Developing good habits takes time, and bad habits are even harder to break. Over the years, I’ve learned that a lot of success has less to do with large, one-off decisions and more with the consistent, daily choices we make.
When it comes to being successful in our given professions, or even in our hobbies...our habits can make or break us. And it’s not even always habits we think about. It can be the tiny things that we slowly slip into, whether our culture enables us to develop bad habits or because we’ve just been doing it for so long that we haven’t recognized that there’s a problem.
Highly successful people have good habits. Not even good habits — the best habits. Next-level habits. They have been so conscientious about their thoughts, behaviors, and decisions that everything they do is now subconsciously designed to set them up for success.
Is that where you want to be? Keep reading!
11 Habits to Develop for Professional Success
1) Commit names and faces to memory.
The excuse of “I’m just bad with names” doesn’t fly, folks! Successful people make the effort to value and remember those they meet. Yes, it gets difficult. Yes, you might mess it up. But make the effort to form the habit of looking directly at the people that you’re meeting: memorizing their appearance, their voice, details about them...and their name!
When you remember, it shows care and value. Not having to reintroduce yourself later can make a big (and great) impression.
2) Initiate introductions.
In a social situation, whether you’re hosting or not, be the first to initiate introductions. Shake hands, be direct and confident. Don’t wait around for the other person to make the first move. If you’ve brought a friend to a social function where you already know people, especially make the move to introduce them.
Consult them beforehand on how they would like to be introduced, and don’t make it awkward for them.
Making the first move here shows that you are assertive and value the comfort of everyone.
3) Leave your complaints at home.
Complainers don’t tend to find much success. They’re fixated on the negative, for one, and really...no one wants to hear about how tired you are or how other things in your life are going miserably wrong. Complaints should be saved for behind closed doors, not in a professional setting.
I get it, we all need to vent sometimes—but there’s a time and a place! Successful people don’t focus on what’s wrong. They focus on fixing it.
4) Make goodbyes meaningful.
Truly successful people know how to make an entrance and an exit. They are in the habit of making meaningful goodbyes. Make eye contact. Genuinely thank the person you’re with for their time—and make sure you mention that you’d like to meet again if you aren’t specifically setting up another get together.
5) Break away from the screen.
Successful people don’t let themselves be ruled by the almighty screen. Smartphones keep us connected, but we have to draw the line and not let ourselves be distracted from more important things. A few good habits to adopt when it comes to your phones and tablets: no usage during dinner, when you’re talking to anyone, and at least 30 minutes before or in bed.
6) Leave “fillers” out of your vocabulary.
Um. Like. Y’know. A lot of us have fillers that we use when we speak that squeeze into the gaps of our speech. They get into the beats of silence when we’re thinking. Most of us don’t notice these ticks, but a lot of people do. And trust us, they don’t sound good or professional. Pay attention to your speech patterns and take the effort to get rid of any “ums” and “likes”!
7) Be an early bird.
I know it’s cliche, but the early bird really does get the worm. People who get up earlier just get more done—and successful people know that. They rise early and make the early house productive. If you struggle to do the same, maybe you need to readjust your internal clock!
8) Read, and read a lot.
One of the best habits you can get into is reading. For a lot of us, we let good reading fall by the wayside when we don’t have to do it. But reading is so essential. To grow, to be successful, we need to be challenged. That means reading—not just books that have to do with professional success, but what you enjoy, too! Read classics. Fiction. Nonfiction. The stuff that you love, things that will enrich your mind.
Consume books that make you think and the things that will make you come out the other side better for it.
9) Get moving!
You might’ve seen this one coming, but I promise it’s not just because I’m a runner. Honest. Successful people exercise. It’s not just about keeping the body in a good condition, but the mind, too. Regular exercise decreases stress, releases dopamine, improves memory, and can even increase productivity and creativity in the short term.
10) Meet a goal every day.
This one is easy! If you’re hyper-focused on big goals, an easy habit to start is setting smaller daily goals that you can meet and manage. Not only will it spur you towards big goals, but you’ll feel more encouraged and accomplished every day. Set goals. Meet them. Bam!
11) Limit your time with distractions.
Nothing kills your ability to win more than distractions—and boy, are they everywhere these days. We’re constantly bombarded with Facebook, news feeds, videos, tweets, e-mails, and demands for our attention. It never stops.
Successful people? They make sure it stops. They limit their check-ins with distractions to once or twice a day during their working hours so that they can focus on making progress on what matters.
What good habits do you value for success? What habits do you need to break? Tell me in the comments!