When you think of successful people, you usually loop in positive adjectives like determined, persistent, and driven. We all know success takes hard work and dedication; however, which habits steer strong-willed people in the right direction?

The ability to consistently work hard, take criticism, and roll with the punches is one way to almost guarantee success.

“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”
– Michelangelo Buonarroti

Most individuals you would consider successful have the ability to delay gratification and withstand temptation. Just think of “The Marshmallow Test.” In this experiment, children were given the opportunity to eat the marshmallow on their plate immediately, or, if they could wait, they would receive a second marshmallow. The study showed a positive correlation between children who were able to wait for a larger reward typically and better life outcomes measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, BMI, and other life measures.

Much like the children in this experiment, adults who have a tendency to remain patient, driven, and focused have a higher chance of success. Additionally, adults who have the ability to make informed decisions based on past experience, execute self-guided actions, and celebrate the success of others have a sustained ability to focus on both long and short-term goals.

Learning from mistakes (or missteps) is perhaps one of the most valuable lessons a person can gain. When misfortune comes your way, take it as an opportunity to grow. Analyze why you’re facing a difficult situation. Were you the cause, or was it simply something out of your control. It is important to a, know the difference and b, regardless of the reason, prosper from it. You must overcome the past in order to participate in the future. 

“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”
– Jack Canfield

Someone who has the ability to focus on themselves instead of the actions of others will have a better time adapting and enjoying incremental strides made in their personal lives. Instead of envying the neighbor’s new car, successful people are focused on making a better life for themselves – whether it includes a new car or not.

Revisiting long-term goals is also particularly useful in that it helps keep the bigger picture in mind. Don’t let mental fatigue get in the way of what truly matters. Create tangible reminders that prevent the urge to completely give up, taking the easy route and ultimately forcing you to start all over again. You get out what you put in so always put your best foot forward. Don’t let “no” deter you and don’t like failure define you.

With persistence, gratitude, and determination, success is a lot closer than you could have imagined.