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10 Things Everyone Thinks Are True About Achieving Success (That Actually Are Not)

10 Things Everyone Thinks Are True About Achieving Success (That Actually Are Not)

We all aspire to be successful in life. However, achieving success is not as straight forward as it may seem. You can have a million dollars in the bank, but if you are still not happy, you cannot be said to be truly successful. Success is not merely determined by how much money and how many material possessions you have. It is determined by something much more.

Maya Angelou says success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it. In other words, true success and happiness spring from within you, not from without. Here are 10 big misconceptions everyone thinks are true about achieving success that actually are not entirely true.

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1. You need BIG dreams to be successful.

You don’t necessarily need big dreams to be successful. Anyone can have big dream of owning posh cars, mansions on the hill and even private islands. Few, however, can actually realize those dreams. What you need to succeed is clear, incredibly specific and measurable goals, says Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich.” Add a clear, ultra-specific, measurable course of action to reach the goals, and you are destined for great things. If you dream of being the CEO of your own company, for example, set clear, incredibly specific and measurable goals and have in place clear, ultra-specific and measurable action steps to get there, such as getting the proper education and making the right connections. Clear, S.M.A.R.T. (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals are what distinguish big achievers and big dreamers.

2. You must have a college education to succeed.

How many times have you heard people being warned they will wind up on the streets homeless and begging for money if they don’t get a college education? You were probably warned the same thing yourself when growing up. While the importance of getting an education is undisputable, you don’t necessarily have to have a college education to succeed in life. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg attended the best schools in the country but none of them graduated with a college degree. They dropped out of college to pursue their dreams and still ended up successful. Don’t be fixated on the idea that everyone needs a degree to succeed in life. Oftentimes, being street smart, analytical and willing to follow your intuition is the secret recipe that you will propel you to excellence in this world.

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3. You just need to go through the motions and everything will fall into place.

One of the absolute truths about life is that what you put in determines what you get out. Everything happens for a reason. Growth and development happen because time and effort was put in. Mediocre input only produces mediocre output. If you don’t work hard and put in full effort, you undermine your own success. It’s as simple as that. Success won’t just happen. You must work hard, be calculated, smart and committed to achieve it. Things are made to fall into place; they don’t just fall into place. Put in lackluster effort only if you are not serious about achieving success.

4. Your passion is all that is needed.

Passion is vital for success. It means you want something bad enough that you are willing to commit to make it a reality. However, passion alone is not enough to achieve success. Success takes time. You will need not just a strong desire and commitment to make something happen, but also more importantly, patience and effort. If you are truly passionate about something, time and effort will be your most valuable asset. Set goals you are passionate about because you’ll likely be working on them for some time.

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5. You need to be really talented.

No. You don’t need to be really talented to succeed. Success and talent don’t always go hand-in-hand. If you don’t believe me, just look at the Miley Cyruses and Danielle Steeles of this world. Danielle Steele is super rich and celebrated around the world and yet, she is not exactly Jane Austen. Just because you are not exceptionally talented at something is not a reason to put yourself down. Grit is more important than talent. Talent makes it easier to achieve success, but effort and perseverance make success a predetermined reality. Work on S.M.A.R.T. goals and success will follow.

6. You can do it all by yourself.

Whether you like it or not, there is always something you can learn and benefit from other people. Nobody knows everything or has absolutely everything required for success. We can all do with occasional help and support from others. The most successful people understand this fact and cherish every opportunity to pick the brains of those more knowledgeable, talented or experienced than them. They even cherish the opportunity to interact with people less endowed than them. This habit births new perspectives and insights that bring them even more success. Get over being shy and get help or support from others whenever you need it. This will make you a more refined, successful person.

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7. You can’t afford to slip up or make mistakes.

If you think there is no room for mistakes in the pursuit of success and happiness, then you are mistaken already. Slip ups and mistakes are inevitable. They happen all the time to people. You won’t always get it right the first time, but you can always make mistakes a secret ingredient for your own success. Winston Churchill rightly said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” Pick yourself up and brush the dust off your clothes after you slip and fall. Learn from your mistakes and use that experience as a lesson to avoid future mistakes. That is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

8. You must keep at it non-stop.

Persistence is pivotal to achieving success. However, persistence is not the same thing as stubbornness and inflexibility. You are only human and there is only so much you can do before you burn out. Your body and mind needs downtime to rest and re-energize. The most successful people sleep well and take regular breaks from work to rest and relax. They don’t work non-stop and you shouldn’t either. Slow down; take a look around; breathe. Delegate the kids or work and escape on a deserved break. Eat healthy, exercise regularly and enjoy quality time with friends and family outside of work. These things will refresh and re-energize you for success when you get back to work.

9. You can slack off once you reach the top.

The higher you climb the ladder of success, the harder you can fall. Anyone who tells you that you can slack off once you are successful should not be taken seriously. There is no room for slacking off, especially at the highest levels of success in business. Biblical teachings even admonish that to whom much is given, much is expected. Much will be expected from you at the top. You can (and should) take deserved breaks, but you must not slack off if you want to remain at the top. Keep working hard.

10. You will be happy once you are successful.

Achieving all your goals and dreams will not guarantee you will be happy. Some of the most unhappy, suicidal people in the world are the rich and famous. Many more accomplished people suffer the “more syndrome” where the more they get, the more they want. The “more syndrome” only leaves people stressed out and unhappy. However, people who lead the most meaningful, happy and successful lives get a lot of joy not from the ability to accumulate even more, but the ability to give out more. So, be generous once you get to the top and are successful.

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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