9 habits to start doing now to get ahead of everyone else in 5 years (a toolkit for change)

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We all have habits, some good, some not so good. But here’s the thing – the habits you cultivate today can determine where you’ll be five years from now.

Ever wondered how some people seem to be leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else? They’ve figured out that it’s not just about working harder, but working smarter. And a big part of that is developing the right habits.

In this article, I’m going to share with you some habits that can set you on the path to success. These are habits I’ve picked up along my journey and I hope they’ll serve you as well as they have served me.

Let’s get started. 

1) Embrace lifelong learning

In this fast-paced world, if you’re not learning, you’re falling behind. That’s why the first habit to cultivate is embracing lifelong learning.

The most successful people understand that their education doesn’t end with a diploma or a degree. They’re always looking for ways to expand their knowledge and skills, whether that’s by reading books, attending seminars, or taking online courses.

Learning doesn’t just keep your skills up-to-date. It also opens your mind to new ideas and perspectives, which is crucial for innovation and problem-solving.

If you want to get ahead of everyone else in five years, make a habit of learning something new every day. It could be anything from a new language to a new software skill.

Knowledge is power. And the more knowledge you have, the more valuable you’ll be in any field.

2) Prioritize your health

I learned this one the hard way. A few years back, I was at the peak of my career, working long hours and neglecting my health. And then, out of nowhere, I got hit with a health crisis that sidelined me for months.

That experience taught me a valuable lesson – your health is your wealth. You can have all the success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you can’t enjoy it.

Now, I make it a point to prioritize my health above everything else. I ensure that I’m eating right, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and taking time out to relax and recharge.

If you want to get ahead in the next five years, start prioritizing your health now. It’s a habit that will not only benefit you in the short term but will also set you up for long-term success. Trust me, your future self will thank you for it.

3) Cultivate a growth mindset

Carol Dweck, a renowned psychologist from Stanford University, discovered something fascinating in her research. She found that individuals who believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others tend to achieve more than those who think their talents are innate gifts.

This is what Dweck calls a “growth mindset”. It’s the belief that you are in control of your own ability, and can learn and improve.

If you want to get ahead of everyone else in five years, make a habit of adopting a growth mindset. See challenges as opportunities for growth, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. They’re not failures, but learning opportunities.

The more you grow, the more you can achieve.

4) Set clear goals

Without a destination in mind, you’re just wandering aimlessly. That’s why setting clear, achievable goals is crucial if you want to get ahead.

Your goals give you a roadmap for where you want to go. They provide motivation when times get tough and give you a sense of accomplishment when you reach them.

But it’s not just about setting any goals. They need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This ensures that your goals are clear and realistic, and it gives you a timeline for achieving them.

So start setting SMART goals for where you want to be in five years. Break them down into smaller, manageable steps and start working on them one at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to outpacing everyone else.

5) Practice gratitude

It may seem unrelated to getting ahead, but practicing gratitude can have a profound impact on your overall well-being and success. Gratitude shifts your focus from what’s lacking in your life to the abundance that is already present.

By being thankful for what you have, you open up to receive more. It fosters positivity and eliminates stress, which are both essential for staying motivated and focused on your goals.

Take a few minutes each day to write down or mentally acknowledge what you’re grateful for. It could be something as simple as a good cup of coffee or something as big as achieving a major milestone.

Practicing gratitude is a habit that can change your outlook on life and propel you towards success faster than you can imagine.

6) Help others succeed

In the quest to get ahead, we sometimes forget an important truth – success isn’t a zero-sum game. There’s enough room for everyone to succeed. And often, helping others can be the most fulfilling and rewarding path to your own success.

When you lift others up, you rise with them. It’s a cycle of positivity that not only enriches your life but also creates a network of people who are invested in your success too.

It might be mentoring a junior colleague, volunteering in your community, or simply lending a listening ear to a friend in need. These acts of kindness don’t go unnoticed.

If you want to get ahead in the next five years, make it a habit to help others succeed. You’ll find that the path to success is much more enjoyable when you’re not walking it alone.

7) Embrace failure

There was a time when I was afraid of failure. I saw it as a sign of weakness, an indication that I wasn’t good enough. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that failure isn’t something to be feared. In fact, it’s an essential part of success.

Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone towards it. Every time you fail, you learn something new, gain a fresh perspective, and become better equipped to tackle challenges.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. They are your greatest teachers. And remember, the only real failure is not trying at all. So if you want to get ahead in the next five years, make it a habit to embrace failure. It’s not an end, but a beginning.

8) Stay focused

In a world full of distractions, staying focused on your goals can be a challenge. But it’s this ability to stay laser-focused that separates the successful from the rest.

When you’re focused, you’re able to direct all your energy and resources towards achieving your goals. You’re not swayed by distractions or deterred by obstacles. You have your eyes on the prize and you’re determined to get there.

One way to stay focused is to eliminate unnecessary distractions from your life. This could mean turning off notifications on your phone during work hours, setting aside specific times for checking emails, or even decluttering your workspace.

If you want to get ahead of everyone else in five years, make a habit of staying focused. It’s the fuel that will drive you towards your destination.

9) Be consistent

Success isn’t achieved overnight. It’s the result of consistent, dedicated effort over time. It’s about showing up and doing the work, even when you don’t feel like it, even when it’s hard.

Consistency is what transforms average into excellence. It turns habits into lifestyles, and dreams into realities.

If you want to get ahead of everyone else in five years, make a habit of being consistent. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being persistent. Stick with your plan, keep moving forward, and you’ll reach your destination sooner than you think.

Final Reflection: It’s all in the actions

At the heart of these habits lies a fundamental truth – our actions define us. Every choice we make, every habit we cultivate, shapes who we are and ultimately, where we will be five years from now.

These habits aren’t just about getting ahead in your career or achieving financial success. They’re about living a fulfilled life, filled with growth, gratitude, and meaningful connections.

James Clear, the author of “Atomic Habits”, says “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” The habits you cultivate today are the systems that will determine where you’ll be in five years.

So reflect on these habits. Which ones are you already practicing? Which ones do you need to work on? Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process of making small improvements every day.

As you embark on this journey of change, keep in mind that it’s not about being better than everyone else. It’s about being better than you were yesterday. And with these habits in your toolkit for change, you’re well on your way to creating a future that’s not just successful, but truly fulfilling.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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