I’ll bet that if you’re reading this, that means you’re ready to level up in your personal and professional life. Am I right?
Listen, folks. The typical routine of wake up, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, and do it over again the next day isn’t going to help you reach your big goals. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to build the habits of successful people into your day. This means being intentional with your time every day. No more coasting on autopilot.
This might sound like a big undertaking, but there are a few simple actions you can take daily to set yourself up for success—in your career, health and relationships.
The Top 10 Daily Habits for Personal and Professional Growth
Note: These daily habits of successful people aren’t shortcuts—they’ll require some discipline—but I promise doing these things will pay off. Whether you want to pursue a new career direction, take your current position to the next level, or simply grow as a person, practice these 10 daily habits for success and you’ll see real results and opportunities coming your way.
Habit #1: Make a morning routine.
Get into the habit of making a morning routine for the week and the weekends. Starting your morning with a predictable and purposeful rhythm can really set up the rest of your day for success. To set a morning routine, ask yourself a few things:
- What wake-up time makes you feel best?
- Do you need exercise first thing in the morning, or do you prefer a slower start?
- What’s your morning drink of choice? Water with lemon? Coffee? A smoothie?
- Do you need quiet time to reflect, or do you jump right into the day’s to-do list?
- How do responsibilities with kids or pets affect your morning? Do you have school drop-off duties? Do you need to take your dog for his morning walk?
Habit #2: Set a purpose for your day.
What’s the most important task you need to accomplish today? Who do you need to be for your family or team? Do you want to work on having a good attitude by being friendly to the barista or your coworkers? Should you finally mail the paperwork that’s been sitting on your desk a little too long? Do you need to call your brother and confirm holiday plans? Whatever the thing is you need to do, make it a priority, and then get it done. Successful people prioritize what’s urgent and important.
Habit #3: Stay physically active—move a little every day.
If you’re not a gym rat, that’s okay. But moving your body is super important for your overall wellness—and your daily success. Exercise can boost your mood, help you stay alert and energized, and even reduce stress (which is perfect when you’re preparing for a high-pressure meeting). Take a walk around the office building, use the stairs instead of the elevator, stretch during your lunch break, or hit the gym after your shift. Successful people know that a healthy body equals a healthy mind.
Habit #4: Maintain your key relationships.
There are only so many relationships you can pour into on a daily basis. Your most important relationships might include your spouse and kids, and maybe the person you work with closest (like a manager or assistant). Regardless of which relationship it is you’re trying to maintain, here’s a tip: Part of building healthy bonds is practicing the art of listening—so lend an ear to the special people in your life.
Want to build a non-anxious life? Learn how in Dr. John Delony’s new book.
You can also look for ways to connect with people who are doing what you want to do, or who are already excelling in an area where you want to improve. I’m not talking about speed networking or making superficial connections just so you can reap the benefits. But it’s always important to be mindful about the relationships you’re building and maintaining.
Habit #5: Stay busy but don’t rush.
Being productive is huge. Productivity helps you accomplish goals and get projects across the finish line. But rushing can lead to sloppy mistakes and missed details, and that won’t lead to success. Make sure you take steps every day toward your goals—and don’t forget to appreciate where you are.
Habit #6: Take breaks.
Whether it’s physical exercise or catching up on the news, take a beat during your day to reset. And no, this doesn’t mean watching cat videos on YouTube for 45 minutes. Instead, spend a few minutes taking an intentional break that will refresh your mind, fill your tank, and give you a boost for the rest of the day. Eat a healthy snack, get some fresh air, or take a few minutes to chat with coworkers at the water cooler. Whatever helps you feel refreshed.
Habit #7: Stay up to date on your industry.
This can look different on a day-to-day basis, but the key is to learn something every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s small. Just carve out at least a few minutes to learn more about your craft and the industry you currently work in (or the one you want to work in).
Here are a few effective ways to learn:
Read news articles, books, essays. It doesn’t matter what it is if what you’re reading helps you learn more about who you are and what you want to do.
Here's a list of some of my favorite books:
- David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
- Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty by Harvey Mackay
- Bo’s Lasting Lessons by Bo Schembechler
- Patriot in the Making and Practical Revolutionary by Robert Douthat Meade
- The Winner Within by Pat Riley
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- Leading With the Heart by Mike Krzyzewski
- A Call to Conscience by Clayborne Carson
Listen to podcasts, radio shows and other people who know more than you do.
Watch TED talks, documentaries and speeches given by people who inspire you or are influential in your field.
Research the field you’re interested in, especially if you’re looking at making a career change. Find out what kinds of education or training you would need to make that transition and what kinds of jobs and salaries are available in your area. Or look for volunteer and internship opportunities with an organization you’re passionate about.
Just think—you could spend 10 minutes scrolling through Instagram on your phone, or you could spend 10 minutes reading an article that teaches you about the job you want or the field you’re passionate about. You’ll be surprised by how much knowledge you can absorb by making a small, intentional effort every day.
Habit #8: Work toward small wins.
Find ways to practice what you’ve been learning and hone your craft. This will look different depending on the given day and your career of choice.
Maybe that means writing 200 words every day, even if you absolutely hate what you write (you’ll get better). Maybe it means volunteering with a company that can help you build your skills. Maybe it’s as simple as trying a new recipe, working on a website, or redecorating a friend’s living room so you can build your interior design portfolio. Just find small ways to practice and build your confidence.
Habit #9: Serve others.
In his book Secrets of Closing the Sale, one of my heroes, Zig Ziglar, says: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” If you serve other people, it eventually comes back to you.
Now, you might be thinking, Ken, that’s shallow. Is it really serving if I’m hoping to get something in return?
Hang on. I’m not saying you should manipulate people into giving you what you want. I’m suggesting that you should make serving others a daily practice. And I’m not just talking about serving your boss and your coworkers, but also your friends, your family, the disgruntled employees at the grocery store—you name it. In fact, the world’s best leaders are the ones who lead by serving. The way to become successful is not to push and claw your way to the top, but to have an attitude of humility and put others before yourself. Trust me—people will remember that in the future.
Habit #10: Reflect at the end of the day.
When you’re making progress in your career, it’s encouraging to record that progress. Take some time at the end of the day to reflect on what you did, even if it feels like you only took one small step forward. Those small steps lead to big victories.
Journaling can be a fun, no-pressure way to reflect on your day and get all of your thoughts and ideas down on paper. Many studies have found that journaling boosts your mental health by helping you cope with anxiety, stress and depression.
Not into journaling? Try writing down just one sentence about your day, keeping track of goals you accomplished, or storing all your completed to-do lists in one place. And don’t forget about the art of gratitude. Jotting down at least three things you’re grateful for each day can really help you stay motivated and keep everything in perspective.
Take the Next Step in Your Career
Whether you’re looking for a step up at work or a giant leap toward something new, there’s never been a better time in history to look for something more in your career. In my book From Paycheck to Purpose, I’ll help you walk through the seven stages to discovering and doing work that gives you a great income and big impact. Check it out today.