Four Keys to Success

Published on November 15, 2019
Mountainside Canaan Aerial Shot

New York, NY – The meaning of success is different for everyone. For some, it involves performing well at work. For others, it may simply mean being mentally and physically healthy. No matter how a person defines success, there are several steps that can be taken in order to achieve personal goals. Here are four common traits of successful people:

  1. They ask for help and offer it in return. Being able to reach out for assistance when needed is crucial, but many feel compelled to work through difficult situations on their own. Additional input can be valuable because it can contribute to well-balanced solutions, making a person consider perspectives they hadn’t previously. Being of service to others can similarly pave the way to success, presenting several mental health benefits. According to a Senior Corps study, 84 percent of Americans aged 55 and over experienced improved or stable health after two years of volunteering. Over the same two-year period, 78 percent of volunteers also reported that their depression symptoms had lessened, and 88 percent felt less isolated as a result of participating in acts of service. Helping others can likewise fill people with a sense of pride and provide a natural release of “happy hormones” – such as dopamine – that can foster positivity in the long term.
  2. They avoid making comparisons. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This observation may ring especially true today, when many Americans increasingly measure their own success against others’ social media posts. Social media use has been linked to several harmful effects on well-being – including loneliness, stress, and depression – in part because it causes some users to question why they don’t have as many friends or material possessions as the people they follow. Using others’ accomplishments as a barometer for success can be especially toxic for vulnerable populations, such as those struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. “Everyone is unique, and therefore, each person’s path and destination are too,” says Alex Lahr, Recovery Coach Coordinator at Mountainside treatment center in New York, NY. “Successful people know this, and that sense of self-worth is one of their biggest assets. People who compare themselves to others aren’t being fair to themselves, and if you’re not fair to yourself, who will be?”
  3. They say “no” to things or people that don’t serve their goals. While saying “yes” to new opportunities is important, setting boundaries is equally necessary for a happy, healthy life. Saying “no” to a request that causes a person to experience discomfort or hardship can reduce stress in the long run. “Time is a major asset that is within a person’s power to control – and it’s finite,” says Lahr. “Successful people spend it well whenever possible and remind themselves it’s never too late to re-evaluate and say ‘no’ to something that expends too much of their time and effort.” Knowing where to draw the line between behaviors that promote growth and ones that compromise well-being can build self-esteem and support effective communication with others.
  4. They aren’t afraid of failure. Success and failure often go hand-in-hand, even though they may seem like conflicting concepts. Many view failure as a personal misfortune, but it can actually serve as an opportunity to learn and grow. The ability to accept and push past failure is essential for seeing objectives to completion. A 2019 study in the journal PNAS found that passion and perseverance were better predictors of long-term success than cognitive ability.

Success is not linear, but people can reach their goals over time with enough determination and a hopeful outlook. Though most of this work comes from within, relationships with others also factor into a person’s ability to thrive in their personal and professional endeavors. Cultivating a strong support system and practicing clear communication can make all the difference on the path to success.