People who are truly successful in life often display these 12 behaviors (without realizing it)

If there was one recipe for success, we’d all be making it like a big old batch of chocolate cookies.

Instead, there are lots of different definitions of success, and each one has as many ways to make it as there are cookie recipes out there. 

Google says that’s 2.65 billion, by the way!

Some of us define success solely based on financial attainment or career advancement. Other people take a holistic view of success and consider it the achievement of your different life goals, which might include money and work but also family, friends, love, health, and more.

I’ll take the latter view here when I talk about people who are successful in life.

So what is it that they do to succeed?

Do they just work super-hard, or were they born talented?

If we look carefully, we can hack their habits and figure out what they’re actually doing to bring themselves success.

In fact, many people who are truly successful in life often display these 12 behaviors without even realizing it.

1) Defining success

How can you hit your target if you don’t know what you’re aiming at?

As I said, there are more concepts of success out there than you can shake a stick at, so unless you’re a professional baton twirler, it makes sense to nail it down for yourself.

People who are successful in life decide what this actually means to them and then go out and make it a reality.

If they think success is making millions, that’s what they aim for.

If it’s having an amazing family life, that’s what they make happen.

They set goals and then do the work that needs to be done to get there.

2) Prioritizing

Because successful people know what they’re trying to achieve, they’re able to set priorities.

They look at the different things they could do in a day, month, or year and choose the ones that are most important. These are things that will get them closer to their goals.

They’ll place less importance on doing things that don’t add much to their goals but might still be necessary.

Anything that takes them farther away from their goals, though, has to go.

Remember that they’re only able to do this prioritizing because they know what they’re aiming for. When you don’t know, there’s no real way to properly prioritize your activities.

3) Managing time well

When you know what you’re trying to achieve and what’s most important to get you there, it becomes a whole lot easier to manage your time.

You simply don’t waste much time doing things that don’t drive you farther down your road to success.

I say “much time” because successful people still do a lot of things that don’t help them get to their goals directly. 

Having a massage or playing video games, for example, can reduce stress, which helps you have a clear head to attack the things you need to get done.

That means that these aren’t time-wasting activities because they serve a purpose. They just need to be limited, that’s all!

4) Maintaining boundaries

One of the best ways to protect your precious time is to establish clear boundaries and maintain them.

And this is what people who are successful in life generally do, even without realizing how useful it is.

I’m talking about being able to refuse to do things that make you uncomfortable or say no to requests from others when you need to.

There are plenty of users out there who will gladly take as much time and effort away from others as they can muster. But if you’re focused on what you want to achieve and what you need to do it, it becomes easier to avoid users and stop them from taking up your precious time.

5) Keeping it positive

I heard a great story once that was told to me by a Buddhist teacher.

There was a fisherman sitting in his boat fishing when another boat came toward him and hit his boat. He jumped up and down and yelled at the other fisherman for being such a clumsy pilot.

A while later, his boat was again struck by another, but this time, it was just a boat with no one in it. He simply pushed it aside and went back to his fishing.

There are a lot of ways to unpack this story, but one is that being positive or negative is a choice.

In the story, the same thing happened twice, but the fisherman only got angry once, which shows that this negative reaction came from him and not the situation.

I think most successful people know this and choose to go through life focusing more on the positives than the negatives, and this leads them toward greater positivity in their results.

6) Building real relationships

If you’re a Negative Nelly, it can be hard to build great relationships with others.

It’s lucky, then, that successful people are generally positive because success in life is always linked to other people, not just yourself.

I can’t think of any billionaires who don’t have any partners, investors, or employees. I also can’t think of any hermits with fantastic family lives, but they’re not normally in the news so much!

People are important to anyone’s success, and whether they realize this importance or not, successful people usually get there by building great relationships.

They find friends, partners, and workers and try to focus on how everyone involved in their lives can win.

7) Taking risks

Even without realizing it, successful people take risks in life. They might be calculated ones, but they’re still risks.

They take steps toward their goals, and some of those steps require taking a chance on the unknown. 

They could play it safe and just do things that are easy, but without risk, they know that they won’t be able to attain the rewards they’re looking for.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” is a proverb for a good reason, and taking risks is one of the behaviors you’ll see in all really successful people.

8) Being disciplined

Some very successful people might recognize the importance of discipline in their lives.

Others might simply be very disciplined by nature and not feel like they’re doing anything particularly tough or unusual by maintaining their regime.

Successful people usually get enough sleep and get up early in the morning feeling motivated. They eat well even though they could snack on junk food anytime they wanted.

They work and do their important life tasks with this same discipline to help them get to their goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

9) Maintaining focus

It’s easy to be disciplined if you have incredible focus.

Discipline means doing things that might go against your instincts, like drinking water when you’re really craving a sugary soda. Focus helps discipline successful people because it keeps them directed toward their goals.

They’re able to keep all their attention on tasks that are important to achieving what they want.

Successful people are able to see the time-wasting rabbit holes coming and avoid falling into them.

The rest of us get twisted and turned around by all the distractions and frivolities that life has to offer. 

10) Learning from everything

People who are truly successful in life may not even realize that they have a secret weapon that many of us don’t possess – they love to learn.

And I’m not just talking about school and books here. 

Successful people learn from their life experiences and from other people just as much.

They look at failures as “teachable moments”.

They watch what other successful do to get where they are and may choose to mimic them if it takes them closer to their goals.

11) Controlling their emotions

One thing that truly helps people succeed is the ability to control their emotions.

To be able to do this, they need to have empathy to help them recognize and understand their own feelings. Of course, this also helps you understand other people’s emotions and motivations and that can help you control your reactions to the things other people do.

Being able to interact with people or get through tough situations often requires great emotional control to avoid stress and conflicts that could interfere with success.

12) Persevering

Truly successful people keep going, even when the going gets tough.

If you look at all the other behaviors we’ve looked at so far, you can see why.

They have an idea of what they want to achieve, and they’ve got tons of motivation, dedication and focus to help them get there.

So, they keep pushing forward toward their goals no matter how many obstacles are thrown in their way.


People who are truly successful in life often display these 12 behaviors often without even realizing it.

They know what they want to get out of life and drive themselves to get there using their positivity and unceasing energy. And you can, too!

If someone does these 7 things, they don’t realize their actions have an emotional impact on others

If you display these 12 traits, you have a genuinely strong character