Habits for success

There’s a considerable amount of advice out there about how to be successful through habits. In theory, much of it sounds great. In practice, it can be hard to take on in an actionable way. This is especially true if you’re receiving tips and advice from someone who is already wildly successful. There’s a disconnect with between where they are and where you might be. The strategies you’ll have for success will be totally different than if you’re starting from square one. 

How do you begin from where you are today with the resources you have? Tenacity, a positive outlook, and creating your own good luck by putting yourself out there will all factor in. Besides these obvious traits, there are other recognized patterns and habits of successful people that play into achieving your goals. In this article, we’ll talk about ways to reach your goals with actionable habits to practice. You can pick and choose from these habits to take them on and see what resonates, works for you, your life, and your goals.

1.  Be a person who brings value

Don’t say things just to sound important. Do the important things. Ask yourself, am I a person who brings value to every interaction? Are you a problem-solver and facilitator of connections? Do you crack the issues that others haven’t been able to? What are the things that may not be obvious that could work? How can you uniquely provide knowledge, insights, and suggestions? 

A lot of people focus on regurgitating strategies that they heard and haven’t actually lived through or experienced. These suggestions are one step removed and they feel watered down and artificial to the person on the receiving end. Are you a person of value, someone who stands for their beliefs, and someone who is straight with people? Successful people don’t beat around the bush. They always tell it like it is.

Relying on strategies to provide value will only get you so far. When things get tough and the circumstance is different from the example solution being replicated, the strategy usually falls apart. People and situations are unpredictable and it’s important to be nimble and resilient along the way in getting to your goals. What separates an average person from a successful person is often their incredible focus on finding solutions fast and moving on. 

When something doesn’t work or doesn’t go how you expect, do you give up or lean in? Do you get frustrated and quit or look at what was missing to make the situation turn out differently? Being a person of value means that you bring impactful contributions to every situation and interaction. Yo bring real solutions that are connected to and meet the needs of the people around you.

2.  Do it now

Time to get things rolling. Don’t wait and don’t delay. Making things happen and working towards your goals requires action. Roll up your sleeves and get to work today. Don’t cheat yourself out of your dreams and don’t postpone what you know in your heart you need to do. There’s no perfect time to do something and you’ll always wish you started sooner. You have everything needed to get started here, today, and now.

Success is achieved by making plans and taking action, and not getting thrown off along the way. Momentum is incredibly important. When you say you’ll do something, do it. Your word is everything. Procrastination is only good for killing your energy and stretching out tasks. By getting to work right away on what you set out to do, you’ll find you’ll have more motivation and energy. 

This is especially true if you can get the hard things done first. Make that tough phone call or send that email you were avoiding or start reaching out to investors to raise money for your idea. Whatever it is, you can spring into action as soon as you know what you need to do. If you don’t know what to do, at least get started on something and you’ll figure it out along the way. It’s much more effective to be in action than sitting around all day thinking without doing.

3.  Always keep an open mind

As someone up to big things with great ambition, you’ll always continue the search for new things to learn. This search for knowledge is ongoing and the world is always evolving and changing. Continuing to learn and grow at any age is a positive thing. There are always new things to take on and be aware of in life. Openness, adaptability and constant learning and growth are a key part of having success.

As the adage goes, the only constant in life is change. You’ll be able to continue to explore with learning. You can uncover something new and interesting to educate yourself on. Have you picked up a new skill recently and have you taken a class or read a book to expand your understanding? Are you dedicating a percentage of your time to learning? With the internet being so accessible, it’s easy to teach yourself a wide range of things that can be valuable to others. You can take that knowledge and then put it to work for you.

4.  Lean in and do the work

There will always be someone out there who’s more hungry. Someone who will do more with less and grab every good opportunity by the horns. Where is that hunger within you? If you think that sitting around and dreaming of what’s possible without taking action is going to make you wildly prosperous, it won’t. Nothing happens without some elbow grease, blood, sweat, and tears. We’ve all heard stories of founders who’ve built a successful company out of a garage at the age of nineteen, over summer and made it look effortless. Or ramblings of a celebrity who achieved stardom overnight and apparently didn’t need to do much heavy lifting at all.

The truth is that while they may have made this appear effortless, those people worked really freaking hard. They were willing to put in the time and effort and dedication that others weren’t. They had an intention and focus on what they set out to do and they got to work. The also had a network of people around them, behind the scenes, supporting them and driving their success.

5.  A master is never done

As soon as you say “I know” this or that, your mind goes to a limited space. Those words now mean that there is nothing else that can be true. You are declaring that you’re right and everything else is wrong. Thinking you know something (or everything), will close off your mind to learning. Saying I know that causes you to miss out. There are likely things on the other side of “I know that” which might make you more productive, happier, and more wealthy for example.

