Want to know how to succeed in life? Don’t we all? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t clear-cut and the action plan is often even more hazy. Everyone seems to have opinions and advice, but let’s be real. They don’t truly have the answers either.
If you want to be a success in life, you’re going to have to dig deep inside yourself. It’s not going to happen overnight. BUT, it IS possible!
Who In Your Mind is Successful?
When you think about successful people, who is it you think of?
- Elon Musk?
- Oprah Winfrey?
- Tiger Woods?
Why are these people considered successful? What is it about their life that makes them a success?
Elon Musk is a visionary. Oprah Winfrey is a master at touching people’s lives, impacting their hearts. And Tiger Woods may go down as the greatest golfer/athlete that ever lived.
But so what?
Do you want to invent the next electric car? Have your own TV show? Win golf tournaments around the world?
Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions?
I honestly wouldn’t want to be any of these people.
- If I were Elon, I would never get any sleep (I think he averages 3-4 hours of sleep a night), just worrying about keeping all the balls in the air and not going bankrupt.
- If I were Oprah, I’d never be able to get away from the media (ugh, the media, they’d definitely be my worst enemy)
- And, if I were Tiger…well, I’d be recovering from a car crash, wondering what I was going to do for the rest of my life if I weren’t golfing. That’d be tough to deal with… But, even if I were Tiger without the recent injury, it still wouldn’t be the life I’d draw up. Traveling all the time, barely seeing my family? No thanks.
If I asked 1,000 people what it means to be successful in life, I’d probably get 1,000 different answers.
Does that mean that they just don’t know what they’re talking about?
For some, maybe…
But for most, the reason for all the different answers is because each one of us is a different, unique human being! We all have different answers because we all want different things in life! And that’s okay!
You know what’s cool about that? We’re not all climbing up the same tree for success, so almost all of us can get to the top if we work hard enough! Success isn’t limited to just a handful of people.
When it comes to success in life, there’s room for everyone!
What Does Success Mean to You?
If you want to learn how to succeed in life, you must first define success. What does success mean to you? (ie. What do you want out of this life?)
This is the first major question you need to answer, and let me tell you, it’s not easy.
You know the phrase, “Half the battle is just getting started”? Well, I think coming up with what success means to you is certainly half of the challenge of succeeding in life. Heck, it’s probably more like 95%!
Some people never discover what success means to them and they get to the end of their life and take their last breath with regrets, wishing they could do it all over again.
Others figure out what success means to them quite early in life, and the live with a bounce in their step and smile all the way to the grave.
Related: Want success? Never stop asking why!
The big question here is, which person will you be?
Will you take the time now to define success? Or will you just pass through life with fun distractions here and there and never even take the first step toward success?
It’s up to you. Each day that passes without defining what success is for you is just yet another day you won’t succeed. After all, if you never define it, you certainly won’t achieve it.
11 Steps to Succeed in Life
Want to become a success? Based on my education, from books that I’ve read, people I’ve met, and various individuals I have studied, below are the 10 steps to succeed in life.
Sorry, but it’s time to get deep.
If you truly want to be successful in life, then you’re going to need to understand what success means for you. But, before you can even do that, you’re going to have to truly get down deep inside yourself.
- What do you like to do?
- What are your talents?
- Who would you most like to impact?
- When do you feel most at peace with yourself?
- What skills do you have that make others happy?
Begin With The End in Mind
You’re in bed. You’re just a few shaky breaths away from closing your eyes forever.
- What is it you’re most proud of?
- What are you happy you did?
- What do you want people to be saying about you after you’re gone?
In other words, if you begin with the end of your life in mind, what is it that you most want to be known for? What does true success mean for you in that moment?
This should help you get a sense of what it is you’re put on this earth to do, and therefore what success should mean for you.
Before you move onto the next step, be sure the answer is clear. You don’t want to climb a ‘success’ tree for a couple decades, only to realize that the tree wasn’t truly your tree of choice!
When you reflect on your life from the end to where you are currently (again, beginning with the end in mind), you likely don’t want to be Tiger or Oprah or even Elon Musk. Their successes in life have nothing to do with yours.
