10 Things Successful People Do Every Day (and How to Do Them)

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While every successful person has their own unique approach, there are a lot of common patterns you can find when you read their books and watch interviews and lectures. Here are 10 things successful people do each day!

1. They Focus on Productivity, Not on Being Busy

We live in a pay-by-the-hour sort of world, but if you are an entrepreneur, you should never pay yourself like a boss would pay you! Do not reward yourself for spending time working; reward yourself for getting work done. When you run your own business, you are paid for products and services, not for time.

And what if you want to succeed in a corporate career? Look at it this way. When your productivity far outshines your coworkers’ productivity, you impact your company, and you are the one who is likely to get the promotion!

To Focus on Productivity, Try These Strategies:

  • Make sure you love what you are doing. If you love what you do, it is less likely you will fall into distractions or find your work daunting.
  • Take time to identify what work-related habits take your focus away. Once you do this, you can concentrate on better habits for improved productivity and focus.
  • Prioritize your tasks. We all get busy, but how we handle it makes all the difference in our productivity. When working, prioritize your tasks and have a plan. This will help you remain focused and keep your engagement levels up.

2. They Set SMART Goals

What is success? Most people would probably define success as achieving a specific goal. But you can never be successful if you set unachievable goals. Many goals are unrealistic or too nebulous for follow-through.

Instead, try setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. The acronym pretty much says it all. These are goals that are concrete, narrowly defined, and which you can measure your progress towards.

Highly effective people can achieve them within a finite amount of time, and they are relevant to your overall success.

SMART Goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely
Do you set SMART Goals like successful people do?

Setting a series of SMART goals is a great technique for achieving larger, more loosely defined goals. Think of each SMART goal as a rung on the ladder of overall success!

How to Set SMART Goals for Success:

  • Think about the results you want to achieve. Before setting a specific goal, determine if it is a goal you really want to set and if it is important enough to you to dedicate your time and effort.
  • Next, make sure your set goals meet SMART criteria. This means making sure each goal is specific. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, decide how much you want to lose and by what date you want to accomplish this weight loss.
  • Now, write down these goals. This makes them more tangible and real. Once everything is written down, keep them visible to remind you to continue working toward your goals daily.
  • Create an action plan for these set goals. Many people take the time to write down their goals but fail to devise an action plan to achieve them. Creating an action plan activates the part of your brain that will cement those goals in your mind for a successful career and life.
  • Now is when you solidify your timeline. This will help you visualize your goals and tasks and shows you the milestones you must meet. A timeline gives you a sense of urgency and motivates you to keep going and stay on track toward success.
  • Finally, evaluate your progress. To stay motivated, you need to evaluate your goals and the steps you are taking toward them to determine if you are successful or need to re-evaluate. Make the adjustments necessary, and keep going!

3. They Take the Leap

What is the number one reason many people never succeed at their goals in life? Probably a refusal to try! The higher you set your sights, the scarier the prospect of failure can be. But that is no reason not to try. What you never know can’t hurt you—or so you might think.

The truth is, however, it hurts you every day not to give yourself a chance. So take that leap you have been putting off. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You never know; it could be the leap that changes your life.

Listen, envision, affirm, proceed.

When taking the leap, keep these actionable steps in mind:

  • Listen. This is one of the hardest steps. You need to listen to your inner voice. You have to take the time to listen to yourself if you want to find future success and personal growth. Start with 10 minutes a day outside of your daily routine to practice listening and develop new habits.
  • Envision. What accomplishments do you think will make you successful? What developments do you want to achieve? What will give you a greater sense of accomplishment? Successful individuals take time to write down the answers to these questions in detail. Be as specific as possible, and you will clearly see your success.
  • Affirm. Think about the qualities you need for a successful life. Often, a level of resistance accompanies change. It is up to you to get past this and use that resistance or fear to become more confident. Use these affirmations as an anchor:

“I am prosperous.” “I am confident in my abilities.” “Life is giving me everything I need.”

  • Proceed. Now you need to identify a small action and begin moving forward. Once you take this first step (or leap), things will become a bit easier.

4. They Exercise and Eat Right

Successful people who stay that way over the long term do not abuse their bodies. They take time each day to prepare and eat healthy meals and to work out. Even former President Barack Obama finds time to get up every morning and exercise before work, often for 90 minutes daily.

