99 Habit Success Stories


Ludvig started meditating around five years ago and saw some great results. Then after about a year and a half he added power napping into his daily schedule, for around ten minutes at a time, sometimes multiple times a day. After this he noticed a big difference in his life, which manifested itself in two ways:

  • he was able to work in spurts with intense focus, which was followed up by a period of rest and recuperation making him able to repeat the cycle;
  • he was able to keep his focus more consistently throughout the day.

Meditation helped Ludvig to ignore the unnecessary and irrelevant things in his life so that he could better focus on the task at hand.

Since then, he also began writing down his “daily lessons” every night. This took less than ten minutes (usually around five minutes), but he found it extremely helpful.

It’s a good habit because it forces him to think about what he’s learned every day. He firmly believes that if you’re able to accumulate many of these small positive habits then they’ll all add up to big things! Just taking a few minutes out of his day to practice these habits has made Ludvig more productive, focussed, rested and therefore successful.

Nowadays, Ludvig Sunström is an entrepreneur and author (he published Breaking Out of Homeostasis in December 2017). Together with European Hedge Fund Manager of the Decade, Mikael Syding, he hosts the popular Swedish business podcast “25 Minuter,” which has been ranked #1 on iTunes several times. His content has been read and listened to by millions of people. His blog is at www.StartGainingMomentum.com

Friedrich Schiller

Eighteenth century German Friedrich Schiller was a man of many professions. Most notably, Schiller was a poet, though he was also a philosopher, historian, playwright, and a physician as well. Schiller is one of the most famous and respected members of Germany’s literary elite to this day, and was close friends with Goethe, another leading German writer.

Though Schiller’s family was often poor (his father was a doctor who often demanded no payment), he had a happy childhood. In later life he married and had children, and by all accounts had a productive and satisfied life, not at all the biography of a tortured artist. He is, however, known to have had one very strange habit.

Schiller’s secret to success was inspiration. He could only work when he was inspired. This seems logical, but Schiller’s method for becoming inspired was perhaps less orthodox. He could only write when he was surrounded by the odor of rotting pears.

As strange as it might seem, Schiller’s habit certainly worked, as his books are still sold in their thousands to this day.

Those are just a couple of 99 stories that will be included in the book titled “99 Habit Success Stories.” I work on it with Jeannie Ingraham and it will be released at the beginning of 2018. Stay tuned.

Habits that Will Make You a Millionaire – Part II of 3

A few days ago I shared the first three habits that will make you a millionaire. Today it’s time for three more.

4. Know Thyself.

“Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves–their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.” — Peter F. Drucker

This is crucial and so often overlooked by people who don’t understand the nature of success. If you think that success comes from a strike of dumb luck, there is no sense in getting to know your talents.
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Habits that Will Make You a Millionaire – Part I

All these habits are handy for everyone, which doesn’t change the fact that they will speed up becoming a millionaire specifically for you.

1. Say What You Think and Do What You Say.

Great ideas are a dime a dozen. What differentiates millionaires from the rest of the pack is execution. You can develop a habit of execution not through planning and building multi-million ventures, but by following your own internal resolutions. Continue reading

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help Books

(And what you can do to really use this sentence to your advantage).

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksDon’t get me wrong. Personal development books (by the way, I hate the term “self-help”) do work. In fact, I changed my life because such a book caused a shift in my perspective on success and life.

However, they don’t work very often. And this one overused sentence is a reason for that:

“Ask Yourself a Question…”

I don’t suggest you shouldn’t ask yourself questions, because the book should provide all the solutions for you on a golden plate. Yep, you should do the work. If you want someone else to do the heavy lifting for you, pay hundreds of bucks for coaching or thousands of bucks for consultations, not a few bucks for the “self-help” book.

In fact, purchasing and reading a book suggests that you prefer to work out your problems alone. No shame in that; many small issues in life are totally manageable on your own.

So, where does the damage come from? Why is this sentence overused to the point of abuse?

