5 Simple Habits That Guarantee Rapid Progress Towards Your Goals

“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.”

-Benjamin Franklin

We all have dreams and goals, but the majority of people fall short of theirs. Do you know what sets apart the successful from the failures?


Our habits dictate our lives in every way. What do your habits say about you?

Rather than pump you up full of temporary motivation, I want to share five simple things that you can start doing today that will lead to exponential results.

These are time-tested habits that have been proven to work by myself and thousands of others.  The question is, are you going to follow through or are you going to read this and keep going about your day without taking action?

The choice is yours, friend.

1. Build Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is the greatest attribute you can ever attain if you want to accomplish your goals.

Discipline is the catalyst for greatness.

A lack of discipline makes you lazy and weak. I should know, I lacked discipline for the majority of my life. And I had nothing to show for myself. I was a weak and pathetic, underachieving loser.

Imagine what your life would be like if you actually did all of the things you know you need to do, but don’t. How much further would you be? Would you have less regrets?

The good news is building discipline is simple. The bad news is building discipline is difficult.

Discipline is willpower applied consistently.

Over 200 studies (like this one) have found that our willpower is a limited resource that decreases throughout the day. Ever wondered why we make our worst decisions at night? There you go.

Since our willpower is strongest in the morning, that’s where we are going to focus on building discipline, with our morning routine. If you do these three things consistently, I guarantee your discipline will strengthen.

  1. Wake up early – 5:00 AM is good, but 4:30 is better. Wake up at 4:00 and you should be writing about discipline, not reading about it. (I like 4:30 – 5:00 myself)
  2. Exercise – We all know the benefits of exercise. Do it first thing in the morning to prime your mind and body for the day.
  3. Worst things first – Take care of the worst task of the day first thing in the morning, ideally before the workday starts. If you don’t take care of this task when your willpower is strongest you won’t do it at all. Plus, it builds momentum for the rest of the day.

The average person struggles to wake up early. They lack the motivation to get out of bed because they aren’t excited about their life. Naturally, they say they don’t have time to work towards their dreams, but they refuse to wake up earlier to gain that extra time.

Not you. You build self-discipline so you can chase your dreams and by chasing your dreams you build self-discipline. It’s the cycle of greatness.

2. Nourish Your Mind to Grow Your Intelligence

The mind and body are one and should be treated as such.

People love to tout that knowledge is power and that you need to read thousands of books to increase your intelligence. The truth is, it’s not that simple.

True power comes from knowledge combined with action. The nerd who never takes his head out of books gains no power. But the nerd who takes action, that’s another story. Think Bill Gates.

Food is fuel for the body. What happens when we feed our body too much food? We start gaining fat that slows us down and threatens our health.

Like the body, our mind only needs to be nourished, not overfed. Spending all of your time studying and reading is lazy. It’s an excuse to not take action. Feed your mind and get back to work towards your goals. (Obviously there are exceptions for college students.)

The key is to consistently nourish your mind.

The average nonfiction book is around 300 pages. Can you commit to reading a minimal twenty pages a day? If so, you could finish a book every fifteen days on average. That’s two books a month.

Can you read thirty pages per day? That’s one book every ten days and three books per month.

Pick a realistic daily page-count you can stick to. Before long, increasing your intelligence becomes a habit that requires little effort.

3. Find Balance Without Becoming Complacent

“Work smarter, not harder” said no millionaire ever. Telling people to work smart instead of hard sells books to the naive, but it’s terrible advice to follow.

Hard work beats smart work every time. The combination of both is ideal.

Hard work wears us down mentally and physically. We need balance to recover and avoid burnout.

The problem is that we tend to confuse complacency with balance. Refusing to work more than forty hours per week or to work on weekends is complacent. (By work I mean the combination of what you do for a living and what you’re doing to accomplish your other goals.)

Finding balance means taking action that helps your mind and body recover. Meditation, yoga, sleep — these all add balance.

Finding balance also means setting aside time for family, friends, and hobbies. All work and no play is for boring type-A people.

How do you know if you’ve found balance or you’re just being complacent?

When your life is balanced, you make progress towards your goals quicker and easier.

Try to take one small action to help your body and mind recover every day. And try to do something social or hobby-related at least once every week.

4. Treat Your Energy With the Respect it Deserves

Without energy we lack focus. Sustained energy is crucial for accomplishing big goals.

Time is constant, but our energy levels change often. Instead of trying to leverage your time, try to leverage your energy and focus towards tasks.

One way to improve in this area is to figure out when you are most productive. I’m most productive in the early morning and in the late evenings.

I schedule the most important tasks for those times when I have the most productive energy. Throughout the rest of the day I handle more maintenance-level tasks.

Another thing that’s made the biggest difference on my energy levels is eliminating negative people from my life. Negative people, whiners, and gossips are toxic to productivity and happiness.

Life is tough enough as it is. Chasing big goals and dreams requires that you stay happy, focused, and productive every single day. Don’t allow people and things into your life that take those away from you.

5. Keep Your Fears in Perspective

Fear is the number one thing that holds us back. We fear what others think of us, we fear failure, and we fear the unknown.

Fear is simply a survival mechanism. It reminds us when trouble or discomfort is ahead.

The problem is that growth requires discomfort.

I’m not fearless and neither are you. But I’m willing to push my limits and risk pain or failure. Are you?

Fear doesn’t control us any more than we allow it to. Fear is just a warning signal. We can choose to ignore it.

Or we can choose to look for that signal as a good sign.

We can only grow stronger through discomfort, change, and overcoming obstacles — which are all accompanied by fear. Fear is a blessing in disguise.

Let fear lead you to where you need to go, but don’t focus on the fear. Focus on what you will gain from overcoming that fear.

Fear and anxiety cloud the mind. You can’t perform at your best when you are feeling afraid and anxious.

In my worst moments when fear and anxiety cripple me, I use deep breathing exercises and meditation to clear my mind. Find what works for you. Do whatever you have to do to remain focused on achieving the positive outcome.

We all want the end results of the successful, but no one wants the struggle. A prerequisite for greatness is overcoming fear. No exceptions.

Overcoming fear is a cost of doing business in the journey towards accomplishing our biggest goals.

You have to decide, do you want to accomplish something great or not?

From growing up poor to building a six-figure business in his first year out of college, KW Stout became obsessed with personal development. He is the author of Health Mind Power, where he shares his experience with fitness, mindset, and entrepreneurship. You can connect with him on Twitter.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

1 Response to 5 Simple Habits That Guarantee Rapid Progress Towards Your Goals

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