17 Daily personal habits for a fulfilling life

I have been teaching MBAs for 5 years and am often asked over a coffee a question on the general theme of “what should I do with my life?” or “how can I be a success?” to which I feel hugely underqualified to provide answers.  I have spent time reflecting on my own life (not a great source of wisdom) and speaking with lots of friends, colleagues and wise-seeming individuals (a great source of wisdom).  I have compiled a list of 17 daily habits that are common to the people who reach the end of their life, look back and say “I would be happy to do much the same again”.

I was hesitant to share this material as I feel unqualified to talk about it (only half way through the average human lifespan, not yet a billionaire).  I showed it to my father a couple of days ago, only to discover the next day that he had passed it on to the boards of 3 global companies, some successful authors, some highly successful people… and they came back saying that this was inspiring and “challenging stuff”. I thank my father for doing what I was scared to do – share this stuff.

17 Daily Habits for a Fulfilling Life

The full document (8 pages) is available if you want here on Google Documents.
  1. Goal setting (Dreams to Goals to Actions)
  2. Time Management
  3. Fit mind and body
  4. Personal vision (What on Earth am I here for?)
  5. Integrity – build trust
  6. Personal finances in order
  7. Good social life
  8. Strong relationships with partner, family and kids
  9. Resilience (Head in the sky, feet on the ground)
  10. Self motivation
  11. Self acceptance
  12. Fun
  13. Attracts and uses mentors and advisors
  14. Is open and seeks coaching
  15. Giving with intention
  16. Gets others to do stuff
  17. Sets aside time for reflection

I would appreciate your reactions in the comments (here) and this really is a work in progress to which I would love to see how we use the web 2.0 tools (facebook, twitter, linkedin) to collaborate and develop this material.

I have another question – how do you get people to change their habits?  Some of the early readers of this material said “really enjoyed reading this piece, but it is a bit like january resolutions-the new diet is a great idea but it is very hard to stop eating the things we like”.  If it is not a book, if it is not a course, if it is not new year’s resolutions… what does it really take to allow someone to reach an aha moment and implement change in their life (I need this answer more than most for my own life, I might have this list, but every day I am challenged to find the discipline to live it).

P.S. If you liked this post you might also like The complete guide to personal habits: 158 reflections on being your best self and 9 Reasons why you are Stuck.

Update: TEDx Talk on this Subject…

In April 2013 I was fortunate to be invited to speak at the TEDx University of Navarra “Shaking the Ordinary” event.  The speech is now up on YouTube:


  1. Hashim Mohammed · · Reply

    Thank you so much sir , your speech is inspiring , I have decided to try to experiment and follow these three criteria for the next six month as a start.

    I wish you a happy and blessed life full of success ,
    greetings from Iraq🙂

    1. Fantastic! Greetings from Barcelona to you in Iraq😉

  2. […] wrote an article for myself in 2009 when I had faced 2 major setbacks. This was to remind me of what is important. I’ll share the […]

  3. […] You need lots of help.  More than you can imagine. You need to learn to ask for it. (Ask better questions, 17 habits for a fulfilling life #13) […]

  4. Great stuff !
    I always admire the way you put across some of the very complex theories in a simplest manner for everyone to understand !
    Thank you.

  5. […] you clear on your values and purpose?  If not, you are bouncing from one opportunity to the next.  You take today’s good […]

  6. Hi Connor,

    I too stumbled upon your site by chance, through a recommendation on Linkedin. You have many very positive and inspirational ideas, as well a clear and thought-provoking way of expressing them.

    To your list of habits for a fulfilling life, I would add “listen to your heart “. Sometimes this may lead you to take decisions which may not be the most logical next step, but on future reflection they are often your proudest memories.

    Kind regards,


  7. Ketutar · · Reply

    I know it’s a bit late now, but…
    10.000 hours divided in 5 years is 2000 hours every year. There is 8760 hours in a year. That means that you should use 1/4 of every day in practicing, to get 10000 hours practice.
    An average adult uses about 1/3 of his day for work, 1/3 for sleeping and eating and other such activities, and about 1/3 for leisure activities. It’s not quite as clean as that, but average adults have about 4-6 hours “free time” every day. To get in all the 10.000 hours in 5 years, an average adult should spend EVERY MINUTE of their “leisure time” in the practice. Which means, they wouldn’t have time to socialize, exercise, go to such events like funerals or weddings, take care of their spiritual needs, read anything that couldn’t be counted as practice, or do anything else.
    If one uses just one hour six days a week to practice, it would take them 32 years to become an expert.
    Frankly, I prefer the “good enough” theory. Practice something for 20 hours and you’ll be good enough, or “how to learn anything in 20 hours”.
    Or NaNoWriMo ideology. You can do anything by doing it one hour a day.