Expert’s Blind Spot

I write personal development books. I know plenty of other authors in that genre. We are not a common flock.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksMost of us are self-made, and we are especially skillful in areas that most people really suck: mindset, self-analysis, motivation, willpower and managing our emotional states. Oh yes, at one point every personal development author was at the same starting position as his readers – confused at best, and a clueless mess at worst. But they painstakingly built themselves from the ground level (and some, like me, from the below-ground level) to the point where those skills are as natural to them as breathing.

But asking self-analysis questions is not natural for the majority of the population.

Even if a reader takes a break to actually do the exercises prescribed by an author (which only a very few do), the results of such exercises will rarely convert into any lasting effect. Overwhelmed by life, a reader will simply forgot about his insightful answers. They will fade away with time.

Authors are sadly ignorant about this fact, and they pack their books with exercise after exercise and a question after question. Eventually, they assume that their readers are an above-average bunch, and they possess the art of governing one’s mind effectively.

That’s why, most of the time, the biggest benefit of reading “self-help” books is that you are not indulging yourself with much more harmful activities, like watching TV or taking drugs. They occupy your time, and something useful (research says we retain about 4% of what we read one time) always will stick in your mind.

What Can You Do to Make this “Magic Sentence” Work for You?

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksDevelop a habit of mindfulness. The exact method you’ll employ is of little importance. The crucial part is to make your mindfulness habitual. I call it “mindfulness” because it’s the most popular term, but what I mean is the state of mind that allows you to ask yourself questions. What is more, those are different questions than usual.

Your subconscious bombards you with questions all the time. And most of those questions are crap: “Why does it always happen to me?” or “Why am I a failure?”

They aren’t tools for gathering information, but rather clubs used to beat you down.

Developing your new habit, you should follow the framework: design it consciously, do it every day, identify yourself with a habit (“I am a person who…”), track it, build a streak (do it every day and maintain a visual reminder of how long your streak is). If necessary, start very small, so doing your new habit every day should not be a problem. Consistency of your routine is more important than initial results.

Here comes several specific activities to build such mindfulness habits:

1. Journaling.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksThis is, by far, my favorite method. 6 days a week, I ask myself an insightful question and answer it on paper. On the 7th day, I read and review my entries. I dedicate 10-15 minutes in my morning for this. I’ve been doing it since 26th of May, 2013. That’s a lot of repetitions and a lot of questions answered.

Not only did I get over a thousand answers, I also developed a mindfulness habit. I don’t go lightly over new questions in my life. This practice hammered into me a deep work kind of approach to answering personal development questions. I don’t brush them aside. In fact, when I get an interesting question, I note it down in my journal and answer in one of my morning sessions.

2. Meditation.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksMeditation is very easy to start in small doses (2 minutes or less). You don’t need any accessories for it, and you can do it practically everywhere and in any moment.

It gives you a picture of your mental world like no other activity. Apart from journaling, of course 😉

I started meditating about a year after I started journaling, and I found it very easy. Why? Because I was used to the bustle of my thoughts, thanks to my journaling sessions. Most beginners of meditation complain about the mental chatter that takes place in their heads and disperses their focus. Advanced meditators don’t complain about this, but not because they had no voices in their heads or because they are super humans who can silence them down without raising a finger. Nope. They have the same mental chatter inside, but they got used to noticing and acknowledging it.

That’s the whole point of meditation: self-awareness. You are no longer responding on autopilot to subconscious mental stimulus. You become aware and can discern more and more different signals that are usually enticed by emotions. You know what thoughts appear when you are bored, angry, frustrated or exhausted.

3. Silence.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksTry not to utter a single word for a specific period of time. It’s especially hard when you are among other people, whether at home or at work. I tried unsuccessfully for a few months to be quiet for an entire day while living my ordinary life. I think my best result was opening my mouth only a couple dozen times.

However, I learned that such a struggle of will provides increased awareness about what’s going in your mind. You see, whatever you utter aloud is first born in your mind. If you want to tame your tongue, the best way is to intervene into your thinking before words land on your tongue ready to launch. You must be watchful all the time to shepherd your words. I think my few-month practice of silence was another factor that contributed to my ease of mastering meditation.

4. Govern Your Talk.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksIf keeping your mouth shut is difficult, controlling it is downright impossible. The Bible says

Nobody can tame the tongue — it is a pest that will not keep still, full of deadly poison. — James, 3:8

That’s true.

