23 Things Successful People Do Before Turning 40

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

Successful people think differently.

They also act differently. They embody specific methods and principles to the way they govern their lives that allow them to succeed early on in life.

Don’t get me wrong, they also fail.

But they know how to gather their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual faculties to allow them to succeed over time while others end up giving up and throwing in that proverbial towel for good.

It boils down to a set of behaviors that are born from an insidious thought pattern with the clear intention of producing a specific end result. The culmination of those thoughts lead to repetitive behaviors that develop into good habits. And considering that habits govern 45% of our daily behavior, it’s those habitual routines that have become ingrained in our minds that help to dictate our chances for success.

Successful people know that you have to instill the right habits in order to succeed.

They also know that success isn’t some overnight expedition; it takes time. In fact, they also know that it takes repeated failure before getting it right. On average, it’s been said that successful entrepreneurs have failed 3.8 times before they got it right. But it only took one big win to get them there.

Whether we’re talking about Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Henry Ford, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Mark Cuban, or any other successful person throughout the course of history, there are likely dozens of good habits that they instilled into their minds and repeated consistently in order to succeed.

But there are 23 specific behaviors that really stand out, enabling them to attain success at an early age in life.

So, if you want to succeed, take note and emulate in order to replicate their successes. The thing about success is that it leaves clues. If you can pick up on those clues, you can discover and embody the methods used. Often, they are simple behaviors that are consistently performed. They’re also behaviors that aren’t performed, in the case of bad habits for instance.

Keep in mind that bad habits will hold us back from achieving true success in life, especially the really detrimental ones. So be wary of any bad habits that might be ruining your life, and do your best to quit those habits. Instead, focus on the good behaviors — focus on keystone habits.

#1 — They failed repeatedly

It’s no secret that the large majority of successful people have failed the most often. From household names like Walt Disney and Oprah Winfrey, to other obscure individuals that few have heard of, success didn’t come without some amount of failure beforehand. The difference between successful people and others is that they embraced their failures.

Through failure, life’s greatest lessons are learned. It’s an opportunity to grow, learn, mature and to become more empathetic towards the plight of others. There’s almost no way to succeed in the long term without having truly endured the pain that comes along with failure.

Successful people know how to take failure in stride. It might help to set them back in their progress towards their goals, but it doesn’t deaden or defeat their spirit to achieve their desired results.

#2 — They learned money management

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beware of little expenses. A small leak can sink a great ship.” No matter how well a successful person is doing in life, it’s quite easy for them to get in over their heads by overspending. When your expenses outweigh your income, as is in the case for most people’s lives, it’s monumentally difficult to get ahead.

But, what successful people learned early on is how to manage their money. They learned how to sweat the small stuff, and to pay attention to things like taxable income, investments, and how to be weary of all the little expenses that can ultimately make a big difference. They also learned how to save and ensure their money was working for them rather than against them.

It’s easy to ignore the day-to-day financial obligatins that we all have when we’re aren’t aware of the bigger picture. Poor financial habits can land anyone in hot water.

#3 — They went against the grain

Most successful people embodied contrarianism. They went against the grain in that they didn’t follow the crowd. They were leaders. When fear gripped the populous forcing them to sell things off, they were buying. When the market was buying at the peak, they were selling.

The art of contrarianism isn’t something simple to embody. Unless you wholeheartedly know your industry, trying to go against the grain could burn you. But, it also holds true that without risk there can be no reward, and the greater the risk, the greater the reward in many situations.

However, what this really boils down to is fear. Successful people aren’t afraid to take risks. That doesn’t necessarily mean they should take blatant risks, but rather calculated risks that are based off of carefully-assessed assumptions derived from real market data.

#4 — They learned how to build their tribe

Success in life isn’t attained on your own. Unless you win the lottery or inherit a windfall of cash, in order to succeed, you need to build your tribe. True success is attained by those who can build the best tribes. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, Tony Hseih, founder of Zappos.com, and Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers, are all prime examples of people who knew how to build a tribe.

Keep in mind that leaders need to lead by example. Employees, and even customers, won’t follow a leader who doesn’t possess the right core values. Instead, they follow visionaries who are in it for the right reasons, not those that are looking to make a quick buck at the consumer’s expense.

Learn how to build a tribe, but first instill the right values and ensure you have the proper motivations for whatever you’re doing in life, and lead by example.

