Most of these habits seemed insanely hard to follow when I started. But they have yielded results that I could not have imagined or planned for, when I started. That's the beauty of habits. They lead you to destinations you could not have decided for yourself. They create opportunities that would seem impossible early on. They make you comfortably equipped with uncertainty.
When I dropped out of my PhD and came back to India, at the age of 24, I had 2 choices to make:
Choice 1: Plan A didn't work. So Plan B. And then Plan C, D,E or Choice 2: Was there a way to live life without a plan, a goal, a target?
In a moment of what most people, including myself, would call madness, I decided it was Choice 2. I will not set any more goals or targets. I will set habits. Frankly, at that low point of life, I had nothing to lose. And all to gain. And gain, I did!
Don't set goals. Set habits!
Here are 10 such habits that will help you achieve higher goals than you could have set for yourself.Habit 1: Read every day
I read 30-45 mins everyday. Early in the morning. Only non-fiction. No specific topic. Anything that intrigues me. How it has helped me is to connect the dots from multiple fields, personalities, experiences. I remember how Stoic Philosophy helped me design the investment approach for Nearbuy and how Charlie Chaplin's biography helped me make better video content.
I meditate for 30 mins every day. It is hard to describe how immensely helpful meditation has been. I am more aware, out of habit now. The minute I am distracted, I realize I am. I do not feel the need to control my emotions anymore. I am simply aware of them.Habit 3: Work out 6 days a week
I play tennis for 3 days a week and lift weights 3 days a week. This was a journey I started rather late in life, at the age of 32. Haven't looked back since then. Working out has taught me not just self discipline and self respect, it has also contributed the most to my growth as a leader. Studying about the body made me realize how organizations should also be developed the same way.
I sleep at 9: 30 pm every day (except Friday) for 7 hours and then try to sleep for another hour during the afternoon. Sleeping well is perhaps the single biggest determinant of physical and mental energy. It is ridiculous how easy it is to gain that energy and how many of us still waste this natural cure to so many problems!Habit 5: Read ALL emails
I get ~3,000 emails a week marked to me. And I read all of them. I reply to less than 5% though. I treat my emails as my opportunity creator. I have hired my best folks, because of cold emails sent to me. I have collaborated with the smartest, most capable people I know, and all of it started with a random email. Great opportunities do not come with the subject line "Great Opportunity"!Habit 6: Meet someone new every week
For the past 5 years, I have met someone new every week. Earlier it used to be in office. Now happens through Zoom. I decide spontaneously. An interesting email. An intriguing tweet. An article that caught my fancy. I just seek their time. People have amazing stories, amazing experiences, amazing things to share. It is like reading a book a week, in less than 30 minutes. Most of these conversations, I walk away with something that I need to think upon, work upon, improve upon.Habit 7: Watch TV less than 2 hours a week
We cut our cable connection 6 years back. And even on OTTs, my time per week is less than 2 hours. I do not commit to any series. Only movies. (My last 2 series were Chernobyl and Scam - both worth it!). Less TV means less numbing of my senses, less chances of being seduced to not sleep on time, less time consuming. And that means more time feeling alive, more chances of sticking to my schedule and more time thinking.
Back in college we used to play a fun game. We will all speak ONLY in questions. No sentences. I still play that game in my head every day. Asking questions allows me to dig deeper. It helps me pause, helps me reflect.Habit 9: Resist the obvious
Whenever in a complex situation, I ask myself, "If I were to take an opinion poll on what should I do, what would be the majority response?" And then I will encourage myself to not make that choice. Instead, think of the non-obvious path. This is a magical habit. It compounds magnificently to the point where it becomes second nature. And when it does, it sets you up for outcomes that most of the world will not witness for themselves.Habit 10: Share what you know
I have been writing a blog since 2005. I have been posting videos once every week since 2016. I have been posting videos every day since 2018. I have been sharing what I have learnt, as a process (which doesn't feel like a process to me). Sharing has made me connect with people that I would have never met otherwise. Sharing it with absolute transparency has also made me extremely comfortable with who I am.
Ankur Warikoo is an entrepreneur, teacher and founder of Nearbuy. He tweets a thread every Friday about entrepreneurship, failure and personal growth on his Twitter handle @warikoo