Almost three years ago, I wrote an article title, 7 Habits of TRYING to Be Sucessful. The “habits” that I laid out were not so much habits, but rather perspectives and subsequent practices that I was heavily putting into play at the time.

Since that time though, those practices have evolved in what could better be called rituals, and the accompanying perspectives have become better defined. Those habits have evolved in step with my own mindset, and revisiting them felt worthwhile.

Context established (as I say way too often), let's move on to the rituals.

1. Following a defined schedule creates greater productivity.

Before, I had called this, “waking up stupid early”, and waking up early allows you to get things done. But beyond waking up early, there is the necessity for structure in your daily routines.

Whereas in the past I would wake up early but then haphazardly plan out my day, I now follow a defined schedule every day of the week, Monday through Friday, and weekends included.

Having a working schedule that I DON'T screw with allows me to better manage my energy, my performance, and my productivity.

On a meta perspective, maintaining a schedule represents your value of your own time. If you want to maximize your waking hours, organize them. The discipline of maintaining a schedule has allowed me more freedom than I had in the past, as my productivity is now a ritualized part of my day.

If you don't currently have a daily schedule, create one and put it into practice. It may be the best decision you ever make with how you use your time.

alexander diel bench

2. Managing your energy allows facilitates for better quality of life.

In the past, I would try to work as much as I could. Then I would get burned out, have a week of feeling lousy, napping constantly, training terribly, and then recover enough to start the process over.

In the past year though, I finally objectively made some changes to keep my energy high ALL of the time. I did this by:

  • Critically evaluating when my most productive times of day were.
  • Scheduling clients during my high-energy periods.
  • Setting a SET time to be in bed every night.
  • Getting a handle on my nutrition by simplifying my diet, and using convenience foods much more often (bars and shakes).
  • Drinking 2 gallons of water a day (seriously, this made a HUGE difference across the board).
  • Cutting out people that drained me of energy (its own point to cover).
  • Setting up a flexible but firm training schedule.

Basic stuff? Most of it, yes, but it all had a profound difference. My session quality improved immensely, my training improved, and I’ve been able to maintain a higher session schedule than I ever have in the past, all while being more rested and in better health.

You manage your energy, you’ll see across the board improvements in everything else

3. Not sacrificing time for fatigue.

This took me a long time to learn. If undertaking more work will result in a decline in the quality of your current work, DON'T DO IT.

Now, here is the caveat to this:

When you first start out at anything, you are basically in Shit-Suck mode, as Dave Tate refers to it. So this doesn't really apply within the first stages of your career. As you get “okay” though, and get close to being good, then it becomes more paramount to NOT backslide, and be conscientious in maintaining your level of performance.

WATCH: Table Talk — How Do You Make Training Fit Your Life Schedule?

At that stage, trying to take on more work may in fact be detrimental. It becomes essential to prioritize your skill-sets and work to improve those accordingly. If something is going to be done begrudgingly, or result in a decline in your current production, pass on it.

While its nice to believe you are an engine of productivity that can take on “everything”, you are not. Unless something enhances and augments what you are currently doing, don't waste time on it.

4. Creating Systems

The concept of creating systems gets overcomplicated. I break it down this way:

  • You have actions that require conscious thought, and take up more energy.
  • You have action that are unconscious, and take up less energy.

You can organize systems to be complicated or simple, but fundamentally, a system is a structure that manages energy flow in some type of pattern-based, organized fashion.

On an individual level, my goal with creating systems wasnt to “add” to what I was doing, but simply do the same things in a more organized way. Some basic examples:

  • I set up an auto order for protein powder and protein bars each month. Total basic bro, but now that’s time that I don’t have to get online to order or drive to local supplement shop.
  • I set up all my finances to automatic withdrawal, and recurring billing. Now managing my money each month is on autopilot, and I don't have to waste time thinking about it other than occasional checking to see everything is in order.
  • I spent a week writing out all of my training models. This acted both as a refresher and allowed me to effectivize the training of all our members.
  • I created an evening ritual for my next day's routine. Previously I'd do this in the morning, but Id always be in a rush doing it. Now I do it the night before, and it saves time while also acting a mental check list for the next day.

