With 2021 well underway a lot of us want to create resolutions and most of them don’t work over the long run unless there is a strong commitment to follow through. I prefer goals instead which are more long term. Instead of having a goal of losing 5 pounds we can instead just install the habit of exercising daily. If we exercise daily consistently then the 5 pounds takes care of itself over a reasonable period. My aim with this article is to give long lasting habits that we can implement not only for this year but for life. If we do that then the necessity for resolutions disappears.
Our habits make us or break us. If there is one thing that will surely help you on this journey of life it is your habits. There is no scientific formula to develop habits but one thing is sure unless you are totally determined to change then the results will not be what is required. Here are 13 habits that when implemented can really help us get closer to where we want to be.
Get up early – This is totally about discipline. On average, most of the highly successful people from history have all got up early. Of course, there are certain creatives who only get their best work done in the night. If you are one of them then this may not apply to you. Reading about Eisenhower he slept at 9:30 pm and got up early. Ernest Hemingway and Benjamin Franklin were also early risers. Bob Iger noted in his memoir “The Ride of a Lifetime” that right from a young age he always got up real early to get some alone time. When you rise before the sun you feel a sense of accomplishment and you can read or write or catch up on emails before the busy workday starts. Of course, if you are working in a night shift or you are most creative in the late hours then this won’t apply to you. There is a better chance of getting exercise out of the way if we get up early. Again this is probably not something which will work for everyone but see if it applies to your situation.
Exercise – All presidents and a lot of CEO’s exercise nearly daily. A lot of presidents exercised first thing for 45 min in the morning. Eisenhower played golf frequently and this was what kept him energized to get through the tough demands of being a president. The habit of doing something physically is great as it keeps you energized throughout the day. Try it for a few weeks and see the difference it makes. Science has proven that exercise releases those pleasurable chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and of course endorphins. We all know this but it takes discipline to implement this in our lives. Be proactive about your health and get on an exercise program that works for your situation. Of course, if you enjoy sports that’s another way to stay healthy. Every health situation is different so do consult with your physician before embarking on an exercise regimen that works for you.
Set Goals – Our search for meaning in our lives can be achieved only through setting goals. With goals, you have direction for your life. Set goals in your personal, physical, financial, and social lives. Keep your goals confidential and don’t share it with anyone else. Keep looking at it weekly and make course corrections as needed. Make it specific, measurable and just out of reach. The key is to write down goals that you want and remind yourself of where you want to get to in life.
Personal Mission Statement – Most successful people and organizations have strong mission statements. They take the time to figure out what is the reason for their existence. Having a personal mission statement will energize your whole life. My personal mission statement over the last 10 years has been “My mission is to maximise my potential and help others maximise theirs.” I have a longer mission statement but this is the crux. This has helped me maintain my enthusiasm even when things don’t go as I expected. The actions I do to live my mission is to read constantly and share what I have learned through blogs. It keeps me energized most of the time.
Eat to Live – Benjamin Franklin in his auto biography writes how he had a light lunch while others were having heavy lunches. This ensured he always had high energy. It is important to eat moderately and include lots of vegetables and fruits. We all know what we need to do in this area but we do fall short on occasions. This is just a reminder to do what we already know. Of course, the key is if you fall off track just get back on track rather than brooding over any over indulgence. Of course, it is also a known fact that we will fall off-track but just get back up when you do indulge. If we follow this we may not need any extreme diet programs which doesn’t work for the long term.
Continuous learning –  To keep up with the changes in your profession read in your field, read broadly, listen to podcasts, connect with experts, read blogs and document what you have learned. This is the key to winning in the 21st century. You must schedule time in the week for your self-development as it never happens automatically. The wonderful thing is all the information you need to be on the cutting edge of the learning revolution is at your fingertips and it is largely free of cost.
Reflection – Successful people take the time to reflect on a continuous basis and make sure they learn from life. Unless you take the time to reflect in a journal you cannot really understand what is going well and what can be improved. Unless you take time for reflection you won’t know how far you have come and how far you have yet to go. Another key habit of successful people is they think big. They don’t engage in small thinking. The beginning of the year is a wonderful time to reflect on what has gone well in 2020 while planning for a great 2021.
Financial Planning – To achieve well rounded success some amount of financial planning is required. The key as mentioned in the book “The Richest Man in Babylon” is pay yourself first. Saving is a key financial habit and the more you save the more secure you feel. Of course, discussing with a financial adviser may also be an excellent idea.
Take vacations – There is a reason vacations are there. When you take a vacation, and disconnect form your work you come back renewed to even work better. Vacations can also be a valuable time to connect with your dear ones. We really don’t need exotic vacations but the best thing is don’t schedule every minute of your vacation. Have some free time to make the vacation count. Some of the best ideas do come when we are doing some mundane tasks or just day dreaming.
Volunteer – Volunteering can be done with your time or also by making charitable contributions. The only way to get some significance to your life is through contribution. There are multiple avenues for contribution and you can choose your best vehicle.
Excellent time management – All successful people manage themselves well within the gift of 24 hours. It is not what you do but what you don’t do that is vitally important for time management. Look at all your activities and see which ones are time wasters. Eliminate those and you will have more time to do the things that matter. Focus on the wildly important, write down lists, focus only your top priorities and develop the habit of saying no to low priority activities. In 2020, you might have worked on some things which didn’t yield desirable results and you can choose to stop those activities in 2021. Remember this is the dawn of a new year and whatever time we have wasted till now doesn’t matter. All that matters in life is what we do from here till the rest of our lives.
Hobbies – All successful people have interesting hobbies. Einstein liked sailing, playing violin and many others liked to play an instrument as well. Personally, for me reading and writing are hobbies. When I do that I feel fulfilled. You need to find hobbies that you are passionate about and do them every week. This will keep you energized throughout 2021.
Networking – Successful people network both officially and socially. Having a strong network professionally ensures that when the chips are down you can rely on them to back you up. Strong social relationships ensure your life has more meaning and joy. In times of crisis you need this network to bring you back up.
I know all this seems like a lot of habits to develop but if we adopt some of these on a regular basis we can get the most out of ourselves and make 2021 one of the best years of our lives. These habits can help us eliminate the need for resolutions. Thanks for reading this post.

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.