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20 Things Highly Successful People Don’t Do

20 Things Highly Successful People Don’t Do

Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” So it goes with saying that highly successful people are better at accomplishing their goals.

If you want to find success in your life it’s important to understand what successful people do … and the things they don’t do. Here are 20 things they avoid:

They don’t define success with money.

Successful people aren’t necessarily wealthy … but they’re usually happy. Happiness defines their success more than money.

They don’t make important decisions on a whim.

Successful people think before they act, especially when it comes to important decisions.

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They don’t underestimate the importance of planning.

People who are successful keep at least one journal to plan their schedule and track their progress. Many people even keep two journals: one for personal planning and one for scheduling/work.

They don’t go to sleep until their to-do list is done.

Highly successful people always finish what’s on their to-do list. And it makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside.

They don’t make their to-do list overwhelmingly large.

Keeping a to-do list is essential, but so is keeping your list of tasks manageable. Successful people don’t bite off more than they can chew. They keep their to-do list small and scalable.

They don’t set unrealistic goals.

People who accomplish great things in life set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-driven (SMART) goals. “I want to lose weight,” is not a good goal. “I will lose 10 pounds by the end of this year,” is.

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They don’t work for hours on end.

Successful people work in small increments and take frequent breaks. This helps them get more done in less time.

They don’t sleep the day away.

Early risers get more done, plain and simple. The hours you have in each day are limited. Successful people go to bed at the same time every night and get up early, refreshed and ready to conquer their day.

They don’t put others before their family.

Successful folks put family first. Work is important, but never as important as experiencing life with the people you love most.

They don’t work harder, they work smarter.

Successful people don’t necessarily work harder. They do work smarter though. They focus 80 percent of their efforts on the 20 percent of work that will give them the greatest return (this is called the Pareto principle).

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They don’t always get what they want.

Let’s face it: life doesn’t always give you what you want. The difference between people who find success and those who don’t is successful people are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.

They don’t go a day without giving thanks.

Successful people make it a point to write down the things they’re thankful for every day.

They don’t walk past the homeless guy in the street without giving him some of their money or time.

“Success” is also defined by how much you give back. That’s why truly successful people will always stop to help someone in need and give their time or money freely.

They don’t drink too much.

Yes, successful folks like to unwind with a couple of drinks and socialize with friends. But they stay in control and don’t drink themselves into making bad decisions.

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They don’t let themselves go.

You’ll also find that successful people are usually healthier. They take care of their bodies and minds and make the time to eat healthy and exercise frequently.

They don’t let bad habits control them.

Highly successful people find ways to turn bad habits into good ones.

They don’t know everything … and that’s okay with them.

Another measure of a successful person is this: they’re thirsty for knowledge. They know what they know, and more importantly, they know what they don’t know.

They don’t care what other people think about them.

Highly successful people ignore the naysayers and the pessimists. They surround themselves with people who are going to make them better.

They don’t back down from adversity.

Another trait of successful people is that they choose to see challenges and moments of adversity as opportunities to grow.

They don’t stop.

Highly successful people are relentless in their pursuit of a happier, healthier life. They go to great lengths to achieve success … but don’t stop there. Successful people constantly find ways to continue to improve themselves. They believe success is a choice, and they choose to focus their time and energy on the things that will lead them to that success.

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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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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