In nature, animals are born with a certain destiny: They are either predators or prey. A caribou cannot choose to hunt the wolf, and a shark cannot choose to eat seaweed. They are hardwired to be exactly what they were born to be.

There is a natural order over which animals have no control. Being a victim isn’t a choice, but rather a probability for many species of the animal kingdom. You can’t blame a rabbit for being an easy target or the falcon for swooping in on the opportunity. It’s simply how God designed them.

We, though, are different. God gave us a choice. We choose our destiny. We make the decision to be the prey or the predator each and every day when it comes to getting what we want out of life.

Modern society, however, encourages “prey” mentality. In fact, the word “predator” has been laced with an underlying negative connotation. We’re wired to believe that predator personality traits are bad. Predators are hard to control. Predators make waves. Predators go it alone. Predators are aggressive. Predators chase what they want. Predators are dangerous.

Yet a predator instinct can be your sixth sense – in survival and in life. Listen to it.

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You can guarantee our ancestors believed predator instincts were important. There was once a time when survival depended on them. Now, these attributes are quickly becoming extinct. I believe that “predator instinct” is not only a necessary mental survival skill if you’re ever faced with a life and death scenario, but is also at the center of making the most of the one life we’ve been given.

Do you have a prey or predator mentality when it comes to pursuing your goals? Are you the victim of life’s circumstances or do you relentlessly chase what you want? Goals keep us going. They keep us looking forward.

Just as calories fuel a natural predator, conquering goals fuels our mind. They are a part of our mental sustenance. In general, meals don’t walk into a predator’s mouth. Similarly, the successes we want in life won’t just fall into our lap. Success is the result of very hard work and a predatory mindset. Attack your goals with the seven predator traits below and nothing can stop you.

Predators adapt

Predators adapt to their environment. They maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Their best attributes are constantly evolving: speed, talons, fangs, camouflage, cunning and stealth. The path to our goals will throw us curveballs and hurdles. It will never be just as we expect. We must be willing and ready to adapt. Change your plans to meet your goals, not your goals to meet your plans.

Predators have heightened senses

Predators have acute situational awareness. They don’t just coast through life and hope for the best. They are always actively looking for new opportunities. They know that the readiness to jump on an opportunity is just as important as the opportunity itself. Situational awareness takes practice. It’s certainly easier to let life just happen and not notice the details, but it’s these important details that make the difference.

Predators are persistent

For predators, giving up means starving to death. If only we took our goals so seriously. Failure is just a part of being a creature in pursuit of something meaningful and important. Those who never pursue, never fail. Getting back up and trying again is the difference between life and death of a goal. Successfully achieving our goals can take many decisions to try again. Successfully failing only takes one decision to give up.

Predators are patient

Natural predators will often wait days for the perfect opportunity to strike. A premature strike can result in a substantial loss of time, energy and resources. An opportunity that got away because of impatience may never present itself again. Predators know that there are no get-rich-quick schemes. Success is a result of planning, hard work and patience. Sometimes, you must be prepared not to pursue but to wait for the opportunity to pursue.

Predators are aggressive

When a predator decides to pursue a goal, it does so without hesitation and without apology. It makes no excuses to anyone or anything about what it wants and needs to survive. A natural kill is not a walk in the park. It is a full-blown attack with a take-no-prisoners approach. The pursuit of our goals should be with the same aggressive attitude. We should attack them without apology and hesitation. Someone else might be looking to seize our same opportunity.

Predators are always searching

The American bald eagle constantly scans the horizon for its next meal. The wolf incessantly smells the air for a hint of which direction to pursue next. We, too, should be on constant watch for new angles with which to pursue our dreams. Actively searching for creative solutions produces far greater results than passively waiting. Trust me, no one else is going to search for ways to make your dreams come true. Your goals are yours.

Predators are focused

A cheetah doesn’t take its eyes off the target for one second. It doesn’t look at the ground. It doesn’t look at the sky. It only looks at the goal. Predators must focus on the prey in order to react to changes and predict future movements. Focus eliminates frivolous distractions. The determined eyes of a focused predator are frightful to look at. There is almost nothing that will intercept the path of attack. Fixing your gaze on a goal and refusing to look away is very powerful. Never underestimate the power of focus.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN.

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