Success doesn't happen in an instant. It happens through the progression of lots of little successes, strung together over time.
If you want to build something big, if you have a vision, a dream, or even just a clearly defined end goal, the question is not how you can make that happen right now, or tomorrow. The question is: "What habits can I put into place that will allow that end goal to manifest itself?"
1. Do what you say you're going to do
Step 1 with anything: Less talk, more action.
2. Journal once per day
Even if it's just a paragraph, or three sentences, or jeez, one sentence, do a quick check-in to see where you're at and write it down. Long term, this will keep you grounded and sane. It all starts with acknowledgement.
3. Never lie
As my grandma used to say, "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"
4. Always make time for your closest friends
A buddy of mine manages a few very, very successful music artists, and he told me once, "I've seen it: You could have all the money in the world, but if you traded your friends to get there, you won't be happy."
5. Practice your craft
What may just be a hobby now could one day be something very special. If you love it, practice it. Don't be that 40-year-old guy who says to every young person he or she meets, "I used to want to be a guitar player!" Well, why aren't you still playing then?!
6. Go to the gym
Or the yoga studio. Or run up and down the block. Whatever. Just be physically active. There's nothing sexy about not being able to walk up a flight of stairs.
7. Surround yourself with people who represent what you ultimately want to become
This is a habit and a choice. If you aren't happy with where you're at or where you're going, take a hard look at the people around you. Chances are, they're in a similar boat, and as long as you stay in that situation, neither of you are moving any time soon.
Seriously. If the only reading you do is perezhilton.com, then you need to hit up Amazon and buy a Kindle.
9. Don't just set goals--track them
One of the most revealing things I've ever done for myself was making a project plan for my life. Yes, a project plan. And all the things I wanted to get done in the next three months, I planned them out like I would a marketing campaign (I'm not joking). But guess what? It showed me everything I needed to know, when things were due, and how much time I needed to spend on them in order to get them accomplished. Do this more often, and you'll be amazed at how much you over-promise and under-deliver--and what needs to happen for you to fix that habit immediately.
10. Never eat alone
A great book, and an even better motto to live by. Make use of your lunches and dinners by sharing in conversation with people you can connect with, collaborate with, and learn from.
11. Dress for success
It's cliché but true--you have more confidence when you feel good about the way you're presenting yourself. Make it a habit to portray your best self.
12. Meditate and reflect
In tandem with the journaling habit, you need to make time to reflect. You can't always be in "go go go" mode. Without reflection, you will not be able to properly integrate the lessons you've been learning along the way.
13. Teach others
Even before you feel like you're an "expert," take the knowledge you've acquired and pass it along. Not only is it good for humanity, but you will learn whatever it is you're teaching even more deeply when you have to explain it to someone else.
When was the last time you went to the beach? When was the last time you did something crazy, like parasailing? When was the last time you wrote a song on your ukulele? Take care of that inner child of yours and make time to play.
15. Eat healthy
What you eat is a habit. You're going to set a habit and then repeat that habit daily for a very, very long time. Make that habit take care of you, not drag you down.
16. Check in with people of different ages
Make sure you keep in touch with those both older and younger than you. They provide a much-needed perspective.
17. See art
Nobody gets inspired sitting at a desk all day. Go to museums. Go watch movies. Go listen to live music. Go watch a mime on the street, or an a cappella trio in the train station. Go out and get inspired!
18. Wake up when you say you're going to wake up
When you set that alarm the night before, you're promising yourself you're going to get up at that time. Keep that promise.
19. Read your chief aim aloud
Stealing from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill here: Write down whatever it is you want to build for yourself in life. Then every morning and every night, read that aloud. Out loud. Hear it in your voice and in your heart. Welcome it into the world.
First published on Inc.