12 Habits of Successful People

By: Rochelle Perper, Ph.D. | January 21, 2014

Success is not just defined by the title you hold, or the things that you have, but rather, from the obstacles that you have had to overcome to be where you are today. Successful people aren’t just born, they have learned the skills to persevere and maintain focus.

The following twelve habits can help you feel successful in your life.

1. Set goals

Setting goals for oneself is a great way to maintain focus and stay motivated. Your goals should be realistic, attainable, and measurable goals. Ask yourself, what you are looking for, and why you are fighting for it.

2.  Take action

The acquisition of knowledge alone does not necessarily translate to success. At some point, you will have to challenge yourself to put into action what you have learned. Successful people know when it’s time to take the next step towards reaching their goals.

3.  Focus on being productive, not being busy

The expression, “work smarter, not harder” is not just a cliché, there’s actually a great deal of truth to it. If you are like many Americans who run from appointment to appointment and are always trying to keep up with e-mails and deadlines, yet still are not productive, you are not alone. The solution is simple: slow down and review your commitments and goals. Do one thing at a time, resist the urge to procrastinate, and give yourself breaks. Ironically, giving yourself a “time out” gives you time to reflect on where your time is being spent and makes you more productive.

4.  Make logical, informed decisions

Successful people understand the importance of making logical, informed decisions. They don’t make decisions based on their emotions or ‘gut instincts’. Rather, they take time to understand the problem and the possible solutions and make choices that are logic-based and rational.

5.  Avoid the trap of having things done ‘perfectly’

There is nothing wrong with setting the bar high for ourselves and wanting to put our best foot forward. However, when we dedicate copious amounts of time trying to make something ‘perfect’ we are wasting valuable time. If our standards are too high, you might find yourself feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and stuck. Be willing to let things be ‘good enough’ sometimes, and focus on the lessons learned instead of avoiding mistakes all together.

6.  Work outside of your comfort zone

Success comes from being willing to take risks from time to time. Challenge yourself to say ‘yes’ to an assignment or an experience, even if you don’t think you’re ready. The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Working outside of your comfort zone forces you to grow intellectually and emotionally.

7.  Keep things simple

Here in the 21st century, where opportunities for innovation are endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers.  But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to complication, confusion and inaction. Social psychology teaches us that when confronted with too many choices, our subconscious mind wants to give up, and we feel paralyzed. The solution is to simplify. If you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option.  Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot.  If it doesn’t work out, learn what you can from the experience, choose something else and keep pressing forward.

8.  Focus on small progress

How do you eat an elephant?  Answer: One bite at a time.  This philosophy holds true for achieving your biggest goals.  Making small, positive changes – eating a little healthier, exercising a little, creating some small productive habits, for example – is an amazing way to get excited about life and slowly reach the level of success you aspire to.

9.  Pay attention to the gains you have made

Successful people continuously assess themselves against their stated goals. They know that you can’t control what you don’t properly measure. Paying attention to how far you’ve come will give you motivation and increased confidence to keep going.

10.  Be positive

If you want to be successful, you have got to find a way to have a positive outlook towards life. Life has its way of challenging each and every one of us. A true measure of success is not in the position you hold, but rather, the obstacles that you have overcome along the way.  Remember that every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow. Try focusing on what is going right in your life, and the skills that you do have. This kind of strength-based perspective will not only make you feel positive, but it will impact your behaviors and the outcome.

11.  Choose your environment

Most of us are highly influenced by our environment. If we are spending time with people who are negative, don’t set goals for themselves, and don’t take risks in their lives we are not as likely to do so. Successful people make it a point to spend time with those who are likeminded, focused, supportive, and encouraging. The right kind of environment can inspire you to do and be things that you never thought possible.

12.  Maintain balance

Achieving balance might seem like a moving target, but successful people are constantly making adjustments in their life to maintain balance. When you let your world life (or social life, family life, etc.) consume you, and all of your energy is focused in one area, it’s extremely easy to lose balance. While drive and focus is important, you need balance for overall success.

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