Danica Patrick’s 5 secrets to living a successful and happy life

Dan Schawbel, Contributor
Danica Patrick, professional racing driver and author.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Danica Patrick recently retired from a six-year full-time career in NASCAR following the annual Ford EcoBoost 400 to focus on her newly released book, "Pretty Intense: The 90-Day Mind, Body and Food Plan that will absolutely Change Your Life," and continue her career as a spokesperson for major brands.

Patrick is one of the most popular athletes in America, one of TIME's Most Influential People and the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing. She's known to many for her career at NASCAR and for being the face of GoDaddy.com up until 2016.

Here's what she has to say about the habits, attitudes and mentality you need to be successful in business and life.

Focus on mind, body and food

In Patrick's book, she discusses three key focus areas for living a happy and successful life: mind, body and food. For her, the mind is the first area people need to get right, from both a goal and attitude perspective. The next focus should be on your body by exercising, which make you feel better and gives you more energy.

It's also important to eat right to support your lifestyle. She advises cutting out foods that have low nutritional value, inflammatory foods and ones that aren't adding to our well-being. "A good way to look at food is, if the sun made it, then it's probably good for you," she says. "Things that are made in a factory, that are in a box, they're not made by the sun. In contrast, if you go pick an apple off of a tree, the sun made that, and you know it will add to your well being."

Create and commit to goals

In order to compete in the male-dominated NASCAR world, Patrick created goals that she was determined to a achieve. "You have to be determined and believe in yourself," she says. And before other people believed in her, she had to believe in her own capabilities.

Although this is easier said than done, everyone in every industry has to get people to rally around their beliefs and goals to be successful. "It's really just about creating that environment around you of happy, positive people that are capable and who believe in achieving the same goal," she explains.

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Make a daily routine

Most successful people have a daily routine that they stick to in order to be efficient and maximize their time and productivity. For Danica, that routine starts in the morning where she wakes up over an hour before she has to go do something. If it's a race day, she drinks coffee, makes some breakfast, watches a little TV, and pets her dogs.

After her morning routine, she starts her job by meet-and-greets, followed by a driver's meeting. "I come back, eat some food, go out for driver intros, do the race, shower, and get home as quickly as possible, " she said.

Avoid negativity

Patrick tries her best to avoid negativity both internally and from others. She won't take on too large of a workload in order to prevent stress and annoyance. "A long time ago I realized that six meet-and-greets before a race was just too much, so the limit is five now," she says.

Taking on too much work created negativity, and her performance suffered as a result.

Let things happen

Outside of her career as a NASCAR driver, Patrick serves as a brand spokesperson and is now an author. Did she always have these ambitions? "They really just grew form a place of passion and interest as far as things that I like to do," she says. She didn't feel like she had to write a book, or represent a brand; these passions flowed naturally from her success as a driver. And that works for her. The book has been a fulfilling way for her to help transform people's lives in a positive way.

Instead of forcing things to happen, Patrick's mantra is, Let it go, let it flow. "I've realized over time that when something's difficult and you can't figure out why it's not working out," she says, "don't force."

Dan Schawbel is a partner and research director at Future Workplace and New York Times bestselling author of "Promote Yourself" and "Me 2.0." Follow him on Twitter @DanSchawbel.

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