There are many other examples, but hopefully the point is made. Don't add to what you are doing, rather organize it better. None of these things are revolutionary or groundbreaking, and I have no doubt that many will read this and blow this off as overwrought bullshit. As I said before though, these were things I was already doing, but I just organized them better so that I don't need to spend mental energy on them anymore.

strongman alexander

People either control their schedules or their schedules control them. If your life is chaos that you barely stay ahead of, consider whether some order and structure could be to your benefit. Systemizing the actions you already do can go a long ways towards freeing up mental energy for greater priorities.

This sure isn't an encouraging list, is it? However, no one gets through life bullshit-free; you'll at least encounter workers that give your whole industry a bad name, and team members who are disrespectful assholes. You will also be forced to endure all manner of incompetency, pointless meetings and trainings, backstabbing, lawsuits, work politics, petty bullshit over who said what, and every other eye-stabbing irritation you can think of. And it never ends, because the more successful you become, the more aware you will be of how screwed everything can be. So, you have three options:

  • You can either choose to let this bother you and be angry constantly.
  • You can be apathetic and say, "to hell with it" and let mediocrity rule.
  • You can learn to let go of things you can't affect, do what you can, and do your damnedest to do the right things, make things work, and accept that people are people and that the bullshit and the obstacles are what make you better over everything else.

So, if you really want to be successful, go with the third option. Notice that it takes the longest and requires far more effort than the other two — and for good reason.

5. Be judicious with whom you invest your time. 

That means don't spend time with shitty people, don't invest time with shitty people, and don't work with shitty people.

This is captain obvious advice that everyone nods their heads to. Or maybe turns around and says, “easy for you to say” along with some failed attempt at an ad hominem attack.

That aside, every job and every industry has its bad people in it. Not everyone you meet in life will be “good."

But you can save yourself a lot of grief, trouble, and wasted emotion by learning to be discerning with who you spend your time with. Personal or professional, it really doesn't matter. If you make an effort to always surround yourself with the best people possible, your overall existence will be immensely improved.

This is one of those points that I feel does have a binary rule to it

Does a person give you energy or drain you of energy?

Fill your life with the former as much as possible, and the latter as minimally as possible.

6. Experience is the greatest form of education.

Applied knowledge is honed by practice, and practice is what builds skill. Practice means constant application. “Education” is too often conceptualized as book learning and classroom time. That may be the beginning of knowledge, but it is by no means the end.

It has become a cultural phenomena that because someone has “read” about something, they can then claim understanding. This is not true. Without dynamic experience and observation, then no understanding can truly be had. Comprehending an analogy feels like thinking, but it fools you. Reading a statement and it making sense may feel like learning, but you lack the sight of having applied it and witnessed it in action.

If you want to be “good” at anything, you MUST do that thing every day. Practice it, and study subjects OUTSIDE your field to improve your practice of your own.

7. Win, and keep on winning.

Last time I talked about failure, this time I talk about winning. What gives?

Failure is part of the process, no doubt. And as I've said in the past, you cannot fear it, nor be held back by it. But that doesn’t mean you have to chase it either. And it doesn’t mean you should be happy about failure when it happens. At a certain point, failing forward becomes part of a process, but winning has to become the outcome.

Whether you're a trainer, a coach, a lifter, or a business owner, you have to deliver something. Results, victories, profits, totals on the platform, so on and so forth. Failure teaches you, but people don't hire you based on how many times you've fucked up, they hire you on what you can deliver. You have to translate your mistakes into something that produces. You must win off them. And keep that streak going.

Fail enough times, you're a failure. Outperform your failures, you're a winner. Fail forwards, but win upwards.