By Eric Barker
May 8, 2014

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:

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:

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:

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

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

(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:

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:

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

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

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:

(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:

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:

“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:

(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:

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

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

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

(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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

(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:

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

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

(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.

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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.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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