Averagely, the human brain is just 2% the mass of the body, but it consumes 20% of the total energy to function optimally. That’s how much our brain is working to allow us to live a normal life. But for it to work, our brain actually ignores almost 85% of information it collects by putting them into autopilot, due to our limited energy and limited ability to make decisions consistently.
This basically means over 85% of what we do from day to day are our habits. Without the mechanism of forming habits, we will probably never exist due to the insufficient energy to support the functioning of our brain.
Most of us know the importance of breaking bad habits and building good habits. However, not all routines and habits are equal. Some habits provide a better leverage than the others. If you’re thinking to turn your life around and searching for good habits to practice, you will probably find hundreds if not thousands of them on the Internet. The problem is, we all have a finite resource, which is time.
Instead of picking up every good habit from drinking a glass of water once I get up from bed to squatting for 20 minutes a day, I become obsessed with the habits practiced by successful people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and many of them. And here are 3 most important routines and habits they are spending their time on.
1. Read Every Day
Books are my pass to personal freedom. – Oprah Winfrey
Reading literally changed my life. I usually describe reading as time traveling because you are learning a new idea or an important piece of insight in 20 minutes that probably took the author 20 years to figure out. The best time management technique is to pick the brain of people who have been where you want to be, and reading is a solid way to do so.
There are many other billionaire entrepreneurs and leaders practice extreme reading routine:
- Bill Gates reads about 1 book per week, which add up to about 50 books per year.
- Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day.
- Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads 2 hours a day.
- Billionaire entrepreneur David Rubenstein reads 6 books a week.
I suggest you allocate 30 minutes to an hour each day to read. I’m not leaning to either side of physical books or digital materials. It’s your personal preference to pick whichever medium that works best for you. Instead, spend the time to consciously select the type of materials you’re reading.
There are notable differences in the reading habits of successful people and the average. In the book Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, Thomas Corley pointed out that successful people usually read for self-improvement, education, and success; while the others read primarily to be entertained.
Don’t just read anything, opt for educational books and publications over unrelated news and entertainment magazines.
2. Try Something New
Reading is the first step, however, without implementation and further actions, you’re learning but not progressing. To truly transform your life, you need to consistently take action even when you’re not ready.
The habits of trying something new push and expand the boundaries of your comfort zone. It forces you to learn by not merely reading and consuming content, but by actually doing, making mistakes, and gaining experiences.
- Apple wouldn’t exist without Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak trying to build a user-friendlier computer in the garage.
- Facebook wouldn’t exist without Mark Zuckerberg trying to program a social networking site for Harvard.
- Tesla wouldn’t exist without Elon Musk trying to push the boundaries of the automobile industry.
And there are countless examples for this ‒ the invention of the lightbulb, the airplane, and the cell phone; the rise of digital startups like Instagram, Airbnb, and Uber. All of these exist today because of experimentation. In fact, most of the human revolution in term of economy, social culture, science, and technology happen because someone or some group on this planet decided to try something new.
The reality is, there is no better time for you to try something new than now.
With the advancement of technology, the abundance of resources and information, you can easily try something new today with almost zero cost.
- Want to code an app? You can sign up for an affordable course online to learn just that.
- Want to start sharing your words? You can create a blog and start writing in no time.
- Want to build a business? You can easily connect with like-minded partners and raise capital on crowdfunding platforms.
Don’t hesitate and stop procrastinate, start trying something new now.
Imagine reading (or consuming any type of educational and helpful materials) as absorbing the wisdom, insights, and essences from the world, then trying out new things as producing what’s within you for the world. Self-reflection is a routine to internalize both of the consuming and producing habits, to make sure they are aligned with your personal values and helping you to achieve your desired goals.
Successful people spend times to reflect because it brings clarity to their actions. Reflection strengthens one’s willpower, at the same time, it uncovers some mistakes we made in the past and so we can pick up new lessons from them quickly. Great leaders know this very well and do it often.
Self-reflection acts as a feedback system for our work and life. By practicing self-reflection regularly, we’re getting better at understanding ourselves and learn from our actions. As Gary Vaynerchuck mentioned, one crucial element of success people seldom talk about is self-awareness. And practicing self-reflection is a great way to be truly self-aware.
It’s crucial to define your values, set your goals, and understand your strengths and weaknesses. It’s also critical to regularly measure your progress to ensure you’re on the right path.
Triple Your Improvement Rate
Certainly, there are many more good habits you can practice based on your goals.
If you want to get in shape, you will need to exercise regularly and manage your diet closely. If you want to get better on drawing, you will need to practicing every related skill deliberately. If you want to be more productive, you will need to schedule your to-do list effectively.
However, the power of these 3 habits is much greater than the others by no coincidence, it can’t replace the goal-based habits for sure, but if you spend at least a few hours on a side every week on these 3 habits, you’re going to double or even triple your overall improvement rate.
When you absorb new ideas and insights from reading, when you implement those as an experiment, and then gain feedback and spend the time to reflect, you are practicing in the next level. Because of the higher level of consciousness involved. The true power of these habits is that they maximize the improvement rate.
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