We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
I often wonder how successful people get successful – what they actually did to get where they are today. I’ve always thought there was one defining moment/event/action etc. were someone is instantly catapulted to the ranks of the uber elite. But I’ve realized that my thinking has been backwards. I think these people have made a habit out of the things that lead to becoming successful. So I thought about that for a while and came up a few points that I’ve begun to use to make success a habit.
Free up time
When you start something new its going to take time and ultimately displace something you used to do. This makes time management important. I’ve been saving time by grocery shopping during my lunch hour, reading books on my commute to work and cooking enough food for multiple meals.
If you like keeping track of the news/politics/celebrity gossip etc. I’d recommend using RSS feeds and google reader (go here if you don’t know what RSS or google reader are). This will allow you to stay on top of these things when it’s convenient for you. And if you’re into shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes or 30 Rock just use a bit torrent and download them to watch later. It’s important to take things that are time consuming and bend them to your terms so you can do them at your leisure. Otherwise you won’t be able to manage them – you’ll just be managing around them.
Whatever it is your choosing to do make sure you start out in small increments. If you want to start exercising only go to the gym twice a week. Don’t try to go every single day. You can’t think of this as goal setting. You’re not out to accomplish something. You’re trying to develop a rhythm that will eventually become subconscious. Going all out at first will not put you in the right mindset. You want to do a lot of small things, not a few big things.
Track your progress
It’s important to track your progress to see how you’re doing. Excel is good for numerical things. Microsoft’s OneNote is pretty good too if you need more of an index/filing system to track what you’re doing.
These aren’t things I’m just saying lightly. I’ve always wanted a library so I’m trying to read at least a book every 2 weeks. Afterward I document them in OneNote where I update my favorite quotes, concepts I’ve learned, and information about the author. This is pretty recent so I’m still in the consistency phase; this is far from being a subconscious habit. But it’s comforting knowing that if I keep this up, some point in the future I will have a library with vast amounts of information on each book.
I’m doing the same thing for my workouts. I’m starting a new 3 month program and I just got an excel template to track my progress. I got it from this website. Here’s the pdf (stronglifts-5×5) explaining the program if anyone’s interested.