How to Incorporate Morning Exercise and a Healthy Diet Into Your Early Morning Routine:

  • To start, make sure you get enough sleep at night. If you have to wake up at 5 am, try to get to bed between 10 and 11 pm for adequate sleep. Good sleeping habits are a good way to start your journey toward becoming more of a morning person.
  • The early bird catches the worm! Or, in this case, eats a healthy breakfast to jumpstart their day. Oatmeal, eggs, Greek yogurt, berries, Chia seeds, and ground flaxseed are great food items to include in a healthy breakfast.
  • The best exercise in the morning is walking or running, jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, or yoga. Even if you only have 10 minutes in the morning, this physical activity is good and can set you up for a more successful morning routine.

What time do successful people wake up? It is said that most successful people get up no later than 6 am to start their morning routines. This is according to a survey of CEOs from a ranking taken by Inc Magazine of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

More than 37% of respondents reported they wake up at 6 am, while 27% claim to rise up at 5 am. Successful entrepreneurs claim that early morning is a good time to focus. It is quiet and allows them to focus on the issues of that day and make a more strategic plan in the early hour.

5. They Lead Balanced Lives

In the professional world, there is a lot of pressure always to be working. If you are not working 20 hours and sleeping 4, you must not want it badly enough. That is what people will tell you in pretty much any field.

However, that is not true, and people who live that way will eventually burn out and crash hard. They think they can sacrifice their health, relationships, and leisure time for a few hard years and then coast for the rest of their lives. Rarely if ever, does entrepreneurship actually work this way. Most successful entrepreneurs work very hard for a long time.

That makes it more important than ever to find time for other important things in your life, especially for important people! A healthy, balanced life is necessary if you have the strength to hang in there for the long term.

It also is essential to remember why you want success. Most of us want monetary success to support our lifestyles and families. But what success will you achieve if you throw out your life and family along the way?

How to Lead a More Balanced Life to Achieve Success:

  • Focus more on life than work. You need to start by changing your perspective. Find a career that fits into your life, not a life that will fit in your career. Be more strategic about your decisions to build personal and business success.
  • Do what you can to avoid burnout. Burnout can lead to lower energy levels, make you reactive rather than proactive, and negatively affect your self-confidence. It can also cause high levels of stress that can deter your sleeping habits and decision-making and hinder creativity.
  • Find good role models. For a more balanced life, find a role model you can lean on for advice. They can offer support and reassurance and keep you on the right path toward success.
  • Practice self-care. Finally, make sure to focus on yourself. Do something you love doing, turn off your electronics for a while, and place your focus on yourself as you recharge and relax.

Richard Branson has shared his secrets of success for years. One of his top secrets is to always have fun. He says, “fun is one of the most important-and underrated-ingredients in any successful venture.”

6. They Are Realistically Optimistic

Successful people focus on the positive wherever possible—but not blindly. Optimism helps us spot opportunities we would miss if we focused on the negative.

While you must always plan for the future and potential pitfalls, you must believe there is a way across the chasms that gape below. Otherwise, you will turn back long before the journey is complete or take a fall along the way.

How Successful People Think:

Good thinking is one of the greatest resources for a successful person. Good thinkers can solve problems, are never short on ideas, and are always on the lookout for a better future.

Here Is Successful Thinking as Described by John Maxwell:

  • Successful people expose themselves to better input while always seeking ways to ignite the thinking process.
  • Successful people surround themselves with other good thinkers. They look for value and challenges to continue growing and learning. Never be afraid to question popular thinking to gain a better understanding.
  • Successful people think good thoughts and are more intentional with their thinking process. They see thinking as a discipline.

Successful thinking is big picture thinking, reflective thinking, and creative thinking. Good thinkers derive lessons from past experiences and find unique ways to overcome obstacles and challenges.

When you look at the big picture for personal success, it makes it easier to break down your goals and create your plan to get there and achieve the highest creative potential.

You should also practice intentional thinking.

Intentional thinking is what you do when you actively decide to think about something. This allows you to create an inner dialogue using language you understand. With intentional thinking, you become much more aware of your thoughts and can challenge them.

7. They Make the Most of Their Networks

The most successful people never try to go it alone if they do not have to, and they always look for opportunities to network and expand their circle of friends and business associates.

Two successful people shaking hands at a networking event.
Successful people know how to network and make contacts.

