What separates highly successful people from everyone else? It definitely isn’t education, although many are highly educated. It isn’t IQ; success comes to all intellects. It’s not even that they work twice as hard or are exceedingly disciplined. What is a differentiating factor, however, is the series of habits they form. And when we can replicate how they align those habits, we can literally move mountains to achieve successes we never thought possible.

Let me explain. Highly acclaimed psychologist William James was ready to commit suicide. He was a Number 1 quitter; no matter what he did, he couldn’t follow through. He wanted to be a painter, but he quit. He wanted to be a doctor, but he dropped out of medical school. He wanted to go on an expedition up the Amazon, but he didn’t stay with it. He was so distraught he seriously contemplated suicide, but then he decided to try an experiment for one year instead. His experiment: he decided to believe that he truly had free will and could therefore think and envision how he wanted his life to change; he could absolutely make anything happen with an action plan and a different set of beliefs which he would put into a series of habits. He figured he had little to lose, and consequently before the year was up he had begun teaching at Harvard, had married, and had turned his life around.

Exactly how did he do it? By creating a new set of habits.

Habits can make or break us. We’re living our lives right now surrounded by our choice of habits, so the question is how do we start using habits to our advantage? It’s simpler than you might think, but like many things it takes awareness, and getting started. First, begin by choosing one of two things you would like to change in your life; be specific and don’t limit your thinking.

Next look at what it would take to make the change a reality. As an example if you say you want to be 50 pounds thinner and run a 5K, or move up within your organization, or leave your job to become a writer, write down who is doing what you want to do and the first five steps he or she probably had to take to make it a reality. Then incorporate those steps. Changing habits isn’t about getting everything done now, but simply changing a couple of keystone habits and in the process everything else will start to change.

Now what do you have to do every single day, to start creating the change? It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s the continued accumulation of habits that makes the change. Make room in your schedule, rearrange, and commit to do the behavior or action every day without fail. Imagine the end result, what will happen when you’ve actually achieved the goal.

Change one or two small habits and do them consistently, which is exactly what William James did. It kept him alive, joyous and turned his entire life around. It’s never too early or late to decide to create new habits. And when you do, not only do you see manifestation of what you want, but even more importantly, you start to think differently. You see yourself as whatever the habits are designed to change in you, and like any great self-fulfilling prophecy, the more you see and feel the changes, the more they just keep happening!

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