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Success Advice

7 Habits That Transformed My Own Happiness

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If I reflect back on my life over the last four years, the one thing that has been the most positive change is the new habits that I have created. I have read hundreds of books on success now, and the one subject that consistently comes up amongst high achievers is habits.

To describe success in one sentence from my own experience would be that it’s a series of small, incremental habits each day that bring you closer to your goal and that you stick to no matter what. These habits are things that you usually learn from other people, and that’s why to discover them you must study success in some form, each day.

The good news for you is that on Addicted2Success we do this for you and put all the information in one place. The habits that each of you need are going to be different depending on your vision, although there are lots that seem to crossover amongst all fields of success.

When you form a new habit and get results from it, you get a real feeling of pleasure. For me, the one thing that has transformed my happiness is the habits that I now undertake each and every day. These habits make me feel good, calm, relaxed and knowledgeable in many different ways.

The seven habits that have transformed my happiness are below so enjoy!

1. Sign up for something crazy

The first habit I want to share with you is one I came up with and didn’t read anywhere. It’s the habit of just signing up for something crazy that is way out of your comfort zone. A recent example for me was joining Toastmasters, which is all about public speaking (something I need practice with).

Public speaking is one of the most feared things in the world, and I can do it sometimes, but other times I am hopeless at it. To be crazy, a leader I work with challenged me to sign up for Toastmasters. Rather than think about it, I emailed three different clubs and signed up.

My intention was that I could always back out, but if I just signed up it would get the process started and then I could think about it later. Once I signed up, I then took it a step further and didn’t think about it at all until I finally arrived on the night and participated.

Not allowing myself to think too much allowed me to go along and speak at the first night. I quickly realised that the whole Toastmaster concept is about small steps, and you can ease yourself into it. I still have a long way to go although I believe this could be the start of something amazing.

Stop thinking about everything and get out of your comfort zone it will really help your happiness!

2. Practice a gratitude exercise

In every interview, I have listened to on Addicted2Success the subject of gratitude comes up every time. I have to admit that I haven’t always participated in any form of gratitude, but now I do an exercise each day as part of my normal habits.

The exercise takes no more than 60 seconds and involves you going to your iPad (or notebook if you’re old school) and writing down three things that you are grateful for. You can select three things you are grateful for today or three things you are grateful for from any time you like.

After the first two weeks of doing this exercise, I thought to myself that I would eventually run out of thing to be grateful for. Guess what? I still haven’t run out of things, and now I actively go out trying to find the good in everything so I can come home and add it to my list.

“It’s amazing how the mind will conspire in your favour when you program it correctly – Tim Denning”

3. Read 15 minutes of a book

This habit is one that I have been doing for some years now although there were some days I would read for 12 hours and others where I wouldn’t read at all. I have now realised that it’s no the amount of time you read that has the greatest effect, it’s the consistency of reading.

I have a very long list of books that I suggest you all read, but I will save that for another blog post. The key is to try and read something that inspires you or promotes happiness. I find personal development books or autobiographies of amazing people to be the best.

Just 15 minutes a day of solid reading will help you to change your beliefs and keep you sharp. I have found great happiness from this habit, and it’s now something I am excited to do each day rather than something that I have to do.

The other benefit you will get from this habit is that you will see your vocabulary and speed of reading increase. I have also found that I have highlighted lots of parts in books (using Kindle), so my bank of references and quotes has exploded. Whenever I need to change into a happiness state, this bank is a great resource for me to do so.

4. Turn technology off once in a while

It may not seem like a habit, but turning technology off is actually a great challenge that I have discovered. At least once a week I turn off iPhones (yes I have two that are always on), iPads (yes I have two of those too) and computers (I have four of those, sad I know).

It’s very easy to become plugged into the internet all the time and to never be able to tune out. This can affect the relationships with the ones you love or give you a feeling that you are always answerable to someone.

“The moment you feel like you always need to check in with someone or something, is the moment that you become a slave to society – Tim Denning “

So from now on, once a week, get all of your technology, lock it in a wardrobe and turn it all off. Then get in your car and go somewhere amazing or explore a part of the world you have never been too. Once you return from your escape, go back to your technology and notice how you’re not so dependent on it and that the world didn’t end while you were away.

