10 Unusually Effective Success Tips (No One Told You Before)

— Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy.

With these unusually effective success tips, you’ll unlock your full potential and be able to transform your life.

But first, here are two truth-bombs about success:

  1. Success hates usual methods and kinder cuts. You’ll find the success tips here unusual and unkind. If everyone were doing them, no one would be standing above others.
  2. Success cannot happen without discipline. Even before a plan, you need discipline. Without a set of habits to keep you sharply focused and safely moored, the best-laid plans can go astray within months or even weeks.

Let’s dive into the 10+40 uncommon success tips that can push you to the top.

10 Unusually Effective Tips For Success In Life

These ten tips are your “pre-steps” for a faster path to success, happiness, and prosperity:

1: Go Through Merciless Self-Evaluation

If you do not know how much you have, you can’t find out how much it would take to reach your destination.

Before you take one step to work out a success plan, you need to evaluate your current capacity and situation. Then compare it to the stage of ultimate success. This is called Gap Analysis.

The gap analysis has two aims:

  1. to identify the existing gaps, and
  2. to find out the future opportunities.

It demands answers to three questions:

Where am I? Where do I want to go? How do I get there?

Gap analysis is not SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.

Gap analysis focuses only on your weaknesses, and how to get over them. It begins with self-evaluation.

Self-evaluation is an honest appraisal of your current weaknesses by yourself. It is the precise first piece of advice to work on while on the road to success in life.

How To Know Yourself

Self-evaluation is also about finding out if you are self-aware of your present capabilities. Do you have the skills and training necessary to hit your goals?

✶ Use the STAR method (usually great for answering interview questions confidently) to evaluate your past performance. Briefly describe the Situation or Task, the Action you took, and the Results you achieved.

Self-evaluation also means moving away from people and social life that waste your time and energy.

Decide which relationships help your success; keep them, and prune the rest. Learn to have boundaries in all your relationships.

Remember, success is a journey, and if you’re not falling sometimes on that journey, you’re not trying hard enough.

Self Evaluation Leads to Self Evolution

2: Plan Each of Your Days, Even The Day-offs

How often do you say, “I shouldn’t have wasted my time doing that?”

When you plan each of your days, you don’t have to say those words again.

To stop doing unproductive things, and efficiently hit all the micro-targets before it is bedtime, plan your day.

Plan your every day, well in advance.

A well-planned day gives you:

  • streamlined thoughts,
  • focused productivity,
  • peace to keep the pressure away.

It helps you stay on top of your tasks by preventing you from forgetting an important task because of a busy day.

A planned day gives you the courage to excuse yourself from a meeting that is going on ‘forever.’

Day-planning lets you get more organized and focused much faster since you get driven on a daily basis.

A plan made in the morning yields results by the evening. That feedback is the best possible motivator for the next day.

To get it rooted in your nature and ingrained as an effortless habit, write a To-Do list every morning to give structure to your day.

success tips
Discover the 3 Most Effective Goal-Setting Techniques

A busy workday keeps your brain crammed, with no time to relax. A day-plan takes the tasks out of your memory and puts them neatly on a memo.

Write your tasks down and you’ll never stress out again trying to remember what to do for the day. Use paper or an app (like Evernote or Google Keep).

Of course, do what others don’t—carefully plan your days off and doggedly stick to it.

Decide beforehand how much time you’d allot to your leisure activities, so you don’t come away feeling guilty.

Like everyone else, you deserve an occasional break—but unlike them, you do that with a plan in place. That gives you an edge.

3: Learn The Elegant Art of Delegation

It does not matter how well you organize your time, you can’t do it all.

There will be times when you cannot take the entire workload on your own. When you want to be more efficient, you cannot have yourself putting in the perfect performance on each of your tasks.

Set aside the sugary-sweet words above. Instead, drill the following into your success-hungry head:

Get people to do the time-consuming duties that aren’t contributing to your achievement. Employ people or hire online services to accomplish these ‘insignificant’ tasks for you.

The basic tenet is to find or recruit people to whom you can delegate a significant chunk of your low-importance tasks.

