The #1 Thing You Need to Be Successful in Life (That Nobody Talks About)

The world abounds with experts purporting to hold the “secret” to success (yes, pun intended for that horrible video The Secret). The thing is, it’s often tied to a gimmick or some program they want you to buy. The reality is that there is one single behavior that I’ve found is instrumental in EVERY aspect of my life – from career success to my health to my relationships to my finances. It impacts EVERYTHING and it is relatively easy to do, yet so few of us exercise the discipline to do so. (and our federal, state and municipal finances would be in much better shape if this were practiced as well)

Want to know what it is?

Read More on the easiest, most basic success factor that most people fail at.

22 thoughts on “The #1 Thing You Need to Be Successful in Life (That Nobody Talks About)”

  1. Oh more thing, slow down smell the roses. Running around lika chicken with its head cut off will not give you a chance to enjoy life, family and such.

  2. I have not read it but i will. I do want to make my prediction on what that ONE thing is.

    Have a rich mommy and daddy.

    OK reading now……..

  3. It”s hard to stay the course on a plan of savings. I think most people are better off with illiquid investments that are hard to sell, so that they have to think for a while before they cash out and spend the money.

    Delayed gratification is certainly a virtuous behavior, unless you take it to extremes. The problem is that if you get good at it, you do tend to take it to extremes. There needs to be a balance.

  4. Hollow Man, true, definitely forces you to do that!

    Jimski – funny, can’t go wrong with rich mommy and daddy LOL!

    Eddie – I totally agree; life’s not worth living if you live as a stingy, boring person who starves themselves of all things present while preparing for the future. Gotta live in the moment as well.

  5. Delayed gratification?

    I would have thought that critical thinking skills would top the list. Couple those with a vast and continually reevaluated base of fundamental facts and you have a shot at success of any kind.

    Critical thinking skills will lead you to delayed gratification and when to apply it but the reverse is not true.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this Darwin, and I think you may be onto something.

    Combine ‘delayed gratification’ with the innate drive to work hard, and not much can stand in your way.

    This reminded me of a point in my early life. I was killing myself working minimum wage jobs, plus commission jobs, and funding college on credit cards (while raising my son too).

    One (rare) night off, we were playing cards with a group of friends and one of the guys told me his factory was hiring. I could have started off at $9 an hour, plus benes, and it was a union gig.

    I passed, said I was doing what I needed to do to make sure that in ten years I wasn’t making $9 plus COLA, or nothing (writing for American mfg was on the wall even back then), and that I was gaining skills and education that would make me marketable in nearly any economy. For years, I was derided for my efforts by friends and family alike.

    Then the factories started shutting down, the opportunities dried up, and the factory-rat workers found out that after 10 years in a factory you are qualified to flip burgers and not much else. As I tell my children, and anyone that asks, a REAL education can NEVER be taken away from you. It is truly one of the few things in life that cannot be stolen.

    My daughter is seven and she has more money saved than most adults. When she was very little (like 1, 1-1/2), I got her a piggy bank and called him the “College Piggy.” Every coin she found (and quite a few she “found” on my dresser) went into College Piggy. Birthday money, Christmas money, all went to College Piggy.

    In Kindergarten she asked for an allowance and we sat down and assigned her extra things she could do to earn money. The only requirements were that she does them without being nagged (reminded yes, nagged no) and that 20% of her allowance goes to College Piggy. Not even two years later and she has saved over $115 for college from her allowance alone.

    With the rest she blows about 15% on crap, 15-50% is spent on books, and the rest is long-term savings where she plans for future purchases. Right now she is saving for a Kindle Fire and over the summer she bought her Wii and a bunch of games (used! she is as frugal as mommy).

    I only wish that my parents had made saving and delaying gratification a normal, healthy, part of my life. Instead I’ve had to fight my materialistic demon that is always trying to justify spending now and saving later.

    Thanks again Darwin, you are right, if our culture began embracing this, it might be amazing what could be quickly accomplished.