#5 — They were resourceful

Success is hard to attain. But what most people don’t realize is that a large majority of the most successful people in the world started from nothing. Some portray your typical rags-to-riches story. But getting there was no walk in the park. They had to be resourceful.

At any one moment, we have more resources than we could ever imagine. When we might think we’re just broke or hopeless, we fail to realize the raw power that resides in the mind. We don’t realize the ultimate power of thought that can help us tap into the invisible ether that binds us all.

Even if you have nothing, you have something. You have resources if you just look around you. Take the time to assess your environment and the people surrounding you. How you can leverage what or who you know to help advance you towards your goals? That’s what truly sets the successful people apart from the rest.

#6 — They created and followed a plan

Tony Robbins is famous for creating his plan on a paper napkin. One day, on a train ride through Russia, he mapped out, in full detail, just how he was going to get from Point A to Point B. He made a plan. Successful people build and follow plans. No matter what goal they’re striving towards, it’s the vehicle of a plan that gets them there.

Everyone needs a plan. No matter what you’re striving after, it’s the plan that will get you there. It helps to outline just what steps you’re going to take or what direction you’re going to travel in. Keep in mind that a goal without a plan is just a wish. No goal should be set without creating an intricate plan to get you there.

When a plane flies from one city to another, it has an intricate plan. From its flight speed to its cruising altitude, its general direction of travel, its takeoff an landing time, and numerous other key steps, it creates and follows a plan in order to succeed. Without that plan, how would the plane reach its intended destination?

#7 — They were able to adapt to change

No matter what we do or how well we create and follow a plan, there will be times when we’re forced to adapt to changes in the environment. People or companies that can’t adapt, can’t survive. But those that can adapt, will flourish in the marketplace, especially if they don’t give up and consistently push towards their goals.

Even when a plane is flying, it’s due to encounter some problems. Things like turbulence or air-traffic congestion can help to upset a plane’s plan unless it adapts. Similarly, companies can go under if they don’t adapt to the changing marketplace. Kodak is one such company that gives you a case in point. It failed to adapt to the shift from traditional media to digital.

Often, it’s not that people don’t notice the changes that are occurring, it’s simply that they’re so set in their ways or too stubborn to adapt. Don’t allow that to happen to you if you’re serious about success. Be willing to adapt and do whatever it takes to ensure you succeed in the long term.

#8 — They developed successful habits early on

There’s almost zero chance for success without having your good habits outweighing your bad habits. Successful people know that. That’s why they focused on developing good habits that promote success, early on in their lives. They focused their attention in the right areas, because they knew it would pay off down the line.

They learned how to build success habits into their routine such as waking up early, working out, eating right, meditating, and so on. Most of all, they focused on the keystone habits — the habits that can truly help to propel you into the stratosphere by attracting other good habits and helping to automatically eliminate the bad habits in your life.

If you’re serious about success, develop the right habits. Success takes sacrifice and it means that you have to eliminate certain behaviors in your life while also introducing the right behaviors to help propel you forward.

#9 — They were persistent

It’s pretty clear that successful people refused to give up. They were persistent. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t fail from time to time. They did. But they got right back up again and kept going. There’s a Japanese proverb that states, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” It simply means that you shouldn’t give up, no matter how bad the failure might have felt.

While it might be hard to push through with our goals, especially in the face of what seems like insurmountable obstacles, that’s what creates and builds true character. It helps to mold and shape us into better people. It helps to create empathy and understanding where it once didn’t exist.

No matter what anyone tells you, success is about persistence. It’s one of the so-called secrets to attaining any goal, great or small.

#10 — They added enormous amounts of value

Successful people know that success is about adding value. And the most successful people in the world have added the most value. While that statement might sound obscure to some, there’s no greater truth. The problem is that most people focus on doing the least amount of work for the greatest return. But successful people do just the opposite of that.

When your focus becomes adding value, you’re interested in truly making a difference, not just in the bottom dollar of what you’re doing. Beyond mere survival, when your needs have been met, the focus has to be on adding value, even if it hurts financially in the short term, it’s the long-term results that you’re after.

Think about sites like Facebook or Google, where the focus was merely on adding value in the beginning. There was no profit plan. One was intended to connect people from all over the world, and the other was to help people find relevant information on the Web. Plain and simple, they both added a huge amount of value.

