10 Major Differences Between Successful and Unsuccessful People


Differences Successful Unsuccessful People

So, you want to be successful? Then you will have to study what successful people did and replicate their results. This is why it is important to find out what are the major differences between successful and unsuccessful people.

You want to do more of what will make you successful, and at the same time, do less of what make you unsuccessful.

Think about it as hiking a mountain. Take a look at this picture below:

Imagine you are the person in the picture. Well, to get to the submit, there are 2 options for you to follow:

  1. Follow the trail, or
  2. Go your own way.

What would you do? Are you going to follow the trail that people who have submitted the mountain left behind, or are you going to create your own path?

The answer is obvious, isn’t it?

No matter what you want to achieve in life, someone has done it. And that means, you can study what that person did and follow his footsteps. Do what works and abandon what doesn’t work. The same principle applies when it comes to achieving the success you want in life.

This is why you want to study successful people and understand what they have done that got them the amazing results, so that you can replicate and create something similar or even better.

Below are the 10 major differences between successful and unsuccessful people. Do what successful people do and you will eventually produce the same results as them.

Differences Successful Unsuccessful People infographics

1. What They Think and Talk About Most of the Time

One of the biggest differences between great people and ordinary people is what they think and talk about most of the time.

Do you know what successful people think and talk about most of the time? They think about success, they talk about their dreams, they discuss about their business and how they can get there.

On the other hand, unsuccessful people will spend most of their time thinking about what games to play, what to do tonight, they discuss about the latest movie to watch, they talk about other people and wonder why others are lucky to be successful.

You Are What You Think and Talk about Most of the Time

successful people

So, what do you think and talk about most of the time? You know your answer.

Your thinking will affect your result. What you think MATTERS!

Two persons work in the same industry at the same job in a different company. Both are working hard but their bosses are mean and always scold them.

They both recall what their father used to tell them, “It’s just work and to put food on the table anyway.”

So the first person follows through and continues to work hard despite having a mean boss. This is because to him, it is just work and to put food on the table, so he can take it.

The second person thinks differently. He tells himself that it’s just work and to put food on the table. He can survive even without the job and he can still put food on the table working on other things.

So after 5 years, the first person still works in the same place and in the same job. The second person started his own business and changed his life from the inside out.

The story above shows that your thinking does matter.

You are who you think you are. And you will become what you think about most of the time.

Read: What Kind of A Thinker Are You? Emotional, Logical or Spiritual: Quiz

Make It A Commitment

When you are 100% committed to success, you will think about it all the time. You will talk about it all the time and you will take action and do something to achieve it. When you are committed, you will do whatever it takes. You will force yourself to think about your goals and talk about your dreams.

You can greatly increase your chances to create a new thinking pattern that support your success. This is why people write down their goals often, they use vision boards to remind themselves about their goals and dreams, they read about success, they use affirmations and declarations to create a new set of thinking and of course, they take action to align their thinking and their lives.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Set goals. Write your goals every day and review them daily.
  • Create a vision board. Look into the board and use your imagination to visualize your success every day.
  • Create your affirmations or declarations.
  • Mix with the right group of people who will always support you and talk about great things.

2. How They Perceive Responsibility

One of the most important keys to success is none other than taking full responsibility for what happens in your life. If you read The Success Principles written by Jack Canfield, by the way, it is an amazing book I strongly recommend you read, you will understand why taking 100% responsibility is the ultimate key to success.

Successful people take responsibility for their life and unsuccessful people always blame, give excuses and complain.

When you are taking responsibility for your life, you are in control.

For example, what would you say when your business is not doing well in a tough economy?

You can blame the economy, but this is not going to help you improve your business because you simply can’t change the economy. Instead of saying that your business is getting affected by the soft economy and you can’t do much, take the responsibility and learn the hard way from the tough economy.

And so you can then create plans to improve your business. The same like giving excuses. When you make excuses, you are giving away the power to control the situation.

When you say you don’t have the skill or time, or you have no idea how to do it, you are turning off your brain to think.

Event + Response = Outcome

We can’t control whatever that is going to happen to our life. We can’t control which family we were born into. We can’t control certain event in our lives.

However, we can definitely control our response to it.

If you are stuck in the jam, you can choose how you want to response. Some people will get angry and drive recklessly. Some people will just enjoy the songs from their radio. So you see, same event, but with different responses, you will get different outcomes.

Hence, stop playing the blame game. Stop giving excuses. If you are not successful, it is because you don’t take responsibility for it. It is not because that you don’t have the time. It is not because of the economy. It is not because of your competitor. It is also not because of your family.

It is because of YOU. Change your thinking, start taking responsibility and your life will change.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Try to be conscious and take note of your thinking.
  • If your thinking does not support you, take responsibility for it, and change it. You are the one who makes up the thought anyway.
  • Whenever you are blaming or giving excuses, say ‘cancel’ out loud and change your thinking.

Read: 10 Great Life Lessons To Learn From Experiences

3. Their Consistency


One very powerful habit you want to adopt to succeed in life is to be consistent about what you want and what you do.

Successful people are consistent with their dreams and their goals. They persist with what they want and they take consistent action day in and day out.

Unsuccessful people are not consistent with what they want. They jump from businesses to businesses and they hop from one opportunity to the next when things don’t work out. They take action only in the first week and are they never follow through and are not consistent with their effort.

This is what separates the extraordinary from the ordinary. Extraordinary people do the ‘extra’. They take more action and they are very consistent.

Do you know that everyone can becomes a millionaire as long as they save a small portion of their money and invested at a small return for a period of time?

The problem is that most people are not consistent.

Most people understand that they can become wealthy through long-term investment, but the problem is that most people are not consistent and they give up after a few months of savings and investing.

Do you have a dream or any goal that you wanted to pursue but you never really bother much on taking action?

You need to be consistent. Focusing and working on the small detail every single day. And eventually the small results will accumulate and become huge success.

Success Takes Time

Lionel Messi, the football star once said:

“I start early, and I stay late. Day after day after day. Year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.”

Rome was not built in a day. Apple did not become an overnight success. Most people I know did not become a millionaire overnight.

It takes time to build the success you want. You have to understand the Law of Gestation for this. Building a successful business requires years of consistent effort. It is not a one-time-hit kind of thing. It is not that you start and form a company today, and tomorrow you will be successful. I sure hope it works this way, but unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Everything requires time. A dog takes about 60 days from conception until born. A rabbit gestation period is about 30 days. And a carrot takes about 70 days from the time you plant it until fully grown.

The same goes for your success. It requires time. So be consistent with your dreams and your goals.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Be consistent with what you want. Don’t jump from opportunities to another. Focus until you become successful.
  • Success takes time. Just believe and trust that things will work out.
  • Take consistent action every single day.

4. Admiration VS Resentment

Do you admire rich and successful people? When you see someone driving luxury car, what is your first thought? Are you thinking that the guy who drives the car must be lucky or probably he has a rich family or he must be cheating to get rich?

Well, if you resent rich and successful people, guess what, you won’t be rich and successful.

The thing is that you will never get more of what you resent, right?

If you hate listening to rap songs, do you think you will save a lot of rap songs on your computer or your phone? Chances are, no.

What about if you resent people who are rich and have a lot of money? Do you think you will have a lot of money in the bank? Chances are not going to be high, right?

Think about it.

Successful people admire other successful people. Unsuccessful people resent successful people. It is so obvious that most of us don’t realize this. Due to our past conditioning from people around us, we learn how and what to think about other people.

When you were a kid, your father will probably tell you that if you want to get rich, you need to work hard. Which is only true to a certain extend.

And this is also the reason most people are not rich and they are working so hard. They thought that as long as they don’t work hard enough, they don’t deserve the money.

We have been conditioned since we were children. Again, there is no right or wrong, as long as what we believe doesn’t support and empower us, we should change it.

So change the way you look at things from now on. When you see someone successful, bless and admire him. Learn from him and understand how he achieved it.

When you resent and hate successful people, you will never want to understand them and you will never learn how they achieve their success. Get it?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Start admiring and learn from other successful people
  • Mix around with other successful people and rich people, learn how they think and their strategies.
  • Follow great leaders in social media.
  • You can even write a thank you note to these great people and tell them how they have inspired you.

5. Dream Big and Start Small

Successful people dream big and they start small. Unsuccessful people dream small and they act big.

Your playing small will never contribute and help to make the world a better place. If you truly wanted to serve, think big and start working on it.

Some people will tell you that they don’t need that much money or they don’t really need to be that successful. All they want is to have enough to pay their bills and to live by.

Wrong. If you aim for the moon and when you fall, you will somehow still be with the stars. Unsuccessful people aim for the ceiling, so guess where would they hit if they miss?

Did you get the point? You have to dream bigger in order to achieve greater results.

There is a saying:

If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.

So are you feeling excited when you think about your dreams and goals? Earning an additional $100 a month is not going to excite you.

Earning good money, driving your dream car, living in your dream house by the sea, having your own company, getting to donate your money, help those who are in need, take care of your children and wife, and giving your parents a good life might give you more motivation.

This is why you want to think BIG. Of course, those are just examples. What motivates you may be different than mine.

Related: 13 Signs You May Be Wasting Your Life

Acting Small

You dream big and you act small. The problem with most people is that they dream big and they wanted to act big as well. They thought that success is about making that one big decision and taking that one big action.

No, it is often the opposite. Success is all about taking small consistent actions day in and day out, until you hit the tipping point and it overflows. This is when success will happen.

Writing a book in a go may seem impossible. However, when you break it down into chapters, from chapters into sections, from sections into pages, from pages into paragraphs and from paragraphs into sentences, you will notice that you can get the whole book written as long as you start with the sentences.

The same principle applies in every area of your life. Laying a brick a time over time will build you a wall. That is how China’s Great Wall was built centuries ago. One brick at a time.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t just dream big, dream bigger! Your imagination is the most powerful tool at your arsenal. Use it wisely.
  • Act small and act consistently. Check out this guide: Why Start Small? The 5 Important Benefits of Starting Small
  • Success is a marathon and not a sprint. Create a plan and follow through it every day.
  • Take action every day. Improve your plan when necessary but never give up on what you want.

6. Dare to Be Different

Successful people dare to be different and do things out of the box. Unsuccessful people don’t venture out of the norm and they just wanted to be the same like everybody.

Take a minute now to think about how you have gone through your life all this while. Do you follow through the crowd?

Do you choose to study the subject you want or your parents want you to? Or perhaps you choose base on location or friends? Are you doing things that you love and you wanted to do on your own? Or do you do things because everyone does the same?

The majority of the people out there don’t dare venture out of their comfort zone. They will do things accordingly and become ordinary like most people.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said it during one of his speeches. He said that you have to break the rules (not the law) if you want to be successful.

It is difficult to be great at something if you are too ordinary. You need to have something that will shine and make you special and unique.

On the other hand, if you read the biographies of extraordinary people such as Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Martin Luther King, etc, you will notice that they are ‘different’ than most people.

Steve Jobs ventured into India when he was young to study Zen. He has his own thinking with design and this is what makes him so successful with Apple’s design.

Warren buffett, started to invest at a very young age while other kids are still playing around. This is what made him different than others.

successful and unsuccessful people

Same goes for Richard Branson. He took a different path and started his business at the age of 16. Running a magazine called Student.

Somehow this leads to starting a record business call Virgin Records, and then the Virgin brand started to expand and grow into many other industries. And the rest is history.

So, do you dare to be different? Do you dare to dream big, take action, fail, and when people tell you it is impossible to do what you want, are you going to still be holding on?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Holding on to your dream is one of the easiest ways to be different from the rest.
  • Persist until you created the result you want, regardless of the naysayers.
  • Dare to be different, dare to fail, and learn from the experience.
  • It is alright to do something new and fail. Just take it as a lesson and improve from there.

7. Have a Long-Term Vision and Set Goals

Successful people are visionary and they set goals.  And Unsuccessful people don’t know what they want and they don’t set goals. Great leaders and extraordinary people are visionary. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, are all visionaries.

They think far into the future and they have their own thought about the future. If you’re not visionary, don’t worry.

Goal setting is something similar to projecting your thought into the future and dream about what you want to accomplish. This is why a vision board can help. Look at the pictures and practise imagining yourself achieving all the things you want.

Being visionary is a skill. And it simply means that anyone can practice it and become better at it.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Read more books. When you read, you tap into other people’s experiences and thoughts.
  • Venture into other industries and try out new things. Go to a new restaurant and travel to other places you have never been to before.
  • Practice visualization with your vision board.
  • Ask thought-provoking questions such as asking “why not?”

Related: Why You Need to Aim High and Set Big Goals in Everything You Do

8. Something Beyond Money

Successful people focus on something beyond money. Unsuccessful people focus on grinding out all the profits and think about making money all the time.

There’s a meaningful quote from Larry Page, one of the founders from Google that said, “If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach.”

Yes, you definitely need to make money from your business. It’s a business, right? However, there seems to be something bigger than the money that successful people are pursuing.

Extraordinary people seem to focus on creating values to the world and society. At the same time, they love to challenge themselves through their businesses.

They love and are extremely passionate with what they do. This is why they are successful.

On the other hand, most people get it wrong and thought that the number one reason to start a business is that they wanted to make a lot of money.

And when you focus in the profit and neglect the values of your business, it will start to fall.

When You Have the Money, You will be Happy?

Here’s where most people get it wrong:

Most people think that once they have the money, they will be happy.

The real principle should be:

Once you are happy, you will be able to accomplish more and you will have more money.

Most people are not motivated by money. You can’t eat money and you definitely don’t want to sleep with money.


What you really want are the feelings that you thought you can buy with money. You want to have money to own the luxury car, the bungalow by the sea you want to spend lavishly and you want to dine in the finest restaurant in town.

These are just ‘physical’ items that you want. But deep down within you the real things you want are the feelings. Why do you want to drive the luxury car? Perhaps you want to prove to others that you have done it? Why do you want to live in a big bungalow instead of just a small terrace house? Perhaps you want others to be proud of you and you want to feel good, right?

So, stop focusing on the money. Instead, focus on the inner process and enjoy the moment. Collect moments, not money.

When you do something beyond money, you will have a better chance of success with it.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Find out your passion and follow your passion, not money.
  • Understand that money is just the ‘tool’ that will connect you with what you want. Money is not the end reward you are looking for.
  • Learn to serve society and create value for the world.
  • Donate and contribute to the charity and people in need.

Related: 9 Core Behaviors of People Who Positively Impact the World

9. Learning and Innovation

When you stop learning, you start dying.

Successful people constantly learn and innovate themselves and their businesses. Unsuccessful people thought they know it all and they refuse to change.

Steve Jobs was once told by his mentor in the early stage that a business has to go through innovation like a caterpillar going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

This is exactly what Steve Jobs did with Apple. Apple revolutionized the music industry with iTunes and iPod. Before that all Apple did was focus in building and selling better computers. After that, Apple ventured into the communication industry and created another revolutionary product, the iPhone.

If you stay in the same place for way too long, you will become obsolete. Either your competitor will put you out of business or the market will change and no longer require what you offer.

This is why you need to constantly learn, innovate, and evolve. Even if you are not in business, you need to consistently improve yourself by reading and push yourself forward continuously.

I remembered long ago when you can still find people selling LD, the laser disc. If you have never heard of it, it is something like a CD, just that it is bigger.

And then the world changed and people started to buy VCD instead of LD. And now it has transformed into DVD and then comes the Blu-ray. Today, people are talking about storing files on Cloud rather than a physical disc.

Can you see it now? Things will keep changing and this is why we need to constantly improve.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Make it a habit for reading. Read at least 30 minutes to an hour each day.
  • Keep your feet wet and constantly update yourself about what is going on in your industry. If you don’t, either your competitor will put you out of the game or you will become obsolete and outdated.
  • Dare to change and improve the way you do things.
  • Expand your horizon by trying new things. Always be open to changes.

Related: 25 Signs You are Already Successful and You’re Simply Unaware

10. The Desire and Commitment

This is one of the major differences between successful and unsuccessful people. Ask yourself: Do you wish to succeed or are you committed to it?

It makes all the difference. Successful people have the burning desire to succeed that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get the result they want. Unsuccessful people lack the desire and they give up when they hit a roadblock.

So, how strong is your desire to achieve what you say you want?

It is said that when you have the desire as strong as you wanted to breathe, then you will be successful. Your desire will move you. Your desire will make you commit. Your desire will motivate you to do whatever it takes.

Therefore, create a burning desire for what you want, and you will absolutely achieve it. You need to develop an insatiable hunger for what you want.

Thomas Edison has a burning desire to invent the light bulb, this was the reason he never gave up after failed more than 10,000 times. The same goes for Colonel Sanders, the person who founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. He had a strong desire to succeed with his fried chicken recipe. And it was this desire that drove him to go through 1,000 rejections before he finally succeed.

What Drives You?

So what drives you? What motivates you to achieve more? What makes you wake up each morning and what is your life’s purpose?

Your entire life should be aligned to things that you desire to be, do and have. You have to find out your life’s purpose; find out what makes you happy and what kind of life you want to have.

When you know what your core motivation is and what you desire for, nothing can stop you.

Most people hold back because they doubt themselves and they are unsure of what they truly want.

If you seriously desire for something, you will commit to achieve it and do whatever it takes.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Find out what drives you. What do you desire to be, do, and have in your life?
  • What is the one thing that you will do if you know you couldn’t fail?

The Conclusion

There are many differences between successful and unsuccessful people. These 10 major differences are that in my opinion, the most important and obvious.

You don’t have to follow through exactly what I have to say here. Perhaps you have your own way of doing. Remember, if your way doesn’t work, you may want to try out something different.

Understand these differences. Learn them and apply the principles behind when the time comes.

Let me know what you think about this article via the comment section below.

Written by: Shawn Lim
Originally appeared on Stunning Motivation

Differences Successful Unsuccessful People pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

5 Things That Hold You Back From Achieving Your Dreams

Things That Hold You Back From Achieving Your Dreams

Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get out of it? Achieving your dreams and achieving your goals can feel intimidating when there are things that hold you back, more like, obstacles. Read on to know more about the things that stop you from achieving your goals.


Five main obstacles stop people from achieving their career dreams.

Fear of failure is high on the list.

There are workable strategies for overcoming the main career obstacles.

Up Next

How Can I Become More Confident: 10 Effective Tips To Gain Confidence and Boost Self-Esteem!

How Can I Become More Confident in Transformative Ways!

Confidence, in the vast theatre of life, is like a bright floodlight that shines on everything we do. It’s as if it’s a magic ingredient that changes ambiguity to attractiveness, indecision to elegance, and doubt to faith.

When people ask how can I become more confident? It often feels like they are asking how do I stop being scared and worried.

If you are going through similar struggles, don’t worry we have got you covered!

This article is just like a friendly guide that looks into everything affecting your confidence level. We will give you simple tools for breaking free from self-doubt and finding your self-confidence.

Up Next

Finding Your Way: 10 Steps To Move Forward When You Feel Stuck

When You Feel Stuck: Steps For Moving Forward In Life

When you feel stuck, it can make you feel like you are caught in quicksand and you are sinking and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get out of it. But there’s always a way out of every sticky situation in life. Whenever you are feeling stuck in a rut, remind yourself of these 10 things you can do to stop feeling so bogged down.

Let’s explore what to do when you feel stuck and how to stop feeling stuck in life.


The sooner you can free your thoughts, the better you will feel.

Work on a different

Up Next

7 Reasons Why People With Difficult Childhoods Soar In Resilience: The Phoenix Effect !

Causes People With Difficult Childhoods Soar In Resilience

Growing up is not always an easy journey to be in, is it? And especially for some people, it can be particularly difficult, and traumatic even. However, people with difficult childhoods, more often than not, are the ones who grow up to be extremely resilient. The situations that could have knocked them down for good, they use those situations to become even stronger.

Every time they are knocked down, they get back up and do what they need to do to thrive. It’s nothing less than a superpower! Resilient adults overcoming a cruel past is one of the most inspirational things to witness.

This article is

Up Next

How To Not Be Awkward Around People: 10 Effortless Steps

How To Not Be Awkward Around People In Easy Steps

Social situations can be challenging, but with some simple techniques, you can feel more comfortable and confident in your interactions. Figuring out how to not be awkward around people doesn’t have to be complicated.

In this guide, we will explore effective strategies and proven methods for navigating these delicate social encounters, enabling you to foster a supportive and inclusive environment while ensuring everyone feels valued and respected.

Socially Awkward Meaning  

Socially awkward behavior refers to feeling uncomfortable or out of place in social situations. It often involves experiencing anxiety, struggling to initiate or maintain c

Up Next

25+ Matthew Perry Quotes: A Tribute To ‘Chandler Bing’ – The King of Sarcasm

To the one who brought Chandler Bing to life in the beloved TV show Friends. Get ready to laugh through your tears as we pay tribute to the one and only “King of Sarcasm” – with Matthew Perry quotes.

Yes, you heard that right – our beloved Chandler Bing, who could make a joke out of any awkward situation, left us way too soon at the age of 54.

Let’s take a moment to remember the man who brought laughter and snark to our screens, with some of his most iconic quotes. It’s going to be a blend of sadness and humor, just like the man himself. So grab your coffee, and let’s dive into the wit and wisdom with these Matthew Perry quotes.

Up Next

40+ Quotes About Adventure And Life To Awaken Your Wanderlust

Best Quotes About Adventure And Life To Inspire You

Someone once said, ‘Adventure is worthwhile in itself.’ And indeed, it is! Today, we’ll embark on a journey through the wisdom of some remarkable quotes about adventure and life.

Are you ready to embark on a journey through the enchanting world of quotes about adventure and travel to ignite your wanderlust? Well, adventure is like a siren’s call, beckoning us to explore the unknown, to seek out new horizons, and to embrace the thrill of the unexpected.

Inspirational Quotes About Adventure And Life

Whether you’re a seasoned