We’re all chasing success, but the reality is that only a fraction of us will ever be as successful as our childhood selves predicted. Of course, it can also be said that happiness is the only real indicator of success, and whether or not you consider yourself to be successful probably depends a lot on what your personal definition of this somewhat indefinable achievement may be.
So if you’re completely happy with your life and have already accomplished everything you ever wanted, you can stop reading right here. On the other hand, if you’re still pining for a promotion, daydreaming about your own company, longing to see your name on a book jacket, or generally still have ambitions of any kind, you probably aren’t as successful as you’d like to be; in which case, the following might apply to you.
1. You’re Not Selfish Enough
Society doesn’t usually view selfishness as a good quality, but according to researchers, successful people are more likely to be tightfisted, less compassionate and more self-serving.
If that’s not enough to make you want to throw your preschool generosity lessons out the window, a separate study, suggests that a bit of selfishness can actually make relationships more successful.
Naturally, no one wants to be known as a self-serving, egotistical individual, but it’s also true that putting your own needs or desires on the back-burner for someone else can often lead to feelings of resentment later down the line.
2. You Haven’t Written Down Your Goals
Not a fan of making lists and writing out your goals? Well, that might be why you have reached them yet, as research shows that people who write down specific goals are more likely to accomplish them.
According to this study, just knowing what your goals are isn’t good enough; you have to write them down. And, if you want to be even more successful, you can take it a step further and share those written goals with a friend.
The researchers found that only 43% of people who regularly thought about their goals accomplished them, compared to 64% of people who had written them down. In the group of people who had shared their goals with a friend, 76% were successful.
3. You Sleep Too Late
If you love long lie-ins and never get out of bed a moment before you have to, you’re missing a trick.
Research shows that early birds tend to be more proactive, enjoy a better quality of sleep, get higher grades, and might even happier than night owls. A survey of top CEOs found that the majority claim to get out of bed between 5 and 6 am. Why? Because, they feel that; “life is too exciting for sleep.”
Although not many of us can claim ownership of such noble thoughts first thing in the morning, there is just something inexplicably satisfying about being up with the sun and crossing things off your to-do list before most people have even had a sip of coffee.
4. You Aren’t Attractive Enough
The ugly truth is that society values looks over almost anything else in life, including talent and hard work. Research shows that attractive people are hired sooner, get promotions faster and earn an average of 3 to 4% more than their less attractive peers.
Researchers surmise that a lot of this has to do with sex appeal; good looking people are more appealing as potential sex partners, so others are more likely to hire or buy from them because it makes the whole experience more pleasurable.
They also point out that because attractive people are so good looking, they are naturally more self-confident, and this in turn makes them even more attractive to potential clients and employers.
While this isn’t exactly comforting for those of us who don’t fit the mold, at least it means that building confidence can increase our chances of success.
5. You Lack Self-Control
A number of studies suggest that delayed gratification is the key to leading a successful and happy life, and this is bad news for some of us.
All the little vices we give in to on a daily basis, from overeating to smoking to compulsive buying, are examples of just how difficult impulses can be to control.
One study in particular shows that we judge another person’s trustworthiness based on their level of self-control. So if you’ve been engaging in any indulgent behaviors at lately, your reputation has probably taken a bit of a hit.
Fortunately, willpower is kind of like a muscle, (an unused one for many of us) which means it can be strengthened.
About the writer:
Marianne Stenger is a writer and blogger with Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. You can follow her on Google+ and Twitter, or find her latest articles here.