Foundation Habits to Spur Success
Successful people are made and not born, right? You don’t just wake up in the morning with a successful business or relationship because you are amazing. You work at it whether or not you think you are. To cite one of my favorite quotes:
“We are what we repeatedly do.Aristotle
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Let’s just replace “excellence” with success. You work at it consistently and constantly. It becomes part of your day, your life, your DNA. That is what we call a “habit.” You do it without thinking about it.
Did you think about brushing your teeth this morning? Did you have to schedule it on your calendar? (I’m going to assume nobody answered “yes” to this. If you did, please stop reading and go brush your teeth.)
Brushing your teeth is a habit that you do everyday, at least twice a day, and it is ingrained in your psyche. You probably would never leave your house without doing it. That is an example of a Foundational Habit. You do it without thinking and it sets the stage for other productive habits to emerge. You’ve got 1 foundation habit so you can build others on it.
Every day we make thousands of decisions which ultimately fatigues us. The more we can establish habits to lessen our decision making, the more we can expend our valuable energy creative problem solving. You get your brain out of processing and solving the mundane tasks and instead focused on more important, fulfilling ones.
Here are some Foundation Habits you can establish that will spur you on your success journey. Again, the less you have to think and process and the more these things become habit, the more energy you can put into the good stuff.
- Make your bed. This is the ultimate foundation habit next to brushing your teeth. I could talk for hours on the importance of this simple task but you would stop listening hastily. In a nutshell, making your bed gives you a sense of accomplishment to start your day; it signals to your brain that you are done with sleep and ready for your day, and it gives you a clean, tidy treat to come home to at the end of the day.
- Write your to do list. Doing this purposefully at the beginning of your day puts you in control of your day and time instead of being passive. You are determining what is important and what you are going to accomplish, not your overflowing inbox. The minute you wait for others (e.g. email inbox, message notifications, voicemail, personal requests) to tell you what needs to be done, they will. Your calendar will be filled by other activities that you didn’t plan on faster than you can say ”I’m crazy-busy.” When you write it down, and schedule it, you’ve filled your day with what YOU need to accomplish.
- Close down the office at the end of the day. This is so important, ESPECIALLY if you work from a home office. You must set boundaries on work time and personal time. Physically clearing your desk, closing your computer, putting away papers, putting up supplies is the opposite of making your bed. You are telling your brain that you are done with work and ready to focus on you time. Many entrepreneurs complain of struggling with sleep because their minds are still going at full speed when they should be winding down. If the office is still “open” and you are going to it in your off-hours then your brain is never settling down to rest. You must rest your mind and your body in order to be the creative problem solver that you must be to be a success.
- Exercise daily. This is a decision you make ahead of time and schedule on your calendar because there will always be something more fun to do… like sleep or watching TV. Exercise is another essential way we take care of our bodies AND our minds. Have you ever noticed that you get brilliant ideas when you’re moving? It’s because your brain is stimulated by the physical activity. It activates your subconscious brain to solve problems. You don’t have to do an hour of Crossfit or Peloton or bench press 300 pounds for this to be effective. Go for a 30 minute walk. Take a yoga, pilates, kickboxing class. Do what suits you but just do it consistently. Your body and your mind crave the consistent care.
If you’re not doing these habits today, it may be a challenge to get started. Give yourself grace to be ok with not being consistent in the beginning. But once you get started you’ll notice that these habits feed and encourage other good habits.
If you are already doing these, high five to you! You’ve already set up systems to support you and your success journey. It takes discipline to accomplish anything. Good habits beget more goodness and success.