“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle
Striving. Aspiring. Reaching. Achieving excellence in any discipline isn’t easy. It comes from a relentless pursuit of improvement and a commitment to the process of growth. We can all admire excellence in art, music, dance, academics, personal integrity and leadership and yet so many people don’t take the steps in their lives to be among the ranks of the achievers.
There is nothing separating them from you… except you. Here are some of the ways you can implement success habits into your life:
1. Know Your End Goal
What do you want to achieve? What do you REALLY want? What does it look like? How will you feel when you get there? Visualize it. Feel it. When you achieve your goal, what will you say of your achievement? What will others say about you? How will your life be changed? Write your goals down and then visualize the achievement. Imagine it. Celebrate it in your mind.
2. Make an Action Plan
It’s not enough to know what you want to achieve. You MUST make a step-by-step action plan to get there and you have to understand that the best things aren’t achieved overnight. The road is long. Start with the end goal, but write out all the steps you will need to take in order to get there. Hire a coach to help you figure this part out. Everyone can benefit from coaching.
3. Create A Routine
Routine is like muscle memory for life. When you’re consistent from day-to-day, healthy habits become something you do on auto-pilot. When you don’t have to think about what’s next, you’ll experience less anxiety, more productivity, and, of course, find the space in the routine for fitting in your action plan for achieving your end goal.
4. Prioritize Everything
Every day, write down what you need to accomplish – some even do this at the end of each day to prepare for the next. Life happens and things come up, but keeping a running list of things that require your attention can help you to ensure you keep on track with your daily routines. Categorize everything as a MUST DO TODAY, a NICE-TO-DO TODAY, and a CAN WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW, or even a WHEN I GET SOME SPARE TIME. Commit to your MUST DO TODAY list and, once complete, start hammering through your NICE-TO-DO items, but only if it fits in the time you’ve allocated.
5. Prioritize Self-Care
On the topic of prioritizing, make sure you prioritize self-care: prayer. meditation, journalling or other relaxation techniques; sleep – quantity and quality; healthy nutrition at regular intervals; daily exercise or mobility; and personal connecting with family and friends. The pursuit of excellence is a long road and you will not get there if these elements are not included in your daily habits. Even if you can only spend 30 minutes a day in exercise and 15 minutes on the phone with a friend, you will benefit greatly from both.
6. Re-Commit Every Day
Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. And it’s okay. The beauty is there is no start and no end – the all-or-nothing mindset will break your resolve faster than anything else I’ve seen. Your success or failure will ultimately depend not on what derails you but on how quickly you get back to the routine and habits that lead you towards achievement. Get up every day and start over knowing the action plan, the daily routine and the end goal. Keep pressing onward. Yesterday’s over.
7. Work Really Hard
This might be the hardest one. The only way to be great at something is to work really hard at it. You will never achieve greatness by performing at a mediocre level. Put your back in to it! Remember the visualization of your end goal and commit to doing a little more than is comfortable. Sport achievement comes with aches and pains; excellence in music and arts comes from painstaking repetition that can seem entirely mundane; business success comes with financial risk – discomfort stretches us. Don’t fear it.
8. Maximize Every Minute
When you’re working, work hard. When you’re resting, rest hard. When you’re playing, play hard. Be deliberate. Use your routine. Allocate time to each priority item and to your action plan. Find yourself with unexpected spare time? Decide what to do with it: Rest? Learn? Connect? What can you do with that time – deliberately – to continue moving forward towards achievement of your goals? Do that.
9. Learn Something New Every Day
Read. Every day. Spend even just 15-30 minutes a day reading something that gives you valuable insight into your area of interest or expertise. Even an hour or two a day. Learn from others who have achieved what you’d like to. Soak up the wisdom of others and use what you hear. Ruminate on it. Ask yourself how you can use what you read to shift, grow, or pivot your plans to get where you want to go better or faster.
10. Minimize the Junk
Just like we ought to cut junk foods out of our diet, we ought to cut junk activities out of our schedules in order to make the most of each day. Minimize idle time unless it’s your deliberate rest. Minimize escape activities like video games, social media, Netflix marathons, and fiction reading unless you’re able to commit to a specific, planned time of recreation before putting it away and getting on with more beneficial activities.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, be sure to share it using the links below. I’d love to see you comment below on what steps you actively take towards maximizing the time you can spend achieving your goals. We all learn when we all share. Thanks for reading!