first thing leads to an increased metabolism and further higher energy levels and focus throughout the day. As habits go it’s definitely one to take on.
Maybe the sunglasses hide the bags under her eyes, but Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is up and about at 5:45 am to play tennis every morning for an hour. And according to research by the Appalachian State University on a small but perfectly formed sample of test subjects, those engaged in aerobic exercise for 30 minutes in the morning experienced significantly better sleep compared to those who exercised mid-day or in the evening.
When competing Arnold Schwarzenegger used to arrive at Gold’s gym at 7 am and has claimed his best workouts almost always took place in the morning. Another physical specimen to be reckoned with, Conor McGregor, has talked about how he will often train in the middle of the night, all alone, when everyone else is sleeping.
You can’t defeat the Nazi regime if you’re not a morning person and although Winston Churchill had a slightly more relaxed view to bedtime habits, hitting the sack late and unsurprising with a to-do list as long as his cigar bill, his rock solid morning routine still had him one step ahead during his Prime Ministerial tenure, as described here,
‘Despite all this activity Churchill’s daily routine changed little during these years. He awoke about 7:30 a.m. and remained in bed for a substantial breakfast and reading of mail and all the national newspapers. For the next couple of hours, still in bed, he worked, dictating to his secretaries.’ Daily Routines.com
If you are at a loss as to how to get ahead maybe think of it like this, what can you control? Waking up half an hour, or maybe an hour earlier when your rivals and competitors, colleagues and friends are still sleeping gives you the opportunity to gain an edge in your life. Make it a daily habit and use this new found time wisely.
We spend so much time on our phones, what with the advent of social media, often reading depressing, sensationalised stories from around the world. Whether Donald Trump’s latest tweets or how WWIII is around the next corner, so there really is no truth in the idea that you don’t have enough time to sit down and read, and if you’re that attached to your phone, download one of the many reading apps. Perhaps if ‘The Donald’ took a leaf out of Theodore Roosevelt’s book (pardon the pun) who read one book a day when busy, and two to three a day when he had a free evening, the world could seem a less precarious place right now.
When bringing up young children it is universally accepted that without a doubt one of the most important habits is reading time, it helps a child find their voice and expands their imagination and ability to engage and think for themselves. There is no reason why this simple tool should be overlooked in adulthood. Making time to read every day can be hugely beneficial to everyone, whether it’s for acquiring knowledge or simply a period of escapism.
Scientists at Stanford found that reading offers invaluable exercise to parts of the brain that are neglected and underworked, citing in preliminary results a ‘dramatic and unexpected increase in blood flow to regions of the brain beyond those responsible for executive function,’ and that ‘paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions.’[coffee]
Exercising the brain is as important as exercising the body, particularly as we age, and if you throw in newly acquired knowledge that knows no bounds, then reading every day could be the best new habit you undertake.
Some of the world’s most successful business brains have an insatiable appetite for reading books. The $85 billion dollar man Bill Gates reads 50 books a year, a habit he formed as a child. Warren Buffett apparently spends 80% of his day reading, making you wonder how he finds time to invest his millions. Oprah Winfrey has her own online book club and tech billionaire Elon Musk learned how to build actual rockets by, you guessed it, reading books! Napoleon Hill referenced public libraries in his epic study Think and Grow Rich as ‘books and periodicals in which may be found all the knowledge organised by civilisation.’
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” Oscar Wilde
Take Time Out
Decision making is not something to be rushed into, and harnessing one’s creative imagination can reap serious rewards.
“The great leaders of business, industry, finance and the great artists, musicians, poets and writers became great, because they developed the faculty of creative imagination.” Napoleon Hill
Taking time out during your hectic schedule can reap major benefits, assessing and evaluating before coming to a decision will ensure you make the right one. And for those that find the now in vogue practice of meditation a little too much of a leap, simply walking can provide many of the same advantages. Walking has been shown to significantly reduce stress and moreover increase creativity. A study in the 2014 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition demonstrated:
Walking boosts creative ideation in real time and shortly after. In Experiment 1, while seated and then when walking on a treadmill, adults completed Guilford’s alternate uses (GAU) test of creative divergent thinking and the compound remote associates (CRA) test of convergent thinking. Walking increased 81% of participants’ creativity on the GAU, but only increased 23% of participants’ scores for the CRA. In Experiment 2, participants completed the GAU when seated and then walking, when walking and then seated, or when seated twice. Again, walking led to higher GAU scores.Moreover, when seated after walking, participants exhibited a residual creative boost. Experiment 3 generalised the prior effects to outdoor walking. Experiment 4 tested the effect of walking on creative analogy generation. Participants sat inside, walked on a treadmill inside, walked outside, or were rolled outside in a wheelchair. Walking outside produced the most novel and highest quality analogies. The effects of outdoor stimulation and walking were separable. Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.
Again Winston Churchill would often take a mid-morning stroll around the garden to help him evaluate and rationalise the numerous decisions pending solution. This was often done with a whiskey and soda, another sure fire way to get the creative juices flowing. Charles Darwin took two long walks a day, one at lunchtime the other late afternoon. And the freethinking activist Mahatma Ghandi took a lengthy walk every day.
Alternatively taking time out just to think and make a note of those thoughts can help you reach clarity more quickly and avoid procrastination. Richard Branson states,
“I always have a notebook on hand. My secret ‘life hack’ has also been to write it down! I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to write down my ideas as soon as they came to me.”
Indeed Albert Einstein supposedly accumulated more than 80,000 pages of notes in his lifetime. However simply whatever suits you best in taking some time out can be hugely beneficial.
Small habits can make a big change
Just a few minor changes to your routine could have a dramatic effect on your life and success therein. Mark Zuckerberg has amassed a whopping $55 billion fortune, he famously wears the same outfit every day to reduce the number of day-to-day choices and instead focus on making more important decisions.
It’s also important to forge a strong mindset, focusing yourself first thing every morning. Every successful person has been told no at some point in their lives but they haven’t allowed someone else’s opinion to impede their determination to succeed. It’s important to follow through with what you’ve started.
Approaching every job no matter how small or unappealing with one hundred percent commitment, yes hard work pays off. And finally, successful people make it a habit to surround themselves with like-minded people.
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Henry Ford