1. Wake up an hour earlier. There’s a lot of truth to the old expression, ‘The Early Bird Catches the Worm’. Without exception, I have observed in the past thirty years of studying the connection between behaviour and success, that this is true: People who wake up earlier are more successful. It takes some practise, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised with the confidence that extra hour of interrupted thinking and planning brings to your day.
2. Respond to every email you receive. It seems to be the accepted norm of business to not reply. This isn’t accepted norm, this is rudeness, pure and simple. I’ve found that the people who make it a point to reply to every email they receive, (whether or not there is something in it for them) are generally better liked (and being liked is good for any career) and more organized (ditto).
3. Answer the phone. Don’t recognize the number showing up in your call display! Answer that phone! It’s a new opportunity, or it’s something you didn’t know, or it’s someone who may turn out to be a beneficial connection. I’ve found in recent years, that the people who phone are almost always taken aback when I answer the phone. It’s just a rare occurrence these days, and the easiest way there is to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
4. Create deadlines for yourself and for those around you. Nothing ever happens without a deadline. If there wasn’t an air date, we’d dick around with the creative until our final dying breath. Deadlines make things happen. Deadlines create a sense of importance. Deadlines create a timeline that will push you to get that important thing off your to-do list. Stop saying, ‘I’ll do it soon.’. Start saying, ‘I’ll do it by Friday’. And never ever ever ever break a deadline that you have created for yourself. They’re the most important deadlines there are. If you can’t commit to yourself, who can you commit to? A client? A boss? A colleague? A friend? Are any of them more important to you than you? If you’re not solid with yourself, you’re not solid with anyone.
5. Follow through without exception. Do what you say you’re going to do. Start crossing things off your to-do list. Be where you say you’ll be. Don’t be the person that needs to be reminded over and over again. Make it happen. Get it done. This point more than any of the previous, will make the biggest difference. Follow through is all that matters. It matters in business. It matters in personal relationships and it matters in sports. Golf, tennis, badminton, hockey. That same trajectory and energy transfer that makes for a great shot when you follow through, applies in life too. Swing through the ball. Finish what you started. Execute that idea. Watch your career, and your life change. Ideas are a dime a dozen. What matters is follow through.