Habits of Successful People

October’s GRIN (Grand Rapids Inventor’s Network) meeting was on the habits of successful people and in general how to build habits. The group of people that come to these meetings are trying to do something bigger than themselves whether it is an invention or if its building a business. The same “habit muscles” that you develop to get you up and working out each day could be also useful for making sure that you work on things you need to for your big thing! The meeting was run by Steve Chappell, who organizes GRIN, and has in-depth knowledge and experience on developing and maintaining habits.

The reason we have habits, good and bad, is that they are easier on our mind. They act as a kind of automation tech for our mind that make things in every day life easier (or harder when it comes to bad habits 🙂 ). It takes about 66 days to form a habit according to new research Steve presented. I was shocked! I was always told like 21 days. Research released in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that out of 96 people over 12 weeks the average time it took the participants to form a new habit was 66 days.

The habit cycle, shown below, consists of a cue, a routine and a reward. An example of this cycle could be you setting out your workout clothes the night before getting up early to workout, the workout, and you reward yourself after work with some sit on your butt time to binge some Stranger Things! In order to develop a habit you need to have a habit contract written out. This is your goal habit you want to develop. Using our working out example you would write down “I will work out every other morning at 6:30 am at the YMCA.” With your goals/habits written down you are 3X more likely to succeed at them.




The habit cycle

One step toward making sure you develop healthy habits are creating “mini-habits.” These are very simple goals you set for yourself that take no effort to complete. These may seem pointless when you want to jump to the end of your goal but are very important psychologically.  Completing these simple tasks give you the constant feeling of accomplishment which helps to enforce the routine. So if you wanted to learn a language, rather than being able to conjugate advanced sentences you could focus on only learning 1 or 2 words a day. By introducing “mini-habits” in your life you will notice an increase in your productivity and accomplishments.

Let’s say your motivation level is shown in a chart (see below). As the day goes on your motivation/willpower changes. You may be less prone to work out at 6pm after a long day at work an so you may no complete your 30 minute workout like you had planned. What may not sound so daunting is a 5 minute workout. By ensuring your habits are small and easy, you guarantee success. Then once you have developed these mini habits, larger habits become easier.

Motivation Chart

So once you are on this path of habit development it is important to know that if you miss 2 days in a row your chances of continuing along the path of habit development drops to 55%. miss 3 days and you’re at 90%! If you miss only 1 day, no biggie, your chances drop 5%.


In order to help you develop your habit(s) and stay accountable there are apps out there now that you can put money towards to help you stick them out.  Two of them being “Beeminder” and “Stickk“. These apps have you put your money where your mouth is! If you start a plan you will pay financially for straying from it!


When forming habits you should focus on 1 habit at a time. Just like with anything in life if you take on too many at once you won’t be doing any one that great. The best time to jump on your habit formation is morning as well. We’ve all been there. You really want to work out and get fit but by the time you get home, life just gets in the way and all of a sudden it is 9 pm and you are ready for bed and not a 30 minute workout! If you attack your habit 1st thing in the morning you don’t let the rest of the day get out of hand!

If you’re having troubles developing habits or finding the motivation to get up and get your habit done remember to make “mini habits.”

Things to remember to help develop habits:

  • Daily mini habitsDaily Mini Habits
  • “The 5 Second Rule” – If you are laying in bed not wanting to workout, countdown to yourself “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!” This doesn’t allow your brain to think and sort of jump starts you to an “up and at ’em” mentality
  • Make checklists via a notebook you carry around or with an app or computer. There is some legit psychology to checking things off a list!
  • Work on “Keystone Habits” first to help develop further habits

Keystone habits are ones that can lead to the development of multiple good habits. They start a chain reaction in your life that help you out in many different ways.  For example, in my own personal life me and my wife both jumped onto the fitness habit and do decent at it most weeks. This healthy habit of exercising caused us to not desire to eat fast food, thus allowing us to achieve financial habits as well as fitness habits.

Some examples of keystone habits are:

  • Having family dinners
  • Making your bed every morning
  • Exercising regularly
  • Tracking what you eat
  • Developing daily routines
  • Meditating
  • Planning out your days

Good luck to you on your habit development journey! I struggle with healthy habit formation as well but feel free to contact me if you need any help! Heck, even if you just want to talk about your habit formation successes and failures!


Check out my YouTube video from the meeting!

MI MINUTE - Habit Formation (GRIN October 2017)

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