It’s amazing how the people around you find other ways to get things done when they can’t contact you!

5. Sleep on big decisions

Bet you haven’t read this habit a lot before. It’s one I use all the time, and it’s quite simple. Whenever you have to make a major decision in your life about anything, thrash it out with your network of contacts and friends, and then sleep on it and don’t take action for 24 hours.

The decisions I recommend doing this on are ones where there is no turning back. It’s not necessary for decisions like my Toastmasters example where you can always cancel. The reason this habit is so powerful is that sometimes we can make a decision based on a certain emotion or state.

When you sleep on something, you come back to it the next day with a fresh mind and a chance to see the situation differently. If the next day, I still feel the same way, it generally means that the decision I wanted to make the day before is the right one.

The happiness I have experienced from this habit has mainly been because it has stopped me making rash decisions that I might regret. Try this one for yourself!

6. Use social media to inspire

Rather than going on social media every day to showcase your life and make others feel jealous, try going on there with a fresh mindset. This habit has been a real eye-opener for me, and I have had so many benefits from it.

Instead of posting all the bad news or posting useless humour videos, try and put something up that can add value or inspire another person. You don’t have to sound all hippy or anything, maybe just try a quote that you love or post a photo of something in nature.

You could also have a look on Youtube and see if there is a video that could inspire others and then post it with a little comment about what you got from it. As time goes on you might want to create your own videos or posts that can help other people. For this habit to work you have to forget about what anyone might think

Yes, there will be people who you’re connected with on social media who may not have seen this side of you before but it exists in everyone, and we will all reveal it at some stage. Sometimes it just takes an event in our life to showcase our need to inspire or add value to others.

This small habit has completely transformed my life, and so many people contact me and share their stories or say thank you. I thought there would be some people that wouldn’t like what I was doing, but even the most negative people in my network appreciated it.

So, go on social media tonight, post something amazing, and then do this on a daily or weekly basis. Then, watch how much your happiness increases from this one small habit!

7. Say thank you to someone

Each day, try and remember to say thank you to at least one person. The key here is to make sure it’s warranted, and you mean it. There will always be someone that you speak with each day who has helped you with something or done something for you.

The best way is to tell the person face to face or ring them and tell them how grateful you are that they helped you. If those two options are not your style, then send them an email and just say thank you. Keep it short, keep it genuine and practice this habit daily.

Watch how many people rush to help you next time you’re in need and how happy this habit makes you feel!

So that’s it, everyone. Try some of these out and see how you go. They’re not the typical habits that people follow, but they’re ones that have benefited me. I wanted to show you seven habits that you may not have read elsewhere or that are executed in a slightly different way.

If you think any of these habits are worthwhile, then share your opinions with me on my Facebook Page, Twitter or in the comments section below.
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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Amira Abied

    Dec 4, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Thank you for this motivating advice.

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:29 am

      No problem Amira.

  2. shreeya joshi

    Aug 16, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Its awasone….its. Really helpful

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:30 am

      Thank you Shreeya I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.

  3. Shaik

    Aug 12, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Dear Tim,
    I loved the Idea of “Sleep on Big Descions” They always say never take a decision whenever you are very happy or very angry, the old school is always right… When you have to take big decisions really important once, give it a sleep, then once you are fixed go for it..

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 14, 2015 at 12:16 am

      Shaik, Sleeping on Big Decisions is quite powerful. Your emotional state will affect any decision that you make so it’s best to make these decisions when you’re emotional state is calm – this is usually early in the morning.

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Success Advice

Why You Should Prefer Emails to Phone Calls if You Want to Be More Productive

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productivity tips
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“Email” and “productivity” rarely go together in a sentence. Emails have been declared as one of our largest time wasters. A McKinsey report stated that people spend around 2.6 hours each day responding to emails. That’s 13 hours a week, 52 hours a month and over 60 days a year! Imagine what you could’ve achieved in 60 days!

Emails also negatively affect our cognitive resources. When we think of responding to them while doing other important tasks, it takes up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds after being disrupted to return to full attention to a current task. Imagine how much our cognition and productivity gets fractured when we get distracted over and over again.