If you’re honest with yourself, you likely want to do things like:
- cure cancer
- stop child poverty
- eliminate world hunger
- become President of the United States
- have your kid tell you that you’re his hero
- run a company that pays a living wage to thousands of people in your city
- have your spouse look at you like there was no one else in the room and tell you she’s proud of you
And there are plenty of other noble things that you probably want to do that I didn’t list above.
So what is it for you? Be sure to take the time to define it and write it down. (And heck, tell us in the comments below!)
3) Don’t Depend on Motivation
I recently read the book, “The Motivation Trap“, by John Hittler. In his book, he stated very clearly that people don’t succeed based on motivation alone.
And honestly, it makes total sense when he draws it up.
Here’s an example of motivation taking shape and the impact it can have on your life:
- You’re feeling lethargic and overweight, so you watch a documentary about people eating healthy, exercising, and getting in shape.
- The documentary is so inspirational! These people have lost over a hundred pounds and have transformed their lives!!
- You decide to make a change. From now until the end of the year, you’re going to wake up early and exercise before work! And, you’re going to eat healthier!
- Tomorrow morning comes and you do it. You exercise, and you feel great. You eat healthy, and you’re totally liberated. This is great!
- Day 2, you’re sore, but you still get up and exercise. You eat mostly good, but there was that free donut that you couldn’t resist…
- Day 3, you just didn’t want to get out of bed, but that’s alright, you’ll get up tomorrow and for sure exercise then…
And things just continue to slide from there…
The motivation of that documentary got you going, but it wasn’t enough to inspire you for days, and certainly not weeks or months!
And that’s the truth with motivation. Its intent is to inspire you in the moment, to get you going, but not to carry your actions for the long-term! For that, you need to define your purpose, set goals, and create habits.
4) Set a Goal/Make a Plan
If you’re searching for how to get success in your life and you’ve read all the way to this point in the article, then I truly believe you.
Now it’s time to turn the corner in your life.
- dug deep inside yourself to understand what’s truly important to you
- defined what you want in life
- an you’ve now learned that motivation alone certainly isn’t the answer
Now it’s time to make some goals in your life.
What’s Your Desired End Result? Make a Plan to Get There
What do you want to achieve before this life is over?
Let’s say your big goal is to help people get out of the bondage of living paycheck to paycheck – to escape the weight that comes with mountains of credit card, student loan, car loan, and medical loan debt!
If you’re going to help millions of people, what do you have to do to achieve that life’s purpose?
Well let’s think logically here.
- First, you probably need to become a success story yourself.
- You need to get yourself out of debt, you need to learn how to have your money make money, and perhaps even become a millionaire to inspire the lives of others!
- Then, you’ve got to find a way to reach people – perhaps via a book, a blog, an online course, or maybe just through YouTube!
Make a Plan and Write It Down!
Start to lay out a step-by-step plan for how you could achieve your big goal in life. Sure, this plan may change as you go, but it’s still important to start with a logical way to get to your desired end result.
Outline the goal, create sub-goals, and if it’s a crazy-huge goal, then you might even want to make sub-goals to those sub-goals to make sure you stay on time and on track!
Oh, and there’s another good point to make here as well. When you set a goal, you MUST set a time to achieve that goal, otherwise it’s just a wish. And, without putting in the work, wishes just don’t come true my friend.
Want to learn how to attain success in life? Sure, you’ve got to have a purpose, you’ve got to form goals, but you also need to reduce friction in your life.
Do what now?
Reduce friction. You heard me right.
Let me explain.
In physics, there are some standard forces that you always need to account for.
One is gravity – that weight that pushes down on us constantly, you know, Newton’s law. What goes up must come down.
The other is friction – this is the abrasiveness of our floors, carpets, of any surface really. It’s the reason why your dining room table stays in your dining room and doesn’t simply slide all over the house.
In our physical lives, friction is good (I would really like for my dining room table to be there after I make my delicious sandwich!). But, for our daily actions, friction (ie. all those little tasks that pop up from us at every angle) becomes a nuisance! And honestly, too much friction can become debilitating!
