The Art of Reading, Remembering, and Retaining More Books

By Kevan Lee

“I just sit in my office and read all day.”

This is how Warren Buffett, one of the most successful people in the business world, describes his day. Sitting. Reading.

He advises everyone to read more, and that’s certainly a goal we can all get behind. Our personal improvements at Buffer regularly come back to the books we read — how we aim to read more and make reading a habit. I imagine you’re in the same boat as well. Reading more is one of our most common ambitions.

So how do we do it? And what are we to do with all that information once we have it?

Reading more and remembering it all is a discussion with a lot of different layers and a lot of interesting possibilities. I’m happy to lay out a few possibilities here on how to read more and remember it all, and I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

But first, let’s set some baselines …

How fast do you read?

One of the obvious shortcuts to reading more is to read faster. That’s likely the first place a lot of us would look for a quick win in our reading routine.

So how fast do you read?

Staples (yes, the office supply chain) collected speed reading data as part of an advertising campaign for selling e-readers. The campaign also included a speed reading tool that is still available to try. Go ahead and take the test to see how fast you read.

(My score was 337 words per minute. Yours?)

The Staples speed reading test includes data on how other demographics stack up in words per minute. According to Staples, the average adult reads 300 words per minute.

  • Third-grade students = 150 words per minute
  • Eight grade students = 250
  • Average college student = 450
  • Average “high level exec” = 575
  • Average college professor = 675
  • Speed readers = 1,500
  • World speed reading champion = 4,700

Is reading faster always the right solution to the goal of reading more?Not always. Comprehension still matters, and some reports say that speed reading or skimming leads to forgotten details and poor retention. Still, if you can bump up your words per minute marginally while still maintaining your reading comprehension, it can certainly pay dividends in your quest to read more.

There’s another way to look at the question of “reading more,” too.

How much do you read?

There’s reading fast, and then there’s reading lots. A combination of the two is going to be the best way to supercharge your reading routine, but each is valuable on its own. In fact, for many people, it’s not about the time trial of going beginning-to-end with a book or a story but rather more about the story itself. Speed reading doesn’t really help when you’re reading for pleasure.

In this sense, a desire to read more might simply mean having more time to read, and reading more content — books, magazines, articles, blog posts — in whole.

Let’s start off with a reading baseline. How many books do you read a year?

A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center found that adults read an average of 17 books each year.

The key word here is “average.” There are huge extremes at either end, both those who read way more than 17 books per year and those who read way less — like zero. The same Pew Research study found 19 percent of Americans don’t read any books. A Huffington Post/YouGov poll from 2013showed that number might be even higher: 28 percent of Americans haven’t read a book in the past year.

Wanting to read more puts you in pretty elite company.

5 ways to read more books, blogs, and articles

1. Read for speed: Tim Ferriss’ guide to reading 300% faster

Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Workweek and a handful of other bestsellers, is one of the leading voices in lifehacks, experiments, and getting things done. So it’s no wonder that he has a speed-reading method to boost your reading speed threefold.

His plan contains two techniques:

  1. Using a pen as a tracker and pacer, like how some people move their finger back and forth across a line as they read
  2. Begin reading each new line at least three words in from the first word of the line and end at least three words in from the last word

The first technique, the tracker/pacer, is mostly a tool to use for mastering the second technique. Ferriss calls this second technique Perceptual Expansion. With practice, you train your peripheral vision to be more effective by picking up the words that you don’t track directly with your eye. According to Ferriss:

Untrained readers use up to ½ of their peripheral field on margins by moving from 1st word to last, spending 25–50% of their time “reading” margins with no content.

The below image from eyetracking.me shows how this concept of perceptual expansion might look in terms of reading:

You’ll find similar ideas in a lot of speed reading tips and classes (some going so far as to suggest you read line by line in a snake fashion). Rapid eye movements called saccades occur constantly as we read and as our eyes jump from margins to words. Minimizing these is a key way to boost your reading times.

The takeaway here: If you can advance your peripheral vision, you may be able to read faster — maybe not 300 percent faster, but every little bit counts.

2. Try a brand new way of reading

Is there still room for innovation in reading? A couple of new reading tools say yes.

Spritz and Blinkist take unique approaches to helping you read more — one helps you read faster and the other helps you digest books quicker.

First, Spritz. As mentioned above in the speed reading section, there is a lot of wasted movement when reading side-to-side and top-to-bottom.

Spritz cuts all the movement out entirely.

Spritz shows one word of an article or book at a time inside a box. Each word is centered in the box according to the Optimal Recognition Point — Spritz’s term for the place in a word that the eye naturally seeks — and this center letter is colored red.

Spritz has yet to launch anything related to its technology, but there is a bookmarklet called OpenSpritz, created by gun.io, that lets you use the Spritz reading method on any text you find online.

Here is what OpenSpritz looks like at 600 words per minute:

The Spritz website has a demo on the homepage that you can try for yourself and speed up or slow down the speeds as you need.

Along with Spritz is the new app Blinkist. Rather than a reimagining of the way we read, Blinkist is a reimagining of the way we consume books. Based on the belief that the wisdom of books should be more accessible to us all, Blinkist takes popular works of non-fiction and breaks the chapters down into bite-sized parts.

These so-called “blinks” contain key insights from the books, and they are meant to be read in two minutes or less. Yes, it’s a lot like Cliff Notes. Though the way the information is delivered — designed to look great and be eminently usable on mobile devices so you can learn wherever you are — makes it one-of-a-kind.

Here is an example of the Blinkist table of contents from Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things:

I’m sure we can agree that it’s a lot easier to read more when a book is distlled into 10 chapters, two minutes each.

3. Read more by making the time

Shane Parrish of the Farnam Street blog read 14 books in March, and he tackles huge totals like this month-in and month-out. How does he do it?

He makes it a priority, and he cuts out time from other activities.

What gets in the way of reading?

I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV. (The lone exception to this is during football season where I watch one game a week.)

I watch very few movies.

I don’t spend a lot of time commuting.

I don’t spend a lot of time shopping.

If you look at it in terms of raw numbers, the average person watches 35 hours of TV each week, the average commute time is one hour per day round-trip, and you can spend at least another hour per week for grocery shopping.

All in all, that’s a total of 43 hours per week, and at least some of that could be spent reading books.

4. Buy an e-reader

In the same Pew research study that showed Americans’ reading habits, Pew also noted that the average reader of e-books reads 24 books in a year, compared to a person without an e-reader who reads an average of 15.

