Opportunities don’t happen. You create them. — Chris Grosser
We think of success as a to-do list. A recipe with an inventory of ingredients and a set of instructions.
But if you go through lists of activities and sets of habits successful people do and have, and that inhabit the time they don’t spend working, you will notice a pattern.
A single thread runs through the veins of those actions.
Here’s a compilation of common actions often undertaken by successful people:
- Create and follow routines
- Write a journal
- Read books
- Learn new skills
- Set goals
- Draft action plans
- Get inspired
- Draw mind-maps
- Unplug and enjoy rewards
- Schedule time for creativity
- Meet new people
- Volunteer in organizations
- Learn a new language
- Search for new opportunities
- Ask questions (and answer others)
All these are actions.
But they’re not any kind of actions.
They are controlled, self-initiated, change-oriented behaviors.
I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come indirectly through accident, except the phonograph. No, when I have fully decided that a result is worth getting, I go about it, and make trial after trial, until it comes. — Thomas Edison
In other words, what distinguishes the successful people is their habit to be proactive about everything they do — even their free time.
They don’t live on auto-pilot, they don’t let things happen to them, they don’t wait to react.
They grab life by the helm and give a direction to everything they do. That’s how they find meaning and results.
You can take any example and live by it.
But if you are not conscious about what you do and how you do it, the benefits you’ll reap will be limited.
- You cannot schedule time for creativity and keep checking your emails — unless you are writing a poem with sentences found in your emails.
- Exercising is healthy, unless you go to the gym mainly to socialize and take selfies.
- When you meet new people, don’t act interested in what they have to say, be interested. Build a connection. Ask them questions. Tell them about yourself. If you’re at a networking event, take their contacts and follow-up with them.
Successful people don’t do what they do for the sake of checking items out of a to-do list. They dedicate focused time and genuine attention to the actions that fill their time, whether work-related or not.
So, if you’re forthcoming, active and present, then whatever activity you choose, you’ll be able to learn from it and it will act as a leverage to your personal and professional growth.
Proactive behavior doesn’t just manage your free time. It helps you create a life that you want, a life of purpose. You can read more about that here.
Alexandra Kodjabachi is a multi-passionate being: social entrepreneur and founder of PERSED (enterprise for Personal Education), author and a ballroom dancer. She often speaks at international conferences on the importance of “connecting the dots.”