The superachievers’ 10 habits for success

Thoughtful introspection is a way to look at your life and find obstacles that could be holding you back

It’s not easy to find advice on how to be successful that hasn’t been rehashed 6,739 times. Craig Ballantyne, author of the book, The Perfect Day Formula, shares 10 unusual pieces of advice on his website, He takes his cue from American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker Jim Rohn, who once said, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t want to do.” I tend to agree with this statement.


Thoughtful introspection is a way to look at your life and find obstacles that could be holding you back. You can do that with the help of a family member, a friend, a mentor, or a coach.

Let them walk you through how they see your life, your vision, and your definition of success. They may be able to pinpoint what is slowing you down or throwing you off course. They also can narrow down your strengths and weaknesses. This could help you recognize areas of your life you need to spend extra time focusing on, or maybe destructive habits that could be interfering with your success.

In addition, spend time studying yourself to see if there is anything you’d like to change or improve, such as bad habits, negative thoughts, not enough positive affirmations… Take the time to work on yourself. Nobody else can do that for you.


Head clutter can be a silent killer. Doubt, worry, unanswered questions, and to-dos all take up valuable space in your head. They inhibit productivity and creative thinking. A great way to clear your thoughts is to do a “mind dump” every evening, at the very least. It can help create your to-do list for the next day. You can then go to bed with a clear head and you will wake up with your agenda already in order.


What matters to you? What are your goals? What are your dreams? What do you want to accomplish in your life?

Well-intentioned people are more than happy to give you advice and steer you in the direction they think is appropriate for you. But is it really what you want? Seeking counsel is perfectly acceptable, advisable even, but ultimately, you need to make the final decisions for yourself.

You need to be very clear on what your big goals are.


Accountability is one of the strongest forces in helping you achieve success. When you tell yourself you are
going to do something and you fail, only you get disappointed and suffer the consequences.

When you make a public commitment to other people (at home, at work, or on social media), the desire to not let them down becomes additional motivation. Because other people are holding you accountable, it gives you another reason to reach your goals.

A bit more on accountability

Regularly checking in with an accountability partner is an even stronger motivator to accomplish just about anything, whether personal or professional. Your partner could be a family member, a coworker, a friend, a mentor, or a coach. It should be someone who you absolutely could not dream of disappointing. And it should be someone who will truly hold you accountable, without excuses or indulgence.


As much as high achievers hate rejection, failure, and weakness, they are integral parts of life. Instead of wasting time dwelling on how tough life is, high achievers learn from their mistakes and failures. Even better, they learn from others’ negative experiences.

One of the most famous illustrations of this point is Thomas Edison, who failed thousands of times at inventing the light bulb. He said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” There are countless examples of people who succeeded in spite of incredible odds, physical or mental. If they could do it, surely you can, too.


Mastering yourself involves being in control of your thoughts, your temptations, and your motivations. Mastering your environment is trickier, but there are ways to cheat. For example, if you want to get up earlier to write, exercise, or meditate, place your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up to turn off the obnoxious noise emanating from it.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as time management. There is only self-management. Successful people don’t leave things to chance or rely on other people to make them happen. They master what’s within their control and use it to become successful.


One key in reaching your goals is committing time daily to do real work. This means blocking all distractions and creating a quiet environment. Lock yourself up in your office, escape to your car or the library, turn your phone off (yikes!), and don’t check your emails.

Most people are incapable of resisting the urge to check their email, texts, or Facebook page for more than a few minutes. Even if you only do it for 15 minutes per day (hint: 30 or 60 minutes are exponentially better), you will be better off than 80 percent of the population. When you commit to doing this daily, you will quickly see the positive results.


Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “improvement.” It focuses on small, ongoing, positive changes that result in major improvements over time, and is a daily commitment to constant improvement. This includes bettering yourself, making relationships stronger, and improving efficiency. Committing yourself to this daily exercise can help you improve all aspects of your life. In a practice environment, this should involve every employee (from the owner to the kennel staff) and every activity (from check-in to checkout).


Learning to say no could be one of your best strategies. Very successful people have no problem saying no. It is important not to feel bad for declining things that won’t help you reach your goals. Examples include:

  • stop writing up medical records after hours;
  • stop calling that client back for the fifth time to have the same discussion; and
  • stop tolerating toxic employees.

These 10 habits may seem obvious. Yet, experience proves they are not commonly embraced. Focus on one habit each week, and in no time, you will be transformed into a success machine.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified, is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at and Kat Christman, a certified veterinary technician in Effort, Pa., contributed to this article.

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