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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Grand Rapids Comic Con – Magneto Cosplay

So this year for the Grand Rapids Comic Con (GRCC)I wanted to do some sort of a cosplay because we’ve gone to Cons but we have never really dressed up. It started out with grand plans about 10 months ago when I bought a couple packs of these foam exercise mats on sale from Aldi’s. Our plan was to go as Destiny guardians. This task seemed hard as heck but made sense because of all the Destiny props we have. Anyways, it gets to be like 2 weeks before GRCC and I’m like…. crap. I haven’t done anything. What cool costume can I throw together? I settled on Magneto because I had seen the helmet someone designed on MyMiniFactory.com and I’ve always liked him as a bad guy.
The construction of the costume included both a 3D printed helm and foam as my chest armor. I wanted to keep this Magneto more to the modern version, as seen in Xmen: Days of Future Past. I also took some inspiration from other cosplayers that have done Magneto as well.
In order to cut the foam to a prop scale I used an old black t-shirt to mount the foam blocks to.
Magneto Cosplay (2)Magneto Cosplay (3)
I went to a local Goodwill and bought just some black dress pants along with black boots.
On Amazon I purchased some black rubber gloves and a long red undershirt.
The cape is just a generic “vampire” cape from a Halloween costume store.
In the Days of Future Past movie Magneto has these insignia on his cape so I drew them in OnShape and 3D printed them as well.
I also felt like Magneto needed something more so I drew and I-beam in OnShape an made it look bent. I printed that in halves, bondo’ed it together, and painted it to look like metal. I actually added this to Thingiverse’s contest.
Magneto Cosplay - I-beam.png
I actually had issues when printing off the helmet components. I scaled up some by 10% but forgot to do so with others and it was just a mess that ended with me rushing to print pieces off Friday night before the con. Once they were all done I put them together with auto bondo. I had to use blue tape to hold the general shape and apply bondo multiple times.
Then it was hole patching and sanding time! This was where I spent most of my night really…. At 1am when I was ready to airbrush I realized my airbrush was dirty and clogged! I had to run to a local Meijer to buy spray paint to finish it up. I plan on re-sanding and airbrushing later to make it look better though!
The end was a pretty good 1st cosplay if i don’t say so myself. 😀

GVSU Engineering Design Conference 2017

Each year in August my alma mater, Grand Valley State University, holds a design conference at the Kennedy Hall of Engineering. It is a time where alumni from the university, current students, family and friends of students and just the general community can come check out the student’s projects. They consist of a mix of class projects and senior projects. The senior project section of study occurs the last 2 semesters of the program. The 1st semester is really to plan out the project by meeting with experts and  the customers and prototype some simple concepts. The 2nd semester is really build and debug and hopefully get sign off. Some are luckier with the last one than others! It was not uncommon to have a senior project take an extra month or two…. or 5….. although I hope 5 is rare, it has happened to people I know!
My senior project was to design and build a thermoforming machine to make gauges for the company that go in service vehicles, RVs, boats, ATVS, and pretty much anything but cars and trucks. Our project started out being form and punch with a budget of $25k. In the last few weeks of the 1st semester we realized that both were out of the $25k budget! Our sponsor saw what we proposed and reduced our requirements to just the forming machine. This in itself was difficult come to find out because trying to form an acceptable part took us to the last day in September before our sponsor gave us sign off. Making the equipment move and form was “easy” compared to trying to diagnose why are parts were slightly always out of spec.
Enough about me! These are the projects that I had the most time to talk with the teams and learn from them. It is by no means a “top dog” list. Full list here:
1) Adient – Robotic Inspection
Team: Adam DeBoer, Jesse Hendriksma, Ethan Ruffing, Joseph Russell, Gunnar Savalox
This project featured 2 Fanuc robotic arms that are used in combination with a vision system to inspect the MIG welds on car seat-frames for weld defects, things such as burn through and missing welds. This process was previously done manually by people and it can help them with through-put.
2) Cascade Engineering – Valet Trash Cart
Team: Jacob Miller, Matthew Smeenk, Travis Stillson, Kyle VanderStelt, Benjamin VanderWall, Brian Westerhof
The Cascade team had the task of taking a company’s product/service and improving it. The company was having complaints about the previous version of the cart and in some cases even lost contracts based on that! The cart is used to transport residential trash bags from places like apartments, condos, and retirement communities in Florida. The previous cart was loud, heavy, leaked and was not very ergonomic. They also increased the carrying capacity of the cart by integrating a system similar to how you would grab plastic bags from a grocery store checkout! This team had to put themselves in the shoes of those using the old cart and “trash” the old design!
3) City of Grand Haven – Musical Fountain
Team: Brett Burton, Alexandria Graff, Luke Hubbard, Brett Johnson, Jordan Tatchin
The musical fountain in Grand Haven has always been an icon of West Michigan. this project team was tasked with developing and implementing new features for the aging fountain infrastructure. The water patterns haven’t changed much since the creation of the fountain. The current nozzles shoot water straight up at various heights with very little sweeping actions. One cool feature that I saw was the addition of a double helix sweep (you can see this in the video below).
4) CWC (A Textron Company) – Mold Vacuum Flow Improvement
Team: Christian Bialek, Joseph Carroll, Ashley Garrett, Thaddeus Tjapkes
This project wasn’t the “flashiest” project but it stood out to me with regard to my interests. They were asked to reduce the number of scrapped parts due to inclusions of loose sand during the casting process. Walking by someone would have seen their videos and been like “oh cool, they made a vacuum.” What they did was take a complicated issue, run simulations using software called Star CCM to verify that the problems being experienced were actually what was going on. To verify the simulations they checked various locations inside the vacuum hood with flow meters and compared these numbers to what the simulations said should be the flow rate. From here they designed a streamlined hood and had MUCH better air flow!
The left shows the CFD of the old vacuum hood and the right image shows the re-designed.
5) GVSU Formula Racing Team – Formula SAE (a freakin’ race car)
Team: Abby Merritt, Gerrett Pelowski, Daniel Penninga, Andrew Stafford, Trevor Thomas, Joel Wessely
So if there was an award for luckiest students, it would go to these ones! Their project was to design and manufacture a Formula SAE race car! It had to fit within the guidelines of the SAE rules while also being a substantial improvement to the previous year’s car. The students were to use simulations to design a better frame and suspension while reducing the size of the car (lower vehicle weight). The students were able to re-use many of the previous car such as drivetrain, and engine components.