Life isn’t easy. We’re all born into this world with innate skills and abilities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pick up and learn a whole host of other life skills along the way…
…skills that will smooth our path.
…skills that can open all kinds of doors.
Unfortunately, success isn’t going to plonk itself down in front of us whilst we’re sitting on the couch.
Success comes to those who strive for it. It comes to those who look at themselves, and at the world around them, and consider how they can grow and develop accordingly in order to thrive.
Success means different things to different people. It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal.
For some people, the classic vision of the house with the white picket fence, the perfect partner, and a gaggle of children might be the ultimate definition of success.
Some people might feel like they’ve truly made it when they’re standing in their glass office at the top of a skyscraper, calling the shots.
On the other hand, some people’s idea of success might have a more spiritual focus.
Others might feel like they’ve made it when they’re their own boss, and some people might be gunning to tick every country in the world off their list before they die.
But whatever the goal or goals you have in mind, or even if you’re not really sure what it is you want out of life, there are certain skills that anyone can develop that will help them get there.
However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. – Stephen Hawking
A lack of ability to focus on a particular task can be a major barrier to success.
If you can’t apply yourself to something for more than a few minutes at a time and struggle to block out distractions, you’re unlikely to be able to achieve any goals you set yourself, whatever they may be.
2. Time Management
Being able to use time efficiently and get the very most out of every day will make success far more attainable.
It will also mean that it comes around more quickly than you’d ever imagined.
Whilst a touch of procrastination now and again has its uses – as it can allow our brains to process information – if procrastination becomes our default and we don’t make the most of the precious minutes we’re given, the days and years can slip by without us achieving our goals…
…and sooner or later time will run out.
3. Decision making
This is a skill that all kinds of people struggle with. Some of us find the big decisions, to do with jobs or relationships, the toughest, and that’s completely understandable.
Other people find the big stuff fairly easy, but struggle with the little things like choosing from a menu or picking a paint color, convinced they’ll regret their decision.
And some of us can’t handle any kind of decision making at all, preferring to just bury our heads in the sand and let other people take the reins.
Wherever you fall on the decision-making spectrum, training yourself to make your own choices, listening to both your heart and your head, can open all kinds of doors.
Making decisions wholeheartedly and not fretting over the ‘what ifs’ means you can throw yourself into things, heart and soul, and make whatever your decision is work.
4. Saying No
Some people have this skill naturally, but many of us, especially women in our patriarchal society, have trouble saying no when things are asked of us, even when we’re already stretched to capacity.
If we want to have the time to be able to create the life of our dreams, we can’t spend our precious hours doing things we don’t really want to do or that our hearts aren’t really in.
Learning to say no when necessary is a big step toward freeing yourself up and setting yourself on the path to success.
There’s such a thing as being too patient, and we all need to be aware where that line lies, but a healthy dose of patience is incredibly important in this life.
Whatever path we’re on, we’re all going to come across obstacles, whether they’re in the form of people or circumstances.
Although raging against those barriers and pummelling on those doors can sometimes be the answer, more often than not, just a smidgen of patience can solve all kinds of problems.
Good things really do come to those who wait.
The importance of being able to express oneself clearly is often underrated.
Being able to communicate what we want or need to others in a clear manner, without beating about the bush or causing misunderstandings, is a skill we can all work on.
It is one that can help us develop healthy relationships, be they personal or professional, and thrive.
No one’s perfect. You’re not, and neither are the people around you. That means, sooner or later, people are going to mess up.
They themselves might do something wrong, or it might be due to circumstances beyond their control, but no matter how much of an issue that might cause for you, it’s important to realize that we’re all human, and we all make mistakes.
Being able to understand that, and forgive and forget rather than getting angry and blaming others can work wonders in all areas of your life.
If you don’t have confidence in yourself, it’s hard to expect others to have confidence in you.
Self-confidence is vital for success, as success in any shape or form always involves putting yourself out there in one way or another.
If you’re not confident in yourself, you’re not likely to be brave enough to stick your head above the parapet.
Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. – Napoleon Hill
9. Curiosity/Desire To Learn
The saying “curiosity killed the cat” was clearly invented by someone who wanted to keep other people firmly in their boxes.
Whilst too much curiosity can get you into sticky situations now and again, a healthy dose of it means that you’re always keen to keep learning.
It drives you to discover more about the world around you, about your fellow human beings, and about yourself.
Whatever your concept of success, a fulfilling life means that you never stand still and never stop expanding your mind, wondering what’s waiting around the next corner.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, and it takes tenacity and commitment.
If you give up at the first hurdle or when things don’t happen as quickly as expected, you’ll never get where you want to go.
11. Willingness To Take Risks
Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. If your idea of success is different to what your life looks like now, then the only way to get there is to put yourself out there and try your luck.
There are no guarantees in this life, and if you stick to safe ground, you’re not likely to go anywhere fast.
This is another one that can be taken too far if you’re not careful. If beating others becomes your main focus, you’re likely to lose track of the things that are really important to you.
However, a streak of friendly competitiveness is good for us all. It can be a great driver and motivator. It’s especially good if you can strike up a bit of competition with your own past self.
Being able to run a few meters further than the day before, have your own business do a bit better than the year before, or put yourself out there in a social situation in a way you wouldn’t have dared to do at the last party you were at is all the competition you really need to keep growing as a person.
13. Sense Of Humor
A sense of humor is vital for survival in this world, and utterly indispensable if you want to succeed.
Things go wrong and people mess up, and you have to be able to look at the funny side of things when they do.
If you don’t have light in your eyes and a bit of fire in your belly and get excited about the projects you’re working on or the things you’re spending your time on, you’ll struggle to find the motivation to get anywhere.
