Many people want to know the habits and activities of the very successful. After all, everyone wants the secret to success. In reality, success is a fairly subjective concept, but for most of us, we know success when we see it.
Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Barack and Michelle Obama, Steve Jobs—these are some of the individuals we frequently think of when we picture of success.
Not every truly successful person is a household name, but there are certain traits and behaviors most truly successful people share.
The person who leads his or her industry with ease, captivates others with her storytelling, capably balances relationships, activities, and responsibilities, and who offers a listening ear and valuable insights with trademark honesty and generosity emobodies success.
Successful people can teach us a lot about how to best use our time. Everyone is given the same 24 hours each day, but what we do with them varies.
You don’t have to have a personal chef, trainer, and army of assistants to live like a mogul. All you have to do is consider what your ideal daily routine is and introduce similar habits into your life—the kind that will make you healthier, more productive, more generous, and yes—more successful.
So, if you’re looking for tips on how to make the most of your day, check out these 13 habits successful people fit into their everyday life.
It’s no secret that regular exercise improves the body and mind, and successful people know this better than anyone.
Exercise can boost your confidence, elevate your mood, develop strength, improve mental focus and clarity, and even help you sleep better.
It also provides an outlet for stress relief and an opportunity to get moving, which is particularly important if you spend most days behind a desk.
Physical activity is also another great way to challenge yourself, something all successful people know to be important—which is why the truly successful make it a daily activity.
Another daily habit of the highly successful? They eat breakfast.
Making a healthy breakfast part of your morning routine is important. Eating breakfast is important for everyone, but it’s especially important if exercise is also part of your morning routine, since you’ll need to replenish your energy stores.
Your morning meal doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. A mix of protein and complex carbohydrates along with a fruit and/or vegetable will keep you satiated, focused, and ready to tackle your day.
Whole grains and yogurt with berries is a popular choice among the successful, as are protein shakes, hardboiled eggs, and peanut butter toast.
The idea is to fuel your body and mind so you can focus on your goals rather than your stomach. This will leave you feeling your best and ready for whatever challenges the day has in store.
Successful people understand the importance of having quiet time for reflection.
Whether through meditation or another way, taking time for reflection is an important way to reduce stress, improve memory, and restore energy.
Making meditation or other reflection a daily activity, you give yourself the gift of a break from the constant pressures of everyday life. It is an intentional form of self-care that will prepare you for Round 2 of the day (or Round 3, or 4…).
Many hardworking people ignore their own needs, choosing instead to plug away at their work and cram too much into their schedules until they are completely tapped out. There’s a sense of pride in “go, go, go-ing,” but this is misguided.
You can only “go” for so long, and the truly successful understand that investing in your well-being is one of the best investments you can make.
This may sound obvious, but successful people take time to focus on work each day.
However, by focus, I do mean focus. They create a clear headspace and workspace, so they can devote the optimal time to the task on their schedule.
They establish good work habits, so that time spent working is spent productively.
While we are all prone to slacking off and pushing items down our to-do lists from time to time, the truly successful could teach a masterclass on staying on task (I’d take that class!).
Successful people value their time and use it to their advantage—something any of us could do just as well.
Another practice successful people fit into their day: they do lunch.
Like eating breakfast, eating lunch is an important part of a well-balanced diet. However, for the successful, lunch does double duty.
The practice of desktop dining has become more popular in recent years, much to the dismay of lunch traditionalists who champion the midday meal break.
Sometimes it truly is impossible to get out of the office for lunch. You might have a deadline or another commitment.
But for those other times, successful people ensure that they use lunch as a momentary break from the demands of the workday. They meet with friends and colleagues. They attend midday seminars related to their profession.
In other words, they turn lunch into an opportunity to have other opportunities.
Successful people also make time to connect with others as part of their daily routine.
They make it a point to check in with those who play major and minor roles in their lives. They take a few minutes to ask how members of their staff are doing. They do the same with their barista and the security guard.
Truly successful people understand that relationships matter, and they give their time and attention to those who might not otherwise be heard.
They know that the goodwill they generate is just as valuable as any monetary or professional gain. But more than that, they see value in connecting with other human beings, and so they make time for it in their day.
Although there are only so many hours and minutes in a day, you’ll always find successful people dedicating at least part of theirs to current events.
They subscribe to reputable newspapers. They listen to talk radio and podcasts. They chat about the goings on in the world.
If you’re going to make a worthwhile contribution to society, you can’t live in a bubble, and successful people understand this.
Another daily habit of successful people is that they plan ahead.
They look for opportunities to learn, grow, and advance, and are forever planning their next step. They engage in research, stay up to date on trends, and connect with others in the know.
They book themselves out months in advance, and don’t shy away from new experiences.
Successful people are protective but generous with their time. They also know that sharing their wisdom and experience with others is a worthwhile endeavor, so they make time in their day to do so.
Whether through advice or leading by example, the truly successful regularly devote time to grooming future leaders. Not only does this bolster the confidence and abilities of those they mentor, but it also breeds loyalty.
If you’ve ever witnessed a successful person in action, you’ve likely seen that this practice is second nature to them—and that’s part of what makes them successful.
It’s an unfortunate reality that many hardworking people deprioritize their families on their way to the top. However, the truly successful keep the long game in mind.
They know that success isn’t as sweet when you don’t have anyone with whom to share it. So, they make it a point to show up—for dinner, for conversations, for holidays, for school events, and for daily life in general.
Even when life gets a little too hectic, they make it a point to communicate and let their families know their door is always open. Think of Michelle Obama, who has famously said that being “mom-in-chief” is her most important role.
We all love our families, but the truly successful make sure to show this love in every way.
The truly successful don’t just read spreadsheets and newspapers; they also read for pleasure.
Many of history’s greatest leaders have been voracious readers. Reading regularly can improve brain power and make you smarter and more articulate, so it’s no wonder that successful people make time for it in their day.
Reading also takes you beyond yourself, allows you to view life from other perspectives, introduces you to new ideas, and can inspire new lines of thought.
Like breakfast and lunch, successful people make dinner a priority. And like the other meals, dinner plays an important role.
Dinner is a time to catch up with family or friends, to momentarily lift the weight of the workday, and to signal a pace change for the rest of the night.
Having dinner is also a form of self-care, an intentional choice to replenish instead of continuing to max out an empty tank.
Even if a person continues to work after dinner, breaking for dinner is an important tradition—one that successful people include in their day.
Finally, successful people go to bed.
Yes, it’s true that many successful people may sleep only a handful of hours throughout the night. However, sleep is an important way to replenish the body and the mind—and the truly successful understand that some is better than none.
Adequate sleep is important for maintaining a healthy body and mind. It complements all the good things you do for yourself throughout the day like eating well, exercising, and meditating, and it helps you recover from the demands of your busy lifestyle.
Candace is a practicing attorney, working parents advocate, freelance writer, and proud mom. Her legal practice focuses on workers’ rights. She can be found writing about law, motherhood, and more on her blog as The Mom at Law.