Psychologists estimate that at least 40% of all our behaviour is governed by habits enforced by our subconscious minds.
In other words, we tend to run on automatic pilot. Much of our success or failure is down to our habits.
Let’s look at the habits of successful people.
First, they tend to be early risers.
Typical adults need between seven and nine hours per night.
If you often feel tired during the day, take a look at your bedtime routine.
Get into the habit of going to bed and getting up at the same times every day.
Even moderate sleep deprivation cuts the average person’s response time by 50%, so aim for high-quality sleep.
Second, high achievers make reading, learning and general self-development a priority.
Aim to read at least one non-fiction book per month.
Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, claims to read 50 books per year.
Expose yourself to new ideas and learn from other peoples’ mistakes.
Successful people are also willing to admit that they don’t know everything – you can always pick up new skills and set a new course for the future.
They are willing to analyse their failures and reframe them as learning opportunities.
Journaling can be a great tool for self-improvement, as it helps you gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses.
Aim for at least one half-hour journaling session per week.
Along with getting enough sleep, regular exercise and a good diet are key habits that will give you the energy to get through the day.
People who choose fruits and vegetables over high-fat options report higher productivity at work.
Changing your diet entails breaking a lot of habits.
For instance, you may have fallen into the habit of reaching for an unhealthy snack midway through the afternoon.
Anticipate your personal pitfalls and come up with an alternative that doesn’t take much effort.
For instance, you could bulk buy some new healthy snacks to eat, or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a quick mid-afternoon walk.
You should aim to get 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise every day.
If you frequently feel overwhelmed at work, you probably need to develop two new habits: learning how to prioritise your workload and saying “No” to unreasonable requests.
Plan each day the night before, the upcoming week on Sunday night, and each month a few days in advance.
Experiment with diary apps that allow you to write to-do lists, share your work with others, and remind you of upcoming events.
Set intelligent goals; use the SMART acronym to choose goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based.
Regular meditation and mindfulness exercises can equip you with the tools you need to remain calm in a crisis and stabilise your mood throughout the day.
Neither are complicated, but they require ongoing practice if they are to become habits.
Begin by getting in the habit of meditating five minutes each morning.
After a few days, you can then increase it by a few minutes, building up to a 20-minute daily practice.
Meditation is excellent for anxious people.
Research has shown that 60% of sufferers feel markedly better after meditating regularly for 6-9 months.
Do not try to change all your habits at once, because you are likely to feel overwhelmed.
It takes an average of 66 days for a new habit to stick.
Start by picking one habit, implementing it for a couple of weeks, then adding another.
This method, commonly known as “habit stacking”, allows you to make minor changes at a pace that suits you.
Making these attainable changes makes it more likely that they will become the new, better habits that affect your behaviour in a positive way.