Could you really read nine more books a year just by purchasing an e-reader?

Certainly the technology is intended to be easy-to-use, portable, and convenient. Those factors alone could make it easier to spend more time reading when you have a spare minute. Those spare minutes might not add up to nine books a year, but it’ll still be time well spent.

5. Read more by not reading at all

This is quite counterintuitive advice, and it comes from a rather counterintuitive book.

How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, written by University of Paris literature professor Pierre Bayard, suggests that we view the act of reading on a spectrum and that we consider more categories for books besides simply “have or haven’t read.” Specifically, Bayard suggests the following:

  • books we’ve read
  • books we’ve skimmed
  • books we’ve heard about
  • books we’ve forgotten
  • books we’ve never opened.

He even has his own classification system for keeping track of how he’s interacted with a book in the past.

UB book unknown to me

SB book I have skimmed

HB book I have heard about

FB book I have forgotten

++ extremely positive opinion

+ positive opinion

negative opinion

extremely negative opinion

Perhaps the key to reading more books is simply to look at the act of reading from a different perspective? In Bayard’s system, he essentially is counting books he’s skimmed, heard about, or forgotten as books that he’s read. How might these new definitions alter your reading total for the year?

3 ways to remember what you read

Train your brain with impression, association, and repetition

A great place to start with book retention is with understanding some key ways our brain stores information. Here are three specific elements to consider:

  1. Impression
  2. Association
  3. Repetition

Let’s say you read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of our favorites here at Buffer. You loved the information and want to remember as much as possible. Here’s how:

Impression — Be impressed with the text. Stop and picture a scene in your mind, even adding elements like greatness, shock, or a cameo from yourself to make the impression stronger. If Dale Carnegie is explaining his distaste for criticism, picture yourself receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace and then spiking the Nobel Prize onto the dais.

(Another trick with impression is to read an important passage out loud. For some of us, our sensitivity to information can be greater with sounds rather than visuals.)

Association — Link the text to something you already know. This technique is used to great effect with memorization and the construction of memory palaces. In the case of Carnegie’s book, if there is a particular principle you wish to retain, think back to a time when you were part of a specific example involving the principle. Prior knowledge is a great way to build association.

Repetition — The more you repeat, the more you remember. This can occur by literally re-reading a certain passage or in highlighting it or writing it down then returning to it again later.

Practicing these three elements of remembering will help you get better and better. The more you work at it, the more you’ll remember.

Focus on the four levels of reading

Mortimer Adler’s book, How to Read a Book, identifies four levels of reading:

  1. Elementary
  2. Inspectional
  3. Analytical
  4. Syntopical

Each step builds upon the previous step. Elementary reading is what you are taught in school. Inspectional reading can take two forms: 1) a quick, leisurely read or 2) skimming the book’s preface, table of contents, index, and inside jacket.

Where the real work (and the real retention begins) is with analytical reading and syntopical reading.

With analytical reading, you read a book thoroughly. More so than that even, you read a book according to four rules, which should help you with the context and understanding of the book.

  1. Classify the book according to subject matter.
  2. State what the whole book is about. Be as brief as possible.
  3. List the major parts in order and relation. Outline these parts as you have outlined the whole.
  4. Define the problem or problems the author is trying to solve.

The final level of reading is syntopical, which requires that you read books on the same subject and challenge yourself to compare and contrast as you go.

As you advance through these levels, you will find yourself incorporating the brain techniques of impression, association, and repetition along the way. Getting into detail with a book (as in the analytical and syntopical level) will help cement impressions of the book in your mind, develop associations to other books you’ve read and ideas you’ve learned, and enforce repetition in the thoughtful, studied nature of the different reading levels.

Keep the book close (or at least your notes on the book)

One of the most common threads in my research into remembering more of the books you read is this: Take good notes.

Scribble in the margins as you go.

Bookmark your favorite passages.

Write a review when you’ve finished.

Use your Kindle Highlights extensively.

And when you’ve done these things, return to your notes periodically to review and refresh.

Shane Parrish of Farnam Street is a serial note taker, and he finds himself constantly returning to the books he reads.

After I finish a book, I let it age for a week or two and then pick it up again. I look at my notes and the sections I’ve marked as important. I write them down. Or let it age for another week or two.

Even Professor Pierre Bayard, the author of How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, identifies the importance of note-taking and review:

Once forgetfulness has set in, he can use these notes to rediscover his opinion of the author and his work at the time of his original reading. We can assume that another function of the notes is to assure him that he has indeed read the works in which they were inscribed, like blazes on a trail that are intended to show the way during future periods of amnesia.

I’ve tried this method for myself, and it has completely changed the way I perceive the books I read. I look at books as investments in a future of learning rather than a fleeting moment of insight, soon to be forgotten.I store all the reviews and notes from my books on my personal blog so I can search through them when I need to remember something I’ve read.

(Kindle has a rather helpful feature online, too, where it shows you a daily, random highlight from your archive of highlights. It’s a great way to relive what you’ve read in the past.)

It’s not important which method you have for note-taking and review so long as you have one. Let it be as simple as possible to complete so that you can make sure you follow through.

Over to you

How many books do you read each year? What will be your goal for this year? What’s your best tip for reading more and remembering more? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

P.S. If you liked this post, you might also like The Two Brain Systems that Control Our Attention: The Science of Gaining Focus and 5 Unconventional Ways to Become a Better Writer (Hint: It’s About Being a Better Reader).

View story at Medium.com

The Art of Reading, Remembering, and Retaining More Books

Reverse-Engineering Your Business Plan: Success Starts With the End

In his book Start at the End, Dave Lavinsky details how to reverse-engineer a business plan by first identifying your goals and then methodically determining the assets and financial metrics that you’ll need to achieve them. This edited excerpt focuses on developing your vision, from both a customer and a business perspective.

You know you must create a vision of your successful business. Without one, you won’t know where you’re headed. Once you have one, you can use it to reverse engineer a business plan to attain it.

The first step is to write down where you want to go. We call this your vision or mission. There are actually two visions you need to develop: one from a customer perspective and one from a business perspective.

Your vision from a customer perspective explains what you are trying to do for your customers. One restaurant‘s customer vision might be to, “serve the best Italian food in this town.” Your vision from a business perspective explains what your organization is trying to achieve financially and your long-term vision. For example, do you want to sell your organization to another company or to your employees? Give it to your children? Take it public? Continue to run it and reap ongoing profits?

