TIME psychology

Here Are the 7 Things That Can Make You Wildly Successful

What does volumes of research say you can learn from wildly successful people?

To Build A Better Career, First Build A Better You

It might sound fluffy but research shows how people feel about themselves has a huge effect on success.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

For most people studied, the first step toward improving their job performance had nothing to do with the job itself but instead with improving how they felt about themselves. In fact, for eight in ten people, self-image matters more in how they rate their job performance than does their actual job performance. – Gribble 2000

What frequently produces creative ideas? It’s not clever tricks — it’s being genuinely interested in your work.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Experiments offering money in exchange for creative solutions to problems find that monetary rewards are unrelated to the capacity of people to offer original ideas. Instead, creativity is most frequently the product of genuine interest in the problem and a belief that creativity will be personally appreciated by superiors. – Cooper, Clasen, Silva-Jalonen, and Butler 1999

We all know the stereotype of the successful workaholic who neglects everything but their job.

Truth is, studies show people with career momentum are 53% more likely to have healthy habits.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Comparing middle management employees, researchers have found that those whose careers continue to have momentum are 53 percent more likely to engage in healthy life habits than those whose careers are stalled. – Roberts and Friend 1998

A feeling of control is what produces grit and makes people persist.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Research comparing students of similar ability finds that the distinguishing feature between those who maintain a strong work ethic in their studies and those who give up is a sense of control. Those who express a sense of control receive scores that are a full letter grade higher than those who do not. – Mendoza 1999

(Learn how to be more confident here.)

Quality, Not Quantity

In surveys, people say hard work is the best predictor of success. They’re wrong.

It’s one of the least significant factors. Hard work is overrated.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Effort is the single most overrated trait in producing success. People rank it as the best predictor of success when in reality it is one of the least significant factors. Effort, by itself, is a terrible predictor of outcomes because inefficient effort is a tremendous source of discouragement, leaving people to conclude that they can never succeed since even expending maximum effort has not produced results. – Scherneck 1998

Research shows number of hours does not predict success at work or at home.Success correlates with the quality of those hours.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

The quantity of hours spent working or thinking about work, or hours spent with our families, does not predict achievement or life satisfaction. Instead, the quality of those hours—how stressful or relaxing they are—is a much more potent factor in producing a satisfying family life and career. – Brown 1999

Being conscientious — detail oriented and showing follow-through — produces five times the results of intelligence.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

In a study of recent business school graduates, employee conscientiousness was five times more likely to predict supervisor satisfaction than was employee intelligence. – Fallon, Avis, Kudisch, Gornet, and Frost 2000

We’re in an era where multitasking seems essential and an employee must be a flexible “jack of all trades.”

But the most successful people feel they are an expert at something.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Sixty-eight percent of people who consider themselves successful say that there is at least one area of their job in which they are an expert. – Austin 2000

(Learn how to be an expert here.)

Make Plans And Goals

Sometimes it seems so much is getting thrown your way that all you can do is try to keep up.

But successful people pause, reflect, and think about long-term improvement every day.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Successful people spend at least fifteen minutes every day thinking about what they are doing and can do to improve their lives. – Sigmund 1999

Achievement is rarely random. Great generals don’t shrug and say “We got lucky.”

Nearly every executive interviewed for a study saw “plans and strategy” as responsible for their success.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Case study research on business executives reveals that 98 percent see their position as the result of plans and strategy and that more than half credit their use of a successful person as an example to help define that plan. – Gordon 1998

“I want lots of money” doesn’t cut it.

Having concrete goals was correlated with huge increases in confidence and feeling in control.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50 percent more likely to feel confident they will attain their goals and 32 percent more likely to feel in control of their lives. – Howatt 1999

(Learn about the most effective type of goals here.)

Focus On The Small Wins

Stop thinking that slaying dragons is all that matters.

70% of long-serving corporate leaders focus on the average events — not the best or worst.

