Picking up from my last blogpost, I would now like to discuss ten key things successful people do differently.
The intuitive answer — that some people are born predisposed to certain talents; however, this really is a small proportion of successful individuals this would apply to.
In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.
If you were to look at someone who’s successful, you would see that they spend each day doing the things that helps them accomplish their biggest goals and so can you.
1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. Fit into a smaller dress or suit size is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like.
Knowing exactly what you want to achieve, perhaps with hanging the item of clothing you want to fit into outside your wardrobe, will keep you motivated until you reach your target size.
Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal.
Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “exercise more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll only eat three ‘fist size’ meal portions a day, or I will take the stairs at work” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.
2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on the objectives that we have set to help us achieve our goals.
Did you really have to eat a big mac meal for lunch, and were you too stuffed to walk up a few stairs?
Achieving your goal means sticking to the plan before they slip your mind.
To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance.
Again, be as specific as possible e.g., “Each morning I will walk up two flights of stairs as opposed to taking the lift”.
Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to make these events habit forming increasing your chances of success by as much as 300%.
3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself.
As the saying goes, what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done…
If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behaviour or your strategies accordingly.
Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal. Have it down in writing and review it constantly.
4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how you are going to achieve it.
Strive to look at things optimistically
as opposed to ‘misty optically’!
Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation.
But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence.
Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.
5. Plan out your day the night before. It’s easy to get side tracked when you don’t have a plan. Without planning what your day will look like, you’ll wake up not knowing what you want to do or accomplish. As the saying goes ‘failing to plan is to planning to fail’.
Successful people spend a little time the night before setting clear goals for the next day. Then they wake up and go down their list; usually doing the most difficult task first.
Life doesn’t always work out as planned, but with a plan, you can adjust without losing momentum.
6. Read books to get inspired. Successful people are prolific readers.
When Warren Buffett was asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
Buffett takes this habit to the extreme — he read between 600 and 1000 pages per day when he was beginning his investing career, and still devotes about 80 percent of each day to reading.
And he’s not alone. Here are just a few top business leaders and entrepreneurs who make reading a major part of their daily lifestyle:
• Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year, which breaks down to 1 per week
• Mark Cuban reads more than three hours every day
• Elon Musk is an avid reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said “I read books.”
• Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every two weeks throughout 2015
• Oprah Winfrey selects one of her favorite books every month for her Book Club members to read and discuss
And these aren’t just isolated examples. A study of 1,200 wealthy people found that they all have reading as a pastime in common.
Reading is an essential element in success—books contain so much knowledge. Apparently, Elon Musk would read at least four hours a day growing up. Four hours. And look how successful he became.
There isn’t necessarily a defined length as to how much time you should be reading but forming a daily reading habit will expand your knowledge and help you on your journey to success.
7. Make your health a priority.
Ever heard the saying, “When you look good you feel good; and when you feel good, you do good?”
Well this has a lot of truth to it. Exercise can be used as a time to regroup and plan your next move.
What you eat and how much you exercise affects every area of your life. Successful people use their exercise as a time to reset and plan. And they make smart food choices that will give them the energy they need to accomplish everything on their daily to-do list.
8. Don’t dwell on problems. Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. By fixating on your problems, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinder performance.
However, by focusing on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you can create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance.
The lesson here is don’t dwell on problems you’re most effective when you focus on the solution not the problem.
9. Swim against the tide. To be truly successful and happy, you have to follow your passions and values.
Just think what the world would have missed out on if Bill Gates or Richard Branson had played it safe and stayed in school. To swim against the current, you must be willing to take risks.
Just because everybody else is doing it one way doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. In fact, to achieve entrepreneurial success, you often must rewire your brain in the opposite direction.
“To be normal is the ideal aim of the unsuccessful”
10. Finish what you start. Coming up with a great idea means absolutely nothing if you don’t execute that idea.
The most successful and happy people bring their ideas to fruition, deriving just as much satisfaction from working through the complications and daily grind as they do from coming up with the initial idea.
They know that a vision remains a meaningless thought until it is acted upon. Only then does it begin to grow.
P.S. Life is not a dress rehearsal…
Certainly, starting a business is hard work. Especially if, like most of our start-ups, working in the evenings on your new business venture when you get home from doing your day job. But there’s one major difference: you will be putting all your time, creativity, and effort toward fulfilling your own dream, not someone else’s.
I recently read a quote from Richard Branson that summed up the beauty of entrepreneurship perfectly:
“It is important to remember that life is not a dress rehearsal, and that none of us should waste our time on doing things that don’t spark fires within us. My golden rule for business and life is: We should all enjoy what we do and do what we enjoy”.
P.P.S In my next blogpost, I will be developing the theme why money doesn’t come to those that wait.
Thought For The Day
Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs:
the future can be better than the present, and I have the
power to make it so.