New Year's is just around the corner and that means one thing: resolutions. So many resolutions. We're going to change our lives for the better. We're going to learn a new language, finish that book we've been working on, reach those goals we've been striving for.

For entrepreneurs, those goals are often in the form of building businesses, increasing profits, growing companies and improving skills. To help us stick to and accomplish our resolutions, we often turn to successful people to see how they do it.

We look to the Elon Musks and the Richard Bransons to see how we can model ourselves after them in the hopes that we can follow in their footsteps and keep our resolutions for success in the new year.

Today, I'm saving you all the time of searching for the secrets of these successful entrepreneurs by giving you the one secret all successful people live by.

Silver bullets

According to research done by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, fewer than 25 percent of people who make New Year's resolutions keep them.

There are a number of reasons, but I personally think so many people fail to keep them because they are looking for shortcuts and the mythical silver bullets that will solve a dilemma quickly rather than breaking resolutions into smaller goals and coming up with a plan to follow that incorporates solid feedback

Take weight loss, for example, the most popular New Year's Resolution of all time.

How many times have you seen a commercial that talks about a new "amazing" product that makes weight loss a breeze?

Look at some before and after photos, listen to a couple of success stories of people who lost hundreds of pounds in mere weeks by using said product. At last, these people have discovered the secret to weight loss that had eluded them up to that point.

Except there is no secret to weight loss.

Even if we have different diets, different activity levels and different metabolisms, losing weight boils down to having a balance of calories that we consume versus calories that we burn for energy. There are a million ways to do this. Certain supplements or activities might help a little, but it's really the same concept at work no matter how you do it.

The secret

We see entrepreneurs looking for these magic solutions quite a lot when they want to reach their business goals. If you search for ways to be more productive, you can find a myriad of articles about Elon Musk's daily routines and and how he stays so productive.

Throughout numerous articles, I discovered that he (apparently):

  • Goes to bed at 1 a.m. and gets up at 7 a.m.

  • Usually skips breakfast.

  • Wolfs down lunch in a five-minute span during a meeting.

  • Works out once or twice a week, usually on the treadmill or by lifting weights.

  • Splits his day into five-minute increments to help him stay productive.

Perfect! Now you know the secret to being super productive.

But, wait. What about Richard Branson?

He is also an entrepreneurial genius who is really productive. So, he must also follow the same daily routine as Elon, right?


According to other articles I've read about Richard, he:

  • Wakes up around 5am and immediately does some exercise like tennis, walking, running, biking or kitesurfing.

  • Eats breakfast.

  • Spends time with his family because it puts him in a good frame of mind for working.

So, to be at your most productive, should you get up at 7 a.m., skip breakfast and only workout a couple of times per week or should you get up at 5 a.m., exercise immediately and always eat breakfast?

You could follow either one of those routines and you might see your productivity skyrocket or you might flop on the floor in an exhausted heap after a couple of weeks.

Elon and Richard follow the daily routines they have because those routines work for them. It's like how one person loses weight by completely cutting junk food out of their diet but keeping the same activity level while another person keeps the junk food, but ups their activity level. What works for one person will not work for another.

Obviously there is no harm in reading about what other successful entrepreneurs and achievers do as their best practices, guiding principles and general habits. In fact, it's actually quite inspirational. But, aside from being inspired and picking up some helpful tips, we shouldn't put too much faith in any one famous entrepreneur's daily routine or their reading list or every sentence they say out loud.

None of those is going to make you or your business successful.  

You have to find the right routine, the right leadership strategy, the right (fill in the blank) for you.

That is the secret.