There may not be a proven formula for success, but there’s no denying those who manage to lead effective and happy lives tend to share a few key habits.
While luck and genetics may play a role, decades of research on achievement reveals that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.
And the good news is, these behaviours aren’t inherent traits. They’re learnable – meaning a few small tweaks to your daily routine could lead to major payoffs.
Running a business whilst raising a family of four was never going to be easy but, as Jones admits, a few behavioural changes have made all the difference. Here are her top 10 secrets for success:
1. Be the early bird
A number of the world’s most successful are self-proclaimed early risers, including founder and chairman of the Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
While becoming a morning person may be harder than it looks, Jones insists it’s worth the trade off. “I’m a morning person by necessity, not choice or genetics,” she says.
And don’t think becoming an early riser means sacrificing on sleep time. As Fitness Magazine reports, an essential component to becoming a morning person is being honest about how much sleep you need and making sure it happens.
For Jones, this sometimes means planning nap times on weekends, or early nights, to top up depleted sleep stores.
2. Coffee, coffee, coffee
Laugh if you will, but it turns out coffee is no joke. In fact, when asked what a successful day looks like for her, Jones simply replied, “Two cappuccinos are almost always involved”.
An essential ingredient for many early risers, coffee (and the process of making or buying it) is “deceptively important,” according to Time.com.
3. Be present for others
A lot of people talk about self-care as the key to success, but for Jones much of her satisfaction, sense of identity and subsequent success comes from looking outside her own needs.
“You can’t drive on an empty tank and I absolutely see the wisdom in the “put the oxygen mask on yourself before others” philosophy, but when I wake up in the morning, I’m the centre of my household,” Jones says.
“I have four young children, a dog, a niece and a husband sharing my household, so my time is not my own when I first wake. I’ve learnt to embrace that as a privilege of my life.”
And at work it’s a similar story. “I engage with my colleagues, fielding questions, providing guidance and helping with decisions,” she says. “Listening to other people’s stories always gives perspective to your own.”
And for all its benefits, Jones is keenly aware how easy it is for technology to block personal connections. “I remember staying at a friends’ house for a weekend where wi-fi was not available,” Jones says.
“This woman’s face and eyes lit up often – but not by a screen – it was whenever one of her children entered the room. She was physically and emotionally present in their company. It was a really powerful moment for me to notice the impact of being present, and pay forward to my own children.”
4. Be on time
Jones openly concedes she’s not the most qualified person to provide advice on time management, but she certainly understands the importance of the skill.
Want more? Try this: The CMO Show: Beat the productivity blues with Cyril Peupion
“One of my growth areas for this year is to get better at being on time. On time to anything, really,” Jones says. “Be it a meeting, a child’s party, a dinner reservation, or my own bed time – I’m almost genetically disposed to lateness.”
And, as Lifehack has found, being punctual matters: “Being on time, every time, conveys far more than just a good sense of timing. It tells people that you’re on top of things, that you’re organised, that you can be counted on, that you value them, and, ultimately, that you value yourself.”
5. Read everything that comes across your desk
That was the advice Jones’ older brother gave her at the beginning of her career and it has held her in good stead ever since.
“He told me to read it all – every report, every press release, every client proposal that came across my desk. To read it, understand it and learn from it,” Jones says.
6. Reframe negative situations
Uncovering the skill early in her career, Jones recognises her ability to change her frame of reference as a tactic crucial to her success.
“My first role was as a glorified receptionist and if I’m honest, I cried most days by the end. I felt overlooked, undervalued and a little lost. Rather than being talent-spotted out of uni as the next Jana Wendt, the highlight of my day was mastering the crema on my boss’ plunger coffee,” Jones says.
“My beloved Nanna had the Serenity Prayer on a wall hanging in her hallway; they’re words I often amplify in my mind when I’m in negative situations.”
In this case, Jones decided to shift her attitude and look for opportunities to do more.
“I started seeing typos in reports and offering to edit them, and as a result I was tasked with reviewing documents before they went to the client. I read a client’s publication and wrote a story for it in my own time. As a result, I ended up getting assigned a regular article.”
They were little wins, but it was all part of a bigger picture. “I refuse to live life as a victim. If I’m not enjoying a situation, I’ll look for ways to improve it. If it’s beyond my control, then I’ll re-focus on areas that are in my control – and sometimes that’s simply a mindset shift that’s invisible to the outside world.”
7. Focus on the big rocks
It’s a popular management principle, but still as relevant as ever and, for Jones, it all comes down to being intentional and being able to prioritise the major elements in her life.
“You have to put what matters most, first,” Jones says. “Some days I don’t get to the pebbles, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.”
8. Have a ‘me’ moment
The most successful of us understand the importance of having a moment of ‘me-time’ each day. It might only be a moment, but these are important opportunities to reflect and replenish.
“I’ll often stop at my favourite café in the morning after I’ve seen my two older boys off to school,” Jones says.
“I get a take away soy cap, and my time from then until I get to the office is my own. It’s only 20 minutes on a good traffic day, but in my life, you savour every moment.”
In these moments, and others, Jones often practices intentional deep breathing. “I focus on breathing deeply in through my nose until my lungs are absolutely at capacity, hold for three seconds, then out,” Jones says.
“It clears my head by sending a bolt of oxygen to my brain, energises my body, and allows me to destress in those moment when I’m feeling the pressure.”
9. Be thankful
From Oprah to Sir Richard Branson, some of the world’s most successful reinforce the habit of consciously practicing gratitude.
According to Business Insider, “The practice of gratitude often makes the difference between success and failure.” Jones wholeheartedly agrees.
“It all comes down to how I define success, which is simply: no regrets, contentedness, gratitude, and spurring the success of others.”
10. Do something unpredictable
“My father is big on routine. Me? Not so much,” Jones says. “Dad used to drive my sister to school and if she wasn’t in the car at 6:58AM for a 7AM departure, he’d leave without her.“
While clearly some find stability and comfort in routine, others find only limitations. Jones most definitely falls in the latter category.
“I’ve never been to the same holiday destination twice, and I hardly ever leave the house at a routine time,” she says.
“Leaving my role as a communications director at a major technology company – while pregnant with a third child – to co-found a business with my husband was probably the most unpredictable thing I’ve ever done. But I don’t have a single regret.”