How do you do it? What is your secret? That's what we all want to know, isn't it? We see successful people and we die to know what the magic bullet was that shot them to millionaire status, seemingly overnight. We hope and pray that it is as simple as learning a few quick tricks or tweaking a few things in our current processes that will literally move the needle in our life (and our bank account). We know we don't have the time (or maybe it's the determination) to put in years of blood, sweat, and tears, so instead we search for that illusive quick-fix to take its place. Don't we all wish success was that simple?... Well, perhaps it is; in theory anyways.
Do you want to be successful in life? Do you see those fancy cars and fabulous things and dream about what life would be like if only… Well let me clue you in on a little secret: for starters, success doesn’t come to you; you go to it. For anyone who thinks they can sit back, dream, and wait for the golden doors of opportunity to come knocking at their feet, they are sorely mistaken. Sure, success is out there in unlimited amounts and ripe for the picking, but you have to put the work in to go and get it. Figuring out how to chase it isn't hard; in fact, it's very simple. But actually doing it? Now that's another story. Dreamers beware.
What is success defined as? Well, interestingly enough, it varies person to person. Whereas one may dream of beach houses and speedboats, another dreams of a life where merely paying the bills isn't an everyday struggle, whereas another dreams of building schools in African villages to service the poor. There is no right or wrong answer because success for YOU can only be determined by YOU. And the path to get there, and how long it takes, is also determined by YOU.
You’ve probably been told your entire life that you must be able to dream something in order to achieve something. And yes, that is true. The vision of success must be so crystal clear in your head that you can actually smell, taste, see, and hear what your version of success is like… but dreaming is not enough. You must also be a doer. And not a half-ass, when-I-feel-like-it-doer, but a pedal to the metal, grind doesn’t stop, hustlin' beyond the 9:5, type of doer.
They (whoever they are) say that “...your last day on Earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.” Strive to make those two people equal. If nothing else, set that as your first goal.
Now, how to go about achieving your goals, or any goals for that matter, rides on 5 very important (but simple) principles. Be forewarned that these are easy to preach are often much harder to practice.
How to Be Successful in Life
Stop Feeling Inadequate
Are you familiar with “imposter syndrome” or “fraud theory”? It’s the notion that you are somewhere by accident, or by mistake. It’s the overwhelming feeling that everyone in the room has a right to be there, except you. You are constantly nervous and waiting for the other shoe to drop; waiting for everyone to see right through you and to see you for the fraud that you (think) you are. It’s actually a very interesting, and very real mind trip for a lot of people, especially women. I wrote an entire article about imposter syndrome and how to snap out of it.
You’re never going to get anywhere in life if you can’t even believe in yourself. In very few instances do you get somewhere merely by default. So get out from behind your mommy’s leg, put on your big girl pants, and stop being so dang scared of everything. Stand up straight and believe in yourself for all of the reasons your mom believes in you. For all the reasons your boss, your best friends, your colleagues, your kids, and even your nieces and nephews believe in you. Get your positive affirmation on every morning (OUT LOUD) if necessary. Self confidence and positive thinking go so much further than anyone ever wants to give them credit for. It truly does start with you. Breathe life into your mind and your soul and watch how differently people start to respond to you… and how you eventually start to respond to you. Life changing indeed.
Follow the Beaten Path (For Once)
I love the saying “The road to success is oftentimes lonely”, because it’s true… kind of. Why would the successful path that everyone wants to be on, be lonely? Well, that’s simple really. It’s because opportunities are often disguised as hard work... which scares away 99% of qualified participants. Of the 1% who decide to travel that path, it is often lonely. It is filled with long days, short nights, tireless work (with little to show for it… for potentially a really long time), major FOMO, annoyed friends, dejected spouses… the list goes on and on.
But that isn’t to say it’s always gong to be that way. While the path itself may be lonely, the people you meet along it will probably be some of the most inspiring you will ever meet. Befriend them. Learn from them. Get to know the HOW and WHY they are there, and what their path to success has been. Learn from their failures (and your own). And here’s where I instruct to ‘follow the beaten path for once.’ There really is no need to reinvent the wheel when there has been a proven process that is shown to work if you just put in the time and effort. If those who have traveled before you have words of wisdom to impart, listen and take heed.
