Every day, I strive to be a better version of myself than the day before. Whether I'm learning a new language or upping my fitness game, self-improvement is really important to me. But breaking bad habits and establishing new, positive ones is hard work — you're literally rewiring your brain to create new patterns in behavior.
As gruelling as it may be, recalibrating your habits really can make the difference in how successful you'll be. Take a page from today's most influential people and do these seven things every day. You too can become your best (and most successful) self.
1. Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
Every morning, my alarm goes off at 5:55am. Why so specific? Because, science! When you wake up at the same time every day, you balance your body's circadian rhythms. This means you'll fall asleep easier and wake up feeling more rested than if you go to bed and wake up haphazardly.
Not a morning person? That's okay. It's less about waking up super early than it is about establishing a pattern. You're effectively setting your natural body clock. I've even reached the point where I now wake up earlier than my alarm! Sleep, mastered.
2. Set a Daily Intention
Imagine if you started every day knowing exactly what you had to do. That's what successful people do: every day is an intentional step in the right direction. Richard Branson says, "A day without intention is a day wasted."
I don't mean you have to invent time travel or solve world hunger, like, tomorrow. It's as simple as deciding one small thing you want to accomplish today. A few years ago, I started setting an intention each morning before going to work. It's not necessarily a "to do" like finalizing budgets (actually, it's better if it's not). It's usually as simple as smiling more or finding time to go for bike ride. My daily intention is essentially the one thing I want to focus on each day to be better than I was the day before.
3. Review Yearly Goals
What if I told you your success depends on your ability to see the future — no crystal ball required? I've always believed in the power of visualization to achieve big goals; in fact, I credit my success and the success of our business to exactly that.
At our company, we call this our Painted Picture: a snapshot of where the business is going, down to every last detail. Every morning, I review our goals for the year and assess where we need to make adjustments. I also review my personal goals to ensure I remember to focus on my own development, too.
4. Take Time for Yourself
The most important thing you can do — for your health, career, relationships, everything! — is make time to recharge. Even the most extroverted person has an introverted side; it's absolutely necessary to step back and get some breathing room now and then.
It doesn't take much to feel the difference. Step outside for five minutes of fresh air between meetings, or walk to a nearby cafe for a quick coffee break. Every morning, I take a full hour to myself before my kids wake up and before I head to the office. I also take brain breaks every chance I get throughout the day. Taking a moment to ground myself periodically ensures I'm always at my best, for myself and for those around me.
5. Make Health a Priority
It's easy to let your personal health fall by the wayside when you're busy with work and life. I'll admit this one is still a work in progress for me, but I'm doing my best to make healthier choices and to make exercise a daily habit. I've found that making smart decisions early in the day (ie. a healthy breakfast or working out first thing) helps me stay on track.
Author Seth Godin takes it a step further: he has the same smoothie almost every morning to limit the number of decisions he has to make each day. That way, he can focus all his energy on writing his next bestseller or running two businesses. Talk about commitment!
6. Say "No"
We've all felt the drain of back-to-back meetings and endless, time-sucking tasks. With a jam-packed calendar, it can be tough to know how (and when) to get everything done.
Here's a crazy idea: you don't have to do everything! No, seriously. You can't be everywhere and saying "yes" to every meeting or project will stretch you too thin. Instead, practice saying "no" and don't feel guilty about it (unless you're just trying to slack off but that's a whole other issue). Clearing your plate of things that don't add value doesn't mean you're not a team player; it means you're hyper-focused on what's important and you know how to use your time for maximum impact.
7. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is one of the most valuable (and underused) tools at our disposal. In addition to simply making you a nicer person, it also improves your mental and physical health, makes you happier and more confident, and strengthens your relationships. Better yet, every one of us has the capacity to practice more gratitude every single day.
Every night as I'm falling asleep, I make a list of what I'm grateful for. Yep, even on the tough days when it seems like nothing is going right — in fact, on these days, it's even more important. Reminding myself of all the good things in my life as I go to bed puts me in a positive state of mind and helps me wake up happier in the morning.
Establishing new (and better!) habits takes focus, faith and effort. It won't happen overnight and that's okay — just don't get discouraged. If you take one small step every day, eventually it won't feel like work. You'll be well on your way to realizing your full, unstoppable potential.