There are many habits I believe will help people achieve both success and happiness throughout their lives. Waking up before six a.m., setting regular goals, and showing up early for meetings being a few. However, one of the habits that I have formed over the years that is probably less talked about is that of becoming a regular. We have all been out with that friend who seems to know everyone at a particular bar. They walk to the front of the line and greet the bouncer as an old friend, immediately allowing you and the rest of your friends to skip the line. Once inside, the bartender recognizes your friend with the point of a finger, and before you know it, there's a round of drinks sitting in front of you.
It is almost magical, as it seems this person has secret keys that at not available to others, and through that, the ability to do things that others cannot. It is my belief that this idea of becoming a regular is not only a neat bar trick. It is something that can be incorporated into your every day life to help you be happier and ultimately more successful.
In today’s world, we often experience a lack of genuine human connection. So many of our interactions become transactions and the phrase, “how is it going?” gets used as more of a form of greeting then a genuine inquiry into another person’s well-being. But, when you frequent a place often and take a genuine interest in the people around you, they will take an interest in you and take care of you. This human connection is truly one of the best parts of becoming a regular, and it is my hope that you will come to understand that these connections are where the true value is experienced.
Given that, it is no surprise that I believe the idea of becoming a regular expands far outside of the bar scene. At a high level, it starts with going to the same places regularly (pun intended) and learning the names of the people who work there. This way you can get to know these people and the staff can get to know you. (It also helps that I have the tendency of ordering the same thing over and over. One more thing for the staff to know me by.) Learning people’s names and being open are important because you want people to be excited to see you and thus treat like you are part of the family. It's such a simple concept- be good to others, and it will come back to you many times over. Simple, but often overlooked, and if I could offer one piece of guidance it would be to always treat others well.
Being comfortable in your environment is also important. If you are like me and take a lot of meetings in various coffee shops, it's nice to feel like you are at home when you end up camping out at cafe for six hours in a day. But it goes further than that. When you feel comfortable in an environment, that sense of ease is picked up by others, which makes them feel more comfortable, and thus the entire situation is improved.
Last but not least, there’s the free stuff. When you become a regular somewhere, there are many soft benefits that come together in order to elevate the experience, but one very tangible benefit is that becoming a regular often comes with the occasional freebie. I don’t know how many free coffees and sides I have gotten over the years by just picking a place and deciding to make it my home.
Over the years, I have always worked to develop habits and then stick with them. I wear the same basic outfit almost every day (jeans, blazer, and a black V-neck) and eat the same things from the same restaurants. This combination of behaviors has led to me becoming a regular at a number of coffee shops and restaurants in various places around my city and I have found that this has greatly improved both my personal life and work life. All in all, the process of a becoming a regular boils down to the golden rule paired with consistency. To that end, I would challenge each of you to learn the names of the people you interact with on a daily basis that don’t directly involve your work or personal life. Take a moment and invest in those relationships that might on the surface seem inconsequential, and watch as the world around you becomes a happier, more productive place. Treat others well and all of that good will come back to you in ways you don’t even expect.