Constant emailing also drains us mentally. And at the end of a day, we realize that we’ve achieved nothing worth mentioning. With a phone call, you can sort issues and solve problems quickly, right? In theory, you’re right. But we live in a practical world where many variables come into play.

Below are three variables that make phone calls adversely affect our productivity, and why emails are a better alternative:

1. Wasting Time

Most “five-minute conversations” can quickly turn into 35-minute calls because people ramble about irrelevant aspects. This derailment, several times a day, severely limits the limited time and energy you have for important tasks.

Emails, on the other hand, force writers to streamline their thoughts and stick to the point. Emails can save you plenty of time and energy because you avoid lengthy phone calls. The constant strife to keep your own emails short and crisp also makes you a clearer thinker, which rewards you in other aspects of your life.

“It’s better to waste money, than it is to waste time. You can always get more money.” – Hal Sparks

2. Inaccurate Responses

An unexpected phone call can catch me caught off guard on a topic. I might respond emotionally or give an answer that doesn’t do justice to what I want to share. In a world dominated by panic buttons and fire-fighting, these don’t just stress me out but the caller as well.

Emails give me flexibility to prepare a coherent response and share it when I’m satisfied. If I feel a surge of emotion, I can sleep over the thought and share a better (more rational) response the next day. Many page-long email responses to emails that upset me have turned into a simple “thank you for your email” the next day.

3. Constant Back-and-Forth

Phone calls often are ineffective to solve business problems. Accounting for multiple people, their views, their timelines… One phone call can quickly turn into three.

Emails are quicker and more effective than even conference calls. They let you communicate with multiple people at the same time. You can share information, assign tasks and give status updates while being as specific as possible.

You must be wondering, “What about back-and-forth emails then? Why do we waste precious time on them?” Yes, email has earned a bad rap. But it’s not because of the medium; it’s because we handle it ineffectively.

A Better Approach to Emailing

For most people, constantly refreshing the inbox is part of the daily to-do list. It keeps them busy and gives them a kick of dopamine – the feel-good chemical.

Ironically, this quest to remain busy makes people compromise on taking action that can move them forward. Using emails prudently, rewards you with plenty of energy and mind space to focus on tasks that truly matter.

Here are three steps that benefited me without succumbing to the side effects of email:

1. Checking Them Less

I check emails just 3 times a day – at 9:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 4:30 PM. If you don’t have the luxury to do the same, you can start by checking your emails for ten minutes at the end of each hour. Most senders expect a response in a little over an hour. So they won’t mind a slightly delayed response. This gives you 45 undisturbed minutes each hour to work on your core tasks.

2. Responding Quickly

People delay responding to emails at least 37% of the time, which turns finding emails and responding to them into additional tasks that cost time and lead to attention residue. Most emails take under two minutes to respond. When you can respond to an email, do so instead of putting it off. This won’t just put your mind at peace, it’ll also reduce the number of “did-you-see-this” follow-up emails in your inbox.

“I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.” – Elon Musk

3. The If-Then Technique

The If-Then technique helps you address multiple scenarios at once. For instance, an email that says, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM?” becomes, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM? If not, please advise three other times that work for you.”

This technique is also effective when you want to suggest ideas or provide instructions on alternative steps. For example, “Here’s Plan A. If it doesn’t work, connect with [name] and ask for [specific information]. If you don’t get what you need, inform me.”

I’ll admit. This sounds like more work in the current moment, but it drastically cuts down the number of trail mails, confused correspondences, and fire-fighting instances that occur due to miscommunication.

The If-Then formula is the single most effective technique I’ve learned from The 4-Hour Workweek. All of this doesn’t mean that you abandon phone calls, In fact, it’s better to use the phone for sensitive topics or if an email conversation gets dragged. But remain mindful to not let phone calls waste your time.

If you want to pursue a meaningful life, place a premium on your time. Do things that create time for you to pursue meaningful actions and avoid doing what pulls you away from them. In the knowledge economy, this is the key to success.

Do you prefer email or talking on the phone? Share your thoughts below!

