You see them everyday. Those people that you undoubtedly know woke up smiling this morning, and will go to bed tonight content and at ease. The people that gracefully carry themselves in a winning way, and seem to be unstoppable on their path. I have spent a great amount of time thinking about why some people are successful in practically every aspect of life, while others struggle with even the smallest challenges life throws their way. It’s a simple fact that we are all dealt different cards in life.

This doesn’t mean that the outcome of your hand is pre-destined (no matter how crappy it may be). You may think your circumstances are separate from yourself, but they are directly related to the world of your thoughts. As you think, you travel. So figure out where you want to go, and what is stopping you from getting there. Stop believing in fate and start believing that everything can be formed. In order to change your life, you must change your thoughts.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

—Lao-Tze

Need a jump start? Lets take a look at some characteristics of successful people:

1. They live for achievement. Their goal in life is to be something, make something of themselves, make things that people need or want. They’re passionate about it and focus on achieving their goals with laser-like precision. This requires a lot of focus, effort and sacrifice. It’s not easy being successful, if that were the case – everyone would be. Successful people revolve all their decisions around that desired achievement, and this is essential to make it a reality.
2. They ask the right questions. “All successful people ask the right questions and try to find out the causes the put them in a productive, creative, positive mindset and emotional state. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” Tony Robbins
Successful people are always on the lookout for lessons they will learn along the way. They integrate the lessons they have learned in the past into what they are currently doing and are always in a learning mindset. This means not just asking why did I fail, it means asking why did I succeed? It does not have a to be a grand achievement for you to be able to take something valuable out of it, that one factor that led you to your goal. We evaluate and analyze our failures, but often fail to do the same for our victories.

3. They learn what works and then adapt. Business success, creating jobs, making money for shareholders, and the result -accumulating wealth – is a process. And if you always do what you have always done, you’ll always end up with the same result. Once you figure out what you’re good at and how to do it right, you keep turning the crank until it no longer works. Then you adapt, restrategize and keep moving forward.

4. Focused on the now. They set goals and envision success, but they keep their main focus on the step right in front of them instead of the end result. They concentrate on doing whatever they are doing today with the utmost attention and quality, while seeing the bigger picture and end result clear as day. By doing so, they don’t skip important steps or lose attention to detail.

5. They never lose focus on building relationships. No matter what industry you’re in; it’s a people game. And successful people play it extraordinary well. Don’t jump to conclusions here and assume that I’m talking about networking. This has nothing to do with networking, this has to do with focusing on people and building genuine relationships rooted in trust. The fact of the matter is that who you surround yourself with will eventually shape you, whether you are aware of it or not. So who makes you better? Think about that.

6. They watch their spending. They don’t spend more than they have. To them, making money is not a windfall. They don’t live beyond their means, because when you work hard for something you tend not to blow it.

7. They take calculated risks. Calculated being the essential word in that sentence. That does not necessarily mean staying on the safe side, it just means that you have accounted for every possible outcome and are prepared to deal with any scenario. Successful people inherently take calculated risks all the time. According to Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, risk is stepping outside your comfort zone to a place where you cannot predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of your actions. Risk is taking on something that holds a chance of failure. That said, successful people don’t take foolish risks and they don’t take risks lightly. They mitigate and minimize risk if they can and make sure they’re smart and calculated.

8. They learn from failures. “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

They understand that challenges and obstacles are an important part of the process. They don’t resent any issues or challenges that come their way and always look at them as a necessary part of their journey and an opportunity to make the changes and adjustments that are needed. As we go through life, we’re going to make mistakes. In fact, one could assume that the more successful you are, the more mistakes you have made because you have taken many risks on your journey to success. Too many people let the fear of failure overpower their will to succeed. What sets successful people apart from others is that they don’t let their failures set them back, or slow them down. They keep moving forward, now with more knowledge and experience to make smarter choices next time around.