No matter how good you are, throughout your life and career, you’re going to meet people who are more talented or educated than you are. That doesn’t have to mean they’re going to be more successful than you are.

In many ways, the level of success that we achieve is based on the choices we make. And those choices have nothing to do with natural talent.

Here are ten things you can do to be more successful right now (that have nothing to with your credentials or talent).

1. Get a good night’s sleep. When you show up to work sleep-deprived, you won’t be at your best. Being tired limits your energy, creativity and decision-making ability. Getting a decent night’s sleep alone gives you an advantage over those who are showing up groggy or hitting a mid-day slump.

2. Show up on time or early. Even if you have a flexible schedule, your boss notices when you show up for work. You’ll make a better impression, and get more done, if you arrive before you absolutely have to be there and are already working when the shift starts.

3. Be prepared. Make sure that you have all of the information you need before every meeting. Read materials in advance. Get your tools or equipment ready to use before you actually need them. Do your research before job interviews. Practice answering tough questions. Know your route before you set out. People who are prepared outperform those who are trying to wing it.

4. Work diligently as hard as you can no matter the task. A positive work ethic makes an impression. We all have to work at some jobs we like more than others or tasks within jobs that we enjoy more or less. But anything worth doing is worth doing well. Whatever you are working on, give it your all. Doing a half-assed job never made anybody happy.

5. Put in more effort than is required. Rather than accomplishing what is necessary, why not find out what is actually possible? How much effort we put into a task is a choice we make – and it directly affects the outcomes.

6. Maintain friendly and positive body language. Perception matters, and people are more influenced by nonverbal communications than by the words you actually say. Strong eye contact, a firm handshake, and a warm smile go a long way.

7. Have an enthusiastic and optimistic attitude. Be passionate about the team and the work. Your attitude isn’t some esoteric state that you are stuck with; it’s a choice. Choose to believe in and care about the success of your work. You will be miles ahead of the people who are just phoning it in.

8. Continuously learn. Acquiring new skills on the job, accepting feedback from others, and learning from setbacks are the keys to career advancement. Keeping up with the trends and technologies of your time will be essential for career longevity. People who stop learning once they’re hired and routinely do the same things day after day at work are doomed.

09. Help other people to succeed. Your biggest career assets are those people who think well of you and your work, who would relish the chance to work with you again or would recommend you to others. That’s your network. The more people you can help out at work or in your other activities or personal life, the bigger your network will be. But that’s not why you should help other people. You should help them because you can. Because it’s nice.

10. Stay late. Don’t be a 4:59er. Work more than just the minutes you’re paid for. See how much can get down in a day. Don’t moan and complain about having to work late for a product launch or project crunch. It’s all part of the adventure. Be proud to be a part of the team that’s getting it done, that’s going above and beyond. It is through going above and beyond, doing more, pitching in, that real career advancement comes from.


You don’t need to have longest list of credentials after your name or be born with the most natural talent in order to rise to the top. We invent our careers (and ourselves) through the choices we make. Showing up early and prepared, working passionately and harder than your peers, learning on-the-job, and not accepting good enough as good enough are all choices. And they are more important than anything on your resume.

See also:


– Follow Workopolis on Twitter

– Sign up for the Workopolis Weekly newsletter

– Listen to Safe for Work, the Workopolis podcast