On the other hand, even unsuccessful attempts to reign over your speech patterns will provide self-awareness in the same way that silence does. You need to be extremely focused on what’s going on in your head to be able to control your words.

A few simple methods to tame your tongue:

-introduce a new word or phrase into your vocabulary; try to use it 10 times a day for a few days;
-avoid specific words and phrases; a foul language makes a great game for this technique;
-introduce synonyms; replace a word you commonly use with its synonym or a few of them.

5. Affirmations.

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksThis is the trickiest method. Affirmations will not make you mindful, per se. They are difficult to use even without a goal of improving your self-awareness.

You can use affirmations with the aim to grow your mindfulness. “I purposefully stop and marvel on the beauty of the universe,” or you can try to use them to manage your emotional states. For example, every time you feel frustrated, you can say to yourself: “In ten years, it will not matter at all.”

The best affirmations are the simplest ones. In fact, the two I mentioned above are overly complicated. I used to tell myself three times “It’s possible” whenever self-doubts attacked me.

6. Ask Questions.

Yes, I stated most of us cannot do this. But you can learn this skill. Approach it like any other habit you build.

a) Design it

The Single Most Overused Sentence in Self-Help BooksHave specific questions in mind; be prepared. Write them down, carry them with you in your mobile or on an index card.
Define how your routine will look: Will you ruminate about it briefly in your head or will you write down your answer on paper? Decide how often you will do it and when. If you want to discuss the thing internally, you have plenty of opportunities during the day – while commuting, walking to a grocery store, using stairs or elevator, waiting in a queue.
If you want to answer on paper, you need to be able to sit down and write for at least a couple of minutes. Maybe during the lunch break at work, or early in the morning when everybody else in your household sleeps?

b) Pick your trigger

The trigger is the most important element of your habit creation. A good reliable trigger improves manifold your chances for developing a lasting habit.

If your routine is quick and dirty – you think over the question and answer in 1-2 sentences in your mind- it can be as simple as setting a reminder with the specific question on your mobile. The alarm goes off, the question pops up on the screen, and you are instantly reminded about your questioning habit.

At the beginning I recommend this approach, so you can repeat your routine many times a day, and repetition is the food of a new habit.

Another great idea is to base your trigger on an existing habit: making a coffee at home or at the office in the morning, arriving on a bus station or a train platform on your way to/from work, brushing your teeth. Doing these activities is already automatic for you. When you consciously make them a starting point for your new habit, it will become automatic much faster than without such a rock solid trigger.

c) Do the routine

This is truly the easiest part. Once you know what you have to do, where, when and how, doing it is a trivia. If you choose your trigger right, it will spring you to action. You will take out a mobile to silence the reminder’s alarm, read the question, have a moment of reflection, and answer it before putting the mobile down.

Or you will make the coffee before going to work and have your journal and pen ready at a coffee table with a question already written down at the top of a page. You will sip your coffee, writing down your thoughts.

d) Endpoint

An endpoint to a habit should be self-explanatory; a clear point that finishes your routine. Like in the examples above: finishing your coffee, putting your mobile back into a pocket, a train arriving at the platform.

I answer one question every day in my journal, and I have a specific space on a page for that. When the page is filled with my reflections, I finish the routine of answering the question.

Now you know what to do. Build your mindfulness habit.

Make the “magic sentence” work for you. Any questions? Shoot them in the comments below.

The One Surprising Habit of Successful People

 The One Surprising Habit of Successful PeopleOh, they have plenty of common habits: successful people meditate; set daily priorities; exercise; cultivate gratitude; keep a journal; mindfully take care of their relationships; have morning rituals; tackle the biggest tasks first; restrict their time on social media; or allow themselves to check email only twice a day.

But there is one that stands out and I will focus on this one.

They Sleep

Moreover, they sleep smart.

Yes, there are stories about Edison or Michelangelo and how little sleep they needed. Edison prided himself in that—like every modern corporate rat. But he was probably delusional about his ability to sleep very little because of frequent naps.


By the way, napping is one smart way to maximize your sleep that successful people often practice.

