Self-development

13 Habits of Successful People

by Intelligent Change — 9 min read

13 Habits of Successful People

Becoming successful takes years of practice and a myriad of failures, attempts, lessons and milestones. Success isn't only about hard work and on-point financial and business decisions: it’s about personal habits as well. We talked to the successful people we know and discovered their routines and habits.

Here’s what we found out about the habits of successful people.


They Read a Lot

If you want to be successful in your industry and your area of interest, being up to date with the latest trends and understanding all the processes is the key. If you’re running an online shop, for example, you need to understand the nature of the products you sell, be aware of their possible improvements and the business trends, and also stay up to date with the ever-changing online shopping industry itself.

If you’re into web development, you need to know everything about the user experience, data interpretation, design-centered solutions and the latest Google innovations. If you’re a doctor, yoga teacher, or psychologist, knowing, understanding and adapting innovations in medication, therapy, and health-related laws is an absolute must-do.

And a successful habit of reading doesn’t stop there.

Reading has a myriad of other positive effects on our brains. People who read a lot have stronger and more sophisticated neural networks. In the research conducted in 2013, participants were to read the novel “Pompeii” over a 9-day period. Researchers measured the effects with MRI scans and discovered that as the tension built in the story, more areas in the participants’ brains became active. This effect remained even days after the reading activity. Moreover, regularly reading books helps us develop a large vocabulary, which can influence many areas of our lives: from learning experience and day-to-day communication to job interviews and brand story-telling.

People who read are better informed in general, have a better and deeper understanding of the world around them, and have less trouble connecting information into a system. Plus, they are eager to expand their mindset and area of expertise, and are keen to learn something new every day.

All of this is the reason why reading is one of the most important habits of successful people; it simply broadens our views and makes our brains more flexible.

They Practice Gratitude

habits of successful people

How often do you stop, notice and experience gratitude for the life you live, the people you love, the family that supports you, things that bring you a sense of purpose and meaning, or everything you’ve achieved in life so far?

Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions and practices. Practicing gratitude has numerous benefits:

  • Improved mental health;
  • Less perceived stress;
  • Better sleep;
  • Improved physical health;
  • Less physical pain symptoms;
  • Improved relationships with other people;
  • Increased overall satisfaction with life.

A lot of thought leaders and famous successful people practice and promote gratitude, the most notable ones being Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Tim Ferris, John Paul Dejorias, and many others.

What gratitude brings them is a more positive outlook on life, and it helps them rewire their brains into a state of greater happiness.

There are several ways to practice gratitude:

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the simplest ways of practicing gratitude. The Five Minute Journal is perfectly designed for all the busy bees as it takes only five minutes of your day to fill it out.

You can make it a part of your morning and evening routine (more on that later). That way, you’ll begin and end each day on a positive note, reflecting on the good things in your life.

Even when there’s a hard day ahead of you, The Five Minute Journal is there to shift your mindset into a state of optimism.

How? After waking up, The Five Minute Journal awaits with questions such as:

What would make today great?

or:

I am grateful for…

Then, as the end of the day approaches and you’re getting ready for bed, The Five Minute Journal will ask you to reflect on the day behind you, by stating:

Three amazing things that happened today…

or:

How could I have made today even better?

This way, no matter how challenging your day was, you will have the possibility to find something to appreciate, no matter how small.

For example, Tim Ferris uses The Five Minute Journal to gain focus, appreciation, and reduce anxiety on a daily level. He does it by focusing on the little things and by writing daily affirmations to reassure himself in something.

Another great thing about keeping The Five Minute Journal is that your entries remain there, and you can come back to them whenever you want, reconnect to the past memories, analyze your personal growth, look for patterns, and take additional actions.

If you’d like to start keeping a gratitude journal, but you’re not sure how to properly do it, check out this Ultimate Gratitude Journal Guide on our blog.

The Five Minute Journal
The Five Minute Journal $24.95 USD

Practice Grateful Meditation

Gratitude meditation is a special type of meditation where you focus on expressing gratitude for all the things you appreciate in your life. It’s similar to keeping a gratitude journal, but in your mind.

Gratitude meditation can be practiced in many different settings and environments. You can make it a part of your morning routine or use your short breaks at work to regain some positivity.

