Apparently, even some of the most successful people don’t always understand why they have succeeded or, if it happens, failed. However, a Harvard Business Review paper by Heidi Grant Halvorson may have some answers; research suggests that successful people reach their goals because of what they do, rather than who they are. So success may not be a natural phenomenon,but more down to a bit of planning. Make your own mind up by reading the full article (link at the end); but here is a brief summary:
1. Get specific. Don’t be vague. State a goal and not an aspiration. For example, if you want to lose weight, say how much weight you want to lose.
2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Possibly the same as the Latin “carpe diem” or “seize the day”. Basically, this point is about missing opportunities because you are too busy and that proper planning increases success by around 300%.
3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. You need to monitor your progress frequently or you won’t know how well or badly you are doing.
4. Be a realistic optimist. Believe in your ability to succeed, but don’t underestimate the difficulties. Thinking it will be easy increases the possibility of failure.
5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. If you think that you don’t have the abilities, you can acquire the skills you need.
6. Have grit. We would probably say perseverance, but grit is a much better word. To quote “Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals …”
7. Build your willpower muscle. Something to do with self control. This point is worth reading if you don’t think you have any.
8. Don’t tempt fate. Reminds you not to overdo controlling your willpower or to take on too many challenging tasks at once. The successful do not make goal reaching any harder than it is.
9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Replace bad habits with good ones rather than focus too much on your bad habits.
The Harvard article is based on research rather than just the author’s opinions, which is why I find Harvard Business Review a good source of information.