The world is always changing and there’s new “stuff” to learn. Even a master is never done being open to education and new things. They are always practicing and enjoy the art of learning. Arrogance often leads to you isolating yourself, getting really upset when you’re wrong, and general unhappiness. It’s much better to keep an open mind and be receptive to other people’s advice. You don’t always have to take it but at least when a better way to approach things comes along, you’ll be there and ready to give it a try.

6.  Get out of your way

Smart people love to overthink things and create additional problems for themselves that sometimes don’t exist to begin with. You want to truly ask yourself, are you making things more complicated than they need to be? Do you let go of trying to seem smart or look important, letting ego in the driver’s seat? Do you have a positive mindset that you’ll get through whatever challenge comes your way? If you find yourself in situations often where the process is convoluted, you may want to ask yourself – am I truly focusing on what’s important?

Do you let people learn things for themselves or do you try to always instruct people and give them the playbook? Are you empowering people to think for themselves and make their own choices? Do you constantly try to explain everything long after you’ve made your point? Give people the opportunity to contribute to conversations. They will generate ideas with you instead of you always trying to fight for and run every conversation.

You can always keep it simple. Successful people know that time is their most valuable asset. They ask themselves constantly if there is a more streamlined way to get things done? How can we achieve our goals? Are we taking the path of least resistance? What really matters that we are trying to accomplish here? What will move the needle and get us to the next inflection point with this idea, project or venture?

7.  Play well with others

Do you work as a team or try to do everything solo? No individual in the world has ever built something remarkable that has a profound impact on society without the help of others. Do you trust people you choose to have around you? Are they engaged in what you’re creating and building? Are you delegating tasks and working collaboratively?

If you constantly change who you’re surrounded by, you might want to examine this pattern of constantly switching social groups. You always have the choice of how you want to spend your time and with who. Regardless, people skills are important to master. Changing your job or the country you live in won’t change basic human behavior that you bump up against or get annoyed by. Eventually, you’ll have to learn how to play well with others and not let other people’s quirks or ways of dealing and interacting bother you or derail you.

Mindset and attitude are important for success in lifting people up, instead of putting them down when mistakes happen. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Ordinary people put colleagues down when things don’t turn out as planned and blame others or circumstances when things go wrong. They skirt responsibility and go to a place of frustration. They blame people, situations and things instead of problem-solving. Being a team player and owning when things don’t turn out as expected will carry you an incredibly long way.

8.  Be careful of your surroundings

Success breeds success and vice versa. You’re the sum of who you surround yourself with. Are you putting yourself into a context for success and progress? If you’re around people who are negative, you’ll have to work extra hard to maintain a positive attitude and mindset.

This doesn’t mean you need to run away from all negative people every time you encounter someone with a bad attitude. You can always bring others up and inspire them. You do want to be aware of who’s around you and understand people need to choose a positive mindset for themselves.

9.  Keep chipping away

We all want things to happen faster. 

Except in some rare cases, success doesn’t materialize overnight. Life on top is a journey and some things just take time. There are also things in the world that money can’t buy. Be patient and diplomatic. Value yourself, your skills and your time. Be selective about what you take on because you only have so much time in the day. Be intentional in what you’re doing and don’t just settle for “whatever”. Start saying no and reject things that aren’t a worthwhile pursuit. 

Invest in yourself and hire experts at the top of their field to coach you. Always kicking yourself because you’re not doing enough or things are not going as fast as you want, isn’t a productive way to go through life. You’ll only end up feeling not good enough or behind. You’re fine right where you are. You don’t need to compare yourself to the progress of others. It will drive you crazy if you try to operate that way.

10.  Deal with it

Mistakes are bound to happen. How you handle them makes all the difference. Things are going to suck sometimes in life. You can plan all you want and then something will come up and cause everything to go off the tracks. Instead of being frustrated and resigned about turbulence along the way, it’s much more effective to roll with the punches and keep moving. You can either be a person who creates problems or solves them. You can add friction or take it away from any situation.

While complaining might emotionally feel good at the moment, you’re wasting time, energy and focus on something that’s not contributing positively. Complaining won’t move things forward and deal with the problem. Let’s be honest, the solution is what you really want anyway and the frustration is just an act to get attention and feel important. You don’t need it and it’s not serving you. You can ditch that old dramatic way of coping with things and go straight to solutions.

11.  People are important

Understanding others and working with people at every step of the way is important. It’s what greases the wheels and gets things done. Allowing other people to rattle you because they say something that might catch you off guard isn’t going to be productive for you. Getting upset when someone doesn’t show up how you want is a useless pursuit.

When we rise together we all shine. Being successful and on top is lonely and isolating if you lose track of your friends and only have surface level relationships. Deep, authentic relationships take time to foster. Don’t forget the little guys and pay it forward on your way to the top. Embrace the diversity of people in their skills, perspectives, and backgrounds. 

