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5 Habits of the Exceptionally Successful

We all know that one person who seems to have it all figured out. Somehow, these people can make decisions based purely on what’s right instead of simply what they can afford. You’ll never catch her with a messy bun or him with a wrinkle on his button-down shirt.

It leaves you wondering whether people like this are another breed of sorts. It’s like there’s an invisible divider that separates you from becoming one of them.

But what if someone told you that divider existed purely in your mind?

It may be a Matrix-level realization, but it is nonetheless true.

Habits of the Exceptionally Successful

When it comes to success, you are either your best friend or your worst enemy. Any negative self-talk you have on replay will sabotage even the best of your efforts.

So, the first step towards success is to believe you are worthy. This is a task that is much easier said than done. Failures of the past and hurtful words spoken by loved ones can haunt us for the rest of our lives if we let them.

Instead, make a conscious effort to focus on your own personal strengths. Actively build yourself up as you practice these five habits of exceptionally successful people.

1. Plan everything

When you have a plan for everything, you’ll never be caught off-guard. You’ll know exactly what to do if things go awry because you will have thought things through in advance.

Planning everything doesn’t mean being rigid. When you have a good plan, you know exactly what you’ll be doing that day, but you’ll also know how to keep it flexible.

Part of planning is considering all potential outcomes. Here’s a simple example:

You plan to go to the park for a picnic. Naturally, you check the weather in advance to ensure it won’t rain. You plan to sit at one of the park’s picnic tables, but you also bring a picnic blanket in case all the tables are taken when you get there. You will have a hitch-free day.

Depending on how you work, you may be able to get by with a rough plan in mind for most things. If you’re more of a visual person, consider keeping an online calendar or a journal to map out your day. Writing down your activities will also help you see which are important to your success and which can be dropped.

2. Continue learning

The smartest and most successful people know that they have a lot to learn. Regardless of the subject, admit that you have a lot to learn. You may be a photographer with years of experience under your belt. Nothing will take that firsthand knowledge away from you, but you can learn a lot from new techniques and technologies that emerge annually. This is true for virtually every subject, and it doesn’t only apply to work.

Become a student of life, and you’ll continue learning how to connect with people, improve your relationships and work on your own personal character flaws (we all have them). Personal development will help you succeed in relationships, but this can also spill over into your career.

Make a plan to learn something new and productive every week. Remember the productive part. Learning that a hedgehog’s heart beats 300x per minute may be interesting, but it’s not exactly productive.

Set aside some time every week to read a book, take a course or learn from a mentor. This will ensure that you’re steadily making progress as time goes on.

3. Show gratitude

We all have choices. One of our most important choices is how we see the world around us. Are you focused on the negative or appreciative of all your blessings? No matter where you are in life, you have something to be thankful for. It may sound cliché, but someone always has it worse than you do. Be thankful that you aren’t in their shoes.

If nothing else, you can and should always be thankful for the opportunity to face another day. In this day, your possibilities are endless. Take advantage by telling people that you love them, show compassion towards others less fortunate than you. Do one thing a day that makes you smile, and your smile may give someone else a reason to be thankful. We are all part of an interconnected world, and we should be thankful for this precious gift.

There are a few ways you can show gratitude each day. Many people find gratitude journaling helpful. If this sounds like it’s up your alley, grab a journal and write one thing you are grateful for each day. The act of writing your gratitude will help refocus your thoughts in a positive direction.

You may also make a habit of thanking people for being in your life. You don’t necessarily have to say the words, “thank you” or “I appreciate you,” but you can go out of your way to make someone smile. Simple gestures go a long way in helping people feel appreciated, your act of kindness will solidify the gratitude in your heart. Just be sure that you’re not expecting anything in return for your kindness, that would be counterproductive.

4. Tend to your health

Successful people know that the mind, body, and spirit work together to create our reality. You cannot achieve true success when one of these things is out of line. For example, if you’re actively doing everything on this list while filling your body with junk food daily, your body won’t have the right nutrients to keep your mind sharp. You may end up making poor decisions or have trouble following through on your goals. Depression may take hold after some time, and success will seem out of reach once again.

Start by learning a bit about nutrition. It’s easy to be confused by health trends, but the basics of nutrition are quite simple. Eat more real food and less processed junk. If you want to take this to the next level, consider adding a green smoothie to your daily routine.

Next, plan to exercise regularly. Sedentary life is very counterproductive to success. Exercise helps keep your blood flowing, which helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to vital organs such as the brain. Not only will you look better after adding exercise to your routine, you’ll also perform at your best.

Also, consider meditating. Meditation will help keep you focused on the current moment, which is no easy task in this fast-paced world. Although it is important to plan, we must spend as much time living in the moment as we can. This means that you’ll learn to limit your worries about the future and regrets or hurts from the past. Meditation is also a great stress-management technique which can help you keep your cool and stay focused when things aren’t going your way.

Take care of your mind, body, and soul, and you’ll be better equipped to become successful in all aspects of your life.

5. Practice self-control

Our brains are hard-wired to seek pleasure, but successful people know how to curb their behavior to keep from developing bad habits.

If you’re going to be truly successful in business and life, you must “keep your eye on the prize.” This means that everything you do must coincide with your goals. At the very least, your actions should not take you away from your goals.

Whenever you bring a new habit or practice into your life, think about how it will benefit you. If there are no benefits or if the cons outweigh the pros, drop that habit before it gets started.

Habits like drinking alcohol, gambling, sex addiction and smoking cigarettes are all detrimental to your goals.

Whenever you feel the desire to engage in harmful activities, remind yourself that these will almost certainly affect your success. Then, try replacing the unhealthy habit with something more productive. It may not feel as satisfying at first, but you will be taking steps that will get you closer to your goals.

For healthier habits, consider group sports like tennis or basketball, outdoor activities like hiking or biking, or getting involved in a local non-profit organization. If you can’t trust yourself to stay productive all of the time, then keep most of your time occupied with healthy activities.

Instead of thinking of successful people as another specie, start thinking of them as healthier and more productive. This is much closer to the truth. These people are committed to taking care of themselves in every way possible, and you can do the same.


Although some people are born with a silver spoon, many people carve their own path to success. If you’re still having trouble believing that you can do this, stop now and make a list of all the reasons you “can’t.” Then examine those reasons. If you search, you can probably find a list of people with the same obstacles who have overcome them to become successful.

You are your own best friend or worst enemy. It’s all about how you see yourself.

This is a guest post by Trevor McDonald: Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.