More than the ability to absorb a mother lode of information or having an exceptionally high IQ, true smarts means having the ability to navigate through life by making sound decisions and having the knack of turning a disadvantageous situation to your favour.
Here are 16 things smart people do differently that play a huge role in their success:
1) They save money wherever they can
Smart people know how to handle their finances. They know the difference between a “need” and a “want”, and practice self-restraint should they feel like they might “want” something beyond their means. They take stock of the resources they have at their disposal and utilise them as much as possible.
2) They are independent
While they have family and friends for support, smart people know that ultimately, they would have to rely on themselves to achieve their goals. Self-reliance builds the strength of character one needs to stay upbeat through challenging times.
3) They act responsibly
Being responsible is not synonymous with being boring. Smart people will have an after-work drink with their colleagues, but will go home earlier than the rest because they have to wake up at 5AM for a running session. They know how to strike a balance between having fun and sticking to their commitments. This discipline translates to a more organised and efficient lifestyle, which would work to your advantage regardless of what life stage you’re in.
Also, acting responsibly means not taking more risks than what’s necessary. While there’s no guarantee that moving to a new country or investing in the stock market will yield the rewards you expect, at least do your homework by evaluating all the pros and cons of each situation.
4) They are not afraid to challenge current belief systems
How we perceive the world has been shaped by our immediate environment, our educational background, and the people we interact with. When faced with a challenging situation or an opinion that’s different with theirs, smart people are not easily swayed to change their stand. But at the same time, they are not afraid to question what they know if the situation calls for a more progressive mindset.
Smart people know how to adapt to changing times, which allows them to grow as individuals. Like them, you shouldn’t pass up on opportunities to broaden your perspectives and gain valuable life experiences.\
5) The mistakes they’ve committed in the past don’t define who they are
Mistakes are a part of life. There will be events that will veer us away from our best-laid plans. You can’t always have everything under your control and there will be scenarios that you won’t be able to anticipate and prepare for.
Arrogant people often look for excuses and someone else to blame for their misfortune. Smart people, on the other hand, seek feedback on what went wrong and on how they can do things differently the next time, and are not afraid to start from scratch. Past mistakes do not paralyse them into inaction, fearing that they would make the same mistakes again. Rather, they see these as experiences that will make them better, stronger, and wiser.
While the past cannot be changed, it should not be allowed to interfere with future achievements. Learn what you can from it and let it go.
6) They know that hard work trumps luck
Smart people don’t just hope for the best; they put in a lot of time and effort to make sure they succeed in every endeavor they embark on.
7) They pay attention to details
Smart people are successful because of their painstaking attention to detail. From spotting grammatical errors to choosing the right pair of earrings for a job interview to organising seating arrangements, being detail-oriented shows that they want every task to be excellently done, or not done at all.
8) They let their actions speak for themselves
Smart people value their credibility, and do not make statements they could not back up with concrete action. They are people known for their achievements, and are respected because of them.
9) They embrace opportunities to learn
Smart people do not aim to be perfect; they know that there is no such thing. Instead, they aspire to evolve and become the best versions of themselves through constant learning. They examine, redefine, and update their skills and acquire new ones.
10) They nurture their passions and fight for what they believe in
Maybe you’ve experienced this first hand or have friends who did: Parents and well-meaning elders critical of college degrees that were considered impractical or were not income generating; society scoffing at idealistic individuals who want to jump social change and more.
Smart people have stood their ground and have remained faithful to their passions despite the lack of support and encouragement. They listen to constructive criticism and patiently hone their ideas until they find an appreciative audience. Imagine how many thought-provoking movies, books, and art pieces would not be here today if those ideas had been abandoned because they were too controversial or ahead of their time. Imagine how many revolutions would have failed if there were no people who championed them.
11) They use gadgets to lead richer, fuller lives
Smart people use gadgets for purposes more beneficial than posting real-time updates on social media networks. They use it to browse the World Wide Web and continuously learn new information. They download apps on their smartphones and tablets to help them organise schedules, manage projects, keep track of their spending, navigate through a new city, find good restaurants in a foreign country, and accomplish things that make their lives more convenient.
12) While they aim to maximise their potential, they also know their limits
Even the toughest go-getters among us can break down, and this is because they just don’t know when to stop. Smart people know that an insatiable drive to compete and achieve can be physically and mentally exhausting. What’s more, this can make them forget other aspects of their lives that are just as important like health, family, and friendships. Smart people take a step back to regroup and re-evaluate their priorities. They’ve realised there’s no point in being successful if they’re not fit enough to enjoy its perks and there’s no one to share it with.
13) They choose their battles
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an artist, an actor, a student, or a senior executive in a multinational organisation, you will encounter people whose opinions and work ethics clash with yours.
In the event of a disagreement, smart people know when to fight for their convictions and when to avoid an argument and just walk away.
14) They know when to exercise humility
To feel pride, or a deep satisfaction over one’s achievements, is completely natural. To be consumed by it, however, is a different story. You might find yourself rejecting a good idea just because someone else thought of it first.
Smart people know how to keep their pride in check, are open to suggestions, and seek opportunities to collaborate with others.
15) They have a Plan B, C, and D
There might be unforeseen circumstances beyond our control that could affect task timelines and outcomes. Smart people have backup plans and contingencies in case the original plan does not work out.
16) They go through life with eyes wide open
Smart people know that life won’t be easy. They’re fully aware that there will be disappointments, betrayals, and stumbling blocks along the way that will thwart their efforts. But they are also capable of bouncing back with confidence and gusto. Smart people won’t shy away from challenges; they relish the thrill of conquering each one they’ll face. It makes each day even more colourful and fulfilling.