Your customer-focused vision should explain what you are trying to do for your customers. Ask yourself what is the one thing that are you trying to do better than anyone else in serving your customers? A good customer-focused vision statement could be “to provide the most environmentally-friendly cleaning products” or “to provide the highest-quality automotive service” to customers. It’s also critical to add a number of customers and an end date to your customer-focused vision statement.

Related: What to Do Before Firing a Problem Client

Judge your statement against these questions:

  • Will it inspire you, your employees, your customers or potential investors or partners?
  • Does it clearly state what your company does?
  • Is it realistic and believable?
  • Is it in line with your and your company’s values and culture?

But a business can’t achieve its customer-focused vision if it goes out of business. Your business-focused vision statement must show the endgame you’d like to achieve, and the financial metrics and business assets you need to realize it.

There will come a time when an owner will leave the business, so define the endgame you’d prefer: selling the business, taking it public, giving it to your children or selling it to employees. Think about your potential date of exit and the amount for which you’d like to sell your company.

Write down the endgame you’d like to achieve: the date of your exit, how you will exit and the dollar amount of your exit. For example, “on Dec. 31, 2018, I will sell my business for $40 million.” Now you need to identify and achieve the requirements for success. For example, let’s say that you would like to sell your business for $40 million. How much revenue must you be generating at the time of sale? How many customers must you be serving? How many employees will you have?

To determine what your business needs to look like to earn your chosen payday, you need to consider financial metrics and business assets. Financial metrics are the actual numbers that gauge your performance. Common measurements include dollar revenues, dollar EBITDA (that’s shorthand for earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation, depletion and amortization), percentage of market share, and numbers of customers.

Business assets are the elements you’ve created that give you future economic benefits. They allow you to achieve your financial metrics. They include products and services; technology and intellectual property; strategic partnerships; brand and reputation, and plants and operating equipment.

Understanding financial metrics and business assets forces most entrepreneurs to stop focusing solely on growing revenues and profits, and figure out what assets they must build to achieve those financial metrics. Here’s a fictional example:

I have a small company that sells organic sunscreen, and my endgame is to sell it for $40 million on Dec. 31, 2018. Working backward, I know that businesses in my sector sell on average for two times revenues.

To realize my $40 million sale, I need to generate $20 million in annual sales. I would like to generate 25 percent earnings before EBITDA because that would appeal to both an acquirer and myself. So, my EBITDA goal is $5 million.

I must sell 2.85 million bottles per year, at a wholesale price of $7 per unit, to generate $20 million in sales. My average customer will buy four bottles a year, so I will need to serve 712,500 customers.

Related: How to Figure Out Exactly What Your Customers Want

To achieve these financial metrics, I will need to build significant business assets and hire marketing, public relations and social media experts and teams. I will also need to build a customer service team and hire a chief financial officer to raise money and manage finances.

I must increase the size of my U.S. plant, contract an overseas manufacturing facility, and hire a manager to manage operations.

I will need to be in 1,200 retail locations that can sell, on average, 1,000 units per year and 6,600 retail locations that can sell, on average, 250 units per year. So I need to secure six distributors and get direct accounts with select retailers.

Finally, I need to standardize hiring and training, product manufacturing, quality control and distribution and new-product development.

Now envision your company at its exit. What financial metrics do you need to achieve to realize your endgame or exit vision? What business assets do you need to build?

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225368

Reverse-Engineering Your Business Plan: Success Starts With the End

13 steps anyone can take to get rich, according to a journalist who spent his career studying millionaires

Prompted by legendary businessman Andrew Carnegie, who turned a few nickels and dimes into a fortune, journalist Napoleon Hill researched more than 500 self-made millionaires over 20 years before releasing his 1937 best-seller “Think and Grow Rich.”

“It was Mr. Carnegie’s idea that the magic formula, which gave him a stupendous fortune, ought to be placed within reach of people who do not have time to investigate how men make money,” Hill wrote in the preface.

The 13-step “magic formula” — which involves no mention of “money” or “wealth,” but focuses instead on breaking down the psychological barriers that hold us back from attaining our own fortunes — is just as relevant today, 78 years later.

Here are Hill’s 13 steps, in his words and ours:

View As: One Page Slides

 

Buda Mendes/Getty Images

1. Desire: You have to want it

All of the super wealthy started with a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, planning, and desiring before they became rich. They imagined riches before they saw them in their bank accounts, Hill explains:

Wishing will not bring riches. But desiring riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, then planning definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure, will bring riches.

This is not so different from the modern-day concept of visualizing a savings goal with a specific price tag.

Flickr/José Manuel Ríos Valiente

2. Faith: Believe that you can achieve your goal

Growing rich starts with your mindset — with the belief that you can accumulate wealth. Hill writes:

Riches begin in the form of thought! The amount is limited only by the person in whose mind the thought is put into motion. Faith removes limitations!

As self-made millionaire and author Steve Siebold writes, “Being rich isn’t a privilege. Being rich is a right. If you create massive value for others, you have the right to be as rich as you want.”

Francisco Osorio/Flickr

3. Auto-suggestion: Use affirmations to reach your goal

Turning desire for money or success into reality requires sending your subconscious mind phrases and mantras that support your goal. You have to repeat out loud what it is that you want, and how you plan to get it, so you become obsessed with your purpose.

Hill explains:

Your ability to use the principle of auto-suggestion will depend, very largely, upon your capacity to concentrate upon a given desire until that desire becomes a burning obsession.

For example, if you aim to save $1 million for retirement by putting away money every week, you would repeat, “I will set aside money this week to have $1 million in retirement savings,” as many times as possible each day.

Dan Kitwood/Getty

4. Specialized knowledge: Gain experiences and continue learning

Knowledge is potential power. An education only becomes powerful and leads to great wealth when it is organized and applied to life. It also must be continually sought after. You’re never done learning.

Hill emphasizes:

Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession. Those who are not successful usually make the mistake of believing that the knowledge-acquiring period ends when one finishes school.

Many modern-day successful and wealthy people are voracious readers.

“Walk into a wealthy person’s home and one of the first things you’ll see is an extensive library of books they’ve used to educate themselves on how to become more successful,” Siebold writes.

Rich people would rather be educated than entertained. Take Warren Buffett, for example, whoestimates that 80% of his working day is dedicated to reading.