That’s why our bodies and minds are able to form habits – things that we just do naturally without even thinking about them. We’ve performed an action so many times that it just becomes something we do. And, this frees our minds to take on other more meaningful challenges in life.
Habits enable us to get to our desired end result faster and more easily!
How long does it take to form a habit?
Decide to form some habits? Good for you! It’s a key ingredient in becoming successful in life.
Sooooo, how long does that take?
21 days? Nope, that’s totally false. I don’t remember where I heard it, but the data now points to a much longer time-frame.
To truly develop a habit that sticks with you for life, you’ve got to stay at something for 200 days!
- flossing your teeth
- taking your vitamins
- reading your devotional every morning
- putting money into your 401k from every paycheck
These habits don’t just happen overnight! They take discipline, drive, and a purpose!
If you want to succeed in life, and if you don’t want to motivate yourself to do something each and every day, then I suggest you form a few quality habits.
Light bulbs…they’re amazing.
They cost very little, they just screw into a socket, and they can illuminate an entire room…for years! The power of light in an otherwise dark space is life changing.
But you know what? Focused light is even more incredible.
Take that same notion, that same technology of light, and condense that power into a minuscule beam (ie. a lazer). Now you have a product that doesn’t just glow nicely in your living room, you’ve developed a tool that can cut through some of the largest, strongest objects on this planet!
When you let a light shine wherever it wishes, the result is peaceful and mild. But, when you focus that light, the result is something infinitely more powerful!
And so it is with our lives as well…
If you bee-bop through each day, just taking what comes at you and never really think about what you’ll do, where you’ll go, how you’ll impact this world while you’re living in it, you’ll touch a few people and they’ll be happy you existed.
But what if you became less like a light-bulb and more like a laser, dialed into exactly what your purpose may be?
What if every single one of your days was focused on your definition of success?
What if all you thought about was that one thing?
Do you think you could have a greater impact?
The answer: Exponentially greater.
Examples in history
We’ve seen this time and time again. People that have accomplished amazing feats because they focused in on their prize. They knew what they wanted and they went after it, bar nothing.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say *no* to almost everything.”
“The only trouble is that they do it about a great many things and I do it about one. If they took the time in question and applied it in one direction, to one object, they would succeed.”
Alexander Graham Bell
“Concentrate all your thoughts on the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
I couldn’t consciously write about focus without also reminding you that there must also be balance in life.
Yes, focus is extremely powerful and will enable you to have great success with your work and your wealth, but be sure to turn it off when necessary. After all, there are many other areas of importance in your life.
If you want to know how to succeed in life, you must focus to win in certain areas of your life (like the financial area for instance), but you must also learn to devote some of your time to…
- and once in a while, fun!
After all, if you have a ton of money, but you’re obese and on a bunch of meds, life isn’t quite all that it could be is it?
And, if you have no one to share your success with (family, friends), then life becomes pretty cold and empty!
Yes, learn the power of focus, but don’t do it in just one area. Learn to create success in all areas of your life! Do this, and you’ll be far more happy than monumental success in just one area.
This one is huge.
If you want success in your life, you’ve got to start thinking of yourself as a winner. If you commonly tell yourself that you can’t do something, then you’re right. You can’t. (Your mind won’t let you.)
However, if you truly believe you can, your brain is structured in such a way that it almost always just makes it so. It’s unreal really.
My Accidental Discovery
Last year, I was running quite a bit and I was getting pretty good. I was running a couple miles at a time at a 7 minute, 40 second pace. Not too shabby, right?
At some point in the mid-summer, I decided to run my fastest 2-mile – to just push it and see what happens. To my surprise, my average time was way better than normal. Like, an insane amount faster! During that run, my average mile pace was 6 minutes and 37 seconds!
I suspected there was a computer glitch, but part of me still believed I actually did that.
So guess what happened in my next few runs! Do you think I ran at a 7 minute 40 second pace?
I soon clocked an average time (a REAL time!) of 6 minutes and 53 seconds, which was nearly a full minute faster than my pace just a couple weeks prior!