A dose of enthusiasm for everything, from a new project on a Monday morning to a weekend adventure, can push you further and make the world look an awful lot brighter.
Whilst there’s a time and a place for compromise, we all have to know when to be assertive and not to crumble.
To get anywhere in this life, we have to be prepared to ask for and tell other people what we want.
Although there are plenty of people out there who have made it big by trampling all over others, they’re only enjoying a certain type of success.
For anyone whose idea of success doesn’t include cutting other people down in order to clamber up the ladder, consideration for the people around us is key.
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17. Ethical Outlook
Respecting our planet and all of its inhabitants has always been a marker of success in many people’s books, but in this day and age, it’s more so than ever.
Constantly considering the needs of all your fellow human beings, animals, and the planet we live on means that success will be far more satisfying and sustainable.
No man or woman is an island, and you’re not going to get anywhere on your own. Every aspect of your life is shaped by a huge network of people, both visible and invisible
Appreciating that will help you accept that you can never really go it alone.
To succeed, you need to be able to trust and work with other people. You need to be able to bounce your ideas off them, and take their ideas on board in return.
Between you, you can create things you’d never even dreamed of.
Ultimately, success of any kind is always going to involve leadership of some description or another.
Learning how to be a leader that encourages and nurtures rather than frightens and demands is a hugely important skill.
The talent of inspiring other people to want to follow where you lead is a valuable one to work on.
20. Team Spirit
This one is a cliché for a reason. Just as important as being able to lead a group is being able to muck in and get your hands dirty as part of a team, listening to other people’s suggestions and working together to reach a common goal.
Some lucky people are born with this skill, and for some of us, negotiation is a big a challenge. Luckily, however, those of us that fall into the latter group can easily work on it.
Being able to negotiate is vital because, as I’m sure you’re well aware, not everything in life is handed to us on a plate. Sometimes it takes a little back and forth to get the things you want or need.
There are certain tactics we can all learn to employ when negotiating deals to ensure that all parties involved get a good outcome.
I’m talking genuine networking here. Not the type when you suck up to important people just for the sake of sucking up to them and getting a career boost.
Networking should be about forging genuine connections with people who are interested in and doing the same things as you, so that you can all help each other out.
If that brings work or opportunities your way, amazing, but that shouldn’t be the main goal, as people will be able to tell a mile off if you’re just faking it.
We all get into tricky situations occasionally, and there are always going to be times when a touch of diplomacy is necessary.
Whether you need to manage a situation between yourself and someone else or two others, being able to see both sides of the argument and come up with a solution whilst keeping everybody happy can help smooth your path to success.
Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. – Swami Sivananda
Creativity can mean a lot of different things. It’s not just about being good with a paintbrush or a potter’s wheel, although expressing your creativity through art can be extremely therapeutic and cathartic.
Creativity comes into play in all areas of life, as thinking outside the box could help you both professionally and personally.
You know that feeling you sometimes get in the pit of your stomach, or that nagging thought trying to make itself heard somewhere in the recesses of your brain?
Some of us are more intuitive than others, but it’s a skill we can all work on. If we learn to listen to it, our intuition can warn us ahead of time when something’s about to go wrong or right, meaning we can act accordingly.
Being able to sympathize with others and put ourselves in their shoes is pretty basic human behavior…
…but it’s easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and our own problems and forget how to relate to other people’s concerns.
Human relationships are two-way streets, so the more empathetic you are toward others, the more empathetic they’re likely to be toward you, lending you a hand or offering support when you’re going through a rough time.
27. Goal Setting
Without a goal to aim for, it’s difficult to find the motivation to keep moving forward. In order to get out of bed every morning and give the day your all, you need to have a goal in mind.
It’s important to set everything from big, scary, general life goals to small, specific, immediately achievable goals so that you’re continually reaching them.
Is this a word you find scary? It took me a long time to appreciate the value of delegation, and even longer to actually start doing it.
But there are only so many hours in the day, so whatever your circumstances are, delegation is always vital.
Sometimes, you’ll have to delegate because you recognize that you just don’t have the time to do things yourself. Other times, it’ll be a case of recognizing that someone else with a different skill set could do it far better or quicker.
For example, there’s no point wasting hours of your valuable time doing battle with your business taxes when an expert could have it all sorted in the blink of an eye.
It’s a case of knowing what your strengths are and not being afraid to ask other people to do things for you.
29. Stress Management
Stress is, unfortunately, a pretty big part of almost everyone’s daily life in this day and age.
Therefore, logically, learning to deal with it in a helpful and effective manner is pretty vital for you to stay happy and in good mental and physical health.
It’s the little details that can turn into really big problems if you persistently ignore them. Taking the time to dot the I’s and cross the T’s rather than just focusing on the big stuff can really pay off in the long run.
Similarly, paying attention to the little things can set you apart and help you stand out among your peers or business competitors.
Out of all of the skills on this list, this is the one that’s perhaps the most underrated. We love to talk, and forget to listen. Listening is important for two main reasons.
Firstly, believe it or not, we can learn a huge amount when we genuinely pay attention to what the people around us have to say. This can help us to grow in ways we might not have considered.
Secondly, by truly listening to other people, we demonstrate our interest in them as a person and in their ideas, which means their opinion of us is likely to go up. Subsequently, they’ll be more likely to listen to us when we need them, or lend us their support.
Last but not least is the skill of persuasion. If you want to succeed in life, there will be plenty of times when you’ll need to convince other people that you’ve got the right idea, to gain their support or help.
You’ll also often need to persuade yourself… persuade yourself to get out of bed in the morning, go to that networking event, strike up a conversation with that person, and to just generally take life by the horns, every day of the year.
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. – Vince Lombardi