Are you happy? Are you healthy? Are you a millionaire? Do you consider yourself a highly successful person? You are where you are today because of your habits.
Everything that you repeatedly do from the moment you wake up until the time you go to sleep are habits. According to Charles Duhigg, author of best-selling book The Power of Habit, 40-45% of what we do each day are not conscious decisions but habits.
What are habits? Habits are your usual way of behaving. They are your thoughts and actions that you repeat over and over again.
Habits are formed through repetition on a daily basis. Some habits were developed during childhood like tying your shoelaces or brushing your teeth. Other habits like how you parallel park your car are formed each time you learn something new. Studies suggest that as an action becomes automatic, the brain shuts down. For example, you can completely concentrate on something else while brushing your teeth.
Thus, habits are very powerful. They dictate how successful or unsuccessful you will be in life. Your life today is the sum of all your habits.
Making a Choice
While luck and genetics maybe contributing factors, it is the behaviours of individuals that ultimately lead to success. The good news is that new habits can be learned and old habits can be unlearned. So, if you want your life to get better, you cannot continue doing what you have been doing. You need to make some changes.
You need to develop successful habits to become successful in life. Any self-made millionaire will tell you that success does not happen overnight. Robert Collier, an American self-help author stated that “Success is the sum of all efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
Now, where to start? Brian Tracy, the most listened to speaker on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness recommends starting with your morning routine. According to him, what you do in the first few hours of the morning set the tone on how the rest of your day will turn out.
Five Morning Habits that will Change your Life
Here are morning habits of highly successful people:
Get Up Early
Morning people are successful people. Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individual, spent five years studying 233 wealthy people and 123 poor people. According to him, self-made millionaires woke up three hours before their schedule actually begins.
- Robert Iger, Disney CEO wakes up at 4:30 am.
- Former US President George HW Bush would get up at 4:00 am.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up at around 4:30 am
- Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne gets up at 3:30 am.
- Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz gets up at around 4:30 am.
Gone were the days were meditation is just for the monks, hippies and yogis. Science has proven that meditation has many beneficial effects on the body. Meditation reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, enhances creativity, lowers depression and improves performance. Meditation is a form of contemplative practice just like prayer and visualisation. Start your meditation with gratitude and then visualise the day ahead of you.
- Ariana Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post does 20-30 minutes meditation as a part of her morning routine.
- Rick Rubin, former president of Columbia records is a daily practitioner of Transcendental Meditation.
- Padmasree Warrior, chief Technology and Strategy officer of Cisco Systems allots 20 minutes a day for meditation.
- Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linkedin empties his mind each day to meditate.
- Ophrah Winfrey, the most influential woman on media who has her own media empire spends 20 minutes of meditation to start her day.
Tom Corley said that about 76% of the wealthy exercised for at least 30 minutes a day. In another study done by Psychology Today on 5,402 Finnish twin males, results revealed that the physically active twin earned about 17% more income than the less active twin. Daily exercise not only controls weight but also improves health and stimulates the brain.
- Jennifer Aniston, one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, includes spin-yoga and gym workout as part of her daily morning routine.
- Bill Gates, the richest man in in the world, spends an hour each day on his treadmill.
- Former US President Barack Obama goes to the gym at 6:45 am to do weights and cardio work-out.
- Steve Rheinmund, former chairman and CEO of Pepsi does a four mile run every morning at 5 am.
- Anna Wintour, Vogue editor-in-chief plays an hour of tennis at 5:45 in the morning each day.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
The word breakfast came from an old English word which means to break the fast of the night. After a whole night of fasting, the body needs essential nutrients to function properly for the day. That is why, breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day.
- Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group opts for a high fiber, high vitamin breakfast. His breakfast includes fruit salad, muesli and some kippers occasionally.
- Winston Churchill, former British prime minister ate a hearty morning meal of poached eggs, toast, cold meats and grapefruit.
- Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter eats two hard boiled eggs with soy sauce.
- Shaquille O’Neal, former NBA star, confessed that he never drank coffee his whole life. Breakfast is normally composed of bread, omelette and a glass of fresh orange juice.
- Justin Timberlake, singer songwriter and record producer eats breakfast twice daily. The first one includes waffles with flax, almond butter and scrambled egg. He eats another egg and a protein shake for his second breakfast after workout.
According to Tom Carley, the most significant disparity between the habits of the wealthy and the poor concerns reading. About 88% of the wealthy read at least 30 minutes each day compared to only 2% of the poor. Successful people make it their business to stay informed. They read to increase their knowledge, learn new things and to stay current with events especially in their industry.
- Warren Buffet, the most successful investor in the world reads the American Banker, Financial Times, New York Times, Omaha World Herald, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal every morning.
- John Carney, writer and former CNBC editor reads ancient philosophy by Plato, Socrates and Xenophon.
- Dave Girouard, former president of Google, reads Winton Churchill’s speeches.
- Charlie Munger, vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway reads The Economist.
- Fran Tankerton, former National Football League quarterback read local and national newspapers from cover to cover.
You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. – John C. Maxwell
To change a bad habit, all you need to do is simple replace it with a new one. Studies show that on average, it takes 21 CONSECUTIVE days to create a new habit, although some people takes a bit longer. This simply means that you need to do the habit that you want to form for at least 21 straight days preferably at the same time everyday. For example if your goal is to wake up at 5:00 am, you need to set the alarm at 5:00 am from Monday to Sunday. If you fail to do it even for a day, you need to restart to Day 1. An effective technique is to use a daily reminder or alarm and to mark an X on your calendar once you have done it for the day.