Paul Morigi/Getty

5. Imagination: Come up with ideas and visualize your success

If you can imagine it, you can create it, says Hill:

Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes. Ideas are products of the imagination … Man’s only limitation, within reason, lies in his development and use of his imagination.

Don’t be afraid to come up with and develop ideas.

“Whoever you are, wherever you may live, whatever occupation you may be engaged in, just remember in the future, every time you see the words ‘Coca-Cola,’ that its vast empire of wealth and influence grew out of a single idea,” Hill writes.

Consider Sara Blakely, whose small, disruptive idea — making an incision in a pair of pantyhose — led to her booming, billion-dollar business, Spanx, and rocketed her into the limelight.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

6. Organized planning: Take action

Once you’ve visualized your success, you need to take action and go after exactly what you want. You must act with persistence and enthusiasm.

Hill explains:

Opportunity has spread its wares before you. Step up to the front, select what you want, create your plan, put the plan into action, and follow through with persistence …

Most of us are good “starters” but poor “finishers” of everything we begin. Moreover, people are prone to give up at the first signs of defeat. There is no substitute for persistence.

For instance, if you’re looking to build wealth, start with forming a financial plan, and determine exactly where you want your money to go.

Charley Gallay/Getty

7. Decision: Defeat procrastination with decisiveness

A key trait Hill recognized in all of the individuals he studied who acquired great wealth was decisiveness. Those who settle on decisions quickly know what they want, and they tend to get what they want.

He writes:

People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing these decisions quickly and often.

Decisiveness is not just a trait of the wealthy, but one of the most important qualities a leader needs to possess. At the end of the day, making a bad decision is better than making no decision at all.

Flickr/Pierce Martin

8. Persistence: Don’t stop until you get what you want

Persistence is crucial when trying to accumulate wealth, yet few people possess the willpower required to turn their desire for money into actual money.

Hill writes:

Riches do not respond to wishes. They respond only to definite plans, backed by definite desires, through constant persistence.

The most successful people tend to have dealt with, and overcome, failure.

“I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed,” Mark Cuban told Smart Business. “You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.”

Miles Willis / Stringer / Getty Images

9. Power of the Master Mind: Surround yourself with the best

The wealthiest people create a “Master Mind,” meaning they surround themselves with talented friends and colleagues who share their vision. The alignment of several smart and creative minds is exponentially more powerful than just one.

Hill explains:

No individual may have great power without availing himself of the “Master Mind” …

A group of brains coordinated (or connected) in a spirit of harmony will provide more thought-energy than a single brain, just as a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery.

This may explain why rich people tend to make friends with other rich people.

“Exposure to people who are more successful than you are has the potential to expand your thinking and catapult your income,” writes self-made millionaire Steve Siebold. “We become like the people we associate with, and that’s why winners are attracted to winners.”

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

10. The mystery of sex transmutation: Choose a compatible partner

Sexual energy is an incredibly powerful human energy — it creates physical life and develops emotional life, and when it is harnessed and redirected, it can enhance our creativity, passion, enthusiasm, and persistence, all which are crucial in accumulating wealth.

Hill says:

Sex desire is the most powerful of human desires. When driven by this desire, men develop keenness of imagination, courage, willpower, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them at other times.

Love, romance, and sex are all emotions capable of driving men to heights of super achievement. When combined, these three emotions may lift one to an altitude of genius.

While this step may feel like a bit of a stretch, having a supportive partner is important to career success. Research also shows that having a conscientious spouse can boost your salary by $4,000 a year.

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

11. The subconscious mind: Master positivity and dismiss negative emotions

If you truly want to be rich, you have to plant that desire, and then your plan, into your subconscious mind.

Hill writes:

The subconscious mind will not remain idle! If you fail to plant desires in your subconscious mind, it will feed upon the thoughts which reach it as the result of your neglect.

Positive and negative emotions cannot occupy the mind at the same time. One or the other must dominate. It is your responsibility to make sure that positive emotions constitute the dominating influence of your mind.

If you want to be successful and grow rich, it is critical that the positive emotions dominate any negative ones that arise, Hill says. He was on to something: Today, research shows that positive, happier people are more likely to perform better at their jobs and are less likely to be unemployed.

loreanto/Shuttershock

12. The brain: Associate with other smart people and learn from them

Our brain is a “transmitter and receiver of thought vibrations” — it absorbs thoughts from other individuals surrounding us, making it even more important to associate with intelligent, creative, and positive individuals.

Hill writes:

Every human brain is capable of picking up vibrations of thought which are being released by other brains …

The Creative Imagination is the “receiving set” of the brain, which receives thoughts released by the brains of others.

This principle is simply application of the Master Mind principle. It takes it one step further — rather than just surrounding yourself with people who are smarter and better, use the members of your group to find solutions to problems or brainstorm ideas. Hill calls this “blending of several minds into one,” and suggests sitting down with a small group of people and diving deep into the problem at hand.

Julian Herbert/Getty

13. The sixth sense: Trust your gut

The final principle — the “sixth sense” — occurs only after you’ve mastered the other 12 principles. You’ll experience a sort of mind-shift.

Hill says: “Through the aid of the sixth sense, you will be warned of impending dangers in time to avoid them, and notified of opportunities in time to embrace them.”

While this principle isn’t the most straightforward — Hill admits it is generally not attained until 40 — his basic claim is that your intuition will change. You’ll have achieved a level of wisdom that will allow you to start making smart financial and life decisions naturally.

Although it takes a while to master the final step, you can still get a lot out of the other 12 principles.

Hill says:

No matter who you are, or what may have been your purpose in reading this book, you can profit by it without understanding the principle described in this chapter. This is especially true if your major purpose is that of accumulation of money or other material things.

The chapter on the sixth sense was included, because the book is designed for the purpose of presenting a complete philosophy by which individuals may unerringly guide themselves in attaining whatever they ask of life.

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/napoleon-hills-guide-to-getting-rich-2015-11

13 steps anyone can take to get rich, according to a journalist who spent his career studying millionaires

9 things to do in your 20s to become a millionaire by 30

Becoming a millionaire by 30 is possible, and you don’t have to found the next Facebook or Snapchat or win a Powerball jackpot to do so. Plenty of regular people have done it.

To help you reach the seven-figure mark, we rounded up nine pieces of advice from people who became millionaires at a young age. We can’t guarantee millionaire status, but doing these things won’t hurt your odds:

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1. Focus on earning

“In today’s economic environment you cannot save your way to millionaire status,” writes Grant Cardone, who went from broke and in debt at 21 to self-made millionaire by 30. “The first step is to focus on increasing your income in increments and repeating that.

