7 common traits of successful people (that you can copy)

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Becoming successful doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of practice, failures, and attempts.

But success isn’t just about hard work. It’s also about your personal habits and using your time wisely.

So let’s figure out what those habits are.

In this article, I’m going to go through the top 7 habits that make someone successful.

Adopt these and you’ll be well on your way to becoming successful yourself.

1. Reading

While some people think reading is a waste of time, reading actually has many benefits that can help you become successful.

After all:

By reading more you’re expanding your mind and being exposed to different ideas and ways of thinking.

This can help you become more creative, more efficient, and more knowledgeable.

In fact, a study in 2013 found that people who read a lot have stronger and more sophisticated neural networks. 

And it’s not just me that says this.

According to Grant Cardone in the book “The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure”:

“The most successful CEOs are reported to read an average of 60 books and attend more than six conferences per year – whereas the average American worker reads an average of less than one book and makes 319 times less income”


The most successful people I know read everything they can get their hands on.

It is almost as if they’re on a constant mission to grow and expand their knowledge.

And I don’t know about you, but when I do a lot of reading about a particular subject, not only am I more articulate and thoughtful in conversations, but I’m able to see more opportunities when they arise.

So if you want to be more successful, read more, especially on your area of expertise.

2. They don’t let failure stop them

Nobody enjoys making mistakes and failing. It’s so easy to give up in the face of an unexpected setback.

But as obvious and as cliche as it sounds, successful people don’t let failure stop them. They continue trying and learning from their mistakes.

This is often what is referred to as “grit” – the ability to persist, even when things get hard. 

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, you need to change your attitude about failure. In fact, eliminate the word “failure” from your vocabulary.

Instead, if you view “failure” as an “opportunity for growth” then you’ll set yourself on a course of continual improvement that will lead to success.

3. They have a plan

Let’s face it: You can’t become successful without a plan. Many people are interested in becoming successful but end up getting distracted, or focused on the wrong actions. 

This inevitably leads to wasted time, energy and emotions.

You should always have a plan of action, or else you might end up in a position where you work hard but end up going nowhere. 

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 moving in the right direction, our goals will never be fulfilled.

So make you have a plan of attack, and that the actions you take every day lead to measured growth in the future. 

And this is really what this article is about: Your habits and how you use your time. 

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.”

4. 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.”

I’ve been in this position before. When I started this website, I focused on every online platform I could think of to increase the readership. 

But none of them worked because my focus was too scattered. 

It was only when I focused on one platform that I began to achieve some results. 

The truth is this:

If you have 1-3 priorities, you’re focused. If you have 25 priorities, you have a mess.

That’s exactly what happened to me. 

Successful people say “no” to most things so they can keep their focus clear.

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.

And 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.”

5. They focus on growing every single day 

People who are successful tend to make the most of every day.

The most successful people I know work very hard in their area of expertise, but they also work very hard on expanding and improving themselves as people.  

They gain more and more knowledge as they go, so they’re always one step ahead of everyone else.

After all:

Success isn’t a permanent state.

Being successful on a Wednesday doesn’t guarantee success on Thursday.

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.”

6. 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 of what they have. 

Why is gratitude important for success? 

Because it will help you when times are tough. It will keep you from giving up in the face of hardship and spiraling further into disorder.

The truth is:

We’re all going to encounter challenges, but it’s how we deal with those challenges that will define our level of success.

Showing gratitude helps a successful person make positive decisions and be proactive (not reactive) through every step of life.

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.”

7. They make their own luck

While other people stand on the sidelines waiting for the mythical perfect moment to arrive, successful people get started.

If they say serendipity is an opportunity to meet preparedness, successful people always try to be as prepared as they can be.

They have no control over whether or not an opportunity arises, so they just want to be as ready as they can be.

Because the truth is this:

Although luck may strike randomly, that doesn’t mean that you have to stand still and wait for it.

Taking action is the best way to increase your chances of good luck.

According to the book Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman, lucky people tend to just try stuff:

“Lucky people just try stuff. Unlucky people suffered from paralysis by analysis. They wouldn’t do anything until they walked through every single angle and by then the world had moved on.”

No matter how much you dream of making it big as a writer, without taking the first step to sharing your work with a public audience, no one will ever stumble upon and discover your work.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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