The typical is much more common than extremes, so knowing how to handle that pays off almost every day.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Long-term studies of corporate leaders find that seven in ten of those who survive longest in their jobs downplay both the best and worst outcomes they experience and keep their feelings relatively steady. They have what psychologists call a “focus on an acceptable average,” not on the extraordinary, which is useful because almost every day turns out to be more average than extraordinary. – Ingram 1998

A consistent amount of minor success produces much more happiness than occasionally bagging an elephant.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Life satisfaction is 22 percent more likely for those with a steady stream of minor accomplishments than those who express interest only in major accomplishments. – Orlick 1998

You want a steady amount of challenge, achievement and feedback:

decision-book
(Learn more about happiness here.)

Know What Motivates You

Motivation predicts career success better than intelligence, ability, or salary.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

When tested in national surveys against such seemingly crucial factors as intelligence, ability, and salary, level of motivation proves to be a more significant component in predicting career success. While level of motivation is highly correlated with success, importantly, the source of motivation varies greatly among individuals and is unrelated to success. – Bashaw and Grant 1994

But what motivates people can vary widely.

What reward gets you going? Do you want to be richer? Do you like helping people? Do you want praise?

Don’t speculate. Think about specific times when you were very motivated and what caused it.

Research shows that reward is responsible for three-quarters of why you do things, so align rewards and goals appropriately.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction toward work. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment. – Dickinson 1999

Take the time to reflect on how far you’ve come and the good work you’ve done. It boosts your motivation.

That’s not indulgent or fluffy — persistent people spend twice as long thinking about their accomplishments.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Comparing people who tend to give up easily with people who tend to carry on, even through difficult challenges, researchers find that persistent people spend twice as much time thinking, not about what has to be done, but about what they have already accomplished, the fact that the task is doable, and that they are capable of it. – Sparrow 1998

Here’s Dan Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the single best book on motivation:

(Learn more about motivation here.)

Choose The Right Workplace

People and environment affect you dramatically — and bad habitscan spread like a virus.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Psychologists have observed that bad habits can spread through an office like a contagious disease. Employees tend to mirror the bad behaviors of their co-workers, with factors as diverse as low morale, poor working habits, and theft from the employer all rising based on the negative behavior of peers. – Greene 1999

You want to learn and grow — but you want to be learning the right things and growing in the right way.

Having a diverse set of co-workers can make you much more productive.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Teams in the workplace composed of people with differing personalities are 14 percent more productive than teams composed of more compatible individuals. – Fisher, Macrosson, and Wong 1998

We all know mentors and role models are valuable.

What most people don’t know is that these aspirational figures must “fit” with your career goals.

Role models who aren’t relevant or whose achievements are unattainable can make you 22% less satisfied with your career.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

People who actively target someone to serve as a role model draw positive feelings from that person only if the role model’s achievements are both relevant and attainable. People who choose role models who do not fit that description wind up 22 percent less satisfied with their careers than people who do not have a role model at all. – Lockwood and Kunda 2000

(Learn how to use context to your advantage here.)

Learn People Skills

You cannot go it alone. A big network and being liked pay huge dividends.

80% of CEOs feel that people skills are not only essential at work but also make them happy at home.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Eight in ten ceos report that a healthy family life is crucial to a productive business life and that the same key skill—“interpersonal engagement,” the capacity to express concern and interest in those around them—is crucial to both home and work. – Henderson 1999

Being defensive not only makes you disliked, it also makes it hard to learn anything.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Defensiveness is negatively correlated with learning on the job. People with highly defensive personality traits speak more times in meetings, are more likely to interrupt a speaker, and are one-fourth slower in adapting to new tasks. – Haugen and Lund 1999

(How do you learn people skills? Start here.)

Sum Up

Seven things that will make you more successful:

  1. First, Build A Better You
  2. Quality, Not Quantity
  3. Make Plans And Goals
  4. Focus On The Small Wins
  5. Know What Motivates You
  6. Choose The Right Workplace
  7. Learn People Skills

What’s the easiest way to get started? Go here.

Join 45K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

Related posts:

8 Things The World’s Most Successful People All Have In Common

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46,116 other followers