Over the course of my career, I’ve observed that the happiest professionals can also be the busiest. In fact, I count myself in that category. Like everyone else, I have family obligations, plenty of meetings to attend to, and occasionally stressful days. But over time, I’ve developed 10 simple habits. I share my list frequently and enthusiastically, confident that it too will help you find more happiness and success.
The first one may cause some to roll their eyes, but are you really treating your body, right? Having fiber, fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet is one of the best things you can do. It is important to be sure that the calories you consume are high-quality. Stick to lean protein and drink plenty of water to make sure that your body will continue to be able to do all the things you want to do in your life.
The second one is to sleep right. If you don’t live by the old saying, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise,” then you’re not taking yourself seriously. This doesn’t mean sleeping for 14 hours one night a week. Set up a healthy ritual for yourself and stick to it. Instead of letting technology keep you awake, use it to help you sleep. Set a timer so the television turns off automatically. Or set your alarm with an energetic song to wake you up and set the mood for the day. Don’t be sporadic or erratic with your sleeping habits. Instead, work to create a healthy sleep ritual.
The third habit is to develop a strong work ethic. When things get tough, you don’t quit. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Have the fortitude to know that the things you’re trying to pursue matter; they have value and meaning. Make sure you don’t give up when the going gets tough.
The fourth is to be realistic in the promises you set for yourself and others. This will help make sure that you always overdeliver. Never make a promise you know you can’t keep, as it will make people think of you as untrustworthy. Always set realistic expectations and shoot to do better. Whatever you promise, overdeliver and you will blow them away.
The fifth is to develop an innate sense of knowing your worth and what you were born to do. Of course, that’s a very deep philosophical question and to each his own. But knowing your “why” helps define your values and guides your success. Why are you working? Why are you at this particular job? Start keeping a journal and you’ll discover that your “why” can evolve as your circumstances change. It’s okay to want something for yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with saying you want to build wealth or reward yourself for raising a child. Meet your own needs first. But know that you can also be guided by a noble cause, like equal access to justice under the law or eliminating the gender wage gap.
The sixth is to treat everyone you meet as if they’re the key to achieving your “why.” The person you meet at a conference or networking event could be instrumental in moving your goals forward! Smile, treat everyone with kindness and respect, and see how people immediately react differently.
Number seven: Don’t be afraid to set unreasonable goals, as they lead to great results. Develop a lifelong habit of having big, hairy, audacious goals, as that’s the only way to exceed expectations. This can be a secret goal inside your heart to help drive you forward or you can share it with others. Sharing it can create a natural tension between where you want to be and where you are now. Then use that tension as a positive energy to drive you forward.
The eighth is to seek a win every day. How you define a win is up to you. You may say, “I want to protect someone by selling them an affordable legal plan,” but you have to make sure you do it every day. Small victories build your self-esteem. Happiness comes from being in control of your life and being able to set these goals and disciplines. Don’t discount the baby steps either. If you set a goal to make a sale every day, it may not happen, but you can certainly make great progress. Set up an informational meeting with a new client, or take a prospect for coffee.
Number nine is to find ways to champion other people’s efforts and results. Celebrating others builds your own self-esteem and theirs, and raises company and team equity.
Lastly, the tenth habit is to seek feedback and really listen to it. Make sure that when you receive feedback you don’t just defend your actions or behaviors, you also listen and say thank you. The only way we really grow is to be self-aware. Learning our strengths and weaknesses is the only way we learn how to avoid falling behind. It is incredibly important to build a contextual, behavioral and personal awareness out of seeking, listening to, and internalizing feedback from our peers, subordinates, and superiors.