10 Things Really Successful People Want You to Know

Photo: ThinkstockNot to Sweat the Small Stuff
The thing that's grand about spending your time thinking about the universe is that it makes you feel insignificant. I don't mean that in a bad way. If you understand that we've now discovered entire solar systems that contain planets similar to Earth, and that those are just the ones we know about, since most of the stars we've looked at are within about 300 light-years of Earth and the distance to the center of our galaxy is nearly 100 times that--then you realize that the laundry you've left undone and the dumb thing you said yesterday are about as significant as slime mold.

--Alyssa Goodman, PhD, professor of astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Pace Yourself
A therapist once told me something that's as true now as when I first heard it: "You can only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go."

--Singer Bonnie Raitt, who took a seven-year hiatus from the studio before releasing her new album, Slipstream


The Secret to Trying New Things
People say it's gross that I eat grubs and goat liver, but if you haven't tried it, how do you know? Our brains tell us lies, and if we listen, we cost ourselves surprises. When trying something new, cast off your fear and expectations.

--Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods America

Simple Ways to Look Polished
Start with a great haircut, neat nails, and well-shaped eyebrows (if eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are the frames). Invest in a tailor--and in a few no-fail items that will help you look pulled together: a crisp white shirt, a pencil skirt, a great-fitting shift dress (just add shoes and go!), a tissue-weight scarf, and the perfect jacket. Whether it's a black blazer with a structured shoulder and nipped-in waist or a little leather jacket that looks great over anything, the right jacket projects confidence. And isn't that what polished really means?

--Adam Glassman, O Creative Director

Know When to Quit
After my first book was published in 2000, I spent two and a half years writing a novel. But it never felt right. I didn't even name it--it was the poor, misshapen beast child I kept hidden under my bed. Then I showed it to my agent. "None of the things you do well are in evidence here," she said. I was devastated, then relieved: I had failed, and now I could stop. If you don't feel a shiver of excitement or fear, if there's no emotional risk involved, let it go. You can't discount how hard it will be to leave your bad marriage or stop writing your bad book, but if you're unhappy, nothing can get better as long as the status quo stays the status quo.

--Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls

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How to Delegate
Make certain the people around you have good values, good judgment, and are loyal. Allow them to impress you but be sure they're comfortable coming to you for feedback. Most important, hire people smarter than you!

--Ivanka Trump, executive VP, Trump Organization; principal of Ivanka Trump fashion and accessories lines

Fake It Till You Make It
The philosopher William James believed that acting a certain way could make you feel that way. Hundreds of experiments have proved him right. A Clark University study showed that smiling made people feel happier. (For best results, smile wide and hold for 20 seconds.) At the University of Rochester, when researchers gave subjects an unsolvable problem, those who folded their arms in a stubborn pose persevered nearly twice as long as others. And a study in Singapore revealed that clenching your fist powers your willpower. Try it next time you're avoiding french fries.

--Richard Wiseman, PhD, psychology professor at the UK's University of Hertfordshire and author of the forthcoming book The As If Principle

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How to Laugh at Life
The tap water hits a spoon in the sink and sprays you. You pull a window shade and it just keeps going and going. You can't roll up a garden hose in any dignified way. You have to become a connoisseur of these events--"Wow, look at that, that's great." You have to hope that a higher power is saying, "That was a good one!" And that you're sharing the divine pleasure it's taking in your misfortune.

--Ian Frazier, author of The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days

Not to Waste Time at Your Computer
Disable e-mail sounds. That ding! is a Pavlovian cue to procrastinate, and once you're distracted, it takes 15 minutes to return to being productive.

Create a second log-in, with a different name, theme, and background than your personal account. Use only this one when you're working.

Download Freedom, a program that will block you from going online for whatever length of time you set.

--Piers Steel, PhD, author of The Procrastination Equation

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Make Yourself Heard
I had just graduated college, my loans were coming due, I was working two jobs and counting every penny. Five dollars wasn't a ton of money, but it was enough to piss me off. Having signed petitions on change.org before, I knew it was a good platform. Then I went on Twitter to direct people to my petition. Maybe they weren't concerned about the fee for themselves, but when they saw me, they saw their granddaughter or niece. It's important to connect with people on a visceral level. If there's an issue you care about, start locally: Write a letter to your newspaper or talk about it with your friends and neighbors. Then find others who share your beliefs. As cheesy as it sounds, working together is the only way to achieve anything.

--Molly Katchpole, creator of an online petition that received more than 300,000 signatures and pressured Bank of America to drop a proposed $5 debit card fee

KEEP READING: 5 More Things Really Successful People Know

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