Delegation is transferring your responsibility to others and getting things done by them. O. S. Hiner defines it as:

Delegation takes place when one person gives another the right to perform work on his behalf and in his name, and the second person accepts a corresponding duty or obligation to do what is required of him.

Also, you do not need to work on every task that people shove your way. If you always stay busy with work that others ask you to do, you will hardly have any quality time for your success goals.

The crux is that quantity prevents you from delivering quality.

So sometimes you have no other choice than to delegate part of your work to a team or to someone you hire.

Know this: You become more efficient when you delegate the work to someone who can complete it better than you.

4: Manage Your Time Strictly And Deftly

Singular focus is the key to success. Start with killing your habit of multitasking.

The human brain cannot handle more than one thing at a time. When we do two things, we actually move our focus back and forth between them.

This rapid switching negatively affects our well-being, attention, mental performance, and productivity.

Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says, “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum (parts of our forebrain) to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task.”

Multitasking overtaxes your brain, slows down your learning wit, and gets you to make unintelligent (stupid!) decisions.

MRI brain scans of high multitaskers show less gray matter in the brain region in charge of empathy and emotional control.

To break away from this, do 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation daily. Start it today; download this uncomplicated beginner’s guide to mindfulness.

Research by Hafenbrack et al. found mindfulness meditation can help people admit their mistakes when their decisions cause failures.

Most people have trouble admitting they were wrong when their decisions lead to losses.

Mindfulness can help us make more rational decisions in less time.

Another way to manage time is by adopting the Pareto principle.

Named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, it says 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So it’s also called the 80–20 rule.

Pareto found that only 20% of the Italian population produced and possessed 80% of the country’s wealth and income. He also found that 80% of the total industrial production came from merely 20% of the companies.

So, how does this rule apply to your efficiency?

A Pareto approach is to focus only on your most important projects and goals while dropping the rest.

So, find your priorities because 80% of your profitable results come from 20% of your efforts.

5: Get A Habit of Saying “No” With Full Intent

People often go out of their way and do things that make others like them. What lies beneath is a deep-seated wish to be seen by everyone as a good person.

To keep that “good guy” impression alive, you take up their work, even when you can’t sanely handle it all. It saves your reputation of being a guy always ready to help.

This leads to two big problems:

  • First, you cannot finish all your tasks on time.
  • Second, you cannot achieve the quality they expect you to deliver.

The main reason you can’t say “No” to others is this: You fear rejection.

You feel you’d disappoint them if you declined. And fear that they will look down on you because of your “lack” of kindness and politeness.

Throw away that irrational fear. You can learn to say “No” without hurting anyone, staying civil.

Decline taking up what people ask you to do. Remind yourself it does not matter if the other person thinks you are selfish or rude. Starting today, say “No” more often and to more people.

Stop trying to come across as an uber-helpful guy who always accepts a gratuitous task. Remember, “Yes” is not always the right answer.

You have free will and the right to choose. Value your time and have your priorities in mind before you accept to help others. Do not compromise your efficiency.

Saying “No” frees up time for not only you but also your close ones.

You could spend hours doing precious little things with your kids and your family. These fun-filled social activities refresh your mind from stress and raise your happiness levels.

So, stop trying to please everyone and get comfortable saying “No” more often.

6: Never Stop Doing Things In Unprecedented Ways

You can achieve notable success by setting up and sticking to a fine-tuned routine.

However, a fixed routine also has its way of undermining your efficiency. It erodes your passion at the cost of predictability.

You eat well, but everything tastes like paper. You religiously do your workouts, but it smells like tedium.

If you do nothing different or unprecedented, you soon get bored with your daily activities. No matter how committed you are to your goals and how well they are shaping up, you lose interest.

Try something new.

Take to tribal dancing, visit unknown places in real life or on the internet, and try exotic meals by eating out or making them from scratch.

Instead of hanging out with your usual five friends, meet new people and learn from them.

How the comfort zone is ruining your life

When you experience life in its fullness, you are more capable of and passionate about bagging the big goals on your list. The tagline is this:

Go beyond the security of the routine.

One little thing here: do not miss out on exercising. Not exercising will keep you easily fatigued and mostly confused—a weakling barely crawling to success.

