14 Things Successful People Do Differently

Let me tell you a tale of two accounting firms. Located in a capital city both firms were comparable in size 20 years ago.

Today, one firm is five times its size and is the largest independent accounting firm in their marketplace. This firm created the infrastructure, including a chief operating officer and chief marketing officer; set up industry niche teams; created a brand that attracts new and experienced hires; and tracks a pipeline of opportunities.

The other firm continues to do business the way they have always done it. Individually. No accountability. No firm growth.

Anthony Robbins said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

The first firm is doing things differently. They are creating their future. The second firm is stuck. They are repeating their past.

Which one are you? Are you creating your future or repeating your past?

If you would like to create your future, here are 14 things successful people do differently.

1. They create and execute goals.

One difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that the successful ones commit to a goal and do not stop until they achieve it. They set their sights high and accomplish what they set out to do. Writing down your goals makes a significant difference. Be sure to create SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. Each goal needs to define who is responsible for doing what by when.

2. They take definite and direct action.

There is an enormous difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Some people spend too much time gathering information on how to succeed, which can result in information overload and paralyze them from taking action. Successful people make things happen.

3. They focus on being productive, not being busy.

Put first things first. The third habit in Stephen R. Covey’s ground-breaking work, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,

“To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.”

Review your goals. Put first things first. Do one thing at a time. Remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

4. They operate outside of their comfort zone.

Let’s face it. In order to do things differently and make positive changes in your life and in your business, you need to step out of your comfort zone. You can feel uncomfortable exploring new opportunities because you believe you need additional knowledge, skill, or experience. The truth is nobody ever feels completely ready when an opportunity arises. Successful people embrace these moments of opportunity even if they do not feel 100% ready.

5.  They focus on making small, continuous improvements.

Making small, positive changes is a wonderful way to help you reach the level of success you would like. The simple act of getting started and doing something will give you the push you need. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. Successful people take their goals and priorities seriously. Once they have figured out what they want to accomplish, they are disciplined about getting it done.

6.  They measure and track their progress.

You cannot control what you do not measure. Review your goals and track the things that relate to achieving them.

7.  They learn from their mistakes.

Remember, every mistake is a learning opportunity. Every time you make one, you are one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can really hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you are too afraid to make a mistake. The most successful people have unshakeable confidence in themselves. Without it, they would have given up after a few obstacles got in their way.

8.  They spend time with the right people.

You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you want to be more successful, spend time with others who are already successful. Also, read books written by them or about them. Watch TED Talks.

9.  They do not make excuses.

Successful people know they are in control of their own destiny. They do not complain about the things that stopped them from success. Instead, they push forward knowing that they are the only thing that will make or break their success. When they see an opportunity, they act.

10.  They constantly learn.

Successful people believe in lifelong learning. They are constantly reading and learning from others around them, from books, trade magazines and conferences, videos, webinars, or from others who are ahead of where they want to be. What have you learned recently that can get you closer to the success you want?

11.  They make tough decisions.

There will always be challenges and obstacles that require you to make tough decisions. Rather than avoiding sensitive issues or conflicts successful people deal with them, directly and promptly.

12. They focus on what matters.

Successful people do not just see the big picture; they are usually the ones that produce it in the first place. That is what matters to them and what they focus on. If you want to be successful, figure out what matters to you and do what it takes to make it happen.

13.  They look at the long-term.

Focus on building a solid foundation for long-term growth. Start looking at everything you do as a long-term investment. Invest in your education and the future.

14. They work hard while maintaining balance in their life.

If there is one thing we have learned from the pandemic, it is that many people are now more purposeful about what they want to do with their time and who they want to spend it with. Successful people work hard to achieve their goals. Yet, if you let your work life consume you, it is quite easy to lose your balance. If you are going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life. Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term disappointment and stress.

Jean Caragher is president of Capstone Marketing, providing marketing consulting services to accounting firms including Brand Surgery(SM), marketing and strategic planning, Advanced Pricing Methods®, outsourced CMO, merger integration, client satisfaction programs, inbound marketing, and retreat facilitation. For more information contact her at +1 727.210.7306 or jcaragher@capstonemarketing.com.