Gratitude meditations are usually short – from 5 to 20 minutes – and it’s easy to implement them in any part of your day. If you’ve never done it before, here are some guided gratitude meditation examples to start with:

Headspace Gratitude Meditation: here you will find an in-depth explanation of what is the gratitude meditation and how to practice it. You can also try their free meditations to cultivate a sense of appreciation and gratitude for small things.

Guided Gratitude Meditations from Insight Timer: here is a great library of guided meditations to choose from, start with a short 5-minute meditation and discover how it can lead to a greater emotional well-being and a better focus.

      Implement Gratitude at Your Workplace

      Whether you’re a team leader, entrepreneur, or an employee, implementing gratitude at your workplace has immense positive outcomes. It will create a fresh and more positive atmosphere at work and relax not only for you, but the people around you as well.

      Read more about why gratitude is important in business and how to cultivate it within a team on our blog.

      They Wake Up Early

      “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin

      Waking up early has tremendous benefits for our productivity.

      • Early risers sleep longer hours, as they usually go to bed earlier, so they’re less tired after waking up.
      • Early risers have better general health and are more energized.
      • Early risers are more successful, better organized, more proactive, and disciplined.

        Due to these reasons, people who wake up early can get more things done during the day. Richard Branson wakes up as early as 5 am and spends his morning exercising, answering his emails, writing news and blogs, and having meetings during the day. That way, in the evening, he’s free to spend time with his family and people he loves.

        They Have Routines

        habits of successful people

        People often think about routines as something monotonous and repetitive. But it doesn’t have to be that way – we can choose and create our own routines and fill our days with positive, grounding rituals to become more organized, centered, mindful and focused.

        Routines help us minimize uncertainty, regain focus, and reduce the daily energy drain, as we know what awaits at any given moment of the day, and we are looking forward to it.

        You probably already have some work-related routines, like scheduling breaks, answering emails and having meetings, but do you have your own routines, such as morning and evening routines?

        Check out our article about productivity morning routines to find out how you can implement healthy habits into your mornings and make them richier and more organized. and mindful.. Want more inspiration? Watch this short video where Alex and Mimmi Ikonn, founders of the Intelligent Change brand, reveal their morning routine that helps them be happier and more productive.

        They Earn Money From Multiple Sources

        No matter how successful your business is, an economic downturn is always possible. Trends change, the market changes, and as we learned during 2020, we never know when a crisis can strike.

        That’s exactly why highly successful people don’t rely on a single income source. Once their business becomes successful, they search for different ways to expand, such as investing in real estate, the stock market, or starting a side-business.

        In his book “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life”, Tom Corley explains that successful people usually have at least three streams of income before they reach their first million.

        They Plan Ahead

        Instilling a morning routine, planning to read your favorite book or listening to your favorite podcast , or expanding your sources of income, requires some levels of planning ahead.

        There are several levels of planning ahead:

        • Yearly planning;
        • Quarterly planning;
        • Monthly planning;
        • Weekly planning;
        • Daily planning.

        We’ve prepared a few detailed articles to guide you and share with you some the successful tips on productive planning:

        How to Plan a Productive and Organized Day, Week, and Year;

        Managing Your Day More Effectively With The Productivity Planner;

        How to Have Your Best Year Ever: Annual Planning Practice.

        Of course, an excellent asset to your planning is The Productivity Planner that helps you organize your weeks and days wisely and efficiently, and The Best Year Journal to create a strategy and action plan for your upcoming year.

        In order to be able to plan ahead with clarity and focus, you need to strive towards specific goals. That’s why one of the most important habits of successful people is that...

        They Know Their Goals

        Knowing where you’re headed with your business and your life is crucial to becoming successful. If you don't have clarity and vision for yourself, your success, and your happiness , how can you move forward and understand whether you are following your dreams, goals and values?How do you measure your success?

        Here’s an article from our productivity musings that could help you formulate your goals efficiently: How to Set Achievable Goals Step by Step Guide.

        They Engage in Self-Care

        People often think that the secure road to success is work, work and, once again work. But it’s so much more than it. This workaholic way of thinking leads only to frustration, exhaustion, and burnout.

        If you want to become (and remain) successful, you need to learn how to take care of yourself. Instilling healthy, self-nurturing and grounding routines, practicing gratitude, properly organizing your time, or waking up early is just one part of the process.

        Focusing on your health also means practicing other healthy habits:

        • Exercising regularly (it can be walking, doing yoga or working out–any type of movement);
        • Having a healthy and well-balanced diet;
        • Being more mindful;
        • Spending time with people you love;
        • Knowing when to unplug (see next tip), and so on.

