Aside from the random element of luck, much of what makes some people successful involves the cultivating of certain habits. Learning what these habits are and how to employ them in your own life is worthwhile.
To that end, here are 10 of the most often-cited habits of successful people.
One of the most frequently mentioned habits of those who are successful in life is organization. Such organization includes planning as well as setting priorities and goals.
Joel Brown, the founder of Addicted2Success.com, calls for a prioritized “To-Do List” every evening before going to bed to prepare for the next day.
According to X Corp. co-founder Jack Dorsey, who is no longer with the company, Sunday is an important day for organization “getting ready for the rest of the week.”
It’s interesting to note that relaxing—by meditating or simply avoiding distractions—is another of the most-often mentioned habits of successful people.
Of course, relaxation comes more easily to those who are organized, so perhaps for some, it is more of a natural byproduct than a conscious decision.
It may also be that the act of “taking a breath” is the successful person’s way of preparing for the effort yet to come. In fact, one of the first steps toward achieving a meditative or relaxed state is to concentrate on your own breathing for three to five minutes.
3. Taking Action
Third on the list of habits of successful people is the inevitable “action” habit. It is important to organize, to plan, and to set priorities, but without action, a plan is nothing more than potential.
Successful people act—quickly and often. In addition, although it may sound counterintuitive, according to James Clear, they act (start, anyway) before they feel ready. While others come up with reasons not to act, successful people take that all-important first step—even if it seems outlandish.
Consider your own unique situation. If any of these habits resonate more strongly with you, you may consider those more important to your lifestyle and perhaps a habit you need the most benefit from.
4. Personal Care
Personal care with regard to diet, exercise, and hygiene comes next on the list of habits of those who are successful.
For some, personal care involves a complex regimen and a highly disciplined lifestyle. For others, not so much. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, put it succinctly when asked what daily habit has had the largest positive impact on his life. Musk said simply, “Showering.”
5. Positive Attitude
According to many successful people, having a positive attitude is not just a result of being successful—it’s one of the root causes of success.
Joel Brown refers to gratitude and positive self-talk as priorities in the lives of the ultra-successful. Moreover, Brown says, it’s not enough to express gratitude and a positive attitude. You must also remind yourself why you are grateful in order to achieve a deeper effect.
Successful people know the value of exchanging ideas with others through networking. They also know the value of collaboration and teamwork—all of which are likely when you network.
Successful people know the importance of surrounding themselves with other successful people, according to author Thomas Corley. Corley says 79% of wealthy people spend at least five hours a month networking.
Frugal is not the same as stingy. Frugality is a habit of being thrifty, with money and resources. It is also a habit of being economical. Learning to be economical comes through avoiding waste, which automatically results in efficiency.
Successful people avoid overspending. Instead, they comparison-shop and negotiate. The result is financial success through the simple act of saving more money than they spend.
Be patient and kind with yourself when setting a new habit. A 2021 study from the British Journal of Health Psychology found a new habit takes around 59 days to become automatic, though the nature of the individual and the habit being formed play a factor.
8. Rising Early
The more time one can devote to being successful, the more likely success will result. Successful people are accustomed to rising early, and that habit repeatedly appears among those who do well in life.
While the “Early Riser’s Club” has a massive membership among successful people, a few notable members include Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group, Disney CEO Robert Iger, and former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer.
Whether through donating to charity or the sharing of ideas, successful people have a habit of giving. They know the value of sharing and most believe their success should result in something more than the accumulation of wealth for themselves.
Some of the most well-known successful philanthropists include Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Lack of wealth does not need to be a factor when it comes to sharing. Volunteering in your community or at a local school does not cost anything but could provide help where it is needed most.
It's important to note that successful people read. While they also read for pleasure, most use their reading habit as a means to gain knowledge or insight.
Entrepreneur Mark Cuban reads for more than three hours almost every day. He said in the book, "How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It," "To this day, I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all the information available, particularly with the internet making it so readily accessible, I can get an advantage in any technology business."
How Do I Create Good Habits?
As you try to be more successful in setting better habits, start small and set easily manageable goals you can regularly meet. Be consistent in when you participate in a task to make it easier to do each day, and consider tracking your habits to note your progress.
How Long Does it Take to Form a Habit?
Habit formation may vary on the individual, nature of habit, and someone's experience in setting habits in the past. In some cases, habits may be formed in three weeks or less. In other cases, it may take substantially longer (i.e., months) for a habit to form.
How Can I Break a Bad Habit?
Breaking a bad habit may be just as beneficial as setting a new positive habit. To break a habit loop, identify your routine and understand what triggers the bad habit. Consider ways to reward yourself for not doing something, and do your best to navigate around the cues you've identify that often lead to the bad habit being done.
The Bottom Line
Most people have habits—some are positive, some are not. Successful people tend to have more of the kinds of habits that contribute to their success.
The good news, for those who wish to be successful, is that cultivating positive habits takes no more effort than developing bad ones.
Some of the best habits of successful people involve only conscious effort, like getting up early every day. Others, such as becoming organized, may take a little more skill and practice but ultimately result in the most desired outcome of all—success.