7 Mental Habits of Highly Successful People

#5: Flexible expectations

Nick Wignall
6 min readMay 21


Photo by Ono Kosuki

Here’s my argument for this essay:

Successful people tend to have good relationships with their own minds.

When I get to know people who have been successful — and I use that term successful in a pretty broad sense — it seems to me that many of them have an uncommonly positive relationship with themselves.

For example:

  • One of the marks of a healthy self-relationship is that you don’t fall into self-criticism very often or too intensely.
  • Successful people tend to be quite reflective and honest about their shortcomings.
  • But they also tend to avoid the more unhelpful and destructive end of that continuum — self-judgment, rumination, negative self-talk, etc.

Of course, there are plenty of people who are very successful despite not having a great relationship with themselves. But the exception doesn’t prove the rule.

It’s my experience that when you look carefully at people who have achieved and maintained some amount of meaningful success in their life, one of the hidden factors behind that success is that they don’t get sabotaged and derailed by their own thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.

It’s a lot easier to be successful when you have a good relationship with your own mind.

Here are 7 mental habits I’ve observed in highly successful people that we can all learn from — whatever your definition of success is.

1. They acknowledge their emotions early

It’s hard to be successful in any part of life if you constantly get overwhelmed by painful emotions. Of course, we all experience difficult emotions like fear, sadness, or anger. But why is it that some people manage these feelings relatively well while others don’t?

It’s easier to manage difficult emotions when you catch them early.

Most people get overwhelmed by painful emotions because they ignore them or distract themselves when those emotions are small. While this feels good in…



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com