Take a majority of sales jobs, for example. Most great sales leaders will tell you it truly comes down to being a numbers game. The more people you talk to, the better your chances of success are. So burn through those call lists, do a zillion reach-outs, do your follow-ups, etc. The tried and true ways are sometimes the best ways to do things rather than trying to forge your own path when the blazed trail is right in front of you. Be wise enough to know when to put your head down and work hard and when to veer into the woods.
Recite Your WHY In Your Sleep
Your WHY is the reason you are doing what you’re doing; it's the reason you are busting your a$$ day in and day out, sometimes for little-to-no pay, and sometimes well into the wee hours of the morning. Your WHY is what keeps you motivated when all else seems stacked against you, when failure seems imminent, when the going gets tough, and when you’re knocked down and can’t seem to figure out why the heck you should stand back up. What is your WHY? Do you know it so well that you could recite it in your sleep? Does it cross your mind 100x a day? It should.
And while we’re at it, let’s talk about what it should be and what it should not be. Your WHY is something that is very personal and is near and dear to you. It should evoke a very powerful emotion when you think about it. And ironically, it should NOT be money. In many instances, money is merely the vehicle that will allow you to achieve your WHY, but rarely is it what truly motivates you. Spend time thinking about this. When you figure it out, write it down, share it with those you love, and imprint it into your brain. Your WHY should light a fire within you and make you want to laugh, or cry, or scream, or all of the above. If you’re struggling with this, I wrote my own personal WHY statement and it motivates me every single day to work harder.
Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. If you merely set goals but have no discipline to follow through, your accomplishments will be severely limited. Think about it like fitness and going to the gym: you may not always (or ever) want to go, but in order to see results you have to show up regularly and put in the work, even when you’re tired, and even when you have a million other things to do. Excuses don’t get you to results, only hard work will. Ever heard someone say “You can have excuses or you can have results. You can’t have both.” Ouch.. the truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?
The results aren’t instant, but they compound over time, slowly but surely, day in and day out. Treat any serious goal you have like you would a fitness regimen. Like muscles, dreams take time to build, so start today and see what happens in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years. Be disciplined to do whatever it takes to be successful, especially the hard things that you dread doing. Those are usually the golden keys to your success.
Give Yourself a Fighting (Realistic) Chance
Making a time commitment to a goal is a necessary part of being successful. Rarely does something happen overnight, so be fair to yourself and allow your dream time to grow and evolve. Set a timeframe in which you want to achieve your goal and under no circumstances allow yourself to quit early. The only surefire way to never be successful is to give up on your dream and to quit. Know that failures along the way are imminent and unavoidable. You will fall, but you must get back up. How do you know that success isn’t just beyond that next ‘no’, that success isn’t just around the next corner? You don’t know! So keep going.
Committing to a goal is oftentimes a really easy thing to do (at first) and a really hard thing to commit to a short while later. This is why so many people make resolutions every year, yet less than 10% actually keep them. The excitement of starting something new fuels your fire and drives you in the beginning, but as time wears on, your energy wears thin, and quitting will start to sound pretty enticing. This is where you WHY kicks in, reminding you WHY you started, what you are going to accomplish, and why you just can’t quit now. Commit to doing something for at least ‘x’ amount of time and discipline yourself into allowing your dream to grow through the hard times and momentary failures.
All of these steps are interwoven and do not stand alone. Together they build the framework of success and are the inherent qualities and driving motivators that all successful people have in common. They are not hard concepts, as I stated before, but they can be hard to practice. And what about everyone's biggest fear: the fear of complete and utter failure. What if you try really, really hard and you still fall flat on your face? Well, I would tell you to ponder this: Isn’t the fear of rejection less scary than the fear of never becoming the person you have the ability to become? Do you really want to live...or just exist?
For those willing to work for it, success is willing to be had. No one can chase your dreams but you.
Need added motivation for how to move from Dreamer to Doer? Download my short ebook for tips on getting motivated and getting started.