What Are the Best Things To Learn To Be Successful?

When I was eleven, as a gift to my brother and me, my father bought our first gaming console — a PlayStation One.

The only game we had was Jackie Chan Stuntmaster. We couldn’t afford the memory card at the time so, if we shut it down, we had to start from the beginning.

Finishing that game was my ultimate goal in life. It was my measurement of success.

That definition has changed.

At some point, success for me has meant just making it through the week without crashing or standing my ground in a difficult conversation.

To know what you should be learning to be successful, you must first define success on your terms.

The most significant pain in my life happened whenever I chose someone else’s scale to measure my success.

I feel most of us want success in three key areas: wealth, health, and happiness.

Someone said 99% of problems can be solved with money. We’ll assume that success here means, to a great extent, financial success.

It’s not all there is to life, but it sure helps.

Below are things that I believe cut across most areas of success.

1. How to Learn

If there’s only one thing you can learn to be successful on whatever terms, it’s learning how to learn.

Once you gain this skill, you can learn anything else. It primes you to become a learning machine.

Thankfully, if you can afford the internet, there’s a course for this you can take today. Free.

2. How to Write

Good writing is the product of clear thinking. Just the process of getting better at this will improve how you approach every part of your life.

When you think better, you can make better decisions.

Often, success is about making less bad decisions rather than making the right decisions.

Writing well will give you the superpower to articulate ideas and win hearts to whatever cause you’re marching on.

3. How to Communicate Effectively with Written and Spoken Word

This is how you will pitch your ideas, connect with others, share your expertise, and gain credibility.

Even find a spouse.

Effective communication requires an understanding of human psychology and also the subject matter you’re covering at any given time. Whether it’s on the dinner table with your kids or during a startup competition.

You’ll never lose from learning how to write and speak for an audience. You’ll leverage this skill massively to network with others.

4. How to Connect Unrelated Ideas and Skills

James Altucher calls this “idea sex.” When you can create new meaning from two unrelated subjects, you become an instant expert.

Cartoonist Scott Adams did this with writing, drawing, and comedy.

Plus, you don’t even have to be the best at any of the skills or ideas.

You just have to find the intersection that creates a brand new world.

5. How to Focus

It doesn’t matter how hard you work in an increasingly distracted world if you can’t focus enough to move the needle on the projects that matter.

The ability to focus on one thing for a long time is primordial to achieve success.

The positive effects spread into everything. You do your best work when you’re in the flow state — in focus.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy says, by making sure you’re working towards a single outcome, you can massively improve your chances of staying and working from a flow state.

6. How to Love Yourself

Self-love is underrated. I say this all the time because many people act in ways that ruin their lives. If they really cared about themselves — especially their future selves, they’d work in totally different ways. Whether it’s giving in to procrastination or beating oneself over a mistake for years.

Learning to love yourself on this journey to success on your terms means you can forgive yourself. You will need to. Because you will make a lot of mistakes.

If you can’t forgive yourself, you’ll stay stuck.

It also means you’ll have to set boundaries where they are needed. Maybe you have to stop (or start) playing video games or spending too long with people who drain you.

Loving yourself is key to taking care of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

7. How to Make and Invest Money

Things have changed a lot. Jobs lost, new economies created. Financial literacy is no longer something that we can avoid out of our fear of money.

No matter how much money you have, if you don’t know how to make it in uncertain times, or grow it, you will sooner or later be back to zero.

Plus, if you never have enough, you’ll always have to be going after it. You’ll never have time to enjoy the success you seek with the people you care about.

So, learning how to invest in multiple ways will give you a leg up.

8. How to Build Good Habits

If you do anything long enough, and consistently, it becomes a habit.

As the world changes, it will become even more essential to choose which habits to incorporate in your life and make them stick.

Learning is a habit — to keep at it, you have to build systems that allow this to become part of your identity — from meditation to waking early, to saving money and exercise.

James Clear says you don’t rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems. Mr. Clear’s book is a great place to start.

9. How to Discern Right from Lousy Advice

Everyone will give you an opinion on how to live your life. Including me, with this article. That ability to make better judgments about who to listen to and when will positively impact your success odds.

People give advice from their vantage point, and it’s often based on their perspectives. It’s hard to get contextual advice.

That’s why mastering a few mental models is an excellent way to prepare for the unexpected.

And as you know, most of life is just that — unexpected.

10. How to Negotiate

I earned less money at a job than I could because I signed a contract I shouldn’t have. I complained about this to a mentor, and he said:

You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate for.

That has never left me.

Whether it’s the body you have, how much money you make, or the person you choose to marry, you need to realize that everything is a transaction.

And that’s a good thing.

Learning how to negotiate will allow you to find ways out of situations that most people will deem hopeless.

Human psychology plays a significant role here, as well. Noticed a trend?

11. Self-awareness

All the above could give you a leg up, but if you’re climbing up the wrong tree, it’s a total waste of time.

Learn to know yourself. Learn to observe yourself.

Whether it’s through meditation, therapy, self-exploration, whatever. The more you know your weaknesses and your strengths, the faster you will find success on your own terms.

You will anticipate your losses and pay special attention to things you know you can’t do well.

You’ll also reach out to others and collaborate with people who have complementary skills.

Danny Forest, a fantastic teacher and voracious learner himself, wrote a great guide on how to become more self-aware.


In the end, success is to be shared. When you have people around you who know you and are proud of who you are, you’re a super successful person.

It doesn’t matter how much you make if no one cares deeply about you.

You need to define what success means to you, and that could mean that the list of things is way longer, or even shorter, than this subjective list I made.

  • How to learn
  • How to write
  • How to communicate effectively in written and spoken word
  • How to connect unrelated ideas and skills
  • How to focus
  • How to make and invest money
  • How to love yourself
  • How to build good habits
  • How to discern right from lousy advice
  • How to negotiate
  • Self-awareness

When I look back to my Playstation One console, it wasn’t so much completing Jackie Chan Stuntmaster that made me happy.

It was hanging out with my brother.

Success, like most things in life, is better with others.

Originally published on Quora.

Written by

Cameroonian writer and video creator. Featured in LEVEL and P.S. I Love You. I write about building relationships and personal transformation.

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