Compassion is also an incredibly important skill to develop for achieving success. Invest in every interaction with whoever comes your way. Not because you’re trying to convince people you’re a good person, because you actually care. Humans are great at sensing inauthenticity so really spend time with people. Care about others and stay connected. People can be quirky and their individuality can be embraced instead of always expecting them to be a certain way – i.e. the way you might want.

12.  Don’t throw in the towel

People remember success more than they focus on and reminisce over failure. Don’t give in to giving up. Try, try again until you succeed. The bumps along the way will try to derail you. Things are going to come up and you might get frustrated. It’s ok to get upset at times and those feelings are valid. It’s your choice whether you let them rule you. 

There’s a difference between being temporarily emotional and being stuck in a place without taking actions to get yourself out of the problem. Setbacks only cause problems if you let them and you have the power to work through things that arise.

If you find yourself getting resigned about situations or want to give up, it helps to remind yourself that this isn’t the end all be all. Learn from your mistakes and look at what was missing that might have caused the outcome you wanted. There’s always an opportunity to learn without being jaded and resigned. Resilience and tenacity are skills you can develop over time.

13.  No excuses

What’s really stopping you? Is it true that you can’t reach your goals? Are there things you need to get out of the way to focus? There’s a difference between not wanting to do something because it’s hard or the path least chosen, versus saying it’s impossible. I often hear people say I “can’t do” this or that. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll usually find that they don’t want to do the seemingly hard thing that’s in the way. As it turns out, they can actually do what they’re aspiring to do. It’s easy to inject excuses and not even realize that you’re doing it. Catch yourself and stop killing your opportunities before they’ve even had a chance.

How can you start chipping away, here and now? If you have no idea about the trajectory you want to take, just get started somewhere. Get things moving and take actions. It’s the indecision that gets you. Reading books, watching videos, or having conversations with people is all well and good. But, it’s not putting that learning and those ideas into play for yourself. The magic of being in action is that you gain real and tangible, relevant experience. Being in action for yourself takes you out of operating hypothetical situation and you’ll know if your theories work on not in the real world.

14.  Don’t be a slave to emotions

Don’t give your energy to negativity. You’ll spend more time and energy getting frustrated than getting through problems. Spending mental capacity and focus on perpetuating problems is not a great way to operate. Give up having to be right all the time and pick your battles carefully. Is sitting around feeling sorry for yourself going to actually improve your circumstance? In almost all circumstances, the answer is no. Being in action is what will create your results and get you out of the dip.

Instead of constantly being a slave to your feelings, what will actually solve the problem you’re facing? Can you change your focus from and take responsibility for something to get the wheels moving again? Practicing emotional intelligence is something you can take on right away. What might feel like a good thing to say, is not necessarily the best thing to say. It might not land in the right way for others.

15.  Picture it

How will you know you’ve achieved success? What will it look and feel like? What is the experience of success and if you say “I want an abundance of money,” as yourself why? Is is that you want to travel more and have those experiences in a different culture for example? Can you truly not actually travel now? A lot of people go through life wanting success but never feel like they’ve gotten it. This is because they don’t know where they’re headed or when they’ve gotten there.

It’s much better to do mini sprints and break out projects. That method allows you to chip away at and things that build on each other. The cumulative work that you do can build to a larger goal. If you try to go from where you are today and suddenly become successful somehow, you’re missing all the stuff in between to get there. There’s a lot of grit that a successful person typically goes through before making it to the top. 

When you’ve reached a goal and you do become successful, you tend to want to move onto the next thing. The process to get there and the way you feel when you get there is never how one might predict. Keep life fun, don’t take yourself too seriously along the way. Instead of thinking of all the material things you might want to have like money or a car, think about why you want these things. Also, check yourself and ask – can I not be happy now with what I already have? It would be nice to have that car or house but it’s important to not need it. The last thing you want to do is determine your value, success, and worth on material things.

16.  Iterate and evolve

It doesn’t make sense to sink time, energy and resources into something that society doesn’t want or need. What might be interesting to you may be quite a niche offering or idea. If you’re trying to build a scalable company or create a viral product or ideas that spread, it has to resonate with others. 

I’ve made the mistake of trying to push ideas that were cool, or interesting or captivating to me but they didn’t land in a compelling way for others. These were things I really wanted to do and I believed in. That was just the problem at the end of the day. They were cool to me and a few others but not engaging enough to get a large group on board. Doing a bunch of small tests rapidly before deep diving into a project is really important to get to solutions that people want. This is the concept and ethos behind discovering and validating product-market fit.

When looking back, success probably won’t look the way you thought it would. The path to success is impossible to predict and a very personal one. Embrace the unknown and opportunities that come your way. There’s a lot of randomness in the world. Connections and putting yourself out there somehow and in some way will lead to opportunities. Your plans will probably change and evolve along the way and that’s fine. Enjoy the journey encompassing the ups, downs, and all the rest of it.

– Matt Grigsby

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