    About how to motivate people.
    Jim Rohn — ‘If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.’

    You don’t need to motivate people. If people want to do something, they have the motivation. They will find the way, the time, the money, the right people and everything else. They will do it, what ever it is.
    If not, they will keep finding excuses and buts and all kinds of reasons why they don’t do it.
    It’s waste of time to motivate people to do things they really don’t want to do. It would be better to find what it is they DO want to do.
    And it’s OK some people never do anything worth mentioning.

    A fulfilling life is one the person is content with, and the most important thing in life is love. You can travel the world and be richer than Scrooge McDuck, but without love it’s worth nothing. Unless you love money, really love money, like Scrooge, but then you probably will be rich.😀

  8. […] 17 Daily personal habits for a fulfilling life – my earliest “went viral” post;  this was a long reflection on the first 35 years of my life […]

  9. […] my procrastination problem, but it did set me on the path to practicing focus.  My own post on Self-Discipline was inspired by Leo […]

  10. […] 17 Daily personal habits for a fulfilling life […]

  11. I like your body language and the style of speaking. It makes me motivate to practise my weak speaking power. I am Mr Myo from Myanmar.

  12. I too accidently found your site! Very very thankful to have found your writing Conor – it has much meaning in my work.

    Your question re ‘how do you get people to change their habits?’ underpins the growth mindset research of Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University. This is which belief we adopt: the belief we’re born with our intelligence and abilites – fixed mindset. Or the belief we grow and develop our intelligence and abilites over the lifespan – growth mindset..

    An intervention study Yr 7 students:
    Group 1 were taught excellent skills
    Group 2: were taught same study skills and 2 x 25 mins mindset training – the brain adapts in response to the demands the student puts on them.- neuroplasticity. They were in control of their intelligence and abilities.
    Group 1 failed to implement the study skills as they lacked the motivation to do so, believing they themselves simply lacked the intelligence/ability
    Group 2 understanding how to grow their brain, they applied the study skills, improved their grades, and continued to pull away from their peers

    Out mindset determines the level of effort we implement according to our internal belief – our “what’s the use” ometer

    Nobody is born with a given mindset – it’s a learned behaviour. What can be learned can be unlearned.

    1. Thank you for the super clear explanation of fixed vs growth😉

  13. kahunakeith · · Reply

    Ah, yes, I linked into your more in-depth google copy.

    Excellent, with some great specifics to implement!


  14. Yes, the genius is in taking the grand overview of life, getting the perspective of what really matters to achieve a great life. This is a job well-done. I appreciate it.

    And what I would love is, even if it is a short ebook, a “fleshing out” of each of these, so they end up being implementable. I am an advocate of “creating the bridge” from the great concept over to the actual implementation, which actually, perhaps seemingly boringly, requires a procedure (a system, a plan, with all the steps) as to what to do – otherwise, as with many inspiring workshops and seminars, we are launched out into an excited space, but inevitably falling into the great chasm between the idea and getting the result. Yes, the inspiration is good, but as per your great presentation on The Discipline To Finish, life is even better with building a bridge to the results, to the means with which we can produce more of what we want in life.

    I would love to see you write the book and create the bridge (and I’d buy it in a split second!).

    Thanks for your contribution.

    Keith Garrick

    1. Thank you for the inspiration to finish the job😉

  15. Hi Conor, I fully agree with you and I do believe it is possible to adopt all these habits in your own life. Congrats!

  16. Michael McCloskey · · Reply

    I discovered your speaking videos by accident today, the second month after my 70th birthday, and they led me here. The 17 things leading to a well-lived life provoke powerful emotions and inspiring thoughts. Perhaps I shall retire someday, but I am currently the academic dean at a small career college in Bakersfield, California, and I am constantly searching for ideas to inspire and spark motivation. I have come to the conclusion that inspiration is the trigger that ignites intrinsic motivation – and it all starts with a great or moving story. I have been experimenting with this idea for the past several months with in class guest speaking spots. You have both helped me to do better, and you have validated my methods. Thank You!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to write this😉

  17. Javier · · Reply

    I think it´s very complete but not very realistic and almost impossible to get.

    On the other hand it´s interesting to see them all together and to realize that you could be doing more in some areas.


  18. […] 17 Daily Habits for a Fulfilling Life […]

  19. […] Do in sprints – The Pomodoro technique is explained here. […]

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Anna S. E. Lundberg

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