As a kid, did you ever go to the playground and play on one of those heavy, metal merry-go-rounds?

I would kneel on the merry-go-round with my left leg, holding on to the bar with both hands, and then push with my right leg. In the beginning it would slowly grind and squeak, not much of a ride -- just hard work. But, as I continued to push, it gradually gained momentum until before long I was flying around, exhilarated by the ride. At that point, it took very little effort to keep it spinning, in fact, it was hard to stop.

Success isn’t a result of one earth-shaking event. It is a result of many small, consistent positive choices -- “pushes.” What you do routinely is the key.

The person who routinely saves 10 percent of his paycheck will have a very different financial future than someone who routinely spends 10 percent more than they make. Someone who regularly opts to work out and eat a healthy breakfast will experience different health results from someone who regularly forgoes the workout in favor of stopping off for doughnuts and a soda.

Our choices determine our results. Each choice begins with a behavior, and repeated behaviors become habits.

Habits are like the playground merry-go-round. In the beginning it is a “push.” You have to intentionally think about each action; it’s work. But once a behavior becomes a habit, it is a “pull” and becomes automatic.

We are naturally creatures of habit, but the question to ask yourself is, “are my habits taking me toward or away from what I ultimately want?”

If there is an area of your life that you aren’t seeing the results you want:

  • What do you routinely do to contribute to the problem? Do you fail to follow up? Do you allow yourself to get distracted from what you know you should do?
  • What positive routines can you incorporate to help you achieve your goal?
  • Are you ready and willing to make a change?

Success doesn’t just happen; you need to set up the conditions for success. Intentionally choose to incorporate positive routines into your day.

I have discovered that the two times of day I have the most control over my time are when I first wake up, and when I am going to bed, so I’ve found these are great times to set up positive routines such as:

  • Reviewing your goals. Intentionally deciding what you ultimately want in terms of health, relationships, personal and professional development, etc.
  • Planning your day, making sure that what you value is reflected in your calendar.
  • Exercising.
  • Reading, studying, and developing skills.
  • Evaluating your day, noting successes as well as what you could do better next time.
  • Recognizing and expressing gratitude for the good things in your life.

Success is a process, not an event. As Aristotle said, “we are what we repeatedly do.”

It takes time to see the benefits of positive disciplines, so don’t get discouraged. Recognize that it is the direction you are moving that matters. It is the small, consistent, smart choices we make that eventually lead to positive results and success.

Get ready to push, to choose new behaviors, better routines and habits that lead to success, and then -- enjoy the ride!

Pamela Adams Henrie is the owner of The Success Choice and creator of "The Woman's Success Planner" and "The Choosing Joy in the Journey Journal." For more information, or to contact Pamela, log on to her website at TheSuccessChoice.com.