9 Things Successful People Do Differently

These are the nine things that successful people do -the strategies they use to set and pursue goals (sometimes without consciously realizing it) that, according to decades of research, have the biggest impact on performance.

1. Get specific

When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. "Lose five pounds" is a better goal than "Lose some weight," because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that you need to take to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll "eat less" or "sleep more" is too vague: be clear and precise. "I’ll be in bed by 10 p.m. on weeknights" leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals

Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunites to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today ? No chance at any point to return that phone call ? Achieving your goals means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g. "If it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday, I’ll work out for thirty minutes before work"). Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increading your chances of success by roughly 300 percent.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go

Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress -if not by others-, then by yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently. Weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist

When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort and persistence.

Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill prepared for the journey ahead and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better rather than being good

Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence , our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed, that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong-abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact you can change will allow you to make better choices and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit

Grit is a willingness to commit to long term goals and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetimes and earn higher college GPA’s. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit evens predicts how far contestants at the Scripps National Spelling will go.
The good news is that if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it.
People whol lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking, well, there’s no way to put it nicely: you are wrong. As mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself
and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders to your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle

Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body; when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular work-outs by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.
To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something that you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do a hundred sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother – don’t.
Start with just one activity and make a plan for how long you deal with troubles when they occur ("If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit").
It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step up your self-control workout.

8. Don’t tempt fate

No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the facts that it is limited, and if you overtax it, you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging goals at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time).
And make achieving your goals easier by keeping yourself out of harm’s way. Many people are overly confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you WILL do, not what you WON’T do

Do you want to successfully get promoted, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper ? Then plan how you will replace counterproductive behaviors with more constructive, profitable ones. Too often, people concentrate all their efforts on what they want to stop doing and fail to consider how they will fill the void. Research on thought suppression (e.g., "Don’t think about white bears!") has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind.
The same holds true when it comes to behavior: by trying not to do something the impulse gets strengthened rather than diminished.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, what will I do instead ? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan such as, "If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down."
By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your success-sabotaging impulse will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

CONCLUSION

Most of us look at people at top of their game- the captains of industry, the wielders of political power, the movers and shakers in the arts, film, and music- and explain their successes using words like "genius," "ability" and "talent".
Which would be fine if most of us understood how genius, ability and talent work.

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

Study after study shows that so-called "innate" ability measures, like IQ, do a remarkably poor job predicting who succeeds and who doesn’t. Measures of effective strategy use and persistence, on the other hand, tell us a lot about who is likely to rise to the top.

Successful people set very specific goals and seize opportunities to act on them (using strategies like if-then planning.

They always know how far they have to go and stay focused on what still needs to be done.
They believe they will succeed, but embrace the fact that success will not come easily.
They remember that it’s about making progress, rather than doing everything perfectly right out of the gate. They believe that they can develop their abilities through effort, which makes them gritty in the face of setbacks and challenges.

They build their willpower through frequent exercise, make plans for how to cope when willpower is low, and try not to put themselves in situations where temptations abound. They focus on what they will do, rather than what they won’t do.

There is nothing they do that you can’t do, too.