5 Habits of Successful People You Know

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You’re no different from me. You know uber successful people and ones that only talk about success. If you’ve spent any time studying them, you’ll have discovered a few interesting ingredients that separates the two. In order to make all your dreams come true in 2016, I think it’s pertinent to understand the difference. Here are a few ways you can leave the dreamers behind and begin living the life of your more successful friends.

  1. Fear

Everyone experiences fear. The difference is it’s not a deterrent for successful people. Less successful people will see fear as an indication they shouldn’t move forward. They stop even before they’ve entered the gate.

2. Failure

Failure is a necessary part of success. No successful person has gotten to where they are without a few epic failures. It’s how you learn. It’s how you grow. It’s how you get better. This is often the step that propels an unsuccessful person towards success.

3. Belief

Successful people believe that they will eventually get there. They may have experienced the above two, but this third tenet is what keeps them going. I’ve heard people say, “I didn’t know how I would do it. But I knew I’d get there one day.” And they did.

4. Work

It takes brutal rolling up your sleeves work to get what you want. You may love it. It may excite you. But there will come a time when your big dream will require some heavy duty effort. Elizabeth Gilbert calls this the, “Shit sandwich.” When you meet the not so fun part of what you want to do (e.g. paperwork, cold calling, networking events) and throw in the towel, it probably means you’re not serious about what you’re trying to do. Everything good takes hard work. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you will get there eventually.

5. Perseverance

I’m embarrassed to admit it now, but last year my goal was to publish my first children’s book. This is great and all. But just doing the above four were not enough. Patience, shaping my work so it was the best it can be and continuing despite ongoing rejections were key. All the successful entrepreneurs I know persevere despite a rocky economy, uncertainty and fear. There will always be an excuse to not do something. Deciding to do it anyway is what keeps them at the top.

What successful qualities have you witnessed in someone you admire? What qualities have helped you soar and grow?

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Ingredients for a Successful Life

"Etsy vintage tablespoon by JessicaNDesigns}

“Etsy vintage tablespoon by JessicaNDesigns}

When I reflect upon the almost 7 years I have been a freelance writer, the biggest hurdle had less to do with my professional experience than my personal struggles. In fact, success often deals with the latter.

Of course you need experience, a little bit of talent and much hard work to be successful. But often what stands in the way of most individual’s success is what they believe to be true about themselves.

In 2006 and earlier, I had an overwhelming desire to write. I asked for a typewriter for Christmas. I wrote down my own stories on little pieces of paper. I composed poetry as a kid. It pushed me to get a BA in English, but after college I just didn’t think I had the skills, talent or ability to get hired.

I skirted around my career, went into research because it felt comfortable and then psychology instead. I’m grateful for that experience. It gave me the confidence and courage to deal with a lot of the inner shadows that were clouding my work.

It took time, patience, resilience and the foresight to follow my calling. Along the way I picked up a lot of negativity about my desired career. I realized these words were just external versions of what I was telling myself every day. You may be familiar with some of them:

“You’re never going to make it.”

“You’re not smart enough.”

“Who do you think you’re kidding?”

“If so and so can’t do it, why do you think you can?”

Those words prevented me from trusting my instincts. It beat me up from the inside out. Even when I was getting writing opportunities, I ended up sabotaging them. How could I not when I essentially believed I didn’t have what it takes to do it?

Fast-forward to 2013. Since then, I am continually surprised with the doors that have opened for me. Recently, I started writing for Intuit’s Small Business blog and signed a contract with a greeting card company. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work as a freelance copywriter for several online retailers and I have been writing for local and regional publications and been an online columnist for The Writer magazine, Psych Central and Beliefnet.

That wouldn’t have happened to me if I continued on the road to self-sabotage, negativity and perfectionism. It took constantly beefing up my critical mind with positivity. I had to work on being cognizant of what and who I was allowing in my life and how it was impacting me personally and professionally.

Essentially, what I learned can be valuable to those of you seeking your own success in life. I realized that when we change how we view ourselves on the inside, we change our external world.

It’s not an easy process especially if you’ve been brought up to believe the worse in yourself. It will take time. But know this…

The fact that you are here means you have an important purpose. Don’t let your past, critical people or your own negative voice prevent you from fulfilling what you are meant to do.

There is only one of you. Celebrate it! Share who you are with the world and you will see the gifts unwrap in front of you.

Don’t squander your talent, hide your true self or shy away from your voice. The world will benefit from you being uniquely you. Let me tell you-as you sit doubting yourself, we are all desperately waiting for you to reveal it.

