8 Habits of People Who Overcome Life's Biggest Challenges That Will Inspire Your New Year

With a new year comes new resolutions to be a better version of yourself. If you're like me, you might try and fail, and then throw in the towel for the year. But why rely on one-time resolutions when strong habits can follow you year to year? These habits — grand secrets that certain people — CEOs, founders, Nobel Peace Prize winners — know that the rest of us do not — can bring you closer to fulfilling your dreams.

Thankfully, those who have defied the odds to rise to the top are often eager to share their most tried-and-true tips. Some of them might be obvious, some revolutionary, but we promise: All will help you achieve your goals and (virtually) conquer the world. You may not be able to change the world, but changing your place within it can make all the difference for yourself.

We gathered habits common to those who rise above challenges to achieve their dreams, and inspire us to achieve ours. Some of these are obvious, like choosing fresh food over french fries (easier said than done, IMO). Others are more unconventional. But either way, we're planning on a 2015 filled with renewal, rejuvenation, and a boost in overall well-being, so all of these tips are worth giving our best shot. 

Get Enough Sleep

Media mogul Arianna Huffington is arguably today’s biggest advocate for getting your beauty rest, and our overused snooze button owes her one. In her book Thrive, Huffington details the ways in which we need to redefine our concepts of “success” in the 21st century. Sacrificing sleep can lead to decreased productivity, clouded minds, and overall unhappiness as both an employee and as a person. Just another reason to get those eight hours!

Eat Well

Put. Down. The. Fries. Seriously, getting your fill of fruits, vegetables and protein is a tried-and-true way to step up your game. Studies show that healthy foods — especially fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — can help improve cognitive function. And you’ll look better, too — processed, high-sugar foods are common culprits for poor hair and skin conditions. Swap fries and a shake for fruits and vegetables, and get glowing.

Stay Active

The benefits of exercise are virtually endless; getting blood flowing can improve physical health, mental health, and leave you (ironically) feeling more energized than a nap. Exercise is also a surefire way to combat bad moods, stressed-out days, or sleepless nights. 

Give Back

Take a hint from recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and turn challenges into opportunities to pay it forward. Whether you have the bandwidth to donate your funds or your time, giving back in any capacity is a good way to improve mood, self-esteem, and perspective. If you've got more time than money, find a volunteer program in your 'hood and you'll likely end up with new friends while you're at it. 

Check Your Ego

Losing your humility and letting your ego get inflated are guaranteed ways to ruin relationships and lose sight of growth potential. Remember that you always have more to learn, and that those lessons may come from unexpected sources — maybe even that newest team member at work. Confidence is an asset, cockiness is not.

Take a Break

One of the most common habits of highly successful people is daily meditation. It can seem daunting to carve out even twenty or thirty minutes of your day to clear your mind, but the benefits make it a worth a shot for those looking to improve productivity, mood, and worth ethic. If it's not for you, don't force yourself — but at the very least, a short evening sess will give you a head start at falling asleep at night. We're told just a few of the other benefits include rejuvenation, fulfillment, calm, and clarity — an overall boost in sense of well-being.

Carpe Diem

It can be easy to fall into the habit (and black hole) of procrastination. Taking action (a.k.a. "Get it done.") is a great way to combat anxiety or stress over tasks, and to prevent an ever-growing to-do list. If you find yourself continuously procrastinating, sit down and reevaluate your strategy for handling unpleasant or unpopular tasks — and recognize how great you feel when you can check them off your list. This mind-hacking will make it easier to get over that hump in the future.

Stay Informed

Keeping up with the times is more than just a business strategy, it’s a life strategy. Staying in-the-know about what's happening in the news, new apps and tech products, and of-the-moment issues can obviously keep you relevant — but can also keep you inspired. Mark Zuckerberg is notorious for spending hours daily reading about habits of highly successful people, so much so that this has become one of them.

Image: inside_passage/Flickr

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