The (Surprising) Number One Habit of Successful PeopleAug 08, 2017
Have you ever asked yourself how those successful people consistently walk from one success to the next, make things happen?
It does not matter whether we’re talking business successes, personal fitness, health – you name it.
Well, there are tons of books and articles around about those habits which ultimately lead to success. I wrote one myself not too long ago which dealt with clarity, courage, productivity, intuition, energy and a few more factors.
Knowing why is crucial, knowing where to go to, or having productivity/planning tools in place definitely. So why is then that many of us who know all that stuff still don’t really get where we’d love to be?
The “overnight” success
Some time ago, my grown up daughter came in my room just as I was getting dressed. No top on yet. She looked at me and exclaimed with surprise, “Mum, I can see your tummy muscles, that’s almost a six pack (which is vastly exaggerated) – how did that happen suddenly?”.
The answer was pretty simple - tummy exercises every (well, almost every) morning for 3-4 minutes, even before I get out of bed (gets the blood pressure up and the oxygen flowing…so I rather jump than crawl out of bed). Done for the last, let me think, probably 7-8 years.
A small effort each time. With a great result – eventually. Definitely not something happening overnight.
And what definitely helped me sticking to the exercises was that before even starting this routine consistently I had my Why figured out: Constant back pain which I wanted to get rid of. Strong tummy muscles (or more to the point core muscles) support the back. So I went down this path. The defined muscles were a side effect.
Doing that little thing, in a small way, consistently over time, made a huge difference over the long-haul.
What do my tummy muscles have to do with being successful you might ask me? The way I successfully got there is both crucial and applicable for all areas of a successful life.
The Magic Wand: Consistency
Consistency is all about repetition. It’s about repeating the same actions over and over again; Seeing what works and adjusting them accordingly to help us stay on track as we work towards our goal.
In essence, it is the difference between success and failure in any field of endeavour, and the key to high levels of achievement.
Sounds pretty easy, right?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned a lot during your life, have attended courses, got to know great and new tools to make your life easier and yourself more productive and efficient.
So now here’s a question for you: how long did you apply all that great knowledge on a regular level after you’ve learned it?
How many of us have started writing a blog or picked up a new sport with all the passion of the moment with the complete conviction that this is exactly what we will do now on a regular basis?
Or started a new healthy diet…
Or began using this latest greatest productivity app advertised as helping us to double our output?
We stick with it for a few weeks or maybe even months. But, eventually we let it slip before we reap the promised rewards (self-promised or advertised) – in other words, before we have become successful in our endeavours.
I am definitely guilty of that. Some months ago, I started blogging, both written and video, with the firm idea of publishing a new video/blog every week. As with many of us, I could not keep up with my own goal setting and did not pull it through.
I knew exactly how to do it, I had a content calendar, all the equipment and systems in place. The only thing I was lacking was CONSISTENCY.
Hence, it did not take off and in a way I sabotaged myself.
Risk Factor: Delayed Gratification
If, next to other factors as mentioned above, consistency is the success factor to get us anywhere, what causes us to either give up shortly before a success is found around the next corner or jump to the next thing before the first one has a chance of getting us into the winning zone?
Well, the culprit is delayed gratification.
We live in a world where patience is rare and gratification is at our fingertips for a lot of things: Need a new outfit for tomorrow’s party? Order it on mycoolnewdress.com today, and have it delivered tomorrow. The same with basically everything else we desire (and can afford).
Want a date? Look people up on tinder, swipe and tada! (never tried that myself, but that is how it seems to work).
Hungry? The next fast food fix is just around the corner….from fatty and unhealthy to even quite decent ones, as I discovered when I had some time at Munich’s main station where I found basically quick food for every taste from McD to Sushi-to-go.
Want to lose weight? Wonder crash diet no 239 is definitely somewhere about to be found and promoted. Get that bikini figure in a week!
And so, the list goes on and makes us believe that everything must and can be achieved in no time with the minimum of effort.
When building up a new business or taking on projects (personal as well as professional), successes rarely come rushing towards us after only a few hours of effort (even though thousands of online trainers want to make us believe exactly that) and real gratification might only come after a few months or even a year.
I don’t know any professional sports person who got there in a few months. If that was the case we all be doing it – right? It is the same for most start-ups.
Staying consistent in such a situation can be hard. It takes courage and self-confidence (and great people to support us in such moments). I know exactly what I’m talking about…after all I’m right in the middle of that as I write this.
For once: Celebrate the small successes. Each single step. Be proud of having written the blog for this week. Or for having stuck to planning and reviewing your week. For having had the energy to run/do the yoga sessions/go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week (even if you planned on doing it every day). And be kind to yourself. Beating ourselves up for our short comings will not motivate us to stick with being consistent….
Secondly, make sure you’re getting yourself an honest and reliable accountability buddy. Check in with them every week and help each other to stick to what you’ve planned. Bringing it out into the open is the best way to beat procrastination. It’s important though, to resist the temptation to find lots of excuses on why we have not done what we planned to do.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes life just happens and all the best laid plans don’t work out. Still, it’s not about excuses, but about the question “what can I do to get better with sticking to my plan next time?”.
After all, it’s a process and we’re on a learning path all our life, right?
Bringing it all together
Consistency in whatever we do will not only bring us sustainable results, it will also create trust with the people we are dealing with and working with on a regular basis (including with ourselves): We become reliable towards our clients, our colleagues, our partners and children, as we are clear and consistent in our message and behaviour.
A word of warning: Don’t mix up consistency with rigidity. In our ever-changing world not being able to adapt would be rather self-defeating.
So, finding the balance between being consistent in our efforts to achieve our targets or goals and showing the right level of flexibility and willingness to change when something does not work out is crucial.
We can achieve that by double checking on a regular basis what works and what does not – without giving up too early.
Well, I never said it was that easy. Still working on it myself.