8 signs you will be successful in life, according to psychology

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Wouldn’t it be something if there was a secret recipe to success? 

A list of ingredients we could proverbially collect to drastically increase our chances of reaching the goals we set for ourselves?

The closest thing we can get to such a list is to look at what psychology says about success and the types of people who are most likely to have it. 

You might be surprised to learn that it’s not all about book smarts and hard work. 

While hard work and perseverance are undeniable pillars of success, other psychological underpinnings of what makes someone thrive are subtler and more unexpected. 

In this article, I’ll cover some signs you’ll be successful in life.

But don’t worry if you don’t have all the traits I mentioned, you can always work on them one by one until you have the entire arsenal under your command. 

Rome wasn’t built in a single day, was it? 

1) Childhood adversity

It might sound counterintuitive. 

But surprisingly, adversity in childhood isn’t always a setback.

It can also be a sign that you’ll succeed later in life. 

 has shown that early hardships, such as economic struggles or family issues, can foster resilience — which is important in the entrepreneurial world. 

Despite how unpleasant they are at the time, these challenges can teach you crucial life lessons earlier than usual. 

They can prepare you early on for the ups and downs of adult life. 

Did early challenges make you more determined and resourceful? 

If so, you might find that what seemed like obstacles were actually stepping stones to your future success. 

Silver linings can come from dark times — as long as you’re resilient!

2) Resourcefulness

Being resourceful is all about using what you’ve got to solve problems creatively.

It’s a mix of being clever, tough, and good at thinking on your feet. Successful people don’t see limitations the same way most people do — as something you can’t bypass. 

If most people see a mouse trap, resourceful people see free cheese and a challenge. 

Regardless of the circumstances, they always view things as malleable and won’t stop finding ways to work around problems until they’ve found one.

Research shows that resourcefulness is a sign of future success.

They do this by staying open to new things, keeping at their goals, and being willing to change how they think. 

Resourceful people are also great at using their networks. 

Think about a time when you faced a big challenge. Did you overcome it by thinking outside the box or by getting help from friends? 

If so, your ability to be resourceful is surely helping you succeed.

3) Curiosity

Curious people ask questions. 

When you ask questions, you get answers. 

The more answers you get, the larger your knowledge pool is. 

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Curiosity isn’t just about asking questions; it’s about pursuing answers relentlessly. Successful people often have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. 

It drives their actions and decisions. 

One psychological study showed how introducing curiosity as an intervention into the workplace led to greater innovation. 

Is it surprising though? 

As long as you’re disciplined enough to use the answers you get to go places, it shouldn’t be shocking that curiosity can lead the way to a successful future. 

What do you think? Are you curious enough?

Signs you’re curious include: 

  • Always wanting to hear what other people have to say
  • Being interested in the history of places you visit
  • Asking questions nobody else seems to think of
  • Having an insatiable appetite for books and documentaries

4) Conscientiousness

If you ask personality psychologists what they think the biggest predictor of success is, most of them will say conscientiousness. 

It’s not just a fad circulating in the field of psychology. Lots of research has gone into extracting that conclusion. 

So what exactly is conscientiousness?

Conscientiousness is the trait of being organized, thoughtful, and responsible. 

Do you remember when you were doing your high school exams? 

Did any teachers tell you that organization was even more important than being smart? 

If they did, they weren’t lying to you. 

Conscientious people have a superior ability to set and achieve goals. And they don’t easily get distracted.

Are you someone who plans ahead, focuses on details, and follows through on commitments? This trait doesn’t just help you excel academically or professionally; it ensures you can be relied upon, a quality that inevitably leads to greater opportunities.

5) The opportunity of optimism

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

— Helen Keller

If Helen Keller can use optimism to achieve miraculous outcomes, can’t we use it to drive success in our lives, too?

The power of positivity is more than just a feel-good factor. 

Optimists have more success because they engage in behaviors that promote positive outcomes. 

They view challenges as opportunities and setbacks as temporary and surmountable. 

When faced with difficulties, do you see a setback or a setup for a comeback?

When you’re optimistic, it’s easier to adapt when you’re met with roadblocks.

Instead of complaining, do you eagerly look for solutions with a smile on your face?

6) Adaptability in a world of change

Speaking of adaptability, it’s a non-negotiable trait for success. 

But what is it exactly?

It’s how quickly you pivot in response to unexpected changes.

Successful people excel in adjusting their strategies to meet new challenges. 

How do you react to change? Do you resist, or do you find ways to embrace new circumstances? 

Your ability to adapt is a clear sign of your potential for long-term success.

7)  Networking savvy

Let me ask you, what’s more important than knowing when it’s time to call in your resources?

Having the resources in the first place! 

Networking isn’t merely about collecting contacts; it’s cultivating reciprocal relationships with people — reciprocity makes the world go ‘round.

It’s often said, “Your network is your net worth”. 

Successful people invest time in building relationships that open doors. 

It doesn’t mean that you should be manipulative and sneaky — far from it. 

Being open about your desire for a mutually beneficial relationship is both an honest and strategic move.

Whether you’re reaching out to a mentor or collaborating with peers, networking involves more than just exchanging business cards. 

How actively do you seek to nurture your professional connections? 

The strength of your network plays a huge role in your path to success.

8) Empathy

Many business sharks will argue that it’s better to be cutthroat. 

But if you want your network to have longevity, it’s better to treat everyone with the respect you’d like to receive. 

The old ‘treat your neighbor as you would wish to be treated’ isn’t just a note for spiritual guidance — it’s also highly practical. 

If you take advantage of people, it won’t be long before they catch on. And then what? 

Do you think they’ll still run to you when the next big opportunity opens up? 

Let’s face it — they won’t.

Studies show that empathy is key to success when collaborating on large business projects.

And while you might think it’s clever to cut corners and throw people under the bus when it has an immediate benefit for you, it’s not a sustainable long-term strategy. 

Ways to show empathy in professional life include: 

  • Being open to negotiation
  • Understanding other people’s professional needs
  • Finding mutually beneficial solutions

Last thoughts

When we’re younger we’re told that hard work and elbow grease are the main drivers of success. 

But is it really true? 

Psychology paints a more nuanced picture and studies show some surprising subtle traits that predict future success. 

Think your childhood trauma was nothing but bad news? 

The silver lining is it may make you more resilient and better able to cope with the peaks and troughs of the business world. 

Do you think your IQ is the most important? 

Studies show organization plays the biggest role in dictating success in life. 

Is it better to be a cut-throat business shark? What happens when you scare off all the fish? 

These aren’t just signs of future success, you can also use them as a guide to target your arrows in the right direction and achieve the life of your dreams. 

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