What Successful People Do Differently
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Why do some people succeed and others fail?

How do they set the stage for the next promotion, highest sales, most votes or stellar performance?

Does it take:

  • A high IQ?
  • Personality?
  • Good looks?
  • Talent?

Research shows that measures of innate ability (like IQ) poorly predict who succeeds or stumbles. A recent book by Columbia Business School Professor Heidi Grant Halvorson summarizes Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.

“Being successful is not about winning the DNA lottery; it’s about reaching goals,” she writes. “It’s about making smart choices, using the right strategies and taking action.”

Decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their personal and professional goals because of what they do not because of who they are. Luckily, everything they do can be learned, practiced and mastered.

All About the Goals

Implementation of effective strategies and persistence ultimately determine who’s more likely to succeed. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. Your ability to set specific goals, seize opportunities and act on them primes the accomplishment pump.

Success comes to those who believe they can succeed, but it also requires a specific plan that won’t be abandoned, even during tough times. Winners also know that success may not come easily, but they remain focused on progress, monitor milestones and recognize what still needs to be done. They don’t let up.

True Grit

High performers have grit. They know obstacles are inevitable and find a way around them. They develop their abilities by finding solutions to setbacks. They build willpower by using it like a muscle – anticipating when they’re vulnerable, avoiding temptations, and preparing contingency plans and coping strategies.

They focus on what they will do, rather than what they won’t do – a tactic that fosters positive energy. They know success depends on adapting to challenges and persisting, even when they’re ready to wave the white flag.

9 Strategies for Successful Goals

  1. Be Specific. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated. Outline what you must do on a daily basis to realize your desired results. Which actions must you take to be a better manager/spouse/parent/friend or perhaps eat more healthfully? What will success look like when you re there?
  2. Seize the Moment. Predetermine when and where you’ll take action to avoid the traps of distractions and other competing commitments. The best tactic is “if/then” planning: If X happens, I will do Y.
  3. Accurately Gauge the Distance. Decide how often you’ll evaluate your progress. Determine where you’ll gather information: Can you self-assess, or will you need others’ feedback? Create reminders to perform your assessments. To stay motivated, remind yourself of the tasks that remain for goal completion.
  4. Be a Realistic Optimist. If you’re full of self-doubt, recall some of the goals you’ve achieved in the past and what it took to pull them off. Visualize how you’ll deal with looming challenges. What’s your Plan B? Use if/then planning.
  5. Focus on Getting Better, Rather Than Being Good. When faced with a new and difficult project, budget the time needed to get a handle on it. It’s OK to make mistakes. Take advantage of others’ expertise and ask for help. Don’t compare yourself to others’ only to your past performance. Are you improving?
  6. Have Grit. Grit is the willingness to commit to long-term goals and endure in spite of difficulties. Improvement is always possible. Successful professionals understand that their abilities are far from fixed. They believe they can improve through practice.
  7. Strengthen Your Willpower Muscle. Willpower is depleted with use. Rest helps you recover quickly and remain positive. Reinforce your willpower muscle with small tasks: Take the stairs, make your bed, and show up on time.
  8. Don’t Tempt Fate. If you hang around a barber shop, you’ll eventually get a haircut. Stick with the winners. Avoid thinking you can cheat “just a little.”
  9. Focus on What You Will Do – Not on What You Won’t Do. Many goals involve not doing something. Framing them in this way strengthens self-sabotaging impulses. Substitute if/then planning: “If I feel the urge to ________, then I will_______ instead.”

Success comes to those who believe they can succeed, but it also requires a specific plan that won’t be abandoned, even during tough times. Think about who might be able to help you about reaching your goals. How can they help you best? Building a strong support team around you makes new habits much easier to master.

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Moty Koppes is a certified master coach providing you with personal development, life coaching, relationship coaching, communication skills, personal power, life balance, career coaching, productivity enhancement, executive coaching and stress reduction in Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California.