As a Harvard Law student, lawyer, talkshow host and TV legal analyst, I’ve traveled the country and befriended some of the most remarkable and successful people you’ll ever meet—Michelle Obama, Ariana Huffington, US Senator Kamala Harris—just to name a few. And one thing that I’ve noticed about all these incredible people is not only are they smart and ambitious, but they’re highly productive. They attack each day with a relentless vigor and get more done in a few hours than most people get done all week.
I know that many of you would like to have that kind of focus, energy and wherewithal to achieve more in your lives. So, just how do these remarkable people do it? Well, I found out. On my own personal and professional journey, I’ve watched and have taken notes! I learned that all these highly successful people have certain habits, routines—secrets—that help them thrive. So, as we start this new year together, I’d like to drop some knowledge on you. I’d like to give you these golden secrets so you can make your 2017 the best year ever. Here are the ten things I challenge you to do:
1. Set at least five goals for the year, and be realistic about how you’re going to achieve them. Don’t just rely on magical thinking! Write them down, including an action plan for each goal, and monitor your progress periodically throughout the year.
2. Focus, focus, focus. One thing that successful people have in common is that they’ve mastered the art of focusing. How? Well many practice rituals that help them maximize concentration,” such as working in environments free of distractions, or taking walks in nature where they can think deeply. So, put down your phone, get off Facebook and learn to focus on your goals. You’ll be surprised how much you can get accomplished when you focus.
3. Make health and wellness a priority. Many people incorrectly think “I’ll exercise once I get my work finished and have more time.” It’s not an either-or proposition! You can do both. In fact, if you commit to a healthy diet and exercise, you’ll likely become more productive and successful at work!
4. Make prayer or meditation a part of your daily ritual. Research has shown that spiritual meditation has a number of mental and physical health benefits, from improving memory to increasing compassion to boosting the immune system. So, assume the position and get to meditating.
5. Resolve to make new friends. Successful people are constantly enlarging their circle with new people. So, whether it’s attending mixers, joining the alumni association or joining a reading club, reach out and make new connections. After all, as the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know.
6. Learn to be gentle on you. While it’s important to be ambitious, don’t let a setback send you into a soul-crushing depression. Don’t brutalize yourself. Things don’t always go our way. When that happens, pick yourself up and try again!
7. Celebrate along the way. Don’t buy into the hype that only significant achievements should be recognized and rewarded. Celebrate the small victories, too. You’ll be happier you did.
8. Learn patience. Everything you want can’t happen overnight. If you learn to combine patience with persistence, your path to success will be much smoother.
9. Be happy when others succeed. Remember, someone else’s success is not your failure. Also, you’ll be surprised by the number of successful people who are willing to help you by sharing tips. So, rather than rooting for them to flop, ask for advice. You can learn from them!
10. Commit to working harder. If you look at the most successful people, they’re the ones who grind away and never give up. Or, as Thomas Edison said: Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
Lastly, even a list chock full of the secrets, like this one, will only be effective if you follow it religiously. So, guard against the things that can knock you off track. Don’t use a bump in the road—bad weather, a head cold, rejection—as an excuse to abandon your entire plan. If you miss a workout or two, don’t turn it into missing three weeks. If you get stuck on a page writing your book, move on to another chapter and return to the page later. Keep focus. Move forward. And just remember, life happens to all of us, but the people who succeed are the ones who absorb the blows, avoid the distractions and keeping working toward their goals!