Lately I’ve been reading a book titled What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam. I don’t usually read non-fiction books, unless I have to do research for a novel, but I’m really enjoying this one. Basically, the premise is that before most of us hear our alarm clock go off, the really successful people among us have already done something that is propelling them toward where they want to be in their lives and/or careers.
Vanderkam then proceeds to detail the lives of some very successful public figures, as well as CEOs, and what they do each morning before most of us are up. This might include exercise (usually it does), prayer, reading, going to a diner to read the papers and have coffee. Basically, early morning is the only time most of us have complete control over, and that’s when we can get the most done.
These findings are completely true in my life. I almost always regret sleeping in (by which I mean sleeping until seven or later). My morning is almost always hectic, rushed, and stressful. I am behind before I am even awake.
But I’m a morning person, a lark, if you will. I don’t know that waking up early would work for a night owl. But I still think there are several things I learned in the book that, whether they are done in the morning or some other time, usually go hand-and-hand with success.
Successful people make time for the gym, a run, or their trainer. Successful people have a regular exercise routine.
Successful people have a lot of willpower—tough choices have become habits. They are determined and persistent. (FYI, research shows that tasks requiring willpower, like exercise, are easier to accomplish in the morning when we have a fresh supply of willpower). The good news for those of us not born with extraordinary willpower is that it can be learned or re-learned. I think most of us are born with a great deal of it (watch any toddler for an illustration), and it just takes some practice to get it back.
Successful people have routines that work. Humans like routine. Don’t believe me? Again, watch that toddler or infant. Kids need routines, and so do we as adults. This isn’t to say a successful person can’t deviate from routine, but he or she also knows the value of having a daily schedule that works well for him or her and sticking with it.
So what are some of the traits you observe in successful people? When I think of successful writers, I often think of Nora Roberts, who writes every day, all day, breaking to eat and (that’s right) exercise.