How do successful people become successful? Why do their plans inevitably fall into place? Why do they seem immune to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? How do they always manage to be in the right place at the right time? Are these individuals blessed with supreme good luck, or do they work harder than everyone else---or both?
Motivational psychologist and Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University School of Business Heidi Grant Halvorson has done substantive research that explores how successful people become successful. Dr. Grant Halvorson is herself a highly successful professional, but unlike many charmed individuals who are often blissfully unaware of how and why they achieve their goals again and again, she is fully aware of how she became, and remains, successful. Here are four suggestions from Dr. Grant Halvorson's 2011 e-book, Nine Things Successful People Do Differently that may help all of us to create good luck for ourselves and use it to achieve important goals.
I. KEEP ON KEEPING ON
Be willing to commit to long-term goals and persevere in the face of difficulty. Studies show that those who are able to put shoulder to the wheel and push through adversity obtain more education in their lifetime and earn higher grade point averages in school. To help yourself along, plan specific actions that when followed will bring you to your goal. Devise a timeline for your action plan, monitor the efficacy of strategies and reward yourself when important milestones are reached.
II. BUILD WILLPOWER MUSCLES
Our self-control muscle is like any other of our muscles. When we don't use it, it eventually atrophies. Use it or lose it! Give your willpower muscle a good workout by taking on small challenges that compel you to do something that perhaps you'd rather not, e.g. taking on a home cleaning and organizing project. Establish must-start and must-complete dates and then commit to them. If you find yourself wavering and making excuses to put off the project---don't! Flex your willpower muscle and do some heavy lifting. As you develop inner strength, also known as self-discipline, you'll ready yourself to take on bigger challenges and achieve more life-changing goals. It's like training for a marathon by starting with 5K races.
III. DON'T TEMPT FATE
No matter how strong your willpower becomes, it is important to always respect the inevitable fact that human beings have limits. If you over-reach, you'll run out of steam or out of luck. Avoid taking on more than one major challenge at a time if you can help it. Do not be over-confident and bite off more than you can chew by setting obviously unattainable goals. Successful people instinctively know what is in the realm of the possible and refrain from setting themselves up for failure.
IV. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WILL DO
... and not on what you will not do. Research on thought suppression shows that trying to avoid a thought has the opposite effect and makes that thought grow larger in our minds. The same holds true for behaviors. By trying not to engage in a bad habit, like smoking or eating junk food, the habit becomes strengthened instead of broken. Instead, turn your thoughts toward implementing strategies that will bring you to your goal.
I hope that reading Dr. Grant Halvorson's Nine Things help you to acknowledge what you've been doing right all along. As well, I hope you're able to identify the mistakes that have undermined you and that going forward, you will develop successful strategies that pave the way to your most important goals.
Thanks for reading.