#11 — They fought to improve each day

When we’re not improving, we’re remaining stagnant. And if we remain stagnant, it’s difficult to make progress. Of course, without progress, our goals will seem further and further out of reach with each passing day. Successful people know that. That’s why they strived to improve each day on the way towards their success.

It’s hard to witness the progress on a micro scale. When you look at the effort put in with just one day of work towards your goals, it’s difficult to see the advancements. But, strung together, end to end, small bits of improvements each day help to equal monumental progress over the course of months and even years.

If you’re serious about success, work to improve things in your life on every level. Try to stay away from distractions and ensure that you work tirelessly towards your goals.

#12 — They took massive amounts of action

While this might sound cliche, it’s the closest thing to the truth. There’s no way to reach your goals without taking action. Successful people know that. It isn’t just about goals and having a plan; those things are necessary. But without the right amount of action, the recipe to success is lacking a key ingredient.

However, one of the greatest things that holds us back from taking action is our tendency to procrastinate. It’s been coined the silent killer for a reason. It helps to kill off our hopes and our dreams one at a time. If you’ve been stifled by the inability to act due to procrastination, you must take the reigns back in your life.

Try the 15-minute rule. Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes. Then, take the one thing you’ve been putting off and fearing the longest, and work just 15 minutes towards it. All it takes is 15 minutes. Don’t promise yourself any more than that. What you’ll come to find, however, is that after 15 minutes, you’re more likely to keep going. And even if you stop, you broke the streak of inaction.

#13 — They strived to stay motivated

The loss of motivation can deal a deathly blow to just about anyone working towards a monumental goal. Big goals are difficult to achieve. But successful people knew that they had to stay motivated in order to reach their goals. Even when every fiber in their being was screaming for them to quit or give up, they knew they had to see things through.

But staying motivated is hard. Considering that life simply gets in the way, it’s hard to keep living at level 110, pushing and pushing with gusto, especially through the tough time. But you need to find a way to stay motivated. You need to dig deep down inside and truly unleash the warrior within your spirit.

When your goals are really meaningful to you, it makes things easier. But that doesn’t paint the entire picture. Even meaningful goals can be abandoned at some point. The goal? Find your motivation and do whatever it takes to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly it might be.

#14 — They worked on fixing their flaws

We all have flaws that hold us back from succeeding. Often, although we might acknowledge them, we fail to see the monumental impact they have on our lives. Successful people operate differently. They not only identify and acknowledge their flaws, but they work to fix them.

For example, most of us have bad habits that hold us back from success. But often, we’re unable to quit those bad habits because they’re so ingrained into our minds and into our lives. They’re the result of not only years, but decades of repeated behavior. But in order to succeed, we have to quit our bad habits.

This isn’t to say that success would be impossible without some bad habits. However, more times than not, it’s precisely what holds us back from succeeding.

#15 — They ignored negativity

Negativity is all around us. The fact is that most people are negative. They don’t want to see others close to them succeeding. It’s a painful truth. And, often, they attempt to hold those people back that try to break the mold. They work to instill fear and doubt into their minds, telling them that they can’t do such-and-such because it’s just impossible to accomplish.

Successful people aren’t unaware of negativity. They know that negativity surrounds them. But they work to ignore that negativity as they chase their dreams. They cancel out all of that noise and focus on the tasks ahead. While difficult to do at first, those that are truly serious about success do what it takes to ignore those naysayers.

While most people might face negativity, when it’s so close to home, as in it resides in the family, it’s extremely difficult to ignore. Do your best to look past all the negativity that exists. Remember that you get whatever you focus on in life, so don’t focus on the negativity. Instead, shift all your focus towards the positivity in the world.

#16 — They became effective managers of their time

Successful people are effective managers of their time, plain and simple. Why? Well, when you think about it, we all have the same amount of time in the world. No matter the race, the religion, the age, the opportunities, the income, or any other factor, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.

It isn’t about how much time we have. It’s about how we use the precious little time that we do have. Do we squander it away? Or, do we leverage it wisely? Do we use it enthralled in activities that are time-wasters? Or, do we use it to push towards those big, long-term goals that we’re striving towards

Find a good system to effectively manage your time and stick to it. This is quite possibly one of the most important factors for success across the board.