They realize that every conversation is an opportunity and could hold the seed of potential for a new business relationship or venture. When they face harsh times, they reach out to others for ideas. When others in their networks struggle, they offer solutions.

Things Successful People Do to Make the Most of Their Networks:

  • Nurture existing relationships. Those in your network are aware of your skills and talents. You can use these relationships in the future for idea sharing and opportunities.
  • Cultivate new relationships. While keeping your long term relationships intact, start cultivating new ones as well. Collaborate, communicate, and find a new crowd to help spur you forward.
  • Ask questions. Never be afraid when networking to ask questions and start a conversation. Let someone else take the lead as an authority.

8. They Keep Failure in Perspective

You have probably met businesspeople who take pride in having very little experience with failure—or so they claim. But those people are typically lying to your or not as successful as they seem. Maybe they just got lucky and built an empire on the stroke of fate or a large inheritance.

Success is typically built on a series of failures and lessons learned. Do not let your past failures weigh you down or make you feel like a failure. Successful people learn from failures every day and recognize that so long as they do, they are still on the road to success.

To Keep Failure in Perspective:

  • Don’t allow your self-worth to diminish. Believe you are good enough, and don’t diminish your value.
  • Don’t be afraid of getting back up. When you fail, do not withdraw yourself. Instead, get up and go again. Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Take the criticism. Instead of taking criticism negatively, use it to better yourself. Don’t let your failures take on the wrong meaning.

Related: 8 Tips from Successful Entrepreneurs

9. Successful People Log Their Progress

You cannot navigate toward a goal if you have no way to measure your progress.

This goes back to setting SMART goals. Remember that the “M” stands for “Measurable.” Many successful people keep a journal or log of some sort. This is true for stock traders, authors, business CEOs and others from all walks of life.

  • Break bigger tasks down. It is easier to track and log your process and become more purposeful in what you do when you limit the number of moving parts. To do this, task management is key. Map out each smaller task visually and see how you progress toward your goal.
  • Use an achievement log. To track your accomplishments and successes, write them down. This can serve as a guideline for reaching your goals and shows your level of performance for each step you take.

According to research published by the American Psychological Association, you are likelier to succeed when you keep track of your goals and accomplishments and monitor your progress.

10. They Know How to Set Boundaries

Many of us are raised never to say the word “no,” but sometimes you have to say “no.” Not every business proposition is good, and not all partners are the right ones. Successful people realize they cannot take on every single project or work with every single person. They know they sometimes have to back off and take care of themselves first.

Of course, if you can say “no” in a creative way that still leaves the door open for future opportunities, that is often a great idea!

Do not be afraid to occasionally say “no” to your own ambition as well. This goes back to the work-life balance point discussed earlier. You need to sometimes say “no” to another hour of work and “yes” to taking a little time off. It may not feel like you are working hard enough, but you are! You need time for yourself too.

Here Are a Few Ways to Say No:

  • “Thanks, but I have something else going on today.”
  • “Unfortunately, I have another commitment.”
  • “I am honored you asked me, but I don’t have the time.”

Why Saying No Is Sometimes Important:

  • Focusing on more than one thing at a time can divide you, and you might not deliver the quality you want. Instead, focus your energy and attention on what you love and what will make you a more successful person.
  • Benefits your personal life and career. Saying no is a way to be assertive. This also frees you up so you can work on and pursue other projects more aligned with your professional goals and on track with your future career success.
  • Benefits your mental well-being. For more mental clarity, say no to what you don’t feel you can handle.

Related Reading: Why You Need to Be More Selfish (and how to do it)

What Makes a Successful Person?

A successful person exhibits the drive and patience needed. They have discipline, are motivated to reach their goals, and work hard to succeed. Successful people are consistent with these efforts. Preparation, a little hard work, and learning and moving on from failure are also important steps toward success.

We hope you enjoyed these 10 tips and tricks for daily success! These are all simple changes you can make to your day-to-day life. So, wake up today and start setting SMART goals. Network, set boundaries when you need to, exercise, lead a balanced life, and take that leap you have been putting off!

Ready to start making progress early? Check out 8 Things You Can Do In Your 20s to Prepare Yourself for Success and springboard yourself with a productive decade.

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Quincy Seale

Quincy is KIM's lead editor and content writer, and has collected and shared inspiring quotes and stories since 2005. Quincy holds an MBA from the University of Dundee and an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and lives in San Antonio with his wife Natalie, son Alex, and his dog Oban.