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11 Ways Successful People Think Differently Than You A disciplined approach to thinking through problems is vital for everyone striving to succeed.

By John Rampton Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Sam Edwards | Getty Images

There are those people who seem to have no problem achieving goals but it's not because they have a higher IQ or more time than you. It's because they think and act differently. Here are 11 mental habits of successful people that you can apply in your life.

1. They're specific.

Successful people master the art of goal-setting by being as specific as possible. Instead of making broad statements like "I want to get more sleep" or "I need to lose weight," they will set goals like "I'm going to be in bed by 9:30 on weeknights starting tonight" or "I'm going to lose 10 pounds by eating salads for lunch and walking after dinner."

They apply that specificity to business with statements like "I'm going to get five new clients this week by calling five prospects every day."

Specifying the goal makes it easier to determine the actionable steps required to make your goal a reality. When you have pinpointed exactly what you want to achieve you're more motivated to follow through.

Related: This Is How You Come Up With Marketing Goals

2. They think in minutes when scheduling.

There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Successful people know this and waste as few minutes every day as humanly possible. They realize that they can never reclaim even one minute wasted on meaningless tasks and activities.

Mark Zuckerberg got around this by wearing the same outfit pretty much everyday for years. He was teased but Zuck's signature grey t-shirt has saved him a ton of time every morning. Instead of wasting time going through his wardrobe, his decision was automatic so he could focus on more important things.

Elon Musk creates a regimented schedule by breaking his calendar into five-minute slots. Here are a few ways to track your time better.

Related: 8 Great Time-Tracking Apps for Freelancers

3. They know it's the team that wins.

Michael Jordan is hands-down among the greatest basketball players of all-time, but playing with the likes of Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman throughout his career made Jordan the legend he is today. As his former coach Phil Jackson said, "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team."

Successful people seek people they can collaborate with, as well as those who complement their strengths and weaknesses. I've worked hard on having the best team surround me. This encourages and motivates me to become 10x better. If you want to become the best programmer, join that community. If you want to become the best freelancer, surround yourself with other freelancers.

Related: Why the Five People Around You Are Crucial to Your Success

4. They learn continuously.

Successful people make the time to read, attend classes, take workshops and watch worthwhile webinars. They know enhancing their current skills and developing new ones is essential.

If Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Oprah Winfrey can find the time to read, then so can you. Read in a book before you go to bed or listen to a podcast during your daily commute. You can pick a book or podcast to listen to when you exercise, or choose to attend an online lecture during your lunch-break.

As Gates explains about reading, "It is one of the chief ways that I learn, and has been since I was a kid. These days, I also get to visit interesting places, meet with scientists and watch a lot of lectures online. But reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding."

Related: 10 Books Every Leader Should Read to Be Successful

5. They grow their EI.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify your emotions, as well as those of people around you. It assists in problem solving and inspiring others. Even if you weren't born with a high emotional intelligence, successful people look for ways to strengthen it by:

  • Not being a perfectionist.
  • Knowing how to balance work and play.
  • Embracing change.
  • Eliminating distractions.
  • Being empathetic.
  • Knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Being self-motivated.
  • Focusing on the positive.
  • Setting boundaries.

Related: 8 Tiny Changes to Make Your Life 10 Times More Enjoyable

6. They're realistic optimists.

Positive thinking is crucial to your willingness to set challenging goals but successful people never underestimate how difficult it will be to reach those goals. Research has found realistic optimists tend to be happier and have better control of themselves and their emotions than those who are unrealistic optimists.

"Every time they face an issue or a challenge or a problem, they won't say, "I have no choice and this is the only thing I can do.' They will be creative, they will have a plan A, plan B and plan C," said Sophia Chou, an organizational psychology researcher at National Taiwan University.

Related: Your Brain Doesn't Want to Change: 5 Ways to Make It

7. They don't self-sabotage.

Humans by nature are inconsistent. That's why you can't trust your future self to follow through on the plans you make today.

Let's say you plan to begin eating a salad every day for lunch. You buy all the lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers you need but you forgot you have a lunch meeting scheduled, and the next day you skip lunch because you're swamped. There is a good chance you won't actually eat that salad everyday and most of those ingredients will rot before you eat them.

Before making any decisions about goals, successful individuals think of what might sabotage their effort and how to work around it. A consistent schedule and sticking to it helps you follow through.

Related: 7 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Do Before 7 a.m.

8. They meditate.

"The results have been awesome. Better sleep. Improved relationships with spouses, children, coworkers. Some people who once suffered migraines don't anymore. Greater productivity and creativity all around," said Oprah Winfrey on meditation.

No wonder Oprah, and other successful people like Russell Simmons, have made meditation a priority. There is no shortage of meditation apps to help you get started on meditating daily. You can have big benefits for just five or 10 minutes of your day.

Related: How Meditation Can Transform Your Business

9. They take care of their health.

A healthy body and mind are cornerstones of success. Regular exercise and a healthy diet decrease stress, relieve anxiety, help you sleep, boost your immune system, increase your productivity and improve your mental state.

Finding time to take care of yourself is challenging when you have a hectic lifestyle or do a lot of traveling. Small things like investing in a standing desk, taking a walk during your lunch break or doing simple exercises in your office are all good ways to start an exercise habit.

Eating in moderation and skipping cheap, fatty fast foods will take you a long way toward eating a better-balanced diet.

Related: 5 Ways Switching to Plant-Based Diet Boosts Your Productivity

10. They carry notebooks.

Richard Branson, Drew Hansen, J.K. Rowling, Eminem and Jack Dorsey keep journals to write down their thoughts, track their progress, set goals and reflect on the lessons of past mistakes.

As Dorsey said, "Find a simple way way to track your progress. You really get to see how you have grown, how your business has grown and how your own leadership has grown."

Related: For a Memory Boost, Ditch the Laptop and Write It Down by Hand

11. They know what they value in life.

While successful people are known for their hard work, they also realize that they need time to unwind and recharge. After all, they're only human. They know there's more to life than just work. Successful people make it a point to enjoy their lives.

Whether that's unplugging for the weekend so that you can go away with their spouse, getting home for dinner every night, volunteering, reading, exercising or working on a hobby, they always allocate some of that 1,440 minutes in a day to something that they value.

John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #3 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and has been one of the Top 10 Most Influential PPC Experts in the World for the past three years. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.

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