14 Things Successful People Do Differently

December 4th, 2015 by Jean Caragher

For many CPAs life is good. Average equity partner compensation according to Inside Public Accounting is over $500,000. The past four years has shown steady growth.

Yet, this is not the experience for all.

Let me tell you a tale of two firms. Located in a capital city both firms were comparable in size 15 years ago.

Today, one firm is four times its size and is the largest independent CPA firm in their marketplace. This firm created the infrastructure, including a chief operating officer and chief marketing officer; set up industry niche teams; created a brand that attracts new and experienced hires; and, tracks a pipeline of opportunities.

The other firm continues to do business the way they’ve always done it. Individually. No accountability. No firm growth.

Anthony Robbins said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

The first firm is doing things differently. They are creating their future. The second firm is stuck. They are repeating their past.

Which one are you? Are you creating your future or repeating your past?

If you’d like to create your future here are 14 things successful people do differently.

1. They create and execute goals.

One difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that the successful ones commit to a goal and don’t stop until they achieve it. They set their sights high and accomplish what they set out to do. Writing down your goals makes a big difference. Be sure to create SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Each goal needs to define who is responsible for doing what by when.

2. They take definite and direct action.

There’s a big difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Some people spend too much time gathering information on how to succeed, which can result in information overload and paralyze them from taking action. Successful people make things happen.

3. They focus on being productive, not being busy.

Put first things first. The third habit in Stephen R. Covey’s ground-breaking work, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,

“To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.”

Review your goals. Put first things first. Do one thing at a time. Remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

4. They operate outside of their comfort zone.

Let’s face it. In order to do things differently and make positive changes in your life and in your business you need to step out of your comfort zone. You can feel uncomfortable exploring new opportunities because you believe you need additional knowledge, skill, or experience. The truth is nobody ever feels completely ready when an opportunity arises. Successful people embrace these moments of opportunity even if they don’t feel 100% ready.

5.  They focus on making small, continuous improvements.

Making small, positive changes is a wonderful way to help you reach the level of success you’d like. The simple act of getting started and doing something will give you the push you need. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. Successful people take their goals and priorities seriously. Once they’ve figured out what they want to accomplish, they’re disciplined about getting it done.

6.  They measure and track their progress.

You can’t control what you don’t measure. Review your goals and track the things that directly relate to achieving them.

7.  They learn from their mistakes.

Remember, every mistake is a learning opportunity. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can really hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too afraid to make a mistake. The most successful people have unshakeable confidence in themselves. Without it, they’d have given up after a few obstacles got in their way.

8.  They spend time with the right people.

You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you want to be more successful, spend time with others who are already successful. Also, read books written by them or about them. Watch TED Talks.

9.  They don’t make excuses.

Successful people know they are in control of their own destiny. They don’t complain about the things that stopped them from success. Instead, they push forward knowing that they are the only thing that will make or break their success. When they see an opportunity, they act.

10.  They constantly learn.

Successful people believe in lifelong learning. They’re constantly reading and learning from others around them, from books, trade magazines and conferences, or from others who are ahead of where they want to be. What have you learned recently that can get you closer to the success you want?

11.  They make difficult decisions.

There will always be challenges and obstacles that require you to make difficult decisions. Rather than avoiding sensitive issues or conflicts successful people deal with them, directly and promptly.

12. They focus on what matters.

Successful people don’t just see the big picture; they’re usually the ones that come up with it in the first place. That’s what matters to them and what they focus on. If you want to be successful, figure out what matters to you and do what it takes to make it happen.

13.  They look at the long-term.

Focus on building a strong foundation for long-term growth. Start looking at everything you do as a long-term investment. Invest in your education and the future.

14. They work hard while maintaining balance in their life.

Successful people are not lazy. They work hard to achieve their goals. Yet, if you let your work life consume you, it’s very easy to lose your balance. If you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life. Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term disappointment and stress.

Do you need assistance in creating your future, in doing things differently? Consider joining the Capstone Community, a community of managing partners interested in education and collaboration regarding CPA firm growth and client retention. Learn more.

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