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If you Google “daily habits of successful people” you’ll find almost every business-focused media outlet represented in the results. But if you’re looking for a guaranteed roadmap to success, don’t get excited just yet. If you read all of those articles, or even a few of them, you’ll soon realize that successful people have a wide range of daily habits.
Some say you have to rise early, some sleep until noon then work from their bed for another hour. Some say to get the toughest thing out of the way first, some start their day in an easy flow of reading over coffee and don’t “eat the frog” until later. Some plan out their day the night before, some start their day by devising a plan. Some hit the jogging trail first thing, some barely take time for a stretch before hitting social media and email.
So how are any of us supposed to figure out which daily habits are critical to success, and which are personal preference and idiosyncrasy?
If you take a look at all the different lists of habits, routines, principles and priorities among successful entrepreneurs from Ben Franklin to Mark Cuban you’ll find these three universal success factors.
Related: The 4 Habits You Need to Be Successful
They spend time getting to know themselves.
If you know who they are, chances are they devote a lot of their daily practice to knowing themselves better than you can even imagine. Successful people are self-aware on multiple levels.
They know their energy patterns, so they know how much sleep is optimal. They know when they get their best rest they are at their best when they are awake. They know what fuel their body needs, and what kind of exercise it takes to feel the way they want to feel. They know what environments they need to be creative and productive, and they know the difference between those two states.
They know their priorities, too, and they know that all of their decisions must start with the highest level of their vision, mission or purpose. Benjamin Franklin’s documented daily schedule starts each day with a question; “What good shall I do this day?” Steve Jobs said in his commencement address at Stanford in 2005 that he spent 33 years asking the same question every morning; “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
Bottom line, no matter how many articles, interviews or opinions you read, you’ll find that successful people are always tuned in to the one most critical success factor in their business — themselves.
Related: 7 Reasons ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ Lives on 25 Years Later
They spend time improving themselves.
Speaking of being tuned in to themselves, successful people know that to increase their net worth they must increase their personal worth. They’ve mastered the personal SWOTT analysis and they consistently invest in themselves.
It’s no secret that successful people read. They read story books, they read how-to books, they read news, they read industry articles. They read to improve their knowledge, their mind-set, even their mood.
But they do more than read. Successful people study. They study trends in their industry and outside of their industry, they study things that interest them and, most of all, they study people.
They spend time sharing themselves.
Many super successful people are generous with their money and time. I personally believe that trait builds both financial success and personal satisfaction, but it isn’t what I’m referencing here and I didn’t find it to be 100 percent consistent in all of the “daily habits” lists I read.
What I did find to be consistent is that every person referenced or interviewed had a personal message and a method for sharing it. Their audience might be primarily internal, but it’s not just, “Here’s what the company has to do to achieve success,” or it might be aimed at the general public, but it’s not just, “Here’s why you should buy what I’m selling.”
Successful people have a personal philosophy that permeates everything they say and do. They write, they speak, they mentor, they give interviews and in all of those circumstances they show up fully and completely, sharing not only their message, but the very essence of themselves.
If you want to be successful, I suggest you read those “daily habits” lists the way you’d look at a blueprint for a house you will live in. Make change orders where necessary. Your daily habits need to support your life and your success, don’t try to live by someone else’s blueprint. Just be sure you’re dedicating significant quality time to getting to truly know yourself, improving yourself and sharing yourself. Because you are the single most important factor in your success, and the only one you can control.
Related: 8 Daily Habits That Will Make 2015 Explosive