        When it comes to self-care, one thing usually draws another. People who exercise regularly tend to also eat healthier and are less stressed. A study conducted in 2008 revealed that people who regularly exercise not only improve their personal well-being, but also have much better time management and complete their workload faster on days when they exercise. That way, they have more free time to do other things they love instead of being stuck with an incomplete workload beyond regular working hours.

        They Know When to Unplug

        habits of successful people

        One of the most important aspects of having a highly productive day is knowing when to unplug and disconnect in order to connect. Taking work home, saying “yes” to everything, or staying longer hours for an endless period of time is one of the main sources of frustration, fatigue and burnout.

        Taking time away from digital devices and the internet can also help you keep your mental wellbeing, productivity, and overall wellness in balance.

        If you properly organize your time, plan ahead, and incorporate self-care into your routine, unplugging will be another grounding and supporting habit on your way to success and harmony.

        They Surround Themselves With Inspiring People

        How do you spend time with your friends and family? Do you have people in your environment who inspire you to do great things? Is there someone who challenges you to live outside your comfort zone?

        If people around you fill you with negativity and drain your energy, you’ll have less energy and desire to invest yourself in your goals and dreams.

        Try to limit your time reading frustrating news and negative opinions or spending time with people that set you back, and invest more time in people who give you inspiration, strength, and energy. Find your mentors, create your community and always remember that you are the one to live your life and to follow your unique purpose.

        They Are Assertive and Not Aggressive (nor Passive)

        Do you know how to stand up for yourself without hurting other people? How do you handle confrontation? Do you know how to express yourself and communicate your needs, but without aggression?

        Knowing how to properly communicate, or better say, how to be assertive is crucial for being successful.

        Assertive behavior means:

        • Clearly stating your needs and requests;
        • Communicating in a respectful and non-aggressive way;
        • Being productive in your communication while taking into account other people’s emotions.

        People often tend to mistake assertive communication for aggression, which is a negative, critical, and unproductive way of expressing one’s needs and feelings.

        Successful people take time to learn more about proper communication and gain some soft skills. For example, practicing gratitude by keeping The Five Minute Journal can be of great start for this.

        They Choose the Growth Mindset

        Choosing to believe you can improve your skills, traits, character, intelligence, and habits over believing that they’re carved in stone and forever unchangeable means choosing to adopt a growth mindset.

        Having a growth mindset is strongly linked to having an attitude of gratitude and a positive outlook on life.

        A growth mindset can help you go through hard times and cope better with mistakes and failures. How?

        Because people with a growth mindset don’t see setbacks as ultimate failures and they don’t dramatize them. They rather view them as valuable lessons that teach them how to improve their actions in the future.

        They Don’t Compare Themselves to Others

        In order to understand where we are right now and where we want to go, we often look up to others: people our age, from our industry, success stories, our friends, or family members. That’s fine while it operates as inspiration.

        For example, if your sister starts her own business and you suddenly see how engaged and happy she now is, that might inspire you to do something similar.

        On the other hand, if you decide to go for entrepreneurship only because you suddenly felt left behind and less successful than your sister, you probably won’t enjoy the process so much, because you did it for the wrong reasons. You should follow your why, not someone else’s.

        If you want to implement some habits of successful people, we recommend you to start comparing yourself only to yourself. We all have different starting points in life and a different pace of moving through it. If you perceive it as a race, you’ll most likely end up lost, disconnected from your values and unhappy.

        They Listen to Productivity Music

        Successful people use different tools to improve their productivity and enter the focus flow. One of them is music.

        You can find our curated playlists on Spotify.


        Final Word

        The road towards success is a challenging one. Instilling some of these habits of successful people might help you remain in balance and inner peace while moving closer to achieving your goals and living the life of your dreams:

        • Reading and expanding your knowledge and vocabulary;
        • Practicing gratitude and meditating;
        • Waking up early;
        • Creating grounding and productive routines;
        • Expanding your sources of income;
        • Creating strategy and planning ahead;
        • Having clarity and knowing your goals;
        • Engaging in self-care;
        • Knowing when to unplug;
        • Learning how to be assertive rather an aggressive in communication with others;
        • Not comparing yourself to others, but to your previous self;
        • Choosing the growth mindset, and
        • Surrounding yourself with people who inspire and motivate you to become your better self.
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