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March 15, 2024

12 Factors that contribute to personal success (Part 2)


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Following Part 1 of this “Personal Success” series, we continue our examination of the factors that play a part in achieving your goals. From having solid social skills to being adaptable, having courage to having the right people around you, we explore six more qualities and elements that will help you in fulfilling your potential and pursuing your dreams.

We previously defined personal success as the achievement of your goals or the fulfilment of your potential. This can encompass various aspects, such as career accomplishments, personal development, meaningful relationships, and health and well-being. We also discussed six factors that contribute to achieving such goals, which are clear goal-setting, working hard, having passion, using your time well, being healthy, and acknowledging the role of luck and opportunity.

Now let’s look at another six qualities or elements that play a part in achieving personal success.

7. Good social skills

While much depends on your drive and initiative, no man or woman is an island. Even if your goal is the most data-based, introverted, or self-dependent, you will need to engage with other people at some point in your journey. Big goals and grand ambitions require groups of people working together. If you are a leader, you will need to motivate and inspire. When you work or play in a team, you will need to encourage and cooperate. When you’re stuck, you will need to ask for advice or feedback. If you want to create an opportunity, you have to be able to persuade and influence. If you encounter a challenging situation, you must be able to negotiate and handle difficult conversations.

Being socially adept and able to communicate well is increasingly important if you wish to get anywhere in our modern, interconnected world.
Being socially adept and able to communicate well is increasingly important if you wish to get anywhere in our modern, interconnected world.

In our modern, interconnected world, effective communication and social skills are more important than ever. As the use of AI and robots is becoming increasingly common, social skills – being able to deal with other human beings – are becoming increasingly in demand. There is also research to show that, in addition to having the required knowledge in your field, being socially adept or having emotional intelligence will indeed make you more successful.

8. Never stop learning

“Wisest is he who knows he knows not” – a saying often thought to be from Socrates, it makes us realise that there is so much we do not know and therefore, so much to learn. Seeking knowledge, whether through formal education, mentorship or self-study, will bring you far in your quest for professional and personal growth.

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Learning should be a lifelong mission. It should not stop when you’ve reached a certain goal, age or status in life or your career. Prioritise continuous learning, it will broaden your horizons and open new doors for yourself. Acquire new competencies and stay abreast of industry trends, you will be better equipped to adapt to evolving circumstances. Remain open to new ideas and knowledge, you will open your eyes to different perspectives, solutions and methods. 

Having a growth mindset – the belief that your abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work and learning – will lead you to believe that you can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. You will also view every challenge as an opportunity.

Attend seminars or conferences, talk to experts, work with a mentor, read books; actively seek to build your knowledge and sharpen your skills.
Attend seminars or conferences, talk to experts, work with a mentor, read books; actively seek to build your knowledge and sharpen your skills.

Read books, take classes, attend seminars, and talk to experts. There are numerous pathways to knowledge. Finally, also remember to learn from life’s lessons. Pause for self-reflection and learn from your failures and mistakes. Stay curious and keep learning.

9. Delay gratification

The Marshmallow Experiment, conducted by Stanford in 1972, followed a group of children of four or five years of age over 40 years. What was discovered was that the children who were able to delay gratification showed better performance, were more socially competent, were better able to deal with stress and generally scored better on a range of other measurements. Moreover, the children who delayed gratification showed less likelihood of obesity and lower levels of substance abuse in the later years of their lives.

If we can resist the temptation of easy pleasures or distractions now for more meaningful achievements later, we will have a better chance of achieving our goals.
If we can resist the temptation of easy pleasures or distractions now for more meaningful achievements later, we will have a better chance of achieving our goals.

Delaying gratification is the ability to resist the temptation of immediate rewards in favour of long-term goals or greater benefits. It means having the self-discipline, self-control and emotional regulation to deny yourself something pleasurable for now to exchange it for a bigger gain later. This ability comes into play in many scenarios. For instance, if a student can forego partying to study the next few nights, she will score better in her exam next week. Someone who wants to get fit can resist the urge to slump on the couch now to head for the gym as planned, he will be getting one step closer to his goal. If you stop yourself from spending your hard-earned money on a shopping spree, you will have more savings at the end of the month. 

