Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be dealt all the right cards in life? Is it luck? Chance? Good fortune? The reality is that success isn’t the result of dumb luck or fate. No one is predestined for success or failure at birth. Success is largely about our choices and habits. Having the right habits in place forms a foundation for success. That foundation is what prepares us to take advantage of expected and unexpected opportunities—what some mistakenly refer to as luck. Below are five habits that can help you recognize and attract the kind of opportunities in life that will lead to fulfilling your personal definition of success.
1. Adopt a growth mindset
New habits can be as tough to create as old ones are to break. Why? Because habits are essentially routines. Think about your morning routine or the route you take to work or the grocery store. How often, if ever, do you change things up? While our brains are perfectly capable of embracing change, they’re biologically programmed to resist it. One reason is because our routines and everyday habits are embedded in the part of the brain called the basal ganglia, a group of subcortical nuclei responsible primarily for motor control, as well as other roles such as motor learning, executive functions and behaviors, and emotions.
When behaviors and actions become automated at an unconscious level, they require little effort and energy for the brain to process. Change, on the other hand, requires significant energy and conscious thought. It’s critical for growth at both the individual and organizational levels. Carol Dweck, a highly regarded professor of psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, defines a growth mindset as “the belief that an individual’s most basic abilities and skills can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.”
A growth mindset requires a commitment to continual learning and improvement to develop the skills that will propel you forward to accomplish your goals. It also requires a willingness to move outside of your comfort zone.
2. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable
Inertia is the opposite of growth. While remaining in a static state may feel comfortable in the moment, the rest of the world, and especially your competition, will soon pass you by. To me, the degree to which an organization is willing to invest in new technologies is indicative of their willingness to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. In the wealth management industry, technology is critical for delivering a compelling value proposition. At Carson Group, we consider ourselves a financial technology (“fintech”) firm as much as a wealth management firm. Technology is central to creating a scalable business model and differentiating our client experience within a highly commoditized space. While technology is the path to growth within our industry, we continue to see many firms uncomfortable committing the dollars and resources needed to remain at the forefront of technological innovation.
Every day, we’re presented with choices to lead or follow, yet getting comfortable with the uncomfortable can take practice. Think about the first time you tried to ride a bike, ski or hit a baseball. Your first attempts may have been pretty pathetic. You may have even thought about quitting while you were behind. But if you stuck with it and practiced, what once felt awkward and uncomfortable became second nature. It’s important to remember that none of us are born hitting home runs. We all have to do things for the first time, and most of us are probably going to perform poorly on our first try. Moving to the next level requires perseverance and the belief that you can accomplish whatever you set out to do.
But what happens if you fail?
3. Embrace failure
What do Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Sir James Dyson, Stephen King and Thomas Edison have in common? They all experienced failure before experiencing success. It’s no different for anyone else. We all experience failure along the path to realizing our goals. It’s how we handle failure that makes all the difference.
First, understand that failure is not a signal to quit. So don’t give it permission to allow you to do so. I believe there’s good and bad in almost everything we experience in life, including what we perceive as our greatest failures. Whether we pull the good or the bad from those experiences is up to us. That begins with attitude. Our attitudes determine what we perceive to be good or bad in the first place. Think about how you respond to failure. Do you treat it as a learning experience and give yourself kudos for trying? Or does it make you increasingly fearful of putting yourself out there and trying something new?
As humans, we’re quick to label our setbacks as personal failures. Yet, more often than not, they’re simply misguided decisions. Misguided decisions occur when we make important life, business or financial choices with limited information, on a purely emotional basis or without taking the time to consider if these choices are truly aligned with our goals. A failure in the decision-making process doesn’t make you a failure. Instead, it provides valuable information about where you may have veered off course and how to avoid doing so in the future. Remember, past decisions can only define your future if you allow them to.
4. Discover your why
Making sure that the decisions you make are aligned with your goals requires knowing where you’re headed. Are you happy with your life or your business today? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 or 20 years? Establishing and documenting your goals is critical for developing a path forward. It also provides the ability to measure your progress along the way, which is critical to achieving success in anything you set out to do. An exercise I’ve found valuable is envisioning where I see myself 20 years from now and then working backwards, creating a detailed vision for 10-years, 5-years, and this year. Doing so requires some introspection.
Think about what you’re most passionate about. We all have what I like to call a “soul purpose.” Your soul purpose is your “why.” It’s what gets you excited about getting out of bed each morning and what allows you to have the greatest impact on your life and those around you. Maybe yours is raising kids who will become productive, independent adults. What does that look like to you and what’s the path from here to there? How will you pass down your values? Do you have specific education goals? Is it important to live near or frequently visit other family members, including grandparents? Is family travel or exposure to other cultures important? How will you support these goals financially?
Understanding what gives your life meaning and purpose is critical for finding your freedom.
5. Find your freedom
Freedom means something different to everyone. It’s really a very personal concept. What makes you feel free? It is spending time outdoors with the wind in your face? Running your own business? Traveling abroad? Or the confidence that you can accomplish all of your goals for retirement? Freedom is about unleashing your full potential and making conscious choices about how you define success. How will you live your life, who you will spend it with, and who will benefit from the impact you make in the world? Importantly, how will you support your goals and lifestyle financially? Having a financial plan in place that reflects your individual goals and the purpose of each of the assets you own is critical for nurturing and protecting your definition of freedom.
Learn more about finding your freedom and aligning your resources to pursue your definition of success.