How do we define success? There are many different tactics for how to be successful in life, but the strategy that works best for you may depend on your view of success itself. We often think of it as doing well at work or earning a high salary. While professional accomplishments can be one piece of the puzzle, it leaves out many other important areas of life. Family, romantic relationships, academics, and athletics are just a few areas where people may strive for success.
Your individual definition of what success is exactly may vary, but many might define it as being fulfilled, happy, safe, healthy, and loved. It is the ability to reach your goals in life, whatever those goals may be.
So what can you do to boost your chances of achieving these things? What are some of the habits of successful people?
There is no single right way to be successful. What works for you might not work for someone else. There may not be a perfect combination of ingredients that can guarantee success, but there are some basic steps you can follow that can improve your chances of being successful in life, love, work, or whatever happens to be important to you.
Build a Growth Mindset
Research by psychologist Carol Dweck suggests that there are two basic mindsets that influence how people think about themselves and their abilities: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. People who possess a fixed mindset believe that things such as intelligence are static and unchangeable.
Those with a fixed mindset believe that success isn't a result of hard work—it's simply a consequence of innate talents. Because they believe that such talents are something people are either born with or without, they tend to give up more easily in the face of a challenge. They quit when things do not come easily because they believe that they lack the inborn skill needed to excel.
Those who have a growth mindset, on the other hand, feel that they can change, grow, and learn through effort. People who believe that they are capable of growth are more likely to achieve success. When things get tough, they look for ways to improve their skills and keep working toward success.
What can you do to build a growth mindset?
- Believe that your efforts matter. Rather than thinking their abilities are fixed or stuck, people who have a growth mindset believe that effort and hard work can lead to meaningful growth.
- Learn new skills. When faced with a challenge, they look for ways to develop the knowledge and skills that they need to overcome and triumph.
- View failures as learning experiences. People with growth mindsets don't believe that failure is a reflection of their abilities. Instead, they view it as a valuable source of experience from which they can learn and improve upon. "That didn't work," they might think, "so this time I'll try something a little different."
Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
Overall intelligence has long been believed to be one factor contributing to success in different areas of life, but some experts suggest that emotional intelligence may actually matter even more. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand, utilize, and reason with emotions. Emotionally intelligent people are able to understand not only their own emotions but those of others as well.
Some tactics for improving your emotional intelligence include:
- Paying attention to your own emotions. Focus on identifying what you are feeling and what is causing those feelings.
- Managing your emotions. Step back and try to view things with an impartial eye. Avoid bottling up or repressing your feelings, but look for healthy and appropriate ways of dealing with what you are feeling.
- Listening to others. This not only involves hearing what they are saying but also paying attention to nonverbal signals and body language.
Develop Mental Toughness
Mental toughness refers to the resilience that some people have to carry on and continue trying even in the face of obstacles. People who possess this mental strength see challenges as opportunities. They also feel that they have control over their own destiny, are confident in their abilities to succeed, and are committed to finishing what they start.
So what can you do to improve your mental toughness and increase your chances of being successful in life?
- Believe in yourself. Cut out the negative self-talk and look for ways to stay positive and self-encouraging.
- Keeping trying. Even when things seem impossible or setbacks keep holding you back, focus on ways that you can develop your skills and keep soldiering forward. One of the key habits of successful people is to always look at setbacks or failures as learning opportunities.
- Set goals. Mentally tough people know that in order to achieve, they need to start by having attainable goals. These goals are not necessarily easy to reach, but by having something to aim for, you will be better able to move forward and overcome obstacles.
- Find support. Doing things alone can be difficult, but having a strong support system can make things easier. Mentors, friends, co-workers, and family members can cheer you one when things get tough, and even offer advice and assistance that can help you improve your chances for success.
Strengthen Your Willpower
In a long-running longitudinal study, psychologists began looking at a group of children who were identified by their teachers as highly intelligent. As they compared how these subjects fared throughout childhood and into adulthood, researchers found that those who ultimately were the most successful in life shared some key characteristics that less successful individuals often did not, including perseverance and willpower.
These characteristics tend to be part of an individual's overall personality, but they are also something you can improve. Delayed gratification, learning to persist in the face of challenges, and waiting for the rewards of your hard work can often be the key to success in life.
So, what are some strategies you can use to improve your willpower?
- Try distracting yourself. For example, if you are trying to lose weight but are having a difficult time staying away from your favorite snacks, distracting yourself during your moments of weakness can be an effective way to avoid giving in to temptation.
- Practice. Willpower is something you can build, but it takes time and effort. Start by making small goals that require will power to achieve, such as avoiding sugary snacks. As you build your ability to use your will power to achieve such small goals, you may find that your willpower is also stronger when working on much larger goals.
Focus on Intrinsic Motivations
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