“My income was $3,000 a month and nine years later it was $20,000 a month. Start following the money, and it will force you to control revenue and see opportunities.”

Earning more money is often easier said than done, but most people have options. Read about50 ways to bring in additional income, some high-paying jobs you can do on the side, how you can earn passive income, and how to start a side-hustle from a woman who earned up to $4,000 a month on the side.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

2. Save to invest, don’t save to save

Writes Cardone:

The only reason to save money is to invest it. Put your saved money into secured, sacred (untouchable) accounts. Never use these accounts for anything, not even an emergency. This will force you to continue to follow step one (increase income). To this day, at least twice a year, I am broke because I always invest my surpluses into ventures I cannot access.

Investing is not as complicated or daunting as we make it out to be. The simplest starting point is to contribute to your 401(k) if your employer offers one, and take full advantage of your company’s 401(k) match program — which is essentially free money — if it has one.

Next, consider contributing money toward a Roth IRA or traditional IRA, individual retirement accounts with different contribution limits and tax structures — which one you can use depends on your income. If you still have money left over, you can research low-cost index funds, which Warren Buffett recommends, and look into the online-investment platforms known as “robo-advisers.”

The key to consistently setting aside money is to make it automatic. That way, you’ll never even see the money you’re contributing and you’ll learn to live without it.

3. Ask for help

“At a certain point in my business, I couldn’t grow any further until I hired a few key people,” writes Daniel Ally, who became a millionaire in less than five years at 24.

He continued:

Asking for help wasn’t my forte, but I had to make it happen. Within months I had a lawyer, editor, personal trainer, part-time chef, and other personnel. It cost me a fortune at first, but eventually helped push me into the million-dollar mark. Most people won’t ask for help because their ego is in the way.

Asking for help extends beyond hiring key people. As self-made millionaire Steve Siebold explains in his book “How Rich People Think,” the rich aren’t afraid to fund their future from other people’s pockets.

“World class believes in using other people’s money,” he writes. “Rich people know not being solvent enough to personally afford something is not relevant. The real question is, ‘Is this worth buying, investing in, or pursuing?'”

Drew Hallowell/Getty

4. Be decisive

“Avoid decision fatigue,” writes Tucker Hughes, who became a millionaire by 22. “Attention is a finite daily resource and can be a bottleneck on productivity. No matter the mental stamina developed over time, there is always going to be a threshold where you break down and your remaining efforts for the day become suboptimal.

“Conserve your mental power by making easily reversible decisions as quickly as possible and aggressively planning recurring actions so you can execute simple tasks on autopilot. I know what I am wearing to work and eating for breakfast each day next week. Do you?”

Hughes isn’t the only one who believes in developing decisiveness. After studying over 500 millionaires, journalist and author Napoleon Hill found that they all shared this quality.

“Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million dollar mark disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly,” Hill wrote in his 1937 personal-finance classic “Think and Grow Rich.”

5. Don’t show off — show up

“I didn’t buy my first luxury watch or car until my businesses and investments were producing multiple secure flows of income,” writes Cardone. “I was still driving a Toyota Camry when I had become a millionaire. Be known for your work ethic, not the trinkets that you buy.”

Need inspiration to save more and spend less? Read up on tips and strategies from regular people who saved enough of their incomes to retire before 40.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

6. Know when to take the right risks and act on them

“Before reaching the seven-figure mark, you must take many risks,” writes Ally. “Taking risks requires much faith in yourself and others, but it must be done. Faith is knowing that what you want will eventually happen as long as you believe it. You’ll have to take major leaps in your life, sometimes not even knowing where it will lead. However, it will pay off once you get to the other side, even if you burn a bridge or two in the process.”

You can’t get rich with low expectations — the wealthiest, most successful people think big andplay to win.

While playing to win in any aspect of life requires an element of risk-taking and a level of comfort with uncertainty, it could be the difference between living an average life and living a rich life, says self-made millionaire T. Harv Eker, who also studied incredibly wealthy people before releasing his book “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.”

Luke MacGregor/Reuters

7. Invest in yourself

“The safest investment I’ve ever made is in my future,” writes Hughes. “Read at least 30 minutes a day, listen to relevant podcasts while driving and seek out mentors vigorously. You don’t just need to be a master in your field, you need to be a well-rounded genius capable of talking about any subject whether it is financial, political or sports related. Consume knowledge like air and put your pursuit of learning above all else.”

Many modern-day successful and wealthy people are voracious readers. Take Warren Buffett, for example, who estimates that 80% of his working day is dedicated to reading.

Ryan Pierse/Getty

8. Master soft skills and cooperate with others

Building a fortune takes people skills and charm just as much as it does strategy.

As Hill warned, “Most people lose their positions and their big opportunities in life because of this fault than for all other reasons combined.”

And billionaire Mark Cuban put it bluntly in an Entrepreneur article about the keys to being successful in business: “People hate dealing with people who are jerks. It’s always easier to be nice than to be a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.”

That being said, there is a fine line between cooperating with others and being a pushover.

“In the process of reaching the seven-figure mark, I’ve learned dealing with people is the most important attribute,” writes Ally. “No one can become a millionaire without knowing how to deal with people assertively. You must be prepared when your best friends turn on you or your family betrays you. Sometimes, it will happen at the most unpredictable times.”

Tristan Fewings/Getty

9. Shoot for $10 million, not $1 million

“The single biggest financial mistake I’ve made was not thinking big enough,” writes Cardone. “I encourage you to go for more than a million. There is no shortage of money on this planet, only a shortage of people thinking big enough.”

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-become-a-millionaire-by-30-2016-2

9 things to do in your 20s to become a millionaire by 30

How I became a millionaire at 24 in 10 steps

When I was 21 years old, I believed in an idea that would change the world.

It was an idea that seemed too far-fetched, but still seemed possible if I was willing to work steadily toward it. This particular idea was simply about the teachings that were omitted from our educational system.

After reading as many books as I could find, I learned quickly that there were many subjects that schools didn’t teach. They included the following subjects: time-management, earning money, making decisions, setting goals, building and maintaining relationships, etc.

Because I devoted myself to this simple idea, it made me a millionaire by age 24. In my personal life, I’ve found that there were 10 strange secrets about millionaires. Once you see these common trends, you’ll be able to leverage all your current opportunities.

