Many people move through life feeling envious of those around them; those who seem to have achieved success almost effortlessly. These successful people have clearly "made it" in the way that matters most to us, and yet we can't quite recognize why or how they've gotten to that stage in their lives, while we've been left behind in the dust.
Success doesn't come from tricks, sorcery, and black magic - it comes from hard work and perseverance. The truth is that there are no special ingredients or secrets that we need to learn in order to join the elite - rather, being successful requires a certain mindset, attitude, and set of important skills.
While avoiding certain habits might not transform you into a rich entrepreneur overnight, it may help you to rethink your attitude towards life, and change the way you approach your goals so that you have a better chance of reaching them.
1: They never let others define success for them
It's difficult to determine whether you've achieved success, if you're unable to define what success actually looks like for you. Without goals in place, how will you know if you're making strides towards your ambitions, or whether you're getting distracted by things that might not matter? Plenty of people fail to set goals, and then wonder why they're not achieving anything.
Take the time to plan out exactly what you want to accomplish in the future, then plot out a series of goals that you will need to achieve in order to make that dream a reality. Keep in mind that you're going to want to keep these goals as realistic as possible, while still challenging yourself just enough to ensure that you don't lose focus.
Make sure that you’re not just borrowing someone else’s targets; that’ll just be a recipe for disaster. For you, success might not be a 6-figure income, a new sports car or a flashy watch. Success could be something as simple as having more spare time to spend with family and friends.
2: They never have a negative outlook
You might look at the most successful people in your life and notice that they appear to have an endless supply of enthusiasm and positivity. The reason for this is that pessimists spend so much time focusing on what "might" happen, that they forget to take necessary risks, and struggle to focus on turning possible problems around.
The more enthusiastic and positive you are about what you do, the more likely you are to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough - and this is an essential ingredient in the recipe for success.
So when you have a big win, try writing it down on a post-it and sticking it right on your desk for a while, as a permanent reminder. The next time something doesn’t go to plan, look at the note and put things into perspective.
3: They never let work take over their lives
Most people assume that if they want to become successful, then they'll need to commit themselves to working on almost 24/7 basis towards their goals. While it's true that you need to stay focused if you want to achieve something important, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should work yourself to death in the process.
Working hard is a good thing - it's a necessary part of becoming successful, because it pushes you to become accustomed to the concept of coping with extra stress and discomfort. On the other hand, if you push yourself so far that you're constantly "distressed" then you might suffer mentally, and physically as a result.
Sick people aren't successful people. Give yourself a break.
This is about focus and leveraging the amount of time that you do have at your disposal. Work out how many hours you need to work in order to achieve your goals. Type them out, print it out and pin it to your office wall.
That is your contract. That is your guarantee to yourself that you will still live a normal life. That’s your promise not to compare yourself to another business, brand or individual.
4: They never settle for the comfort zone
The truth is that very few successful people become successful without taking at least a few risks. Starting a new business, moving to a new place, creating a new product - all of those things require taking a step out of your comfort zone, and a step into the world of the unknown.
If you want to be successful, you're going to need to endure some discomfort in the name of growth, but you also need to know the difference between a positive risk, and a negative one. When you have a huge decision to make, lay all of the information out in front of you, and decide on what's best carefully. You'll need to find the delicate balance between taking risks and being cautious.
It’s as simple as grabbing a sheet of paper and putting PROS on one side and CONS on the other. It’s not a case of which side has more items. It’s more about whether the biggest advantage is worth going for in the context of the biggest risk.
5: They don't strive for perfection
When you dream about the future, the chances are that you imagine opportunities that you might be able to take that could lead you towards the ideal life, or the outcome you've always hoped for. In most circumstances, when people see this outcome, they believe that there's a perfect time wherein all of their stars will align, and they'll find themselves in the perfect position to make a change, or move forward. The truth is, that there's no such thing as the "perfect time".
In the same vein, while you can work as hard as possible to make your vision of the ideal business, product, or service, a reality, you need to accept that it's not going to be a perfect experience, and you can't expect yourself to be perfect either. Give yourself room for error.
And apart from anything else, perfection is often an excuse for procrastination. And that’s fine. Well, it’s normal, at any rate. It feels weird to proceed with a concept when you’re not totally happy with it. But that’s exactly what needs to happen.
Be ruthless with your ‘to do’ list. Remember your working hours and always ask yourself every morning what needs to be done today to move closer to your goal. If it’s a job that can be put off, then put it off.
6: They don't do it alone
Even when you work as hard as you physically can to accomplish as much as is humanly possible - you can only ever achieve a fixed amount. The simple reason for this is that you're only one person. Being successful can mean recognizing the need for help from other people to make your goals a reality. Think back to all the awards shows you've ever seen, and remember all of the people that the winners thank for helping them get to where they are today. Few people achieve success alone.
Being successful means trusting other people to work alongside you, and make you stronger than you would be by yourself. For some businesses, this may mean turning to other people for marketing help, or website creation. For other companies, it could mean hiring extra staff members to work alongside them in the creation process.
Regardless of whether we’re talking about outsourcing jobs, employing new staff or simply sharing expertise, remember that we all have different skills. We all bring something different to the table, no matter how subtle.
You know whether you’re best equipped to handle a particular job. You know your strengths. Don’t be precious – every successful entrepreneur has had to delegate responsibility to someone else at some stage.
7: They never think like everybody else
Try to look at the world through different eyes. Just because someone tells you a strategy is only worth doing in a particular way, doesn’t make it so.
Consider how the biggest brands market their businesses. They know that it’s important to be different. They might have a clear idea of their target audience and they certainly know their products or services inside out, but that’s only part of the story.
Successful people don’t just look left and right; they move all around. When I was doing some research on how to create the perfect meta description, I noticed a multitude of different techniques for attracting clicks.
Some companies like to talk about their products, some referred to focus on their brand story. A few of these search snippets were written in a fun and engaging way, while others were more formal. And moving to a wider look at business in general, many of the decisions you make should be instinctual, not based on what you’ve read or heard. Successful people think differently and don’t care a jot.
Are there any myths in your industry that you’re not convinced about? Do you have a gut feeling for that marketing tagline or that off-the-wall logo?
8: They do not shun responsibility
It's all too easy to make an excuse for yourself when you don't accomplish something that you want. For instance, people who are hoping to lose weight can argue that they don't have the money to join a gym, or that the weather is too miserable for them to go outside. What's not easy, is taking responsibility and holding yourself accountable for your failures, and your successes.
While it will always be tempting to fall for the deception that someone else is responsible for the difficulties or struggles that you encounter, you'll find that you get much further if you're willing to accept responsibility for your actions, face your restrictions, then work harder to make the changes you need to implement to reach success.
The Road to Success
Most successful people don't become successful without facing a few bumps in the road along the way. While the risks that you take won't always work out, success relies on you recognizing the value that those failures have, by learning from them. Be prepared to continue learning, moving forward, and improving yourself, and you're less likely to get thrown off track the first time something goes wrong.
Sure, some failures will be harder to overcome than others, but every mistake you make can be the action that takes you one step closer towards your dreams.
Features image source; other images: copyrights: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
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About the author
Matt Press is an experienced copywriter who has written words for some of the UK’s top brands, such as Sky, Three and Vodafone. He now runs Splash Copywriters and is on a mission to make SEO easy for everyone. You can take his free course here.