Do you want to be successful?

I bet you do. And I bet like me you’ve had a big misconception about successful people – whether their achievements are related to their spirituality, relationships, influence, finances, or health.

We assume thriving people must lead lives filled with constant innovation; that all their waking moments must be spent thinking creative thoughts and doing new and exciting things.

While the rest of us are merely creatures of habit.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We beat ourselves up for not being more inventive or intelligent or willing to take risks, when the reality is we are all living out of force of habit. Successful or unsuccessful, focused or faltering. Doing things out of habit isn’t the problem.

Consider two people. Both have to be at work at 8:15am. The night before, one falls asleep watching TV at 11:45 – because that’s their habit. The alarm goes off at 6:45, but they hit snooze three times before finally dragging themselves out of bed – because that’s their habit. By now it’s 7:20, so the rest of their habits kick in: quick cup of coffee and a Pop Tart; shower, throw on some clothes, and make the 20 minute drive to work (humming absent-mindedly along to “Call Me Maybe”).

The second person goes to bed at 10:00, after reading for a few minutes to calm their mind. The alarm goes off at 5:45 and they get up. They spend 30 minutes reading the scriptures and praying about their day. At 6:20, they go for a 30 minute walk/jog. Back before 7:00, they cook a simple healthy breakfast and spend a few minutes looking over their calendar for the week before taking a shower, putting on some clothes, and making the 20 minute drive to work (listening to a message on podcast).

Both people got the same amount of sleep. Both ate breakfast. Both drove to work. And both did it all out of force of habit. The second person didn’t have to be exponentially more creative, inventive, or intelligent than the first. But after a few years, someone will look at where they’ve arrived in life and sigh, “Must be nice.”

No, must be habit. Because it isn’t about whether or not you and I have habits; it’s simply about which habits we have. The habits that lead to a successful life are surprisingly simple and unglamorous. They don’t require huge, extended periods of inspiration – just firm decisions about what we’re going to spend our time doing or not doing.

Do you want to be successful? The biggest chance you have isn’t changing your job, your geography, your financial status, or your intelligence level. It’s changing your habits.

May the force be with you.

(Want to hear more about the power of habit? I recently taught about it at The Journey in a message called “Preparation H”.)

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