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There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
-- Colin Powell
 

 

Saturday, November 18, 1995

The Habit of Success

Habits are useful in that they keep us from having to concentrate on certain tasks that we repeat over and over again. Think of when you first learned to drive a car. You would really have to concentrate on every aspect of your driving. Now, after years of experience, driving has become a habit (hopefully a good one!). You don’t have to think about it nearly as much. That’s what we call learning.

Habits have their dark side, too. They can stifle your creativity, prevent you from taking advantage of new opportunities, and waste a lot of time and money. Habits like cigarette smoking, eating too much fat, and drinking too much alcohol or caffiene can be very harmful to your health.

The trick is to learn to control your habits -- to get rid of the harmful ones and encourage the good habits that will take you in the direction of your goals. Most great accomplishments require consistent efforts over a long period of time. Developing the right habits will take care of the “consistent efforts” part. Time will take care of itself -- it will continue to march forward whether you are going forward with it or not.

Getting rid of an undesireable habit takes a conscious effort. It is not easy. It is certainly possible, though, and with enough energy and desire can be accomplished. It is foolish to say that your habits control you -- that is admitting defeat. Developing a good habit is difficult work, as well. Any parent knows how much effort and patience it takes to teach their child to brush his teeth twice a day, look both ways before crossing the street, wash his hands before eating, other things like that. It is not easy. It requires determination. And it is vitally important.

Next time you find yourself driving your car, with your seat belt buckled, think about how you got there. Do you remember putting on your seat belt? Hopefully, it is just an automatic motion that you do without thinking. And someday, it could save your life. It is just a little thing that takes almost no time -- its power comes in the fact that you do it every time you get in the car. Ask yourself, what other habits can I develop that will allow me to consistently, automatically, move toward my goals?

Occasionally, people are able to take a shortcut to success. They get lucky, win the lottery, get in on a once-in-a-lifetime business deal, just happen to be in the right place at the right time. It does happen, but it is not a reliable path to success. Many people spend their whole lives just waiting for that lucky break. Buying those lottery tickets week after week, and never, ever winning. You don’t hear about those people very often. They live lives of quiet desparation. They never end up being in the right place at the right time. Yet our culture encourages the “get rich quick” mentality because we make such a big deal about it when it happens. That is unfortunate.

For the vast majority of successful people, accomplishment comes one day at a time, little by little, day after day, month after month, year after year. That is the guaranteed way to success. It is the result of making a decision to abandon the harmful habits and replace them with the habits of success and accomplishment.

— Ralph Marston

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Copyright ©1995 Ralph S. Marston, Jr. All Rights Reserved. The Daily Motivator is provided for your personal, non-commercial use only. Other than personal sharing, please do not re-distribute without permission.