Success is different for everyone. But what’s interesting is that most successful people have very similar qualities.
If you want to achieve your dreams and be successful, you need to model yourself on people who are living their dreams.
The more qualities you have in common with these people, the higher chances you’ll be for achieving your version of success.
Here are 10 little things successful people do that many of us don’t:
1. They keep trying in spite of failure
Failure and mistakes are inevitable in life. But the difference with successful people is that they don’t let failures stop them from trying again.
According to psychologist Angela Duckworth in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, grit is the number one predictor of success.
She says that staying committed and turning up every day is reflective of true grit:
“Staying on the treadmill is one thing, and I do think it’s related to staying true to our commitments even when we’re not comfortable…
“But getting back on the treadmill the next day, eager to try again, is in my view even more reflective of grit…”
“Because when you don’t come back the next day—when you permanently turn your back on a commitment—your effort plummets to zero. As a consequence, your skills stop improving, and at the same time, you stop producing anything with whatever skills you have.”
So if you want to be successful, it’s imperative to keep turning up. Improvement happens gradually and it’s those that continually improve that end up being successful.
2. They don’t compare themselves to others
It’s natural for us to care about what other people think.
But successful people don’t compare themselves excessively. They know there is no benefit.
They understand that life is complex and circumstances are different for everyone, so it’s impossible to accurately and fairly compare yourself.
They also realize that they’ll never understand what someone else’s life is really like behind the curtains.
The only person a successful person compares themselves to is their past self.
This is how they’re able to improve, and how they avoid the self-deprecating emotions that come from comparing.
3. They have courage (even in the face of fear)
There’s a myth that people who are ultra successful don’t feel fear.
This isn’t true.
Everyone feels fear, including people who are successful. But those who are successful feel the fear and take action anyway.
This is because they have courage. They are can take action even when the outcome is uncertain.
Those who are successful know that the path to happiness and fulfillment is rife with dangers, and this isn’t going to stop them. They move forward and face up to their fears, even when it’s difficult to do so.
Having courage combines well with passion because they come from the same place.
4. They don’t wait around for motivation
Successful people also know that they can’t rely on motivation.
Like anything, motivation comes and goes. It’s a bonus when it’s there, but it’s impossible for it to always be there.
Many people believe that to complete difficult tasks we need to be motivated in the first place.
Successful people don’t wait for inspiration to strike.
They understand that taking action in the first place will actually lead to more motivation in the long run.
Sure, feeling good helps you do hard things, but doing hard things makes you feel good.
Successful people focus on taking action first.
They know that motivation comes when you start to make progress, so it’s more important to take small actions daily no matter how motivated you are.
According to James Clear in Atomic Habits, it’s your actions that reveal your motivations.
“Your actions reveal how badly you want something. If you keep saying something is a priority but you never act on it, then you don’t really want it. It’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself. Your actions reveal your true motivations.”
In other words:
Stop waiting around for motivation and build it yourself through action.
5. They’re organized and have a plan
Time is our most precious resource. It was Annie Dillard that wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”.
If we aren’t allocating the time and energy needed to achieve a certain goal, it will never be fulfilled.
The benefit of having an organized system is that it allows all the focus to be placed on the work itself.
According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, all big things come from small beginnings, and it’s really your habits every day that determines where you’re going:
“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”
6. They only focus on a few priorities
If you’ve got too many things you want to do, you’ll struggle to focus your attention on one thing, and everything will become diluted.
Successful people channel their resources towards a small number of tasks to engender a better outcome.
In Morten T. Hansen’s, From Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More, he described how top performers focus on a small number of tasks to produce high-quality work:
“Once they had focused on a few priorities, they obsessed over those tasks to produce quality work. That extreme dedication to their priorities created extraordinary results. Top performers did less and more: less volume of activities, more concentrated effort.”
People who lead cluttered and disorganized lives are rarely able to fully focus. They end up multi-tasking and doing too many things at once, without impact.
If you have 3 priorities, you’re focused. If you have 25 priorities, you have a mess.
Successful people say “no” to most things so they can keep their focus clear.
And the truth is, if you want to be world-class, then you need to keep your focus narrow, according to Shan Snow:
“There are a lot of great inventors and improvers in the world. But those who hack world-class success tend to be the ones who can focus relentlessly on a tiny number of things. In other words, to soar, we need to simplify.”
7. They’ll never say that they know everything
Success can blind people to their own flaws.
Just because they’ve finally reached it doesn’t mean that they’ve hit the ceiling.
Standing still, letting the days blur into the next one without learning anything new sets a future fall.
Success isn’t a permanent state.
Being successful on a Wednesday doesn’t guarantee success on Thursday.
With success comes bigger challenges: meetings with larger companies and higher expectations from consumers.
Improving oneself is never-ending, even if that improvement happens slowly.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, explains how consistent small improvements can turn into something much more in the long run:
“Meanwhile, improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”
8. They are understanding of others
There will be people that will run late for an important meeting; they’re going to let you down and disappoint us, they may even disagree with us which could cause a rift in the office.
An unsuccessful person would take these actions personally: holding grudges and burning bridges.
There is nothing to gain from holding a grudge over someone except undue emotional and mental stress.
To succeed, one must have a clear and calm mind — one must forgive, forget, and keep moving forward together.
9. They are grateful
An often overlooked trait of successful people, but it’s important to acknowledge the good things in life.
A successful person takes stock in all the positive things in their life.
This is what keeps them positive and happy.
Practicing gratitude will help you when times are tough. It will keep you from giving up in the face of hardship and spiraling further into disorder.
Furthermore, being grateful is scientifically really good for you. There are all kinds of positive benefits, both mental and physical.
Showing gratitude helps a successful person make positive decisions and be proactive (not reactive) through every step of life.
They understand that they’re probably a lot luckier than a lot of people in the world, and they appreciate all the blessings they have received.
Changing your perspective to be more positive is crucial to moving forward through challenging situations in life.
James Clear in his book Atomic Habits explained it well:
“I once heard a story about a man who uses a wheelchair. When asked if it was difficult being confined, he responded, “I’m not confined to my wheelchair—I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my house.” This shift in perspective completely transformed how he lived each day.”
This is why a successful person is always focusing on what they do have, rather than what they don’t.
James E. Faust says that gratitude is a successful mode of living:
“As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.”
10. They have an exercise routine
When we think about the benefits of exercise, we tend to focus on the health benefits.
But over the past decade, there’s been quite a lot of compelling evidence suggesting that regular exercise may improve the way we think.
Studies suggest that our mental firepower is linked to our physical regimen.
Some of the cognitive benefits related to exercise include:
– Improved focus
– Sharper memory
– Prolonged mental stamina
– Increased creativity
There is also evidence suggesting that exercise during regular work hours might even increase performance.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habits, exercise is a key habit that triggers widespread change:
“Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”
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