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These 10 Questions Can Foretell If You’ll Be Successful In Life

These 10 Questions Can Foretell If You’ll Be Successful In Life

Success isn’t limited to just how far you’ve climbed up the corporate ladder, but other aspects of your life, too, such as instilling a healthy balance between work and family, pursuing and achieving various goals and dreams, and simply embracing who you are. However, there are scientifically proven signs that will indicate whether or not you will truly be successful in life, in whatever way you choose to define success. Here are 10 questions that predict whether you’ll spread your wings and soar toward your goals and success.

1. Are You Open And Mentally Prepared To Grow?

People, who are opposed to the idea that people’s character, intelligence and creativity can change, tend to have slower development in their personal growth, because they want to avoid failure instead of working on those three areas of their lives. But those people with a “growth mindset” see failure as a learning point from which to leap from as they bound onward and upward toward success. They embrace challenges, survive setbacks, embrace and improve based off of criticism, and will attain their goals. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck researched how people view their personality’s influence on their happiness and success and found that those positive and open individuals believe their true potential is limitless and so are more willing to work harder and be more dedicated.

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2. Are You Private About Your Goals?

Surprisingly, psychologists say that telling someone about your personal goal makes it less likely to materialize. Entrepreneur Derek Sivers, who spoke in a TED Talk Keep Your Goals To Yourself said that to meet a goal, a person must take steps, put in the hard work and not stop until he or she is satisfied. But once you tell someone about your goal and they recognize your mission, that’s called “social reality” where the mind is swayed into feeling that you’ve already met your goal and you’re no longer motivated to proceed.

3. Are You Happy?

Positivity is a key ingredient to success and being happy helps with that upbeat outlook. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should be satisfied and not strive for greater goals and successes, but be happy with you and where you’re at each step of the way. Psychiatrist and author of Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions George Vaillant’s research revealed that love is truly the key to happiness. Even if an individual relishes success in work, rakes in a boatload of money and enjoys good healthy, that person will not be completely happy without love and positive relationships.

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4. Do You Have A High Level Of Self-Esteem?

It takes confidence to have the competence to grow and gain successes. Authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, who penned The Confidence Code, note that low self-confidence leads to inaction, but taking those first steps armed with an action plan will boost a person’s belief that he or she really can succeed.

5. Are You Exactly Who You Want To Be?

Exuding the qualities of successful leaders doesn’t mean you have to be fake, but instead means you’re working toward the new and improved you. In her Harvard Business Review article titled The Authenticity Paradox, professor Herminia Ibarra said that “play-acting” will help you gain confidence and others will feel the same way about you, too.

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6. Do You Have Extreme Will Power?

One method to increasing your will power is to select one thing to improve upon bit by bit every day and to not procrastinate things that take just a few minutes to tackle, such as loading the dishwasher after dinner or swapping out the laundry in the washer to the dryer. Author James Clear notes that elite performers in a wide variety of fields, from athletes to musicians to artists and even CEOs, are more consistent than others.

7. Are You A Social Butterfly?

People who are both smart and socially adept tend to earn more. According to a study conducted by Catherine Weinberger, an economics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, having both cognitive ability and social skills are one key to success.

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8. Are You Ambitious?

One characteristic that repeatedly appears in highly successful people is grit. Psychologist Angela Duckworth has studying both kids and adults and found that those who have grit, or stamina, are hard workers with their minds set on a goal and will work harder than others to turn that goal into a reality. Jason Ma, author of Youth Leaders 3.0: Stories, Insights, and Tips for Next-Generation Achievers, notes that anyone can be ambitious with the right motivation.

9. Are You A Risk Taker?

Ambitious people dead set on achieving their goals also know they often must take some risk, which can be quite difficult for others. Ma noted that oftentimes a breakthrough in the path to success can be spurred out of a well-managed crisis. These people also don’t spend too much time honing their skill set, but rather executing a strategy utilizing those valuable skill sets.

10. Are You Steadfast?

Do not compete with others and let their negativity or successes drag you down. Ma notes that a person’s biggest competitor should be himself or herself. Do not measure yourself against others and do not them steer you off course.

How To Be Successful In A Nutshell

As you work on the “new you” with an eye on the prize of success, remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that explains how you cannot be the best you can be until your first tier needs are met. These are the basic needs, such as food, financial ability to pay your bills, and support and self-esteem that buoys your self-worth. Once you have a game plan mapped out for meeting those basic needs, then begin working on the next levels and charge ahead down that path to success. Be sure to surround yourself with other ambitious, driven, goal-setting people and support each other as you work toward attaining those goals.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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