Winston Churchill, a leader whose country fought the total war, took naps in the middle of the day.

John D. Rockefeller had a sofa in his office, so he could catch a nap in the midst of leading one of the biggest company in USA.

Edison used his frequent naps to sleep on (or generate) some ideas.

A 20-minute nap is better than a cup of coffee. Time management is really energy management. A coffee or other stimulant, usually provides a quick boost of energy and a fast slump afterwards.

A nap can reinvigorate your whole body and mind.

Successful People Sleep Enough

They took pains to have optimal amount of night sleep. Jon Morrow is a successful entrepreneur and at the same time a guy who is completely paralyzed from the neck down. During his interview for EOFire with John Lee Dumas, he said that the habit that contributed most to his success was sleeping eight hours a day—(or rather “a night”).

“Optimal” doesn’t mean “eight.” Sleep needs are individual.

People in natural conditions—living without modern life stress, junk food and without electricity disturbing natural sleep patterns—sleep 6.5–7 hours a night.

3% of the population can thrive on 6 or less hours of sleep. You know what a joker God is, quite often those gifted with little-sleep genes—are gifted with many other gifts as well.

But some folks need over eight hours of sleep which seems like the biggest secret of the universe. You will hear a zillion stories of “bigshots” sleeping 5, 4, or 3 hours (like Donald Trump), but very—very little about people who regularly sleep over 8 hours.

For example Matthew McConaughey sleeps 8.5 hours a night.

(photo credit: By (Flickr), via Wikimedia Commons)

Quite a successful fellow, isn’t he?

Hence, get to know yourself and your sleep needs—better.

They Adjust their Lifestyle to Their Biorhythm

Most people have no special circadian rhythm. They are fine with going to bed at 9:00 p.m. or 1:00 a.m. Others are wired differently.

In the above, I mentioned Churchill. He was a night owl. He slept from 3:00 to 8:00 a.m.

I have a very volatile circadian rhythm. If I push myself to the limit, I almost collapse 4–5 times a day. It’s much better for me to take a 10-minute nap —than to try working on anything. I simply shut down.

Many people are well-adjusted to thrive in the morning. Thus, many successful people choose to wake up early. They dedicate the first few hours of the day to take care of their well-being and face crucial projects. Because they know the importance of sleep, they automatically choose to go to bed early.

Yes, They Know the Importance of Sleep

Instead of priding themselves on how little sleep they need to function, they examine their performance very closely and make sleep their priority.

Most people (those without ‘magical’ genes) after two weeks on 6 hours of sleep—degrade to the performance level of a “Zombie.” To be exact—according to scientists—to the level of a person who hasn’t slept for 48 hours straight.

Here comes the biggest shock. They don’t even realize how poorly they perform. They think they “crush it.” An “Under-Sleeper’s” judgement is deranged. The gradual nature of sleep deprivation causes them not to notice the difference between performance on Day 1 and Day 15.

Some recent research also suggests—that even one night without the optimal amount of sleep, weakens the human immune system.

Sleep enough.

Your chances for success will significantly increase.

One Tactic to Deal with Bad and Good Habits

Deal with Bad and Good HabitsThere is one method that works very well in both breaking bad habits and developing good habits.

That’s a rarity because usually you need a totally different “toolkit” for those two activities.

This is habits tracking.

In its bare minimum, you should simply check every day if you did your new habit—committed “old sins”—or avoided a bad habit. This is very simple, but amazingly effective technique.
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How to Measure Your Personal Progress: My Own Toolkit

Measure personal progressWith your personal life, you can be really creative in measuring your progress.

You set your goals. You set your metrics. You set your frequency. You conclude how often you will gauge your progress. You decide on the tools you will use.

Whether you decide to exercise, read, learn, or quit smoking, your goal and strategy should be clear. You don’t just say to yourself, “I sure hope this time I’ll exercise regularly.” You describe your desired end result. You need a plan to achieve it. You translate this plan into a regular schedule, and you keep to that schedule.
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The 7 Money-saving Habits for Common Mortals

The 7 Money-saving HabitsI have several money-saving habits. It’s hard to estimate exactly how much money each of those habits has brought me. But hands down, the most impactful is:

  1. Paying Myself First

For years, I struggled with saving money. I had been saving a portion of my salary only to spend money on some substantial item like repairing my car after I drove straight into a tree; or something lavish like gambling on the stock market.

