We all want to be successful, right? Whether success means getting that promotion you’ve been longing for, quitting your job and going freelance, or hiring your first employee. We’ve outlined some of the best habits of successful people for freelancers, contractors and small business owners.

Eight of the best habits of successful people

#SorryNotSorry

Unless you’re genuinely sorry for doing something wrong or interrupting, never start sentences with the word “sorry”. We all do it and it isn’t needed. What are you apologising for? The fact you asked a question or wanted some advice? Don’t undermine yourself – and move on from repeatedly saying sorry in the workplace.

“I’m just…”

I’m just writing to say that we need to stop sending emails that give justification. Much like its counterpart “sorry”, “I’m just…” is an undermining qualifier. Start emails without it and you’ll instantly sound a lot more professional and confident.

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

Introduce yourself to all and sundry. It might sound obvious, but you never truly know when a connection might occur. Perfect your elevator pitch and sell yourself with every interaction you make. Be polite, courteous, and respectful to everyone from the cleaner to the CEO – you never know who’s listening in and first impressions count.

Take ownership

Have you done something wrong but not been able to ‘fess up? Taking ownership of responsibilities, problems, and work-related issues can take a lot of courage. We can all be very quick to point the blame at others or technology. As Harvard Business Review puts it “fixating on blame delays taking corrective action and inhibits learning. Focusing on responsibility offers a sense of peace”.

Develop

Seek new opportunities. Network. Take online courses. Read for fun. Developing your skill set doesn’t have to be strictly for office hours only. If you’re thinking about freelancing, consider moonlighting before taking the plunge. This will help you develop the skills and knowledge before freelancing full time.

For employees, make sure your boss is reviewing your performance regularly. Ask for one-to-one meetings and enquire about what they think is working and what could be improved. Ultimately, you’re in charge of the direction and development your career takes – so take the reigns.

Value your work

Take pride in yourself and your work. Ask for regular feedback, seek methods of how you can improve. If you’re a freelancer, set a realistic and reasonable rate and (if you can avoid it) don’t work for free

Report all harassment – no matter how big or small. Whether you’re a man or a woman, harassment that’s verbal, sexual, or otherwise is not okay. Speak to someone and report it if you experience it.

Be career-aware

Think about what you want to achieve in the next five years. What are the steps that can get you there? Are you going to have to make any sideways moves? Will there be a need for you to relocate? Being aware of the directions you may be pushed or pulled in makes you career-smart.

Remember, that the quickest way to the top might be by playing the long game.

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