If you break away and restart your exercise habit every few months, then it’s time to make exercise a daily habit.

7: Ruthlessly Declutter Your Life And Workplace

Is your working space a complete mess?

Then it is no wonder why you are constantly under stress (mess and stress; they even rhyme!). You cannot be effective when you have to find your way through the surrounding clutter.

Take a day to bring everything back to order. Organize your documents and put every piece of paper in its place. Once you achieve order, it will be easy for you to maintain it.

Do you get sick at the mere thought of cleaning? That does not mean you can neglect the need for an order. You can hire a cleaning service that can do the hard work for you.

You could catch the #1 New York Times bestselling guide to decluttering by Marie Kondo.

She takes you through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Here’s the book link: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

8: Track Your Distractions

One of the first changes you should make is in the way you use your time. For just one week, track your activities and take notes throughout the day. After a few days, you will notice a pattern evolve.

You will spot the activities that unnecessarily consume your time, energy, peace, and efficiency. There is a name for them: distractions.

Once you note these attention-draining and energy-sapping spots in your daily timeline, do everything possible to cut them out.

  • Avoid unimportant commitments and obligations.
  • Refuse others—do not let them hand over their odd jobs to you.
  • Re-check your schedule and scrap all the meetings except the essential ones.

You do not need to go face-to-face to get things done—a message, or a memo, often does it equally well.

Prevent that ubiquitous email distraction. Whenever you stop your work to check your inbox, it takes you almost 23 minutes to get back to your task.

Refocusing on work after an email interruption is a devious distraction. If you receive around 20 emails, you know how much it is harming your productivity.

9: Find Your Blind Spots

Korn Ferry is a global management consulting firm born in 1969.

A study by Korn Ferry found that employees at poorly performing companies had 20% more personal “blind spots” than those at better-off companies. Also, the workers at the poorly performing firms were 80% more likely to have low self-awareness.

In simple words, the staff who were self-aware of their weaknesses belonged to companies with higher rates of return (ROR) on the stock.

So, spend about an hour each week contemplating the blind spots in your life, relationships, and career. Do you miss the humor in your life? Fix it by watching a classic Charlie Chaplin movie clip.

Do you feel you’re not giving enough time to your family? Find time for them. Do you have a knowledge gap that can elevate your game? Get enrolled in an online course.

10: Go At It Every Day

Success is about a rhythm of regularity.

If you’re a procrastinator and put off loads of tasks until the last minute, then you can be sure that stress waits for you around the bend.

So what do you do? Build a habit of chipping at it every day and every hour. The idea is to establish a routine and then rigorously stick to it.

For example, you may schedule your workouts for 10 minutes in the morning and evening so that you can stick to them throughout the year. If 10 minutes seems too long, cut it down to 5 minutes four times a day.

Always have a mix of short-term and long-term goals.

Break down your big goals into tiny parts. Make each part so ridiculously small that you can succeed at it even while sleepwalking. Some people call these atomic habits. As a basic rule, keep no more than 5 big goals to handle at one time.

Work on it every day, but don’t do the same things every time.

How Stoics Build And Maintain Self-Discipline
How to be successful in life through Stoic self-discipline

People spend a significant portion of their lives talking about success but never quite achieve it. Look a layer deep, and you find they had been wishing often and working hard while doing the same things over and over.

It is never too late to change what you are doing, but it’s hard to change if you haven’t planned your lifestyle ahead.

People who always fall short of success often skip re-configuring their lives. Instead, they stick to what they have always done.

When you know how far you can push yourself, you can estimate the actual quantum of work you can take on. It helps you become more efficient at organizing your day and reaching your goals without feeling exhausted.

Last, find out the limits to how much you can exert yourself while staying healthy and getting proper sleep.

Get down to working at these tips if you do not want to waste your success potential.

Your Algorithm to Great Success: Evaluate, Plan, Delegate, Achieve.

A word of caution: Success does not happen overnight. It needs:

  • Persistence – the ability to continue in your course of action,
  • Endurance – the capacity to last or to withstand unpleasant situations,
  • Resilience – the mental ability to handle or recover quickly from hardship.

