Being the best version of yourself involves investing in your health, relationships, and work, and being intentional about how you spend your time and attention. Here are fresh ideas on where to start, according to a dozen highly successful individuals.
1. Eliminate micro-decisions.
"When it comes to making decisions, your brain functions in two modes. One mode is largely automatic, it makes reactive decisions based on intuition. The second mode is deliberate, it makes rational, analytical decisions. This mode is also where willpower comes from. The second mode is finite--you can make only so many logical decisions before the tank is empty and you are left only with the first, reactive mode. From deciding to respond to a mobile notification to picking which shoes to wear, we are inundated with micro-decisions every day. These decisions eat the fuel you need for willpower and deliberate thought. So, eliminate micro-decisions. Next time you're at a restaurant, order the first thing you like as opposed to reading the entire menu to find the best item. Or wear the same shoes to work every day. Or the same black pants to work every day. If you can, eat at the same place for lunch during the weekdays. Save the willpower and deliberate fuel for the important stuff."
--Prince Ghuman, author of Allure: The Neuroscience of Consuming, professor of neuromarketing at Hult International Business School, and founder of The 15Center Neuromarketing Bootcamp, an educational program that teaches the ethical use of neuroscience in business practices
2. Make it a priority to meet new people.
"Every day I make the effort to connect with five people. And I don't mean just to say hello; I'm talking about having actual meaningful conversations with them that aren't specific to a work-related project. Colleagues, business partners, clients-- it's amazing what inspiration and new ideas can come from those discussions, which is why it's important to carve out the time to have these conversations even when you're in the throes of a busy day. I take this even one step further by committing, on a monthly basis, to meet five new people. Again, I don't do this necessarily for new business, but it has helped me increase my network, develop vital partnerships, explore new challenges, and bring different thinking into the office."
--Steve Mast, president and chief innovation officer of Delvinia, a data collection firm that has captured more than 180 million opinions and created the automated market research platform Methodify, which was recognized as one of the GRIT top 50 most innovative companies in the world
3. Make your bed.
"I always make my bed. You start the day feeling productive, and you end the day enjoying the rewards of keeping to your commitments. Added bonus is your spouse (or in my case my dog, Budino) will really appreciate it."
--Jonathan Regev, co-founder of The Farmer's Dog, a healthy pet-food startup that has delivered over one million personalized human-grade meals since it launched in 2015
4. Make a plan with specific action steps.
"Plans can help bridge that gap between goals and achievement. And without plans, your goals are really just dreams. Make a plan for your day that includes specific action steps toward your goals. These need not be big steps; your brain will reward you with a dopamine boost for small successes, too. With enough doable steps, you can create a virtuous cycle that ensures you have a steady supply of motivational fuel to reach your goals."
--John Assaraf, CEO of science-based personal development firm NeuroGym and author of Innercise: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain's Hidden Power
5. Say thank you to the people you work with.
"Success can only be achieved if you're working with great people. Your employees spend a lot of time, effort, passion, and creativity to help drive the business forward. There are a lot of things you can do to appreciate, motivate, and reward employees. The best place to start is to simply say thank you every day, especially when you see great things happen."
--Eric Plam, president of Skyroam, Inc., an on-demand mobile data network, and maker of the Skyroam Solis, a smart travel device now covering 120 countries and available in more than 500 retail locations
6. Create an OMG moment for your customer, patient, student, or business partner every day.
"Focus on what you can do to provide a transformative experience, where your customer says, 'Oh my gosh, that is just what I needed...' Businesses are fascinating places, with thousands of opportunities, decisions, and directions that can be taken every day. Choosing the path that delights and amazes those who use your product or services helps keep your direction strategic and your business model transparent."
--James L. Ratcliff, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Rowpar Pharmaceuticals, maker of the ClōSYS brand of toothpastes, oral rinses, and oral sprays, recipient of the 2017 and 2018 Corporate Livewire Award for Innovation in Oral Care in North America
7. Pay it forward.
"I have begun making a practice of doing a minimum of one 'pay it forward' thing each day. Could be connecting a junior talent I've met with a senior hiring manager, helping a colleague expand their network, or just stopping and sending a sincere thank you to a friend or employee who makes a difference. Appreciation and help, without the expectation of payback, is hugely rewarding."
--Moira Vetter, founder and CEO of Modo Modo Agency, a strategic marketing firm that has won 260 awards in every category of marketing; Vetter has been recognized as a 2018 Atlanta Entrepreneur of the Year
8. Keep track of priorities by list-building.
"Prioritization is the key to managing my time and working on initiatives that will have the most impact on the business. On any given day, I may re-prioritize my list two to three times, dedicating a few moments each night to identifying the initiatives or activities that are most important to moving the company forward the following day, dividing them by categories such as fundraising, operations, resource development, negotiation, or strategic planning etc., in my black book, which is with me at all times."
--Jackie Baumgarten, co-founder and CEO of Boatsetter, a boat-sharing tech startup connecting boat owners, licensed captains, and renters; with more than 20,000 completed rentals in more than 600 locations
9. Make positive affirmations.
"There are multiple parts of my daily routine, but every morning, I give myself a short but impactful positive self-talk. I'm big on self-affirmation, it has had such a positive impact in my life and career. When I verbally affirm what I want, I feel instantly empowered, confident, and ready to tackle any task with a deep sense of reassurance. I remember walking into a major VC's office and thinking 'you guys are amazing, but I'm amazing also, and I'll kill it in this meeting,' having that type of positive mindset and speaking those thoughts aloud can make all the difference in your day."
--Daniela Corrente, co-founder of Reel, a save-to-buy shopping platform, with over 55,000 user signups since launching in 2017
10. Embrace loved ones before a hectic work day.
"My number one morning 'must-do' is a quick cuddle with my 13-year old son, Noah, who doesn't remove his extra-long limbs from the warmth of his bed until we've had a snuggle. Mind you, he's now 6-foot-1 and nowhere near as fluffy as my dog, but those first few moments of quiet together really help set me up (hopefully him too) for a good day, whatever madness kicks in, as soon as he's baby-elephanted his way downstairs."
--Fredda Hurwitz, chief strategy and marketing officer at RedPeg Marketing, an award-winning experiential marketing agency based in Washington, D.C., and Dubai, serving brands including Amazon, Geico, and Accenture
11. Change the location of where you work.
"The stereotype is that CEOs sit sealed away in a large office, but with our open office layout, I sit with a different department every day. I can determine where I'm sitting each morning while looking at a 'Coffee Cup Dashboard,' which has all the company vitals available at a glance. It allows me to have one hand on my mug and the other hand on the pulse of the company, as well as being proactive rather than reactive."
--Sam Fulton, CEO of Boats Group, which operates the world's largest recreational boating online marketplaces, including Boat Trader, YachtWorld, and boats.com
12. Repeat actions that contribute to success.
"I make a habit of noticing what I've done well at the end of a project. I write it down in a spot that will catch my eye and then try to repeat that action whenever possible. So often we are coached on how to correct potential mistakes or weaknesses, but so rarely are we made aware of the great stuff we are doing. Helping ourselves (and others) recognize when and why great things are happening can make a big difference. We may not be consciously aware of the mechanics behind the great contributions we make; knowing how to repeat those contributions can elevate our potential for continued success and increase happiness in the work that we do."
--Melissa Loble, VP of professional services and partnerships at Instructure, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology company that has connected millions of instructors and learners at more than 4,000 educational institutions and corporations globally