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The Baggage On Your Journey

Oprah says we all have a calling. And we should find that calling as soon as possible. Who wouldn’t want to find it? As best-selling author and spiritual teacher Carolyn Myss said in her newsletter recently:

“…any human being who consciously ignites or accepts his or her soul’s path awakens their charism – their unique grace that once unlocked, reshapes their world in ways that person could never imagine. It is only then that a person can truly begin to live a fully original life.”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a golden path leading to it? There would be no question where to go to fulfill our purpose.

Yet, we’re not completely left in the dark.

It can feel that way when we’re going from job to job or staying the same one for twenty years. It may even feel like abandonment. “Why have all the good ones been taken?” you ask. “Why is there nothing left for me?”

It’s only insecurity, lack of confidence, a mislead intention that blinds us. What I’ve come to learn is that what you want is already in front of you. You just need to remove the blinders to see it.

The Blinders Impeding Your Path

What I can tell you from my own experience with 15+ jobs in the last 15 years is that your greatest obstacle to finding your true calling is you. If you were to shred any fear you have of failing OR succeeding, if you were to remove any financial worries or concerns about what other people would think, you would know what you’re put here to do. A lot of times we let external circumstances dictate our life.

I spent several years taking jobs that I thought I “should” take because of the money. I spent those years miserable, angry, resentful over the time I spent in them. I mistakenly believed that like “no pain, no gain,” you had to hate your job to make a living.

This is why it took me over a decade to find what I already knew in elementary school! I spent weekends pretending to be a reporter. I asked for a typewriter when I was a kid. I was on my school’s news bulletin and later high school newspaper staff. I majored in English. But instead of pursuing a career as a writer, I worked as a private investigator, a research assistant, a marketing assistant, a counselor. All great careers by the way. All experiences that have helped me be a better writer. But it’s taken me that much longer to figure out my true calling.

Hopefully, it won’t take you that long to find yours.

How to Get Back on Track

If you’re gotten off track and need a few bread crumbs to dig you out, listen to this woman’s advice on spotting a great opportunity from Oprah.com:

“When you’re weighing an opportunity, make the question that simple: Do I really want this, or am I doing it for the money or the prestige or because I think I should? It can’t just be about those things. It has to make you feel good, too.” – Christina Wayne, former senior VP at AMC, current president of Cineflix Studios, and an executive producer of the new BBC America series Copper

And ask yourself these same questions about the current job you’re in. Are you where you are because you chose this course or are you here to feel validated, to make money, to please someone other than yourself?

This type of soul searching will push you in the direction you need to go. It takes courage to answer truthfully. But you will get there if you allow your true voice to come forward.

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It Pays to Risk Big: Risky Behavior Not So Risky After All?

There’s a misconception that risk is bad for you. It’s an old wive’s tale that says a good life is a quiet one. It’s why there are people who don’t travel, who stay unhappily in the same job/relationship for years, and why we never quite live up to our potential.

The fear of feeling uncomfortable dries up our ambitions. We mistakenly believe that staying at home or working the same job is safe. Somewhere along the way when we abandoned the tooth fairy and the magic of Santa Claus, we also bid adieu to our childlike spirit that craves adventure and self-growth. We settled instead.

I had a childhood friend who’s parents didn’t want her to leave the house out of fear. Leave home and she could be hit by a car, struck by lightening, or killed. But who knows what staying stagnant will do to our soul?

Psychologically we feel safe when we don’t venture outside our comfort zone. We avoid uncomfortable stomach butterflies, the shame of failure or the fear of success.

We get so comfy in our stagnation that shaking things up feels intolerable and unsafe. Yet, playing it safe can prove risky to our success.

In The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things, Larry Dossey, M.D. says:

“I believe the urge to take risks is innate, inscribed in bone and blood and genes, and that when we completely avoid risk, we sabotage our greatest potential.”

By not choosing to take risks, we can compromise our physical health as well. In his book, Dossey shares research that indicates risky behavior can stimulate our immune system aiding in things like cancer and infections.

If risky behavior is good for us, then what’s stopping us from pursuing our dreams?

Maybe we’re not all built to jump out of planes or even on a surfboard, but that doesn’t mean we’re ill-equipped to take on our dreams. Maybe what we need is someone to tell us right now that what we’re doing means something, that it will be worth it, and that our efforts in the present moment have significant influence on our future.

Well it is.

It will be.

And it does.

