Everyone wants to be successful. What being successful means can vary from person to person, but it most often involves a combination of financial stability and high social status.
Unfortunately, the factors that lead to success are far more esoteric.
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Many people talk about things like going to college and developing good time management skills, but there are also specific personality traits that can lead to success later in life.
Personality Trait One: Be Ambitious
One factor that has been strongly linked to success is desiring success. In other words, you have to want it more. While it may sound like a simple cliche spouted by high school football coaches, research has shown that teenagers who have higher career aspirations tend to have more career success.
Looking at a study spanning 18 years of data, one team of scientists found young people who rated earning more money as being very important to them actually earned more money as adults.
Personality Trait Two: Have Self-control
The link between self-control and success has been examined numerous times.
The most famous study was the Stanford marshmallow experiment. Children had a marshmallow placed in front of them and were given a choice: either eat the marshmallow now, or wait 15 minutes and get two instead. While the initial experiment was narrow in scope, later studies revealed that kids who didn’t eat the marshmallow had more academic success later in life. They also handled stress better than their less patient counterparts did.
Another study found that subjects with more self-control had better relationships and social skills. They were also less likely to experience binge eating or alcohol abuse.
Personality Trait Three: Be Happy
A number of studies have found a significant correlation between happiness and success.
At first glance this seems obvious. People who are successful are happier, right? Well, that may not be entirely true. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest it may be the other way around.
A 2005 study found that happiness often comes before success rather than afterward. In addition, happiness often leads to other behaviors that correlate with being successful.
Personality Trait Four: Be Likeable
The popular kid is a common trope in film and television, whether it’s the quarterback of the football team or the head of the cheerleading squad. When the former popular kid is seen later in life, it’s always displayed as a sad fall from glory.
The handsome jock is now fat and balding, working a dead-end job with no career prospects. However, research indicates that those who are popular in school are often more successful later in life, not less.
One study asked high school students to nominate up to three of their best friends. When researchers contacted the students 35 years later, they found that those who had received the most nominations were also the most financially successful.
The top fifth of students by popularity earned 10 percent more than the bottom fifth, and each nomination received was associated with a two-percent increase in wages. Being popular is school is often the result of strong social skills cultivated throughout childhood, and those same social skills can lead to success later in life.
Personality Trait Five: Be Angry
Being angry seems to be in opposition to the previous two traits, being happy and likeable; however, humans are fickle beings.
An aggregate of four different studies found that subjects conferred a higher status as well as a higher salary to people who showed anger than those who showed sadness. Angry politicians were also given more support than sad ones. This phenomenon seems to stem from a subconscious association.
People who display expressions of anger are seen as competent, whereas people who show sadness are not.