Thursday, 15 July 2010

8 Habits for Success

Like many people I have phases when I don’t eat well or exercise as much as I should. I’ve been making more of any effort lately as I have started running. It’s been sort of horrifying just how unfit and overweight I’ve become. So leaves are being turned, and habits examined.

Here is my wish-list for habits I think will encourage success:
  1. Eat well. Or as Michael Pollan of the New York Times puts it: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Excellent advice and his essay Unhappy Meals is well worth a read. Eating well promotes health and increases energy.
  2. Exercise. Make flexibility, strength and cardio exercises a part of your (and my) routine.
  3. Take less drugs. Caffeine and alcohol are the business person's drugs of choice. Neither have any nutitional value and both can have a detrimental affect on performance, depending on the degree to which they are indulged. Drinking alcohol during the day went out with the '80's, and drinking on weekday evenings has (pretty much) gone out of my routine too. A difficult one as so much socialising is done "over a drink".
  4. Personal reflection. This must be one of the most powerful, yet under-utilised habits. Reflect at the start and end of every day on what needs doing, what has gone well or not so well, and how things could be changed for the better.
  5. Sleep enough. Not getting enough sleep is miserable, and does not create the right mood for excellent work. There are lots of articles floating around (the internet) about rising early and catching worms, but we all know how much sleep we need to perform well.
  6. Get rid of clutter. Clearing clutter has a positive effect on mood and organisation. I have far too many books and need to send a load to the charity shop. Oh, so difficult! But it will be so much better when it’s done.
  7. Surround yourself with bright people. Mix with people who will challenge your ideas, and encourage better performance.
  8. Be a lifelong learner. Reading, attending courses, and writing all help to keep the mind stimulated and introduce new ideas.
So what’s on your list? What have I missed? Do tell …


  1. Hi Caroline,

    A super list and I too have started on the long road to getting back to being fit and feeling energetic again.

    I would add one thing to your list which is to make a point of helping other to be successful. It's a great way to develop yourself while developing others.

    Hope all well.

  2. Great list, similar to mine. Just tell me how to stay on it and do it! Like your site.

  3. Hi Will

    Thanks for the addition of helping others. I think you are absolutely right.

    And good luck with the training. I'm finding it really tough to get back in shape after gaining a bit of weight and getting out of the habit. But it feels great to be running again. (Actually, it feels tiring, but I know it's doing me good!!!)

  4. Hi Anonymous

    You make a good point - how to make sure our good intentions are carried through. I certainly learnt a lot during my giving-up-caffeine saga. It seems that forming positive habits is often more difficult than we expect. Patience and perseverance are the two words that come to mind when I think back to any major changes I have made.

    Tell me what tips you have ...