With the New Year approaching, we all want to be successful in our resolutions, careers, and/or relationships. What determines success in life? Of course, it depends on how you define success. For the first part of this blog, let’s focus on academic and career success. Researchers at Stony Brook University found that early success significantly increased rates of subsequent success. The more interesting finding was that greater levels of initial success did not proportionally produce greater levels of later success. In other words, a modest initial success may be sufficient to drive future success. Therefore, one factor related to achieving success is experiencing a taste of it which creates confidence and self-assuredness. This assumption supports the approach of setting short-term, attainable, and realistic goals. Success breeds success, but too much too soon may not be as helpful since individuals tend to not try as hard when success occurs too quickly and too easily. Ownership of our achievements and believing in ourselves can also play a crucial role in the formula for success.
Another contributing factor has to do with personality, character, and attitude. Dr. Arthur Poropat from Griffith University concluded that personality is more important to academic success than intelligence. He found that the biggest predictors of academic success are two personality traits: conscientiousness and openness. The researchers stated that not only do these traits lead to greater learning capacity, but they can be taught whereas intelligence is more difficult to teach. Other aspects of personality that are tied to success are good impulse control, resilience, perseverance, and truthfulness. Success-driven individuals have a mindset that they can overcome obstacles, achieve great things, and often have a laser beam focus on their goals. Successful people also tend to remain open to learning more and value the feedback of others they respect.
Lastly, based on my clinical experience, success comes with achieving a healthy work-life balance and valuing relationships over material possessions. Significance can have greater value than success. Finding significance through impacting people’s lives in a positive way can be more fulfilling and rewarding than other forms of success. You don’t have to be rich or famous to have significance. Significance often comes from serving, sacrificing, and sharing, whether it is time, talents, or money. We can have significance with the ones we love or complete strangers. Consider how to have greater significance in your life. Do it now, time is running out!
If you haven’t had a chance to check out my new book; “The Love Fight: How Achievers & Connectors Can Build a Marriage that Lasts,” the issues addressed here are covered in the book. If you haven’t figured it out by now, relationships are my passion and anything I can do to foster healthier and happier relationships in my life and the lives of others gives me joy and fulfillment. Starting the first of the year, I will be changing my weekly blog to be released on Wednesdays since so many of us are overwhelmed on Mondays. I hope you like the change.