Are successful people born with superior genetics? With a higher IQ? With a pre-determined success-filled destiny?
Do you ever think to yourself, “Maybe I’m just not cut out to be successful”?
I used to think this all the time. But then one day I had an epiphany.
To think that you’re not “cut out” to be successful is complete bullshit.
No one was “cut out” to be successful. Successful people are not super-humans. They were not born smarter, or more talented, or more gifted than the rest of the world.
Every successful person was once an ordinary person, just like you and me. In fact, they still ARE ordinary people. They’re human beings. They face the same challenges and temptations and fears as everyone else in the world.
If you want to be successful, you can be. The only thing holding you back, is you.” – Tweet This
The only difference between ordinary people and successful people is that successful people have learned to develop the habits necessary to make small, but consistent improvements day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.
Success is nothing more than a series of small, systematic steps towards becoming better every single day.
It’s about creating systems, and turning those systems into habits.
The problem is that people are always looking for short cuts…
How can I get rich fast? How can I lose weight fast? How can I gain muscle fast?
WHAT’S THE SECRET?
Infomercials exploit these desires every single day. And every single day, people fall for these quick-fix scams.
The truth is, there is no secret.
Stop looking for a quick-fix. The only way to achieve real, long-term success is by developing good habits.
Are Your Habits Holding You back?
I recently saw an infographic that displays habits of the world’s wealthiest people contrasted with those of the poor. The infographic makes it apparent that there’s a direct correlation between a person’s habits and their levels of success. Some of the most common habits of wealthy people include maintaining a to-do list, waking up early, and reading every day.
The inforgraphic also shows that 68% of the Americans on the Forbes 2013 “billionaires list” are considered “self-made” billionaires—meaning that they built, rather than inherited their fortune.
Oprah Winfrey, for example, was born in rural poverty and is now the richest self-made woman in America and the first black woman billionaire in history.
It’s not the hand you’re dealt, but how you play it.” – Tweet This
Knowing these statistics, I find it fascinating that some people are able to make billions, while the majority are just barely making a living. But it doesn’t surprise me.
We are creatures of habit, and most people have bad habits.
We spend too much. We eat too much. We drink too much. We smoke too much… The list goes on.
But what defines a “bad” habit?
To me, a bad habit is anything that’s holding you back from reaching your fullest potential.
The worst part is that most of us are aware of our bad habits, but will continue to do them for months, for years, or even for the entirety of our lives. Why? Because it’s the easy thing to do. Because it’s the path of least resistance.
But if you want to be successful at anything, you can’t take the path of least resistance.
The key is to make your habits work in your favor, rather than against.
Understanding and Leveraging Habit Formation in Your Favor
Changing your habits is hard. We all know that. But if you’re able to understand the following two characteristics about habits, it might not be as hard as you think.
Characteristic #1: Habits have a steep learning curve.
This is fairly obvious and something that we all understand, but often fail to take advantage of.
Just like if you are learning a new skill with a steep learning curve, creating a new habit is going to be difficult—but only at first. Once you get past the learning curve, it’s smooth sailing. Similarly, once you have established a habit, it requires very little effort at all.
The general rule of thumb is that it takes 30 days to change a habit, but most people give up within the first few weeks. This means that they never make it past the learning curve (even though they sometimes get so close). They give up because they fail to see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
If you were running a race, would you ever give up 5 feet in front of the finish line? Of course not. Not unless you couldn’t see the finish line.
Keep this in mind the next time you’re trying to change a habit and you’re feeling tempted to give up in the first few weeks. Push yourself to get past that initial lump, knowing that it only gets easier after.
Characteristic #2: The difficulty of changing a behavior is not proportional to how big that change is.
This characteristic may be less obvious than the first, but its implications are extremely powerful.
Scott Young explains this idea well by comparing the following habits: flossing every day vs running every day.
He begins by asking, “Assuming you don’t do either activity regularly, which is easier to do once: flossing or running ten miles?”
Obviously flossing is easier.
But then he asks, “Which is easier to do every day for three months: flossing or running?”
Once again, flossing is still easier. But by how much? Running ten miles for the first time is an agonizing experience, but once you’re in shape it’s not that bad. If you are running every day, it becomes a normal routine. It may still be more difficult than flossing every day, but it is significantly less difficult than doing either activity only once.
Most people, however, imagine the one-time difficulty of a task to be a fixed constant even when repeated over time. So, if we were to say that running 10 miles is 100x more difficult than flossing, then they would think that the habit of running 10 miles rquires 100x more effort than flossing every day, when in reality the difference might only be something like 3x.
Scott argues that “The power of habits is that they take even activities which are extremely difficult to do and make them normal enough that the effort required isn’t considerable.”
Basically, habits can take things that are hard and make them easy.
Knowing that the habitual effort is comparable for big habits and small ones, it’s worth going for bigger, bolder changes that will have a greater impact in your life.
What habits do you want to change in your life? What habits are holding you back from reaching your fullest potential? What habits will help you succeed?
You alone have the power to choose what kind of life you want to live. Stop being lazy, get out of your comfort zone, and start taking control of your life.
Image Source: Flickr – techonicals