Practice this day after day, month after month, and you can imagine the gains you will make toward personal success.

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10. Personal success requires adaptability and resilience

The road to success is rarely straight. You will encounter hills and valleys, long plateaus, winding stretches and maybe even hit a dead end. How you respond is what matters. Here’s the dictionary definition of resilience: the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc. If you can hang in there, keep your eye on the prize and push through round after round of setbacks or rejections, you have already moved closer to your goal. Continue to push your limits and remind yourself why you’re doing this.

Adaptability, on the other hand, is the ability to adjust to different conditions or circumstances. After all, change is the only constant. A century ago, humankind took to the skies; now we are selling space tourism. Just two decades ago, social media platforms were invented; now they have overtaken the world. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? What worked for you yesterday may not work tomorrow. Not being able to adapt to change will limit your growth and may even hurt your health. Resilience means facing down failures and challenges, but adaptability means being able to work around the bad and with the good. If you’re a farmer and it rains tomorrow, will you be able to take advantage of it? Be prepared, get creative and make the most of a rapidly changing world.

Being adaptable and resilient will see you through unpredictable and challenging times, and also enable you to seize the moment when favourable conditions come around
Being adaptable and resilient will see you through unpredictable and challenging times, and also enable you to seize the moment when favourable conditions come around

11. Surround yourself with the right people

This doesn’t necessarily mean only “successful” people, because, as we mentioned in our first article, success is subjective. Who are you to say who’s successful and who’s not? Correspondingly, if you are not yet successful, does that mean people shouldn’t associate themselves with you? It also doesn’t mean hanging out only with people similar to you, because if all of you think and behave the same way, how will you discover new perspectives or viewpoints?  

Choose a range of people who are trustworthy, knowledgeable, honest and have integrity; people who have the skills you would like to acquire, people who have walked that road, people whom you look up to. Search out people who will push you, challenge you and dare to tell you when you’re veering away from your goal. Find people who will hold you accountable, people whom you can bounce ideas off, people who can open doors for you. At the same time, you may have to shed toxic relationships to make room for better ones. 

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But remember, relationships are a two-way street. While building your support system, be a giver and provide others with the same support and opportunities that you seek for yourself.

12. Have courage

Finally, personal success involves doing things differently, making changes and taking risks. All these require courage. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. It takes courage to push yourself while knowing that failure is always a possibility. Sometimes, it takes courage just to take the first step. Trying something new can be daunting; you will have to overcome your fear of not just failure and perceived limitations, but rejection, embarrassment and loss of control.

Achieving major life goals requires courage to take calculated risks, overcome the fear of failure and venture into the unknown and untried
Achieving major life goals requires the courage to take calculated risks, overcome the fear of failure and venture into the unknown and untried

You can cultivate courage and confidence by taking things one step at a time and breaking seemingly huge goals into small chunks. Remain focused on what you ultimately wish to achieve. Celebrate the small wins. Lean on your support system. Remember that perfection is not necessary for personal success.

The opinions of others (especially those outside of your circle of support) do not matter much. You don’t have to seek validation, only the satisfaction that you gave it your all. You can also prepare safety nets or parachutes so that the impact is mitigated when you fall. It will make your jump less scary. Deal with anxiety or stress by stepping away and enjoying time with people who matter or your hobbies. Analyse your past failures and learn from them. You’ll realise that failures are not so scary after all and may be opportunities to grow.

Onward to personal success 

Embarking on the journey towards personal success will require some form of these 12 elements we have outlined. Achieving goals is definitely within reach if you are willing to pursue them with dedication and determination. It helps to remember that success is a journey and not a destination. We are all works in progress and aiming to become the best version of ourselves. 

A personal coach can give you a boost in discovering and bringing out the best version of yourself. We are psychologists and coaches who have provided guidance for hundreds on their journey to success. We can help you too. Get in touch with us today.

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