How does someone become off-the-charts successful? Some say it’s luck. Others say it’s hustle. The truth is, success only comes with a combination of both-, as well as a few other ingredients.
Defining success can be tricky because it’s so subjective. Some people want to make a million dollars a year. Others want to make a good living and have three weeks of paid vacation time a year so they can travel. Then there are those with the desire to build something of their own, and still others who want to find ways to make money passively so they can spend more time on their hobbies.
Whatever your definition of success, these 11 skills can help you achieve it faster.
1. Stop replaying negative thoughts in your mind.
A recent article in The New Yorker reveals that when we remember the past, we do not remember it in the way we think we do. The images that come to mind aren’t like old films being replayed in our heads. In fact, every time we remember something, the memory changes based on the way we remember it.
The more you replay negative thoughts in your mind, the more you are practicing feeling that emotion--which means the more you believe it. Soon you’ll start to believe you aren’t good enough or talented enough, and you’ll never become successful.
The key is to recall memories or mistakes you’ve made in the past, and see them through a lens of learning. Reframe them as moments of growth.
Related: 11 Mindsets Learned in Prison Made Me Mentally Unstoppable
2. Construct a positive environment for yourself.
So much of success depends on our environment. Rarely do we give this enough credit. Where you work and where you spend the majority of your time has a huge impact on what you accomplish and how you feel about it. The right environment will help you feel more engaged in and enthusiastic about your work. A negative environment will suck the joy and inspiration out of you.
The same goes for your home, and perhaps even more so because home is where you go to recharge your batteries at the end of the day. Find ways of making your home feel like the retreat it should be. For example, get a little feng shui in your life by clearing the clutter and creating an environment in which you can truly relax and feel comfortable.
3. Get clear on your why.
As Simon Sinek would say, “Start with Why.” You have to know why you want to do something in order to succeed over the long term. Sometimes the why isn’t immediately obvious, and you have to follow your curiosity in order to find it. That’s okay. But if you’re merely following the money, or are chasing validation or the idea of “being seen as successful,” you’ll never find your why. Those motives simply aren’t sustainable enough.
Your why is your inspiration and your bigger purpose. It’s what drives you, even when everything seems to be falling apart. Sinek tell us that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Identifying your why is key to knowing how to hook your audience or would-be clients and customers.
It takes time to find your why in everything you do. But start looking, and soon it will make itself known.
Related: Why Discovering Your 'Why' Is the No. 1 Business Move
4. Listen to your gut, but double-check with your mind.
Most of the time we know the right answer long before our logical mind does. We can just feel it. That doesn’t mean you should make decisions based solely on your emotions. What it does mean, however, is that you should also give that emotional part of you a say in the matter.
As it turns out, your rational mind also plays into your gut instinct. Your intuition is built on your firsthand experiences. It’s your brain’s ability to project how something will play out based on past experiences and practices.
The best thing you can do is to trust your gut--but then double-check with your logical mind. Run the numbers. Play devil’s advocate. Make sure you’re being rational, but still let intuition drive decisions.
5. Visualize your success.
Visualization principles have been proven to work in everything from professional sports to business and beyond. Those at the top of their professions have long been using this technique to help them perform their best. The more clearly you can picture doing something in your mind, the easier it will be to pick up a new skill or instill a new habit.
Visualizing yourself living the life you desire and doing the things you want to be doing is a key to your overall life journey and success. That’s not to say you should spend all your time sitting at home hoping and wishing. It just means you need to hold your vision firmly in your mind’s eye and then go for it!
Related: The Extraordinary Power of Visualizing Success
6. Practice more than you preach.
Anyone can talk about success. What’s hard is putting your nose to the grindstone day after day. In order to become successful, you’ll need to master skills worthy of that title in the first place. And you also need to fundamentally believe in what you’re doing.
You need to know your purpose and follow through on your core beliefs and values. After all, nothing will destroy your credibility like a lack of connection between what you say and what you do.
So say what you’re going to do, follow through with it and, above all, believe it. Keep walking the walk and you’ll achieve your goals while inspiring others to do the same.
7. Communicate effectively.
Soft skills are often the biggest differentiators between those perennially aspiring to be successful and those who achieve success.
Effective communication is a skill. It’s something that takes practice, and requires that you invest heavily in not only understanding others, but also yourself. You have to be the master of your own ship before you can instruct others on how they should be sailing.
Recognize when you get frustrated, and know how to manage your negative emotions. At the same time, it’s important to understand when it’s appropriate to give constructive feedback and when it’s best to save words for later. Communication is an art, and it takes time to learn how to perform well.
Related: 5 Ways to Effectively Communicate With Employees
8. Commit to your goals.
Once you make a commitment to yourself, it’s on you to follow through to the end.
There is a difference between being involved in something and being wholly committed to making it happen. To succeed, you must fully invest yourself in your goals and be determined to see them through. Consider this: if you don’t want to commit to your dreams, someone else will. And nothing is more agonizing than watching someone else achieve your dream.
It may take years to fully learn how to commit to something. But learning to commit is key because it is the one skill most easily transferred from goal to goal. If you can prove to yourself that you can be persistent in one domain, chances are that you can be persistent in any area of your choosing.
But you have to do it once, and really see it through to the end, in order to fully understand what it means to commit and accomplish a goal.
9. Never stop optimizing.
Part of the “success process” is continuing to optimize and learning to make the best use of your resources over time. As soon as you stop trying to improve, you’re no longer working toward success. At best, you will remain stagnant.
The process of developing, constructing and reconstructing is part of a journey that never ends. It’s a skill to be able to constantly look for ways to improve. But just like anything else, the more you practice it, the better you’ll get. Keep testing new strategies and collaborating on different methodologies. Pioneers are those who push the boundaries and carve their own path in life.
Related: 3 Ways to Drive Continual Improvement
10. Ask questions, constantly.
You should never stop learning. Ever.
We learn by asking questions, not telling people the answers we think we know. Therefore, the more we question, the better answers we get.
Part of becoming successful is taking the time to ask others for guidance. Those people are usually those older than you who have already achieved what you’re looking to accomplish. There is so much value in asking questions. For starters, asking questions makes your brain more open to forming new patterns and considering different possibilities.
The deeper your questions, the wiser you will become. And in the process, you will learn to understand yourself better. That self-knowledge will ultimately give you a sense of peace and happiness.
11. End each day in reflection.
It’s easy to get stuck on the treadmill of life, running from one thing to the next without considering how everything you do is interconnected. But if you want to have sustained success, you need to make time to reflect at the end of each day.
Setting aside even five minutes to consider what went well and what didn’t will give you an awareness of the issues and flaws that you need to address. Reflection, whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or yearly, is a key part of continuing to improve and refine over time.
Without reflection, you might as well have blinders on. Take a step back. See the bigger picture. That will allow you to make more astute decisions about where you want to go.
Deep Patel is the author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success. The book was dubbed the #1 best business book in 2016 by Success Magazine and named the best book for entrepreneurs in 2016 by Entrepreneur Magazine.