Mr Sola Olagbemi, a Life Coach, said about 98% of people die without fulfilling their destiny – which means that only 2% of us leave behind legacies we take pride in.
I was startled when I first stumbled upon this figure. Considering how far the world has progressed, how opportunities to succeed in life has trickled down to the lower rungs of society thanks to education, one would expect the percentage of successful people rise. Yet, only a meagre 2% of people believe that their lives were successful.
I sat down and thought hard about it. My prideful self refuses to be part of the 98% and I needed concrete solutions to avoid this tiresome life, where the effort you put in does not give you proportionate results.
After a day of browsing through forums and reading up on psychological theories, it became apparent to me that most people have a huge misconception about success. Contrary to popular belief, a fulfilling success is often immeasurable and it is more intrinsic than extrinsic.
After all, believing that you were successful is a feeling and our feelings are often dictated by how we interpret situations. (tl;dr, how successful our lives have always been about our thoughts, not society’s thoughts about us – which explains why when Business Insider rounded up people who fit the conventional definition of a successful individual to find out what makes them feel accomplished, many explained that those achievements aren’t what make them feel accomplished.)
In other words, we are the determinant of success in our lives, as we are the ones who decide what makes us feel successful – not the people around us or the society we live in.
With that in mind, let’s delve into the top 10 habits of successful people:
To conquer the world, you must first conquer yourself. And to conquer yourself, you must first understand yourself. Explore your strengths and weaknesses, find out what you desire from your life and what you will absolutely hate to lose in your life. All of these will help in defining and refining your personal definition of success and in planning your best route to success.
2. Setting SMART Goals
Have you ever felt like you’re doing your best but it doesn’t seem your efforts are bringing you to places? You’re seeing little to no progress for goals you’ve set a few weeks, months or even years ago. And this question haunts you – is there something wrong with me?
There isn’t. But there might be something wrong with your goals.
Some of us are probably well-versed with the mnemonic “SMART”, but how many of us religiously apply it to our lives? Considering the astonishing low percentage of accomplished people, I dare say that there are probably not many who do so.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Therefore, a SMART goal helps you focus on your goal, allows you to keep track of your progress.
Most importantly, motivates you to work harder as the fruits of your labour are more pronounced when your goal is SMART. To find out more about the rationale behind SMART goals and how to design one, click here!
3. Plan Well
Now that you have a solid vision for your life, it’s time to design plans that’ll bring you a step closer to your desired life. Unlike the people of yesteryears who weren’t blessed with Google, people today have knowledge on their fingertips.
Reasons like “I was unlucky! I didn’t know about this!” are rendered obsolete. It says nothing about your luck, but it definitely shows that you haven’t done enough research.
As knowledge and opportunities become increasingly accessible to everyone, not seizing them and including them in your plans puts you in a severe disadvantage. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I doubt there is a better quote that captures the importance of planning.
4. Believe in Yourself
Once you’ve done your due amount of research and thought it through, don’t doubt yourself. There are bound to be many detractors around you, criticising you and your dreams, especially if said dreams are unprecedented.
Recall Albert Einstein’s professor’s reaction when Einstein called out on this complacent acceptance of Newtonian physics?
The professor withdrew support for Einstein’s search for an academic job and yet, Einstein refused to concede and went on to become the Father of Modern Physics.
5. Be Receptive to Constructive Feedbacks
While a resilient belief in yourself is crucial to success, a fine line exists between being complacent and self-confident. Hold firm to your beliefs but look out for constructive feedback.
After all, lookers-on see most of the game. Being less emotionally invested in your situation, onlookers are more able to analyse your situation objectively and provide insights that you might have never thought of.
However, keep in mind that the keyword here is ‘constructive’. This means that said feedback should be informed, observation-based and issue-focused.
6. Be Innovative
As the world becomes increasingly automated, hard work is no longer sufficient as automatons are birthed to be a better substitute than human labour. Fortunately for us, one aspect of humans that robots have yet to be capable of mimicking is our ability to think abstractly and come up with new fascinating ideas to solve problems in this world.
Innovation is our “comparative advantage” and hence, there is absolutely no reason for us to ignore it! For tips on how to train your abstract thinking skills (which helps with innovation), check out our article here.
7. Focus on Working with Things within Your Control
The world is made up of systems and human connections, and various things that are beyond our control. Inevitably, there will be instances during your journey of life where a massive roadblock, presented by factors beyond your control, stands in your way.
Your reaction to these obstacles is key. Will you choose to whine and remain stationary, blame everyone else for your hardships as you wait for the wall to somehow magically vanish? Will you keep focussing on how impossible the situation is? Or will you choose to give yourself a little pep talk and explore ways to bypass the wall?
8. Network Well
As an INTJ, I used to ignore this advice given by my seniors. Networking was synonymous to riding on other coattails to me or begging others for favours, and I thought that those who prioritised networking were people without true capabilities.
In reality, networking should not be about bootlicking to get what you want. It is about building a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with the people you meet.
When you have a diversified network, it helps your develop new skills and improve on your pre-existing skills. Most importantly, it helps you keep abreast of the latest insiders news and resources, which translates to more opportunities for progress.
9. Safeguard Yourself from Getting Burnt Out
When we think of successful people, we think of impassioned and zealous people, who can work 24/7 on their ideas in high-stress situations, without rest. We think that mega successes are contingent on us putting in an out-of-the-world amount of effort.
While this may be true, we must acknowledge that humans are not designed to be stressed for long. While the stress response helps us stay alert, motivated and focused, too much stress can damage our mental and physical well-being. Oftentimes, these damages take a long time to reverse.
The scary thing about burnt outs is that it’s terribly difficult to foresee it, especially when we are doing something we are passionate about. And when it happens, you suddenly find yourself depleted of motivation and willpower to do anything.
To learn more about signs of burnt outs and tips to recover from burnt outs, try this!
10. Beware of Cognitive Biases
Cognitive biases are like glitches in the human brain, with the end result being errors in processing and interpreting information, affecting our judgement and decision-making.
Consequentially, we make decisions based on what we feel is right (credits to cognitive biases), instead of what will truly contributing to the success of our lives.
While it may sound a little too technical for your understanding, I am sure you can easily spot the cognitive biases you’ve had (or perhaps the cognitive biases in this post!), once you’ve read this article.
Do not settle for less than the best, especially when the best can be easily achieved if you were to change your working habits and mindsets.