Written by: Ellie Shefi, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
The new year is the perfect opportunity to take stock of how your daily habits impact your long term success. Whatever you want your life story to be, you are the author, and right now is the time to make positive changes that will sustain and accelerate your path to success!
The most successful people stick to simple, daily habits that keep them focused on exactly what they need to do to make the most of their time and maximize their results. This can be you! You can stop filling the pages of your life story with things that don’t serve you and instead make intentional choices every day to create the life you truly want. Your daily choices become your habits, and your habits become your routine, which drives your outcomes and shapes the story of your life. Write the story you want by taking control of your habits now! Here are four ideas to get you started as you brainstorm about the habits that will best serve you in the coming year:
1. Start Each Day By Investing In Yourself
Your morning routine sets the tone for your whole day so set yourself up for success by being intentional about how you begin. Morning routines look different for everyone, so give yourself some time to experiment with what works best for you. The important thing is that you find a morning routine that energizes you to cultivate a positive mindset and focus on the most important tasks for the day. Many are at their best when they get moving first thing in the morning with a yoga practice, a run, or an early morning bike ride to clear their heads. If breaking a sweat right after you roll out of bed is not your thing, you might want to consider activities that invite you to look inward, like meditation, reading, or journaling. Lots of people do a little of both! Whatever habits you cultivate to care for yourself at the start of each day, be sure it’s a routine you enjoy. If it feels like a chore, it’s tough to stay consistent. Make your morning routine something that you look forward to each day, which fuels your fire to succeed!
2. Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers. Repeat.
When I first start working with a new coaching client, I pay attention to the types of questions they ask. As Tony Robbins says, “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” This is absolutely true. The reason we ask questions is so we can use the answers to make better decisions. So, whether you’re working to improve your performance, pivoting to provide a better product or service to your clients, or seeking to deepen a relationship with a loved one—the quality of the questions you ask is important. Are the questions you’re asking problem-focused or solution-focused? Do they presume something can’t be done, or are they empowering and framed from the perspective of “How can I…?” By asking probing, solution-focused, how questions, you’ll get the information, you need to develop solutions, make improvements, and progress along the path of success. So make it a habit to ask excellent questions!
Build this habit by starting to ask the most important questions: the ones you ask yourself. When you ask yourself better questions, you get better answers, and when you have better answers, you make better choices. And what do your choices become? The habits that shape the story of your life. So ask yourself better questions. Ask the tough questions. The questions you’re afraid to ask. The questions that require you to get specific about who you are, what you want, and what you need to do to create the life you desire.
Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, then you can reach out to trusted friends, colleagues, and mentors for further perspective. Take their answers along with your own and progress into action! Invite your community of support to hold you accountable as you build new habits, take new action, and keep moving forward.
3. Pursue Progress One Win at a Time
Burnout! Failure! Unfinished projects! It happens to us all! Everyone has moments where we lose our motivation, fixate on setbacks, and just can’t seem to get where we want to go. So what’s the difference between the people who quit and the people who succeed? Habits.
When you’re committing to a lifetime of success, you must cultivate working habits that keep you focused on progress. Yes, dream big! Then, create a plan. The path to success happens one step at a time, with many milestones along the way. Avoid getting overwhelmed and losing steam by making a habit of focusing on the most important task right now, rather than the mountain you’re climbing.
When it comes to creating an action plan, I like to work backward from my end goal by creating quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. The logic here is easy. If I can accomplish my daily action items, then I know I’ll accomplish my weekly goals. If I accomplish my weekly goals, then I’m on track for my monthly targets...and so on. The key is to ensure tasks and milestones are realistic and achievable. If it’s more than you can handle, then it’s easy to get overwhelmed or discouraged, and then it’s tough to make progress. And, remember, not every day will go as planned, but if you make a habit of focusing on your progress—taking it one step at a time and refusing to let setbacks distract you—you’ll achieve your dream in no time!
4. Focus on What You Can Control
Nothing will waste your time and halt your progress like focusing on the things you can’t control. Many people are looking back at 2020 and realizing they poured a ton of time and energy into things that were completely out of their control. The question is, how much time and energy did they pour into making positive choices in situations where they did have control?
It’s two sides of the same coin! No matter the state of the world, there will always be situations that you can’t control. And, of course, you can’t control how other people behave. However, in the brilliant words of Victor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
You can choose how you react to uncontrollable situations. You can choose growth. You can choose progress. You can choose to remain solution-focused. You can choose to be grateful and find the good, the lessons, and the blessings in situations and events. Focusing on the things you can control takes practice, but, like all habits, it gets easier and easier the more you do it. The next time you get frustrated, something’s not going as planned, or things feel out of control, just pause. Give yourself time to find that space between whatever is happening and your response. You might be feeling angry, sad, or even fearful. That’s ok! Acknowledge your feelings, then assess the whole situation with a clear head so you can adjust, learn, and move forward. It’s incredibly empowering to master this habit, and the results are undeniable. When you learn to focus on what you can control and let go of things you can’t, you’ll be unstoppable.
One final note for you as you kick off the new year: keep it simple. The biggest mistake people make early in a new year is overcommitting. To create lasting habits that will fuel your path to success, follow the lead of the most successful people in the world by cultivating simple, daily habits that will serve you in all areas of your life. If you start every day by investing in yourself, asking better questions, pursuing progress one win at a time, and focusing on the things you can control, 2021 will truly be your best year yet.
Ellie Shefi, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Ellie Shefi is the very definition of tenacious. Having overcome a lifetime of adversity, including abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, cancer, and a myriad of other health issues that have seen her fight for her life for over two decades, Ellie has mastered mindset, resiliency, and resourcefulness, and she has dedicated her life to the empowerment of others.
Ellie is an attorney, entrepreneur, coach, business strategist, keynote speaker, and award-winning author; featured contributor to publications, podcasts, television shows; teacher, trainer, philanthropist, and engaged community servant.
Ellie’s mission is to impact lives. A master problem-solver and opportunity creator who's determined to change the world, Ellie is the go-to expert for practical, easy-to-implement, results-driven tools, strategies, and resources that equip and empower you to take control and create the authentic, abundant life of your dreams. She is the creator of You Are Not Your Scars™, a movement that provides resources to empower women; Unlocking Your Superpower™, a program that provides resources to empower entrepreneurs; Creating An Impervious Mind™, a program that provides resources to empower the mind; and Made 2 Change The World™, a movement that provides resources to empower the next generation. Ellie is also the creator of Amplify Your Story Now™, a program that provides resources to authors and aspiring authors, and Sisters Rising™, a book series that provides women with a platform to tell their stories, showcase their businesses, and raise awareness of their work.
An award-winning author, Ellie's books include: Unlocking Your Superpower: 8 Steps to Turn Your Existing Knowledge Into Income; Sisters Rising: Stories of Remarkable Women Living Extraordinary Lives; and The Authorities: Powerful Wisdom from Leaders in the Field (which she co-wrote with Les Brown, Bob Proctor, Marci Shimoff, and Raymond Aaron). Ellie is also the author of the upcoming book SuccessOnomics, which she is co-writing with Jack Canfield.