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Become a student.

In every spare moment I had, I studied these subjects voraciously, seeking precepts that aligned with the truth. When I commuted to work, gym, and school, I would listen to audio programs, absorbing as many ideas as I could about these subjects. I also attended 20 seminars in my first year.

My mind started to change as I looked at myself and those around me. I realized that I wasn’t satisfied with my position, but how would I change it? Even though I was in college, I wasn’t sure if school was the answer, especially since I wanted to start my own business.

Thomson Reuters

Decide to do something.

I had to make a decision. Soon after, I quit my MBA program and began giving hundreds of free speeches. I did whatever I could to get the word out. In my first two years, I spoke at more than 500 live events, most of which were unpaid engagements.

Even as I worked 18 hour days for 7 days a week, I was sick to my stomach about how I would be paid. At the time, I lived off of credit cards and peddled my book in speeches. In some instances, I sold my book door-to-door. I also became a master salesman when I sold everything in my house!

Related: The only 5 ways you can become rich

Do whatever it takes.

I thought success was for older people. Since I was in my early 20s, I wasn’t sure if it could happen. The majority of audience members were twice or three-times my age. I thought they knew much more than me, but I still showed up. Most of the time, I drove over two or three hours to get to my speeches, even dealing with snow or torrential rainfalls.

One time when I visited New York City, I gave a speech to one old man. When I came out of the speech, I found out that my car had been towed, which cost me $300. What’s more, I was deeply saddened to find a $500 parking infraction on my wiper blade for making in an illegal spot. Essentially, I waited all day and paid $800 to give a speech to this one old man.

Paying the price.

Between my speeches, I would sweat in my used wool suit and tie as I knocked on doors to sell my book. The people at most homes would shut the door as I pitched my product, if they answered at all. I would sell five to 10 books per hour, but it was brutal. At the time, I thought the task was never-ending, despite the decent profit.

Another time, I had to give five speeches on four different subjects. That day, I was awake from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. — a 26 hour day. I had no money or food, but I had common sense. Since most hotels served hors d’oeuvres while they held their networking functions, I ate their “freebies” whenever I could find those meetings.

Competence breeds confidence.

Within a year, I went from stuttering, stammering, and stumbling with my words to giving a 20-minute speech without notes. As my competence grew after every speech, so did my confidence. In my second year, I was able to masterfully give all-day seminars to hundreds of people at a time.

Soon enough, my financial situation got better and I didn’t have to use credit cards anymore. However, I would still be late with my bills every once in a while, which drove me insane. How did I work all day, but not make ends meet? Why didn’t I have a surplus for my services?

How to increase your wealth.

Because of this immense struggle to support myself, I began a side business, Dignify Designs, which took off faster than I would have expected. The idea came when I did a lady’s resume for free. After she secured her job, she only paid me $25, but told all of her friends about me, which brought me new clients.

As my company grew, I hired a dozen people in my first year. Between speaking and writing, we helped many people write and publish their books, create websites, and utilize social media. Since forming the company, my team has branded thousands of people who’ve been able to start and grow their businesses.

Related: The 10 Laws Every Millionaire Must Follow

The legitimate dilemma.

During that time, I had a legitimate dilemma: Should I grow Dignify Designs to a multi-million-dollar business or should I pursue my purpose of spreading the message about true education?

The answer was BOTH. As I funded myself with Dignify Designs, my income exploded, making me a multi-millionaire in the process. Of course, as a byproduct of my success in business and my experiences, I was also highly sought out as a speaker, since people loved my speeches, articles, and videos.

Big breaks will come.

Along the way, several big breaks came when I started writing, speaking, and consulting on bigger platforms. Instead of reaching hundreds or thousands each month, I was now reaching millions. It was a dream come true, especially after all the blood, sweat, and tears.

Eventually, the grind paid off as a multitude of people started coming to me. It was a great relief and I began to realize my value to society. Because of these expanded opportunities, it has given me to privilege, power, and platform to share my passion with as many people as I can.

YouTube/Cadillac

Money follows passion.

I learned that when you do what you love, the money will follow. When you start reaching for people’s hearts, rather than their wallets, you’ll be more successful. Love has a very attractive force that magnetizes people in your direction. Love and money go together. In fact, money is the highest expression of love.

Fortunately, I have the privilege to work at any time I want. I can afford to sleep in on most days and even take a year or two off. However, it came at a great price that only few people are willing to pay. When you do what you love and love what you do, you’ll have more freedom than what money can buy.

My biggest secret.

No one knows what is yet to come in the future. We can only go as far as we can see. However, you must have faith in yourself, your community, and everyone else. You must believe in yourself and know that everything that you want (and more) will happen in your favor, as long as you believe it.

How do you find the answers in life? I can tell you what my biggest secret is: Trust in a power that is greater than yourself. It’s a simple answer, but it is the truth. Once you do, you’ll never be afraid of pursuing the impossible because you know that everything will work out in the end.

If you believe in yourself, everyone will believe in you.

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-i-became-a-millionaire-at-24-in-10-steps-2016-2

How I became a millionaire at 24 in 10 steps

A psychologist explains how successful people do more in a day than others do in a week

“You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyoncé.”

Everyone knows someone who works full time, volunteers, runs a successful blog, and somehow still finds time to go grocery shopping, cook organic Instagram-worthy meals, foster a loving relationship, walk his or her adorable Boston Terrier, and, oh — train for a half marathon.

These kinds of “super-achievers” have the same number of hours in the day as the rest of us, but somehow, they always seem to get more done. How do they do it?

As a psychologist and life coach who has spent thousands of hours working with clients over the past 28 years — including hundreds of hours with clients who meet this super-achiever character profile — here’s what I’ve noticed about people who consistently succeed. Plus: How you can tweak your mindset to become a high achiever, too.

Fully Commit

Whatever you’re doing right now? Be fully in it. Commit.

When you see an Olympic hurdler leaping over barricades with superhuman agility, does she look distracted? Nope. She is 100% invested in the task at hand. And as you can see from her success, commitment leads to greatness.

So what do you do when you feel your mind wandering away from the present moment? Josh Pais, creator of Committed Impulse, high-performance training for actors, public speakers, and entrepreneurs, recommends saying “I’m back!” out loud whenever you feel yourself drifting away. You might get a few odd looks from bystanders, but it works!

