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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.

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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.

More by this author

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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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