Success is a mindset and a series of habits tied around that mindset. What separates a successful person from an unsuccessful one is the way that they approach life. Picture in your head any person that you think is successful and you will probably find that there are many things that they do and many things that they don’t do. When you picture several of these types of people, you will find a pattern. You too can take your first steps toward success, if you just recreate this pattern. By mirroring some of the things that they don’t do, you too can become successful!
1. They don’t have too many goals
The first biggest mistake that people make is that they don’t set any goals. The second one is that some set too many. Successful people only set a few goals at a time. They know that achieving a goal requires hard work and an intense focus.
People who set too many goals at the same time, often end up not achieving any. This is because working towards a goal requires enormous willpower and self-discipline. Willpower is a finite resource and if you have too many goals, you might spread it too thin, not having enough to even reach even one individual goal.
2. They don’t set goals without figuring out their priorities
This doesn’t mean that successful people don’t achieve several goals, most of them do, but they do it in a smart way by setting priorities and working on just a small number of goals at a time.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was not only one of the most successful American general of World War 2, he also later became the US President. One of the secrets to his success was the fact that he knew how to set priorities.
He used what we now call the Eisenhower Matrix. He divided up a box into 4 parts, with each part showing how urgent and important each task or goal was. When he had to do multiple tasks, he would prioritize by putting each into one of the squares: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not urgent and not important.
What you can do is write down all your goals on a piece of paper with the one of highest priority at the top. Then go down the list and put a check next to the first and second goals on the list, and strike out all the rest. First focus on these as your priorities. Once you have achieved them, start going down the list.
3. They don’t go about without setting out a plan to achieve their goals
Successful people always have a plan on how to achieve their goals. Without a plan, you are very likely to falter. Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest painters of the 20th century put it this way:
“Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
4. They don’t set unrealistic goals
When setting goals, they don’t set unrealistic goals, but instead focus on what is possible. Ancient Stoic principles state that you should focus on changing the things that you can change and not worry about the rest. Focus on what is possible to do, and the seemingly impossible will take care of itself.
You should set realistic goals, and go step by step through your plan. Every time you should set mini-goals and work towards them. You should build one goal on top of another.
Michael Jordan described how he went about becoming arguably the best basketball player ever:
“I approach everything step by step….I had always set short-term goals. As I look back, each one of the steps or successes led to the next one. When I got cut from the varsity team as a sophomore in high school, I learned something. I knew I never wanted to feel that bad again….So I set a goal of becoming a starter on the varsity. That’s what I focused on all summer. When I worked on my game, that’s what I thought about. When it happened, I set another goal, a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough….I guess I approached it with the end in mind. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there. As I reached those goals, they built on one another. I gained a little confidence every time I came through.”
5. They don’t set goals without keeping in mind the benefits that the achievement of those goals will bring them
In order to keep yourself motivated, when setting goals, you need to keep in mind the benefits that achieving that goal will bring you. You might be working towards having a dream body, but in reality the dream body is not the end point. It is the benefits of having a great body, like increased strength and health that are the end point.
6. They don’t have a fixed mindset
Successful people don’t have a fixed mindset. Instead, they know that if they work hard, they will be able to achieve whatever they want. They know that destiny is in their hands and that if they set out to achieve something, they will do it.
7. They don’t complain all the time
One thing that separates the successful people from the unsuccessful ones it that the unsuccessful ones complain and don’t do anything, while the successful ones keep their mouth shut, take what was given to them and get to work. Instead of wasting time complaining, they think about what they can do to change their unpleasant situation. Then they go about doing it.
8. They don’t let their egos get ahead of them
Successful people also don’t let their egos get ahead of them, but instead stay humble. The ones who don’t lose sight of this principle often end up falling really hard. Hubris is the enemy of success.
They know that life is a series of struggles and that in order to succeed, they need to fail a few times. However instead of giving up, they pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and continue on their journey towards success.
A.R. Rahman, an Indian singer-songwriter described how important staying humble is:
“To be successful, it is also very important to be humble and never let fame or money travel to your head.”
9. They don’t sit on their ass
Successful people never sit on their ass, but instead work hard. They never stop learning, whether from books or from other people. They know that success doesn’t come without effort.