Avoid Multitasking

Your email inbox, Instagram, Facebook, that hilarious viral cat video, and an ad proclaiming a big sale at your favorite website — these are probably just a few of the tabs you have open, commanding your attention while you simultaneously try to finish a project a work. It’s not out of the ordinary; multitasking has become the norm.

But the human mind is not designed for multitasking. In fact, research has proven that we’re pretty terrible at it. When you try to multitask, you lose focus, you’re more likely to make errors, and projects tend to take longer.

To make sure you can focus completely, strive to shut off all distractions — even if that means locking your cell phone in a drawer while you work. Extreme? Maybe. But it’s worth a try!

Ban “Friendly Interruptions” at All Costs

You’re working on a project. You’re totally in the zone, making lightning-speed progress.

Then, a co-worker swings by. “Just wanted your two cents on this,” he says, handing you a report outline. You look it over and give him your thoughts. It doesn’t take more than 60 seconds for you to chime in. No biggie, right?

Unfortunately, that minor interruption just majorly derailed your focus. It will take an average of 23 minutes for you to get back into the zone of whatever you were doing.

Super-achievers know that interruptions are productivity-killers, so they avoid them at all costs. (There’s a reason why most CEOs have private offices — with doors!)

If you don’t have a door to close, try finding a quiet space where you won’t be nudged, turn off your incoming email notifications for a few hours, or talk to your boss about instituting company-wide “do not disturb” hours a few times a week.

Hang With Fellow Super-Achievers

You’ve probably heard the expression, “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” Same goes for achievement and productivity.

There’s a reason why Beyoncé rolls with people like Oprah, the Obamas, and her mogul husband, Jay-Z. When you surround yourself with high-energy, like-minded people, you tend to rise to their level—while inspiring them, too.

Try to weed your professional life of people, colleagues, and even friends who don’t energize you. This doesn’t mean you should never see these people again or that you have to coldly cut them out of your life completely. But be mindful about who you choose to spend the majority of your time with. Try to surround yourself with super-achievers as often as possible.

Don’t know where to meet them? Join a challenging club or group (10K training, anyone?), or write an email to someone you admire. Or maybe there’s someone you already know in real life, but have been too shy to talk to. Drop him or her a note to say, “I’d love to treat you to lunch at your favorite spot.” You never know where one simple invitation may lead.

Prevent Emotions From Building

When you allow negative emotions—like frustration, anger, disappointment, or self-loathing—to build up inside of you like water about to boil in a tea kettle, you can easily head down a destructive path.

Sooner or later, all those bottled-up feelings are going to compel you to act out — whether that means binge-eating potato chips at midnight, watching 14 hours straight of Gilmore Girls instead of dealing with urgent deadlines, or engaging in some other behavior that leaves you feeling more frustrated (not to mention tired, hungover, or nauseous) than ever. Which is not great for productivity.

Super-achievers know how to manage their emotions effectively to prevent the tea-kettle effect. Most super-achievers I know have some kind of emotion-management practice that they rely on: meditating, journaling, a weekly check-in with a life coach, or a good old-fashioned punching-bag session at the gym.

Find a strategy that works for you. You’ll know it’s working when you feel a deep sense of release and relief—as if a ton of bricks have been lifted from your shoulders, leaving you feeling light, unburdened, no longer upset, and ready to get back to being awesome!

Last, but not least, remember that those incredible super-achievers you admire — and aspire to be like — are just ordinary people with flaws and fears, too.

As Beyoncé herself once said, “I know I’m stronger in the songs than I really am.”

We’re all just human beings trying to work, live, and navigate the world using all the tools and skills we have. Rather than aiming for flawless perfection, aim for your personal best — and you’ll always be a success.

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-successful-people-do-more-in-a-day-than-others-do-in-a-week-2015-6

A psychologist explains how successful people do more in a day than others do in a week

How I Became a Morning Person, Learned a New Language, and Read 5x More Books in 2015

You’ll notice that I made the title of this post sound quite impressive (at least I hope I did!).

But the great thing about this story is that anyone can have such an impressive outcome, and it’s not at all as daunting as it might sound.

In fact, all these outcomes came from doing small things every day over a long period.

I’m a big fan of working smarter, not harder and finding small ways to make my work more efficient. As Buffer’s first Content Crafter about two years ago, I got the chance to explore these topics quite a lot.

Now I’m excited to be back to show you exactly how I came by these wins in 2015.

  • From a habit of practicing French for just 5 minutes a day, I can now read, write, and speak basic French.
  • From a habit of reading just a page every night, I managed to increase my reading list by five times over the past couple of years.

Basically, I used small, everyday habits to build up into big, long-term outcomes.

There are four principles I try to stick by whenever I’m building a new habit. Through everything I’ve tried, these are the principles that seem to work every time.

1. Start small: Repeat a tiny habit daily

When I first started focusing on building more healthy habits a few years ago, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to ask too much of myself.

I would go from reading hardly ever to attempting to read one book per week. Or from getting up at 9 a.m. most days to trying to roll out of bed before 6 a.m. every morning.

The distance between where I was starting and where I wanted to be was so great that I would fail a lot. And each failure made it harder to succeed the next day.

At their heart, as James Clear explains, habits are about routines.

And what I really needed was small wins and visible progress to help me create new routines I could keep at every day.

Finally, I came across this idea of starting small. The point is to focus on repeating the habit every day, but not worrying about how effective that habit is. In other words, quantity first; quality later.

A great example is flossing. Say you want to floss every night, but you haven’t flossed for years. If you take up flossing out of the blue and expect to spend 10 minutes doing it every night, you probably won’t last more than a week. It’s a very big ask.

But starting small is so effective, it’s almost like a super power. Here’s how it would work for flossing: you take the tiniest part of the habit you can work with — in this case, it would be to floss just one tooth. It’s still considered flossing, but you won’t make huge leaps in dental hygiene this way.

But here’s where it gets powerful: at first, you focus on just flossing one tooth every night. And you stick with it for more than a week. Then, more than two. Then three, four weeks. You can stick with this habit because it’sso easy. There’s barely any effort involved with flossing one tooth, so it’s hard to make an excuse not to do it. And once it’s become easy and automatic to floss one tooth, you start flossing two.

For a while, you floss two teeth every night. Then, you increase to three. And slowly you work your way up, never taking such a big leap that it becomes a chore.

By starting small you focus on making the behavior automatic, before you worry about making the behavior big enough that it produces a useful outcome.

