The world is filled with two types of people: successful people and average people. There are plenty of resources online if you want to learn how to be successful, but what about those who are only looking to achieve adequacy? If you’re shooting for the big dog pile at the bottom, here are 10 common characteristics of average people to aim for:
1 – Average People Had That Idea First
Anytime you hear about something cool and new, there’s always someone who had that idea first. iPhone? I could’ve invented that. Amazon? I was telling people about online shopping years before they existed. We all have millions of ideas – it’s the person who takes the lead and acts on those ideas that gets all the glory. Nobody cares what you could’ve done if only you had made the right decision.
You weren’t just one wrong move away from achieving fame and fortune. Overnight success only exists for people willing to claw and climb their way to the top for years with little to no recognition, money, or energy. Put in two years of sleepless nights slaving away at thousands of pages of code…then you won’t need to tell me the story of how you invented social media. I’ll hear about it from someone else.
2 – Average People Waste Time
I work a lot. It doesn’t feel like work because I love what I do, but I’m almost constantly doing something for my job. Every successful person I know has the same work ethic. Sure, I can get a hold of someone for a quick meal or drink, but we don’t hang out day in and day out — we’re just too busy for that. Average people don’t prioritize their life this way.
Average people are always finding ways to get out of work. No matter what you may have seen in a commercial, there’s no easy button to life. If you’re not working towards your dreams, you’ll never reach them. Either you’ll make a career out of a menial job, or you’ll shift back and forth between entry level drudgery until you retire or die. Along the road to success, you’ll meet plenty of people who want to waste your time. You only have so much time in the day, and how you utilize that time is up to you. Whether you want to be a rapper, superhero, or scientist, your time is better spent in the lab than partying.
3 – Average People Are Always Broke
Dude… if you’re broke for a few years while busting your ass toward a goal, you’re going to be successful. If you’re broke longer than that, you’re average. You need a savings account, and you need to stop spending money. Pay off your debt and keep all your bills current. Start living within your means. Just because you see Lil Wayne on TV bragging about all the money he has doesn’t mean you have those same means. If you keep buying Cristal on a Coors budget, you’ll get kicked out the club.
Stop eating out. When your friends ask you to go out, be honest about not having money to go. Just because you have $200 in your savings account doesn’t mean you have to spend it, and how much you have saved up is nobody’s business but your own (and your partner, if that’s a mutual decision you’ve come to). You don’t need the latest and greatest of every gadget that ever comes out. Make do with what you have. There’s entirely too much free stuff out there in the world for you to waste your hard earned money on frivolous things.
4 – Average People Talk More Than They Act
I spent my early 20s halfheartedly pursuing a career in the music business on the side of my day job and school. Although I decided to pursue other career options, I learned a lot about the music business from the experience. You’ll constantly meet musicians if you go out and about town – they’re everywhere. The problem is that most of these self-proclaimed “musicians” aren’t actually making any money in the business. They have nothing more than a pipe-dream. If they were really going to explode on the scene like they tell it, you’d be hearing about them from someone else, and they’d be too busy working to talk to you.
That was just one example. People constantly talk about a book they should write or how interesting their life is as though their birth and the events of their lives entitle them to some sort of celebration. These people sit around their entire lives with their hands out, waiting to be “discovered” and given instant super-stardom. They think that by telling everyone they’re already successful, they can trick their way into becoming the person of their dreams. Unfortunately they end up dying as just your average broke dreamer who never lived up to their potential.
5 – Average People Focus on the Past
We all have complicated pasts. It’s not like we all spend decades on Earth and nobody but you ever gets cheated, swindled, hurt, or worse. Everyone is a three-dimensional human being with many facets in their lives. We all have our own unique perspectives and experiences. My point is that you’re not alone — we’re all suffering.
Average people focus on their past. I’m not saying you should be a robot or drone with no feelings or history. Missing your childhood doesn’t bring it back. You can’t turn back time. You only get one chance at life, so make it count. The past and future only exist in your mind. What happened to you at 12 years old isn’t affecting whether or not you wake up today, eat anything, and go to sleep. Brush that chip off your shoulder and perk up. Focus on the here and now, and you’ll find yourself in more than average situations.
6 – Average People Have Lottery Dreams
When I win the lottery, I’m finally going to straighten out my life, because money is the source of all my unhappiness — surely an influx in cash will provide everything I need. When I win the lottery, I’m going to fix-up my backyard, finish all my projects, travel, make time to care about my family, and accomplish everything else that I’m too lazy to do right now.
