Daily habits determine your destiny

October 22nd, 2006

Robert Collier said that “success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Show me your daily habits and I can predict your level of success without knowing anything else about you. Here’s an excellent article by my friend, Philip Humbert, on the power of daily habits:

Daily Habits Determine Your Destiny

Almost everything we do is the result of our habits. We get up about the same time, go through a familiar routine of showering, brushing our teeth, and getting ready for the day. Most people take the same route to work every day, whether they drive the freeway, ride the train or take a bike. Of course, there are minor variations as we decide what to wear, make allowance for road construction or get up early for a breakfast meeting.

But the fact remains that habits simplify our lives. Imagine if you woke up with no idea where the bathroom or closet might be, what your schedule was, or what responsibilities you faced. Life would be stressful beyond belief! Fortunately, we have “ordinary routines” that help us navigate our way to our first cup of coffee, and guide our activities through the day. Most of the time, our habits serve us well.

And here’s a vital point: Habits start out as very simple choices.

There’s an old diddy that goes something like this: Sow a thought, and reap an action. Sow an action, and reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character and reap a destiny. Think about the power of that sequence! To a remarkable degree our ultimate success or failure in life is the long-term result of simple thoughts and ordinary, routine habits.

So, why not intentionally choose daily habits or “disciplines” that will take you where you want to go in life? Here are a few examples.

Many people get in the habit of listening to sports or talk radio while they commute and, of course there’s nothing wrong with that. But other people get in the habit of listening to motivational, inspirational or educational CD’s, and over time, they benefit from that daily habit.

Or how about people who routinely grab a hamburger and fries for lunch, while others habitually reach for a salad? Some people habitually come home and turn on the TV, while others come home and go for a run, mow the lawn or do homework with the kids. Any of those choices are “easy” but some lead to better long-term outcomes than others. Some people have the habit of spending, while others choose the habit of saving and investing. Either option is easy and fun, but they have very different long-term results.

As a coach, I encourage my clients to make a handful of fundamental decisions about the habits they want in their lives. I encourage them to be clear, specific and committed to each of them.

One habit Mary and I have had for twenty years is that the first three words we utter every morning and the last three we say at night are the same: “I love you.” Many of my clients have developed the habit of reading something positive every single day, even if it’s only a few pages. Over time, it becomes a part of who they are and how they live their lives.

For years I’ve had a “Daily 7″ that I pursue and the “code” may not mean much to you, but the list has powerful meaning for me. My Daily 7 are: “Read, Write, Walk, Work, Nest, Network, and Fun.” Each word stands for a pattern or habit that I want in my life. Some days, they get more focus or effort than others, but over the years those seven “code words” have helped me stay healthy, enriched my marriage, made me money and expanded my community. My “Daily 7″ are habits that help me create the life I’ve chosen for myself.

I encourage you to choose a few simple, positive habits that will enhance your life. Reduce them to simple actions you WILL take every day. If they are complicated, you may not stay committed to them, so use the KISS formula and “Keep It Simple and Straight-forward.” It’s easier to develop the habit of “exercising for 15 minutes” than to “get fit.”

For better or worse, life is made up of our small daily habits. High achievers have habits that reflect their values and aspirations in life. Unfortunately, most people have habits that keep them comfortable but do not achieve the things they want in life. Over time, work to remove habits that overtly hold you back, but it’s even more important to add positive daily habits that reflect your highest and best qualities