Successful People Care Less

The people who get ahead and are successful in life are those who care less.

You need to care less when negotiating.

To be in the stronger position when negotiating anything—from buying a new car to negotiating a contract to signing a peace treaty—you have to care less than the other party. Some even say that when you’re trying to win someone over, in order to have the stronger bargaining position you need to be willing to walk away from the negotiations entirely.

As negotiation expert Herb Cohen explains:

When you care too much and are over-invested emotionally, there is an increased flow of adrenalin which causes you to become doped-up and dumbed­-down. This results in loss of perspective, impaired judgment and a focus on failure.

When you care too much, you’re willing to give concessions far too easily in order to close the deal. Caring less—that could consist of having a Plan B if the deal fails, or recognizing that all isn’t lost if you don’t get what you want—may end up putting you in the stronger position at the end of the day.

You need to care less when dating.

The whole concept of ‘playing hard to get’ is built upon the concept that you need your new love interest to chase you. The theory is, if you seem too accessible, or too easy to win over, the other person won’t be as attracted to you.

It makes sense. Part of the fun of meeting someone new is trying to determine if they like you or not, and feeling those little thrills you get when the other person does something unexpected that gives you a little ego boost or reassurance. When the potential relationship is uncertain, that makes a larger space for those rushes of adrenaline, norepinephrine and dopamine that make having that initial crush so much fun.

That could be why playing hard to get works so well — when it’s done right, the payoff is so much greater for both parties.

You need to care less when applying for a job.

Ever heard the saying that it’s easier to get a job when you have a job? That’s because when you have a steady paycheck, you’re much less likely to seem desperate.

Hiring managers want to find the best person to fill their positions, as well as someone who is committed to the job and to the company, and will likely settle in for a while. Right or wrong, an applicant’s desperation suggests to the person conducting the interview that the applicant may be looking at the position as a temporary thing to pay the bills until they find something better.

And, like with negotiations and budding relationships, there’s a bit of a courtship ritual with a job interview as well. Just like the woman who might be turned off if a guy comes on too strong on their first date, a recruiter might find an applicant’s intensity to be distasteful or annoying.

You need to care less to be a happy person.

People who care a lot about things tend to carry more stress around with them. While it’s important to love others, including our family and friends, as well as demonstrate empathy for strangers and concern about political and social issues, the truth is that many of us simply care too much.

When you care a disproportionate amount about other people and try to solve everyone’s problems, it can take a toll on you. When you stress out constantly about the economy or climate change or what’s happening on the other side of the world, that worry can give you an ulcer. And when you focus on what other people think about you, it can lead to depression, insecurity and anxiety.

To be successful, you have to care about yourself.

At the end of the day, this is the one area you can’t care less about. It’s important to care about your health, your education, and your goals. That means eating healthy and exercising, sure. But it also means listening to yourself, engaging your creative mind, doing things that you find rewarding, even when it’s not “productive” or “useful.” Strive to constantly challenge yourself by taking risks and trying new things. Learn new skills, meet new people, and travel to places you’ve never been.

By doing all of this, you can push yourself closer to whatever line represents the mark of success for your own life. And then—you can really care less.