40 More Tips To Be Successful In Life, From Experts

Richard Branson in a BBC article lays out his top ten tips for success:

  1. Don’t give up.
  2. Follow your dreams and just do it.
  3. Have fun and look after your team.
  4. Believe in your ideas and be the best.
  5. Make a positive difference and do some good.
  6. Do what you love and have a sofa in the kitchen.
  7. Spend time with your family and learn to delegate.
  8. Try turning off the TV and get out there and do things.
  9. Make lots of lists and keep setting yourself new challenges.
  10. When people say bad things about you, just prove them wrong.

Inga Stasiulionyte in a Success piece reveals her 10 best tips to achieve anything in life:

  1. Don’t rely on others.
  2. Use your imagination.
  3. Get rid of distractions.
  4. Make the journey fun.
  5. Plan three steps ahead.
  6. Stop being nice to yourself.
  7. Seek knowledge, not results.
  8. Protect yourself from burnout.
  9. Get rid of stagnating thoughts.
  10. Focus on commitment, not motivation.

This is what Robert Chen, Executive Coach, shares as his best success tips:

  1. Get Help.
  2. Start Now.
  3. Add Value.
  4. Learn Sales.
  5. Be Resilient.
  6. Be Extraordinary.
  7. Follow Your Passion.
  8. Build a Support Group.
  9. Hunt for Good Mentors.
  10. Personally Know Your Finances.

This comes from Indeed Career Guide:

  1. Be committed.
  2. Keep planning.
  3. Think positively.
  4. Count on yourself.
  5. Take away distractions.
  6. Learn from the journey.
  7. Have fun along the way.
  8. Be honest with yourself.
  9. Change your perspective.
  10. Avoid getting burned out.

What Are The 5 Steps To Success?

Ronald E. Riggio is a professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College and the co-author of Transformational Leadership.

Riggio proposes the following five steps for achieving success at work, in education, and in relationships:

  1. Have A Plan – Make a S.M.A.R.T. plan, meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
  2. Study “The Game” – Learn the rules of Social Intelligence.
  3. Learn From Failures – Analyze what went wrong and fix them for the future.
  4. Live Up The Small Wins – Reward yourself for each milestone.
  5. Keep At It – Persist. Persist. Persist.

How Is Happiness A Success?

Finding happiness is a successful accomplishment since living a fulfilling and meaningful life is the ultimate goal of all successful activities.

Ambitions of success are usually intended to make a person happy. Your success, however, does not guarantee your happiness. Rather, happiness is a precursor to success.

What is the point of success if it doesn’t make you happy? And what’s the point in being happy if it’s only temporary?

So, first, we need to ask, Why is it that the happiness that comes with success never seems to last?

Success isn’t meaningful if you’re not happy. And if you’re unhappy before success, the gloom will return soon.

Why? Because research says happiness comes before success.

Studies by positive psychologists show happiness precedes success—not the other way around.

Listen to this entertaining TEDx talk (The Happy Secret To Better Work) by Shawn Achor, author of Before Happiness. It is one of TED’s 25 most popular talks ever with over 20 million views.

The happy secret to better work | Shawn Achor
Shawn Achor: Why happiness inspires productivity rather than the reverse.

Final Words

  • People spend their lives chasing success. They make plans, they toil hard, and they give up everything that gives them joy. But in the end, they sit there with their trophy feeling empty. The success-at-all-costs generation is now the most unhappy generation. So, find your happiness first.
  • We always want to be shining examples full of verve and passion. But there will be periods when we are rather sulky and passive. It could be an after-effect of a calamity, a result of boredom, or a mental illness. Whenever you feel it has gotten overwhelming, seek help from professionals to help you get better.
  • Develop a good-enough (not the perfect) strategy to start with. Create daily to-do lists that enable you to achieve the big goals step-by-step. So, take a step forward: Do one little thing of solid importance today.

There is no substitute to working at your success plan every single day.

• • •

[Stephanie Norman wrote an earlier, shorter version of this article. Revised, edited, and re-written by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher.]

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√ Also Read: 12+ Decision-Making Biases (That Can Ruin Your Success)

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When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Going to therapy to feel better is a positive choice. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns.