The truth is, 95 percent of the things we do in our lives can and should be done either by someone else or by automation tools. Successful people focus on the five percent of things only they can do: they optimize their time so that they spend most of it doing the things they do better than anyone else in the world. They don’t try to do it all. They know this only leads to disaster.
Most importantly, they’ve defined success for themselves. They aren’t trying to measure up to some cultural or societal standards of success. They don’t care what other people think of them. They live their life on their own terms.
The following are a few key things successful people do to do less and live more.
1. They don’t waste decades of their life off-course.
Most people spend years, sometimes decades of their life on an undesired path. They’ve in-authentically, following cultural and social norms and eventually found themselves in a mid-life identity crisis. Although identity crisis is fundamental to identity achievement, the goal is to get this out of the way sooner rather than later—like, in your 20s and 30s rather than your 50s and 60s.
2. They correct their course quickly.
Airplanes are off course 90 percent of the time. Yet, they almost always arrive at their final destination on time by incessant course corrections throughout the flight. Because they correct themselves so quickly, getting back on course is easy. If they weren’t so intense about their course corrections, they’d be extremely late or never make it.
Likewise, successful people have an internally correcting system. The more narrow and aerodynamic they can get, the less time and energy they spend getting where they want to go.
3. They remove non-essential garbage from their lives.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
— Leonardo De Vinci
Successful people live minimally. They removed all the non-essential physical, mental, and relational baggage bogging them down. Their lives are built on fundamentals. They avoid excess. They say no to almost everything.
4. They skip non-essential steps most people take.
Most people climb ladders vertically. Successful people switch ladders laterally. Almost all of the United States Presidents spent less time in politics than the average Congressman. The best, and most popular Presidents, spent the least amount of time in politics. Ronald Reagan was an actor. Dwight Eisenhower laterally shifted from the military. Woodrow Wilson bounced over from academia.
Rather than spending decades climbing the tedious ladder with glass ceilings, they simply jumped laterally from a different, non-political ladder. They reached the top by skipping the unnecessary “dues-paying” steps.