In our offices, there is a phrase you will frequently hear our employees and clients say: "If success is important to you, make it a habit."
I've made this saying a personal mantra, and share it often with others. Too many people look at very successful individuals and believe their success is a result of extreme discipline and other traits that they themselves do not possess.
Success, however, is not and cannot be the result of discipline alone. Discipline and willpower are finite resources, and not even the hardest working of us can achieve success if every day we are struggling to do the things that make us successful.
Rather, success is the result of many small habits cultivated over time. I have been fortunate enough to meet and speak with some of the most successful individuals in the world, and they all share one thing in common: They have made habits out of the activities that made them successful. For example:
- Tony Robbins carefully formed habits around diet, exercise and whom he allows close to him.
- Arianna Huffington tracks and regulates her sleep and rest against her working hours.
- Tim Ferris might have created the Four-Hour Work Week, but he starts every weekday with a morning success routine.
Once an activity becomes a habit, it takes little to no willpower to do. Think of your habits, or the things you do on autopilot, like brushing your teeth or maybe going for a daily walk. These activities aren't draining. You've programmed your body to do these things unconsciously. You can do the same thing with activities that will help you be successful.
Ten years ago my doctor told me that out of all of his patients, I was one of the most likely to have a heart attack or stroke. I was overweight, and had a litany of unhealthy habits.
I knew that to get healthier and stay healthier, I had to find a way to make lasting changes, but the task ahead felt enormous, so I started small. Each day, I ran. Once running became a habit, I added weightlifting. Then diet changes.
Today, 10 years later, my health and fitness levels rank among the top one percent of men in my age group. The change is dramatic, but it didn't happen all at once; my health today is the result of small changes I made over the last 10 years that became habits.
If success is important to you, make it habit. Whatever your goals are, whether you want to succeed in business, get healthier, spend more time with your family, make small changes today that will move you towards those goals.
Alex and Cadey Charfen are the co-founders of the Charfen Institute.