#17 — They were grateful for what they have

One of the most important things in life that successful people identified early on, was the necessity to be grateful for what they have. Rather than focusing on what they didn’t have, they shifted their thinking to one that involved the rock-solid foundation of gratitude.

When you’re thankful for what you have, some incredible things begin happening in your life. The truth? It shifts your focus on a subconscious level. You go from incessantly complaining in your mind, to being truly grateful and happy for even the littlest things. You see, we never quite realize what we have until it’s taken away.

In the morning, write out a list of everything that you have to be grateful for. Even if you’re just 6 feet above ground, be grateful for it. Stop obsessing over what you don’t have, and begin focusing on what you do have and watch as your life transforms before your very eyes over time.

#18 — They searched out ways to contribute

Life isn’t all about what we can get; it’s also about what we can give. Successful people learned that contribution was one of the pathways to the achievement of their dreams because it links into that invisible ether that binds us all. It’s part of that cosmic fabric that we’re all born from.

Similar to gratitude, there’s something that changes in the mind when we contribute. We move from living in a state of lack to living in a state of abundance. It simply feels good, and that permeates right down to the core. It also sends a powerful message that you do have more than enough.

Contribution is at the heart of our society. We always have to look for ways we can give what we can to other people, no matter how little we might have.

#19 — They found a mentor

Successful people know that a mentor is often necessary to help them avoid the common pitfalls that plague those that are trying to achieve any margin of success in life. Mentors that have business acumen and have been through the ringer can help to advise us on just what  we need to do.

Mentors also act as a sounding board. You can bounce ideas off your mentor to see if what you’re thinking about makes sense. When there’s a problem, they can also offer up invaluable insight into resolving those problems without having to jump through all the hoops. In effect, they’ve been there and done that.

Do your best to find a mentor that can assist you with whatever goal you’re striving towards. This is especially true if you’re an entrepreneur trying to start your own business and juggle with the often-overwhelming amount of tasks that every business owner faces on their own.

#20 — They learned to play by the rules

It’s easy to try to bend or break the rules. Often, people look for shortcuts to help them reach their goals faster. The problem is that most people attempt to do the least amount of work for the greatest return. However, successful people know that this isn’t the pathway to achieving monumental results.

The truth is that success takes the most amount of work for the least initial return. In the beginning, if you focus on adding value, you likely won’t see a big return. But it’s all about the long-term result of your efforts that needs to become the primary focus.

When you play by the rules, it might seem like things are taking forever to occur. But, little by little, progress will be made.

#21 — They became problem-solvers

Every successful person became successful by learning how to solve problems. They didn’t run away from them. Instead, they faced them head on. They focused their efforts on solving the problem rather fearing it or running away from it.

While things can seem overwhelming, it’s always better to stick it out and solve the problem than it is to run away from it. Big problems take time to solve. Don’t expect them to go away in days or even weeks. However, the subconscious mind does a lot to help us solve problems.

The mind will work on our problems and help to provide us with that eureka moment. As long as we don’t throw in that proverbial towel, we can always eventually figure it out.

#22 — They set outlandish goals

Successful people set outlandish goals. The saying goes, if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. And, if you’re going to focus on something, you might as well focus on something big, because focus is real power. What you focus on, you move towards.

The thing about goals is that anyone can achieve any goal they set their sights upon. It just boils down to how much they really want it. What are the reasons for wanting to achieve those goals? Are they superficial reasons? Or, are there meaningful, profound and deep-rooted reasons driving them?

We will always do more to achieve meaningful goals in life than we will to fulfill the superficial ones. Find meaningful goals, and you’ll find your ticket to success in just about any endeavor.

#23 — They followed the 80/20-Rule

The 80/20-Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the results comes from 20% of the efforts. Successful people know how to harness this rule to help propel them forward by first identifying their result-producing efforts, and then scaling those efforts out.

Most of us tend to waste a lot of time when we’re trying to exert effort to produce results. We get sidetracked and veer off course. Things simply get in our way and we get distracted. If you really sit and think about it, it’s really a very small portion of the time that we spend that helps to produce the big results.

The hard part? Identifying the 20% of your efforts that are producing the 80% of your results. To do, you need to meticulously track your activities. How much time did you spend in a given area? How much of that activity led to your results? Take the time to analyze and break it down, identify the 20%, and scale.