What Successful Women Do Differently

Why do some women succeed while others fail?

How do successful women set the stage for the next promotion, higher salaries, or stellar performance?

Does it take:

  • A high IQ?
  • Personality?
  • Good looks?
  • Talent?

Implementation of effective strategies and persistence ultimately determine who’s more likely to succeed. In other words, it’s all about the goals. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. What matters is your ability to set specific goals, seize opportunities and act on them.

Success comes to women who believe they can succeed, but it also requires a specific plan that won’t be abandoned, even during tough times. Winning women also know that success may not come easily, but they remain focused on progress, monitor milestones and recognize what still needs to be done. They don’t let up.

High performing women have grit. They know obstacles are inevitable and find a way around them. They develop their abilities by finding solutions to setbacks. They build willpower by using it like a muscle—anticipating when they’re vulnerable, avoiding temptations, and preparing contingency plans and coping strategies.

Successful women focus on what they will do, rather than what they won’t do — a tactic that fosters positive energy. They know success depends on adapting to challenges and persisting, even when they’re ready to wave the white flag.

Successful women use goals effectively and take them seriously. If you want to increase your likelihood of success, the following leadership strategies are key factors that influence performance. They are relatively straightforward and easy to apply, but don’t skip them because they seem “obvious.”

  1. Be Specific. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated. Outline what you must do on a daily basis to realize your desired results. Which actions must you take to be a better manager/spouse/parent/friend or perhaps eat more healthfully? What will success look like when you’re there?
  1. Seize the Moment. Predetermine when and where you’ll take action to avoid the traps of distractions and other competing commitments. The best tactic is “if/then” planning: If X happens, I will do Y.
  1. Accurately Gauge the Distance. Decide how often you’ll evaluate your progress. Determine where you’ll gather information: Can you self-assess, or will you need others’ feedback? Create reminders to perform your assessments. To stay motivated, remind yourself of the tasks that remain for goal completion.
  1. Be a Realistic Optimist. If you’re full of self-doubt, recall some of the goals you’ve achieved in the past and what it took to pull them off. Visualize how you’ll deal with looming challenges. What’s your Plan B? Use if/then planning.
  1. Focus on Getting Better, Rather Than Being Good. When faced with a new and difficult project, budget the time needed to get a handle on it. It’s OK to make mistakes. Take advantage of others’ expertise and ask for help. Don’t compare yourself to others — only to your past performance. Are you improving?
  1. Have Grit. Grit is the willingness to commit to long-term goals and endure in spite of difficulties. Improvement is always Successful professionals understand that their abilities are far from fixed. They believe they can improve through practice.
  1. Strengthen Your Willpower Muscle. Willpower is depleted with use. Rest helps you recover quickly and remain positive. Reinforce your willpower muscle with small tasks: Take the stairs, make your bed, and show up on time.
  1. Don’t Tempt Fate. If you hang around a barber shop, you’ll eventually get a haircut. Stick with the winners. Avoid thinking you can cheat “just a little.”
  1. Focus on What You Will Do — Not on What You Won’t Many goals involve not doing something. Framing them in this way strengthens self-sabotaging impulses. Substitute if/then planning: “If I feel the urge to ________, then I will_______ instead.”