I had been earning good money—but I had no support from my family. I had no assets at the beginning and a family of five to support

My saving ratio was hoovering about 3-4% point. Then I read “Start Over, Finish Rich” by David Bach and got one main takeaway from it: pay yourself first.

The idea seemed a bit preposterous, our budget was tight and we had no leeway to put away a significant chunk of salary. What difference would have made saving money at the beginning of the month and not at the end of it, from leftovers?

It did all the difference.
The 7 Money-saving Habits(my saving ratio over time)

In a few months’ time, my saving ratio skyrocketed to about 20%. Yet again I spent all of my savings when we bought our first house in 2014. For several months, we were almost as poor as during my time as a student—having two kids and on welfare. We survived on stipends, and student loans as our main sources of income.

But I rebuilt my savings… and spent them once again on the house renovation. That was at the beginning of 2016.

Still, I was able to save for those extraordinary expenses thanks to the “pay yourself first” rule.

I estimate that thanks to the difference between my previous saving ratio and the current one—plus the fact that my income grew by about 90% in the last few years—I ended up with equivalent of my 14 salaries in my pocket. I spent about 10 of them, but I could spent them in bulk on expansive things that improved quality of our life; not on trivia.

The Other Six Habits

  1. No Addictions.

I don’t smoke; don’t drink alcohol; and never did recreational drugs. Those “habits” can consume a large chunk of your income.

The fact is, I’m no saint and I actually have a few “light addictions.”

I spent a small fortune on books and I have a hopeless sweet tooth. The last addiction I mentioned has downsized and became manageable in the last few years.

  1. Paying With Cash.

I was about 30 years old when I paid with a debit card for the first time in my life.

Good for me.

Paying with a card can lull you into thinking that the money is not real. But the bills are real as well as the balances you have to pay.

Till this day, I prefer to pay with cash and I manually register every automatic/digital payment on an Excel sheet. It works wonders with your awareness—of where your money actually goes.

  1. Not Eating Out.

I have family of five to feed. It’s much cheaper (and healthier) to buy ingredients and cook your own meals. In the last 5 five years, I’ve ate out maybe a couple dozen times—most of them when on delegation away from home.

  1. No Impulse Buying.

Alright—let’s be honest—I do very little impulse buying although I’m not completely immune to the shiny promises of marketing.

But I’m totally not interested in brands and sometimes it works against me. I’ve bought the cheapest laptop in the store and I discovered it is absurdly slow. I have a lot of opportunities to practice my patience with it.

But 99% of time, it serves me well. I bought an old Mazda 626 about 10 years ago. I put into it almost double the initial price (half of which after that accident with a tree). But that’s still much less than half the price of a new car and I know quite a lot of folks who exchange a car every few years. That Mazda is a small fortune “saved”.

I don’t follow trends and I don’t chase shiny objects. I buy new items when I need them; not when I want them.

  1. Tracking All Expenses.

I’m doing my best to register every single cent that’s going out of my pocket. I’ve tracked them in an Excel sheet since November 2012. I have quite a history in that file now.

Tracking sharpens your awareness. If you track your spending, it’s much harder to be ‘blissfully’ unaware how you spend your money and you think twice before wasting your money on trivial things.

  1. Saving the Excess.

In 2015, I changed jobs and got a salary hike of 35%. I kept my expenses at the same level but did not dedicate all of it to savings.

I didn’t dedicate even a dime of it to pay bills or buy food. I spent a bit more on charity—saved 30%—and invested 20% into my business.

I used only about 40% of that additional increase on consumption, but not for trivial things. I was able to afford to buy my wife a gold ring, send my kids to summer camp, purchase a computer and four bikes.

I do the same with my royalties. I treat this income as additional to my base income.

I save it—invest it—or spend it bigger items like a mortgage contribution, buying a second car, or house renovation. I intend to do that with every additional dollar till I become financially independent.

What are your money-saving habits?