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Success Advice

4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Reach the Level of Success You So Desperately Crave

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how to be happy and successful
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It’s normal that every person in the world wants to reach success and happiness. Yet, everyone defines both of these things differently. For some, success is making a whole bunch of money while for others this can be to become a good parent. Happiness is defined differently as well. Some people need to own a jet, boat and 3 cars to be truly happy, while others are happy just to be able to wake up in the morning.

It doesn’t matter how you define success and happiness, the truth is, you want to achieve them both. But, to be able to reach success and happiness, you need to answer 4 questions for yourself.

Here are the 4 questions you need to answer before you can achieve success and happiness:

1. Where Are You?

No, not geographically. It doesn’t matter where you live. What matters is where are you in life. Where are you in your way to success and happiness. Let’s say you are lost in the woods. You know exactly where you want to go, but you don’t know where you are. Even a map doesn’t help you with that.

The same is true in life. You may have a goal, but until you truly define where you are in the moment, you can’t move toward this goal. So, step 1 on your way to success and happiness is to define where you are right now.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

2. Where Do You Want to Go?

When you define where you are in life, then you can think of where you want to be.

There’s this saying:  When you don´t know your final destination, you´ll end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Until you don’t know clearly where you want to be in life and who you want to become, your life doesn’t have a true purpose.

Without purpose, there´s no motivation. Without motivation, there´s no energy. And without energy, you´re not living, you´re just existing. I am sure you know someone who looks like a walking corpse everytime you see them. Do you think this person lives a successful and happy life? Most likely not.

So, step 2 on your way to success and happiness is to clearly define your goal. What do you want to accomplish and who do you want to become?

3. Why Do You Want It?

Okay, you know the basics. You know where you are and where you want to be. But, as Rocky Balboa said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” And as you already know, life usually doesn’t go according to your plan. There will be hard times and to overcome those and not give up, you need to know WHY you do what you do.

You need to know WHY you want to accomplish your goals. When you answer this for yourself, you don’t struggle so much to motivate yourself. You will be motivated every minute of every day.

So, as a step 3, sit down and think of WHY you want to accomplish your goals. What’s the big purpose?

“We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” – Tony Robbins

4. How Are You Going to Get There?

And finally, how are you going to get there? What’s your plan? You may know where you are, where you want to be and why you want to do it, but until you truly understand how you are going to get there, there won’t be much success and happiness in your life.

For example, you want to become a bodybuilder. You want to do it because you want to have big muscles and you want to look fit. But, you have no idea how to work out, how to build muscle and how to lose fat. Do you think, you´re going to be happy? No. As Tony Robbins says, “true happiness comes from progress.”

To make progress, you need to have a specific plan; how to get from point A (where you are) to point B (where you want to be). So, as a step 4, sit down and make a specific plan for how you’re going to get what you want in life.

In order to reach success and happiness, there are 4 questions you need to answer for yourself. Without answering them, you´re not going to  get ahead in life, you´re just bouncing around. Success and happiness never come from just bouncing around in life.

Good news is, that these questions are really simple. It won’t take much time to answer them. Just be aware of where you are and where you want to be. Don´t forget to understand why you are pursuing your dream and finally, how are you going to get what you want.

Answer these 4 simple questions today and you won’t struggle with finding success and happiness in life anymore.

Which one of the above 4 questions resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

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The Empathetic Heart: How The CHO of VaynerMedia Is Changing The Way We Work

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Claude Silver CHO of Vaynermedia
Image Credit: VaynerMedia

A month after I had joined LinkedIn back in July of 2018, I sent Claude Silver a connection request and began following her content. One day she made a post saying “Ask and you shall receive, what can I do to help you today?”. I commented on that post asking for a 5 minute interview and to my surprise she agreed by asking me to send her a message (I was given a full hour). This was the first example of pure kindness I witnessed from Claude.

The first message you see on Claude’s website is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something. That message spoke to me on an emotional level, and I believe it will speak to you too. I wanted to know how she created such an amazing culture, what being a “culture carrier” meant, and how the employees at VaynerMedia have been changed by her work there.

A culture carrier in Claude’s own words is “someone who is aligned with our values, I can’t teach someone to be kind they have to already be kind. The process of developing a culture carrier takes about 6 months. It’s about bringing people together and having strong core values of kindness and empathy.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerMedia, is often referred to as a combination of hustle and heart. With the hiring of Claude and the work she has accomplished within the company, it speaks to the level of empathy that can be felt throughout the entire operation.

