Who are the successful people you look up to? In most cases, we see successful people as having some form of special quality, something that separates them from the rest of the pack. However, research consistently shows that while predisposed talents can help, it’s the actions you take rather than the person you are that creates success. So what can we learn from successful people to bring more success into what we do?
What is success?
The idea of success, or what makes someone a successful person, is subjective. Broadly speaking, success is achieving or accomplishing a goal, aim or objective. However, what success looks like to you could be very different to someone else.
Taking into account the idea that success is the achievements, accomplishments or positive outcomes that align with your values, trying your best and feels satisfying, what actions can help to facilitate more success in life?
Actions of successful people
1. Set smart goals
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” — Tony Robbins
To measure success, you need to know what you’re setting out to do. By setting clear and meaningful goals or intentions, you understand what success will look like for you. Using the SMART technique of making goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound can ensure you’re setting goals that motivate you, are aligned with, and set you on the best path to success.
Getting as clear and precise as possible when it comes to your goals makes it easier to focus and leaves no room for doubt.
2. Be determined
“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” —Estée Lauder
The term grit is used a lot when referring to successful people. Author of the best-selling book Grit, Angela Duckworth, describes grit as having three components: long-term goals, sustained interest and sustained effort. With this in mind, determination and grit can be a skill you develop by having the right strategies in place.
Some people may seem to be naturally more determined. But, by focussing on the goals and feeling aligned with what you’re working towards, you can build motivation, determination and grit.
3. Create a plan of action
“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn
Unfortunately, setting time-bound goals is not enough to be successful. Success requires action, which means making time in your schedule to take steps that will help you achieve your goals. For example, committing to running a marathon means scheduling time each week to train.
All goals are likely to need regular time scheduled into your diary to make progress. What’s more, studies show that success increases by around 300% when individuals plan the times in which they’ll take action towards their goals.
Having time set for goal-related actions can not only increase your commitment to the goal (improving the likelihood of success), but it may also open your eyes to other opportunities that you can seize, which will further propel you to reach your goals.
4. Seek out improvement
“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” — Paulo Coelho
One of the key traits of successful people is a growth mindset. This is where you believe you can improve, develop and learn, even if something feels difficult or out of your comfort zone. In contrast to this is a fixed mindset. Moving from a fixed to a growth mindset can help with the word ‘yet’, moving from “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this, yet”.
The idea that you can improve, get better and have so much potential can be a vital mindset shift for those seeking success. With this in mind, you may choose to create specific achievement-based goals but also stretch goals too. Stretch goals are the goals where you continuously want to improve, and there is no fixed finish line. With this, it can help to focus on the idea of getting better rather than becoming good.
5. Track your progress
“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” —Dolly Parton
Another key trait of successful people is the tracking and monitoring of goal progress. Regular progress updates help you to celebrate the steps you’ve taken so far but also help you to tweak your strategy if needed.
The nature of your goals will determine how frequently you’ll need to check in on your progress. For short-term goals, daily progress checks may be useful. For longer-term goals, weekly or bi-weekly updates may be more practical.
A vital part of success with your goals is getting into a habit of diarising time to check in on your goals, celebrating progress, and reflecting on what’s working well for you and what may need changing.
6. Develop success-building habits
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
The power of habit can be a game-changer for creating success. Goals will usually require putting in place new habits or shifting unhelpful habits into better habits. It may be making goal setting and goal tracking a habit. It could be using a habit-stacking technique to introduce a new habit into your current routine.
Success for you may be learning a new skill or improving a skill which will require scheduling time to work on the skill. The easiest way to make this successful is to make this a habit, so it becomes a natural part of your routine. Success-building habits could also be implementing alternative strategies for when negative habits arise.
Remember, it can be hard to implement new habits – they need hardwiring into the brain. The best way is to start small. If your goal is to write a book, committing to writing for just five minutes a day before you check your emails can be easier to implement than pledging to write 1000 words a day.
7. Forward focus
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” — Will Rogers
Ask the brain not to think about something, and that’s all it will think of. This is why it is better to shift your perspective to what you want from the future rather than what you want to leave behind. With this in mind, it is often better to look to the positive outcomes of your goals.
For example, if your goal is to give up alcohol, this puts the focus on alcohol, keeping it in your mind and meaning you’re bringing the thought of alcohol into the present. By reframing it to, ‘I want to improve my sleep, health and wellbeing. To achieve this, I will stop drinking alcohol,’ you focus on the positive outcomes you want to work towards rather than what habit you want to leave in the past.
With these seven tips in mind, are there any steps you can take to improve the likelihood of success with your next goal?