None of these are unobtainable dreams or goals, but you have to be willing to put in the work. You’re going to suck at first, but you’ll learn by doing. Planning is great, but executing plans requires disciplined actions. I’m a writer living with a teacher in the summer. Instead of stressing about work, she’s off for the summer, and I work from home. We haven’t had to leave the house for much more than recreation and the occasional errand in weeks. I get paid to fly kites, play video games, read the news, and surf the internet all day. I couldn’t tell you the last time I got out of my pajamas and loungewear.
I didn’t win the lottery. No external easy button came along and changed my life. I put my nose to the grindstone and worked 24/7 to get where I’m at, and I’m still not even close to my goal. I have a comfortable life, and it didn’t take money to obtain. It took patience, resourcefulness, perseverance, and the willingness to adapt. Instead of sitting around planning the garden I’d have built if I could afford it, I tilled, watered, and fertilized the soil. I planted my own seeds, and nurtured my life my way. I put in the work, and reaped the rewards. Keep your lottery ticket.
7 – Average People Think Inside the Box
When lucky enough to be approached by the occasional box while meandering down the path of life, the average person will jump in it like a cat or toddler to play and begin thinking completely within said box. By contrast, successful people stand outside the box like grown folk, shaking their heads at the absurdity of the scene. Your problems aren’t as black and white as you think, and they’re certainly nothing to get worked up about. If the tragic event in your life isn’t being broadcast on the news, it’s because you’re experiencing something everyone goes through. Since the world isn’t going to end based on your decision, don’t put too much thought into it.
One of the best ways to gain other perspectives is to communicate with someone you trust. Whether it’s a parent, child, partner, friend, or therapist, talk your problems out with someone. They may see an angle you didn’t, even if it’s some wonky work mumbo jumbo. If you need to figure out a difficult problem or just identify some unknowable in your life, family and friends are a great resource. Worst case scenario, you discover you can’t depend on any of them and can move on to some new people — a valuable life lesson.
8 – Average People Are Never Responsible
A Democrat or Republican in office never did much to change my daily life. God isn’t responsible for pulling each individual out of the gutter. We all deal with terrible people, but I’ve most definitely met more good people than bad. If you’re not getting the point yet, we’re all responsible for our own lives. We create our own reality with our own effort.
Successful people understand this concept and spend their time working. Average people watch TV and play on the internet, wondering why nothing is changing in their lives — it must be because of your age, race, beliefs, bad luck, or anything else you can blame it on. It rains on everyone, my friend. You make the decision whether to run, stand in the rain, avoid it, use an umbrella, help people around you, or just dance.
9 – Average People Have Unfinished Projects
The average person constantly starts something new and wants to explore it…until things get difficult. Once the going gets tough, the average fluff loses their gruff, while the tough get rough. Don’t start golf, spend $3,000 on equipment, then decide you don’t like it, and take up video games, which costs hundreds to thousands of dollars per year. Don’t be a sneaker head who lounges on the couch watching cable TV all day, draining electricity, and wasting money — walk a mile in your shoes, and if you fill them, they will come.
Have a guitar you never play? Sell it. Is there a huge truck taking up half your backyard that you’re incapable of fixing or moving? Tow it. Your dead goldfish, ornery dog, barren garden, dirty laundry, etc. are giving people the impression you’re not in control of your life. You’re missing out on all these important aspects of your life because you’re focusing on the wrong things: work, bills, your overbearing boss, car troubles, rent, mortgage, insurance, what other people are doing, celebrities’ lives, and oh so many other unnecessary burdens on your brain. Either shit or get off the toilet – finish those projects, or salvage/sell the materials. Stop saving your best for a later date; it’ll never come.
10 – Average People Choose Average Lives
The President of the United States is no average person. Barrack Obama is the leader of one of the largest civilizations on Earth. He didn’t get there by choosing an average life — Obama chose leadership. He put in the work, and he took the reigns (that’s not a typo). Because he chose that life, he made decisions to bring himself toward that life. He didn’t hang out with his friends while secretly harboring his political aspirations. POTUS put himself out there.
If you want to be average, all you have to do is keep your dreams and goals to yourself. Do nothing to accomplish them. After enough years go by and you realize the world doesn’t stop for you, keep telling everyone about all of your past accomplishments. Soon you’ll start hating the music, TV, and movies you ignored life for. You’ll yearn for the good ol’ days you’ll never get back. Life doesn’t have a reset button. You had your shot, and you chose an average life. Now enjoy the fruits of obscurity… or change your destiny.
Curious about the other side of the coin: check out: Fifty Habits of Highly Successful PeopleFeatured photo credit: TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 20: Unidentified pedestrians at Shibuya crossing on November 20, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan. The famous scramble crosswalk is used by over 2.5 million people daily. via Shutterstock