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Why You Should Never Give Up

{Random abstract watercolor painting I drew up with watercolor pencils and a paintbrush.}

We often hold back from our true potential out of fear. There is a small, but demanding voice that screeches at us and says, “No one cares about what you do. You’ll never be good enough. ” Like a mosquito, it buzzes in our ears, annoying even the most confident and successful amongst us.

It’s not that some people are just more talented, hard working or lucky. It is true that there are people who fall into those categories. But that’s not what got them where they are.

What gave them the ability to surpass the doubts and hurdles that overcome all of us is the belief they will eventually get there.

Even if their prose is so bad that it causes loved ones to swallow criticism in fear of hurting their feelings.

Even if their hours of work is not only monotonous, but heartbreakingly unproductive.

Even if you are not where you want to be.

Even if all signs seem to point to failure.

If you still are passionate about what you do, do not give up!

I realized after five years of writing professionally that there is a natural ebb and flow that comes with the territory. There will be moments when my ego believes, “This is it! I finally made it.” As if a single project could validate my existence. And there are equally moments when the jobs start to dry up that I begin to question my purpose.

None of that is important. These are mere external circumstances required to change as we do. If anything, they are there as lessons-inevitable opportunities to practice patience, faith and the type of unrelenting persistence required to accomplish big feats like finishing a marathon or that story you have tucked away in a drawer.

It took me a long time to realize that it’s not about proving myself. It took me years to realize that there’s no magic fairy dust that graces the head’s of only certain individuals. The way you make luck for yourself in life is to keep trying.

This means that I will pick myself up after every inevitable fall. It means that just because my rough draft sucks doesn’t mean it won’t sing after a dozen or more revisions.

What it means it that I don’t equate my bad days with the good of my soul.

It takes courage to meet our fears. But it’s the only way we’ll get there. And dear friends, we will get there, as long as we keep on going.

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Why You Shouldn’t Give a Bleep About What Others Think

I was reminded today by this quote from this post that we sometimes put off our dreams because of the fear of what others will think.

{via Oprah.com}

Again I was reminded of being 10 and in a pool with little boys teasing me. Oh how I wish I had brought a rubber band for my lion’s mane like hair! Unfortunately the water did nothing to dampen it down. In fact, my hair only grew bigger as did their taunts. Suddenly, I was a “witch,” with nasty crazy hair swimming in a pool full of mean bullies. Sinking my head in the pool couldn’t take away that fact nor could it drown away their hurtful words.

It may seem like a stretch. But in reality, it’s not. It’s that same fear of being ridiculed or made a fool that could be hurting your chances of happiness and success. It’s what’s keeping you from quitting your job, applying for the one you really want or to venture out into the unknown.

“What will they think? Will they laugh? Think of me as a loser? A failure? That I’ll never measure up?”

It’s easy to allow your own fears to control your life. It’s even easier to let in faux voices from past bullies to dictate what you do and don’t do in life.

It make me sad to think you’re doing the same with your own life.

How do we break free from the voices that could rob us of our own voice? 

I think we realize the following:

1. that people are always less concerned/obsessed/focused on us than we think. Most people are too entrenched in their own life to worry about what you’re doing for a living.

2. for those that chat and gossip about you? I listen to my mom when it comes to that one. They probably have nothing else going on in their life.

3. everyone else is just genuinely concerned about you and don’t realize your passion or have half your courage or your faith. Anyone who’s ever ventured out in a life less traveled knows that path is a difficult one. Let those people be your cheerleaders. Let them pave the way for you.

Remember the quote about from Oriah. Forget about titles, and impressing your neighbors.

Be consumed in your passion and your life will eventually catch up to your dreams.

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The Surprising Thing That’s Causing You Suffering

{flickr photo}

What’s causing you the most suffering in life isn’t the things you don’t have or even not being grateful for the things you do. The reason why most of us endure so much unnecessary pain is that we believe in the picture painted by another artist’s brush. To put it simply, understanding why you’re in grief right now, could be due to these two reasons:

1) You believe that you’re not living the life that you’re supposed to have.

2) You know this because you compare yourself to other people your age and just don’t measure up.

“People suffer when they pursue a life or chase a dream that doesn’t belong to them.” – Carolyn Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit

A lot of times we get caught up in somebody else’s light and in doing so get lost in our own shadows. I think people who read blogs, listen to webinars or read biographies (me included) get swept up in the success of others. We’re drawn to it like a moth is drawn to a flame. At first, we’re attracted because we want so much to be that successful. And hope that by spending as much time with these people, we will catch some of their star power and be like them.

The truth is…

{Read more on my Beliefnet Health blog Happy Haven.}

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