  7. Gee, sounds like “DARWIN” has unleashed the one sure fire way to live a perfect life just by delaying instant gratification!

    I will not deny that ‘delaying’ is not an important aspect of building a better future – in almost all aspects of life. But there are many people that did delay instant gratification, worked their ass’s off for a few decades and through no fault of their own ENDED UP WITH NOTHING in the way of financial assets. Just remember this – your most excellent life can change forevere in an instant !
    All it takes is an accident, an illness, two or three years of unemployment, your house to be flooded / desroyed by mother nature, etc and your game is changed.

    Every one of you should keep the following sentance in your mind as you look out over your family and all that you may own – ” It ‘s not very far from a penthouse suite to a cot in the basement” –

  8. TeresaE

    I wonder what you will be telling your child in the future about the virtue of saving money when the value of her money in that piggy bank goes to zero. Maybe you should be teaching her about ‘currency conversion’ by helping her to load up on some Canadian Dollars or some Canadian silver Maple Leafs.

  9. Studies have shown that only around 30% of the population are capable of undertaking delayed gratification. This phenomena can be measured even in young children, and children who are capable/incapable of it hold those positions throughout life. I do not think it can be taught.

  10. Whoa.. Whoa… I should collect my change in a jar UNTIL I have enough to buy a USED cockring. Delayed Gratification. Got it!

  11. Screech – Great point. This country is clearly lacking in critical thinking skills (National Geographic just released a national poll showing 7% of the country believes Planet of the Apes can really happen within a lifetime, as well as other ridiculous sci-fi movies). But in regards to being really smart/lucky, analytical, etc., there are many people that end up in only mildly lucrative jobs that still live a great life in all regards because they’re frugal, in shape, form great relationships, etc. Not always about “outward” success, but sometimes just being happy and financially secure based on a low-cost lifestyle.

    Kill Bill – True, I wish all people used soap. When I travel overseas especially.

    TeresaE – Great story; I’ve had my fair share of regrets in “taking the bait”, like the crappy summer internship I took once which paid better, but did nothing for my development or resume.

    chiefdarkcloud – I’d much rather have a large sum of assets/money for retirement and risk losing some during a crash/hyperinflation than have shit and then have half a shit. And people always deride the stock market due to the crash from a few years back, but for those that didn’t panic and sell, they made it all back; my 401(k) looks great!

    llpoh – You probably can’t “teach” this behavior much like you can’t teach leadership and can’t teach other behaviors, but by reinforcing it and demonstrating by example, you’re at least setting the stage for what normal/acceptable behaviors should be. Apples often don’t fall far from the tree. Many 20-40 somethings I know that have lousy financial habits grew up in households where their parents were pretty bad with money too. The ones with frugal parents seem to do a little better. Just my own anecdotal observation.

    michaelj007 – …if that’s what she likes!

  12. I save at least 20% of my income every year. I now have 5X my income saved. My goal is 20X. I do this automatically thru payroll direct deduction and systematic withdrawals from my bank account. I never see the money and do not miss it.

  13. If you want to save read automatic millionaire. It does not tell you how to invest. It shows you the easiest ways to save.

  14. The key to success is simple – write out your goals and then write an action plan to achieve them. Every successful person in history has mapped out their success. People who fail, or never come close to reaching their goals don’t do this.
    Here’s to your success! 🙂

  15. Chief

    If you do not save you are almost guaranteed to live in the poorhouse. Unless you are lucky and win the lottery.

  16. @Chief.

    She can’t (truly) buy a Wii with silver dollars. Soon some more people will figure it out, but for right now, our customers pay us with fiat, we pay her with fiat, she saves fiat.

    But funny about the conversion, her dad & I disagree greatly about the what is coming. He absolutely does not want to exchange her College Piggy money into silver, while I do. We split the allowance (he pays one week, I pay next) so I’m taking half of CP money (I have two big jars of it hidden away too) and her and I are going to start buying some silver with it here and there.

    She’s only seven, so I can’t get too technical with what is going on, but she likes silver and gold so I think she’ll buy right into it.


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