Although business can be a challenging, tough, and often cut-throat terrain, by putting employees first and providing honest feedback the company has grown to include offices in New York, Chattanooga, Los Angeles and London, and continues to dominate the market.

Below we’ll see 3 different ways the CHO of VaynerMedia is changing the way people work:

1. By being unafraid to share her own story

Claude has been an influential part of breaking the stigma surrounding vulnerability in the business arena. Not only does she openly share her own story, but she sits down with employees to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to use characteristics that previously would have been considered weaknesses as strengths.

When asked what her biggest adventure to date was she replied “Having Shalom (her daughter). I have had an amazing life, I moved, worked hard, landed an amazing job and fell in love but it didn’t come without its challenges.”

Claude is openly gay and is living proof your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but your character, your track record, and if you leave people a little better off than before you met them. From Claude, business leaders, employees and entrepreneurs can learn to be more open both on social media and in person, allowing them to build more meaningful relationships and connect on a deeper level. A deeper connection can mean more leverage but it also means a more lasting impact on the world.

“Everyone has something they can share. I’m not famous. I don’t have anything that would be newsworthy, but I have stories.” – Tafta Johnson Watson

2. Committing to a strong value system

VaynerMedia has some serious values for such a large company and those values are expected to be upheld by every employee and visitor. Values like kindness, empathy, honesty, hustle and the art of not complaining.

With Claude holding the title of Chief Heart Officer, she is the guiding light for others. When recruiting, she says she “takes the time to evaluate an individual’s talents but most importantly their own heart”.  

Gary Vaynerchuk is quoted as saying:”To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness. So many people are afraid that other people will take advantage of their kindness or make them feel “used.” But the truth is, those who take advantage of your kindness are weak on the inside. Feel bad for them, don’t let them make you feel bad about yourself“.

Both Claude and Gary teach aspiring entrepreneurs that it is okay to live with an open heart and that having the strength to commit to and live with a strong value system, will be a powerful tool during the hustle journey. It also allows you to go to bed at night actually liking the person that you are, nothing will kill a business faster than going to bed at night and hating yourself.

3. Listening with action

As mentioned above Claude’s slogan is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.  As a woman who wears many hats, she is also an Outward Bound Instructor, taking individuals on amazing adventures in the outdoors.

Taking action on any given day can mean a number of different things but it speaks to her own character and driving force that she is able to not only guide people through the world of office politics but also through the serene and sometimes challenging wilderness.

Claude cultivates an environment of trust by first offering individuals her own trust. It is a huge and vulnerable action that leads to a relationship of love – heart – and productivity. Listening as an action is something that has the power to change an entire organization from an unproductive, toxic environment to one that promotes creativity, passion, inclusion and positivity.

“Relationships are leverage. If you give value to someone else first, you have leverage.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

To get the truest sense of how Claude was changing the way people work, I asked her co-workers to tell me what working alongside Claude has done for them. Here is one of the answers I received:

“During my time working alongside Claude, I’ve really come to appreciate her example of being a good listener. As a society, we tend to praise the power of speaking. But Claude demonstrates on a daily basis that the most important thing everybody wants is to be heard.” – Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer VaynerMedia.

I tried looking for images of Claude on her website and I think it speaks to how focused she is on holding space for others, because I couldn’t find a single full sized image of her to use. I googled. Writing this piece has opened me up to evaluate my own values and the way I connect with people in my daily life.

From this article, it is my own hope that entrepreneurs come to the understanding that although tenacity and true grit are really important, the whole of what Claude represents is something to strive towards. The “soft” skills you develop are humongous strengths and to truly impact an entire organization.

What’s the last random act of kindness you did for someone? Share with us below!

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Success Advice

The 7 Secrets of High Achievers Revealed

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We all have goals in life, but very few of us ever learn to consciously set, work on and see our goals through. In our naturalness bias, we marvel at those who have set and reached their goals thinking they have some esoteric abilities that we don’t. We overlook that the final product is the result of a series of mistake-ridden, unrecorded pains. What if we could learn from the process, the habits and rituals of the high achievers? (more…)

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