As Scott H. Young says, we tend to overestimate how much we can get done — especially when we’re stepping into the unknown. Scott suggests planning as if you can only commit 20% of the time and energy you’d like to, in order to be more realistic.

Here’s how I applied the “start small” process to my habits in 2015:

Reading: One page a night

I started by reading just one page of a book every night before bed. Often I would read more, but if all I could manage was one page, I would count that as a win.

Later, when the habit was already strong, I would put on a timer and read for 15 minutes, and eventually I was reading for 30 minutes before bed and another 30 minutes most mornings.

Just starting with one page added up: In 2013 I read 7 books. In 2014, 22. In 2015, 33. That’s almost five times what I read in 2013.

I worked on this habit over about a year and a half. That probably sounds like a long time, but it only seems that way in retrospect.

When I’m working my habit, all I think about is how much I need to read today to count a win. It’s always a small, daily effort that I focus on. But when I look back on my progress, I realise what big achievements those daily habits have developed into.

French: One lesson every morning

I had dabbled in French with before, but I wasn’t very good at sticking with it. When I decided I really wanted to improve my French, I started by building a habit of doing just one Duolingo lesson every morning while I drank my coffee. (If you haven’t tried it, Duolingo is a free web and mobile app to help you learn lots of languages.)

One lesson takes around five minutes, so it’s a tiny commitment, and quite easy to do when I’m sitting around drinking coffee anyway. Eventually I started doing more than one lesson — two, three, sometimes even four or five, if I was enjoying it.

I did as many as I felt like, but I always did at least one.

Only one lesson was required to check off that habit for the day, so it was easy to stick to, even when I didn’t feel like doing any more than that. These days I also use Babbel (a paid web and mobile app for language learning) to get a better idea of the grammatical rules and structures of French, and I’ve finished the whole French section in Duolingo.

According to Duo, that means I know about 41% of French! That’s a big achievement from just five minutes a day!

2. Focus on one habit at a time

One of the hardest things for me when it comes to building new habits is to not take on too many at once. I always have such grand plans for the things I want to get better at, and so much enthusiasm when I first start out, that I want to build several habits at once.

Every time I’ve tried that approach, I end up failing. Usually a few of the habits don’t stick, but sometimes none of them do. It’s just too much to focus on at once — a bit like multitasking, where your brain has to switch contexts constantly, because you really can’t focus on multiple things at once.

So my new rule is to work on just one habit at a time. Only when that habit is so automatic I can do it every day easily do I start on a new habit.

With the example above, I was reading every night before I started focusing on French. And I was easily doing a French lesson every day before I started focusing on getting up early.

Sometimes building a habit can take a long time. Getting up early was one I really struggled to do consistently. I spent around four months focused on that same habit: trying different approaches, tracking my progress, and reporting in to friends who helped keep me accountable. I was determined to make it a consistent habit, but that meant not building any other habits for months.

These days I’m glad I committed to building that habit for so long, because I get up early almost every day without even trying. It didn’t come easy, but it was worth the effort.

How long it takes you to build a habit will vary, so four months might be longer or shorter than you need. We often hear the idea that it takes 21 days to build a habit, but studies have shown we all take different lengths of time to build new habits. In one study, the average time it took to build a new habit was 66 days — about two months.

The lesson I’ve learned is to treat each habit differently, depending on how hard you find it to stick to consistently, but also to focus on just one habit at a time so it gets your full attention and energy.

3. Remove barriers: Have everything you need at hand

I find it much easier to complete my habits when the equipment I need is at hand. For instance, having my phone in my hand already while drinking coffee made it easier to build a habit of doing a quick French lesson at that time. Reading a page of a book every night became a lot easier when I kept the book by my bed.

Malcolm Gladwell calls this the tipping point. It’s that small change that tips you over from making excuses to taking action. One great example of the power of a tipping point comes from a study of tetanus education at a university. The study tested whether trying to induce higher levels of fear about tetanus would encourage more students to get vaccinated against it. The fear level of the education program didn’t seem to make any difference, but one surprising change did: adding a map of the university campus showing the health center and the times vaccinations were available increased the vaccination rate from 3% to 28%.

The tipping point is that tiny change that makes it easy enough to take action that you’ll actually follow through. I like to think of it as removing any barriers that make it easy to not follow through on my habits.

One habit I want to build in 2016 is to play piano more often. Right now I play whenever the mood strikes me, which isn’t often enough to get a lot better. But I have noticed that I tend to play more often when the piano is easily accessible. Right now it’s in a corner of our lounge/dining/kitchen area, so I can easily sit down and play a little while waiting for something to cook or when I visit the kitchen for an afternoon snack.

Another habit I want to focus on this year is exercising more regularly. I’ve noticed that once I put on my exercise clothes, it’s pretty much certain that I’ll go outside for a run, but until those clothes are on it’s a lot easier to think of excuses for not going out. Getting out my exercise clothes the night before and putting them on quickly in the morning before I can think of excuses tends to help me get out the door faster. This is something I plan to do more regularly when I’m focusing on building this habit.

4. Stack habits: Build new routines onto existing ones

One of my favorite ways to build new habits is to stack them onto existing habits. This builds up several habits into a routine, and each habit acts as a trigger for the next one.

The cool part about this is you already have lots of habits you probably don’t realise. Brushing your teeth before bed, getting out of bed in the morning, making coffee at the same time every day — these are all existing habits. So long as you do something at the same time every day without thinking about it, it’s a habit you can stack others onto.

If you do your new habit after completing an existing one, you can rely on the strength of your existing habit to help keep your new habit on track. For example, when I get out of bed, the first thing I do is go downstairs to make a coffee. When my coffee is made, I start my French lesson. My existing habit of making coffee acts as a trigger to complete my French lesson.

And when I go to bed at night, I open the book sitting by my bed. Getting into bed and seeing the book act as a trigger to do my nightly reading.

Research has shown a cue to work on your new habit may be the most effective way to ensure you stick to the habit long-term. When you stack habits, you use the existing ones as cues for each new habit you want to build.

Over time you can keep stacking new habits onto your existing ones to take advantage of automatic behaviors you’re already doing.

Building new habits has become something of a hobby for me. It’s exciting to think of all the skills I can gain and improve over time, just by building tiny habits that I repeat every day. It makes huge accomplishments seem much more achievable.

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

How I Became a Morning Person, Learned a New Language, and Read 5x More Books in 2015