I got dramatically faster.
Not because I lifted weights. Not because I trained with a special instructor. It was simply because I believed I was faster.
Isn’t that just insane??
If you want success in life, you simply have to believe that you can do better!
Manage Your Inputs
Ever hear the phrase regarding computer programming?
“Garbage in, garbage out.”
In other words, if those coders don’t pay careful attention to what they’re telling the computer to do, the action of the computer won’t be right. Feed it garbage and you’ll get garbage.
The same is true for our minds.
Feed your brain negative news or sarcastic comments from your friends, and that’s what your output will be – negative and sarcastic…which is obviously a far cry from driven and successful.
Want to succeed in life? Find a way to continually believe in yourself!
One of the biggest threats to success is the allure of comfortable mediocrity.
While you’re busting your butt at work, striving to become the next CEO, your buddy is out on his boat, just cruising the lake and drinking a beer. Mannnn that would be nice.
He also plays softball every Tuesday night, regularly binge-watches shows on Netflix, and he often frequents the local baseball stadium, supporting his team like he’s always done.
What a life, right?
Maybe changing the world through your corporation isn’t the answer… Maybe it would be best to just relax for a bit and forget about that CEO dream…
Distractions Seem Great, but They’re Rarely Worth It
It doesn’t sound like a bad idea…until you realize your buddy is miserable in life. All of his activities are just his way of distracting himself from his dull, non-impactful existence.
Too many people give into distractions — TV, sports, recreation, concerts, dining out… These are all fun in the moment, but you’re never going to lay on your deathbed and say, “I really wish I would have binge-watched more TV” or “Man, why didn’t I play two nights of softball instead of just one?”
Not going to happen.
Put your blinders on. Focus on the prize. Steer clear of those distractions. They simply aren’t worth giving up your dream for.
Two men are in the woods. They hear a noise, and then they see a bear charging at them from a distance.
The one man immediately bolts, while the other pauses to tie up his sneakers. The man without sneakers scoffed and yelled over his shoulder, “Do you really think those will help you outrun the bear?”
After the sneakered man laced up, caught up and passed the other, he shouted back, “No, I just need to outrun you!”
In life, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to be the smartest, and you don’t even need to be the most talented. You’ve just got to be willing to outwork the competition.
It’s truly amazing what grit and determination can do for an individual.
Want to have success in life? Don’t be afraid of hard work. When you see an opportunity, go for it and don’t let up until that buzzer sounds and you’ve won.
11) Visualize Your Victory
What if I walked up and told you that I was from the future and that you had become a great success later in life?
- I showed you pictures of you and your 3-story mansion,
- of your many cottages around the world,
- and of your fabulous wife and children.
It was hard to believe at first, but I had undeniable evidence that it was all true.
Suddenly, you don’t just think that you could become a great success, you know it.
Day in and day out, you drive toward success, all while thinking of your beautiful homes, your future wife, and your future children. And sure enough, the day comes where you realize that you have all of those things, just like I told you.
A few years back, there was a study performed that really tested the power of the mind. The researchers wanted to know if thinking about an exercise would be just as good for your muscles as actually performing the exercise.
But, would you believe that just thinking about an exercise over a period of time actually improved muscle strength in the test subjects by 35%??
This again demonstrates the power of visualization.
If you truly want something, picture yourself doing it…over and over again.
Want to be the fastest sprinter in the world?
- Visualize yourself bursting from the blocks.
- Visualize your powerful strides propelling you to the lead.
- And then of course, visualize your joyous lean into the finish line!
- You did it. You’re the fastest human in the world.
Think this way again and again, and you’ll be far more likely to achieve your dreams. You will become a success because you’ve already seen the tape. It’s already happened millions of times. But this last time, it was actually for real.
How to Succeed in Life – Will You Take Action on the 11 Steps?
Want to succeed in life? Have a go at the 11 steps above and I can almost guarantee you success in whatever it is you choose to do.
The question is, “Will you actually apply what you’ve learned above?”
Will you become a success? Do you agree with the 11 steps outlined in the article above? Is there anything you would add?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.