Life is not something that just happens to you, something you are powerless to do anything about. You have choices. You can choose to succeed. It is never too late to improve your life and implement the changes that are going to lead you to your ambitions.
I don’t profess to have all the answers, but below I’ve highlighted a few areas to focus on that will help you be more successful in whatever you choose to do.
Choose to Succeed!
Have a Plan
‘Fail to plan and you plan to fail’ as the saying goes.
Where do you want to be in 5 years? What steps do you need to take in order to get there?
a) Work out a goal
b) Plan how to achieve it
c) Break it into small tasks
d) Introduce a time frame and make a timeline that works for you
e) Work out what the key barriers are
f) Stick to the timeline as much as possible
g) Measure your progress
It’s never easy to admit you’ve made a mistake, but it’s a crucial step in learning, growing, and improving yourself. Admission of a mistake, even if only to yourself, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame and towards understanding. Wise people admit their mistakes easily. They know that they can only make personal progress when they do.
Success in learning from mistakes often requires involvement from other people, either for advice, training or simply to keep you honest and give you feedback. A supportive friend’s or mentor’s perspective on your behaviour will be more objective than your own and help you identify when you’re in denial!
Consider your actions from other people’s perspectives. Think about what you did and whether you made a good decision given the information you had at the time. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, analyse your approach, and be honest with yourself about whether you had the capabilities to avoid mistakes. This ruthlessness will allow you to see more clearly and understand what you should have done instead.
No amount of analysis can replace confidence in yourself. When you’ve made a mistake, especially a visible one that impacts other people, it’s natural to question your ability to perform next time. But you must get past your doubts. The best you can do is study the past, practice for the situations you expect, and get back in the game. Your studying of the past should help broaden your perspective.
Never Give Up
Winston Churchill gave a speech in 1941 to a group of school children, that still holds true over 70 years later:
“The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity. Whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem. Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense”
There is no way around it: sometimes life gets hard. Obstacles can seem insurmountable. But success is often the result of pushing through these problems. People who find success rarely have an easy path but their willingness to persevere helped them to eventually meet their goals.
There are few things that will drive you toward success as quickly as a strong work ethic. People notice when others work hard. While working hard isn’t a guarantee that you’ll become a Chief Executive or a top sports person, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Few successful people got to where they are by sitting back and doing nothing, as it’s often a hard road to the top.
Learn to Communicate
Good communication is not an easy process and it can take a lot of practice. However, if you are able to develop self-awareness and work towards clearly expressing your feelings and develop your listening skills you will be on your way to becoming an effective communicator which will undoubtedly have a positive and long-lasting impact on all your personal and professional relationships.
See the Think Oak! post dedicated to Communication – Communicate or Fail
Set Challenging Personal Goals
Goals need to stir your emotions in order to motivate you to do whatever it takes to accomplish them thus the importance of setting challenging goals. By increasing the level of challenge you set yourself, you can also increase your motivation to accomplish the given aim, particularly when you know that the achievement of this goal will result in a positive outcome for you and your financial security. Every time you set a new goal try to make it a challenge that is not that easy to accomplish, but still reachable and realistic.
Believe in Yourself
If you believe it, you have a better than average chance of achieving it. Few successful people got where they are by having a low opinion of their abilities. Before anyone else can believe in you, you have to believe in yourself and your ability to achieve what it is you want to achieve. Those who are confident are often more successful as leaders, regardless of the field, and chances are you can’t name too many leaders in business, politics, or any other field who don’t have this quality.
Choose your Role Models
I’ve been really fortunate in my life to have known a number of very bright people, from different industries, backgrounds, cultures and time zones. I’ve not really formalised too many of these relationships as ‘mentors’ or consciously as ‘role models’, but I have worked hard with these relationships to learn more and more about business, people and success.
The people you choose to adopt as your role models or mentors throughout your life can be virtually anyone whom you respect and from whom you believe you can learn something towards your goals. It could be a co-worker, your manager, a friend, a customer….anyone who you believe you can learn from. As you select a person, you’re looking to obtain new knowledge or emulate some aspect of that person’s success – you’re not trying to actually become that person. Throughout your personal and professional life, you will evolve and your mentoring needs will change.
Many people believe that success will make them happy. They work long hours, sacrificing time with family and friends, because they are convinced that they will find happiness when they finally achieve success. But according to research in positive psychology it is the other way around. Being positive makes it more likely that you will be successful.
Positive attitude is not only about choosing to have a good outlook through good times and bad, but also about learning to love what you do. I have observed that outstanding business people are successful because they deeply love their work. The achievers of this world know that if you can learn to love your job, you’ll be more productive, more creative, and more content. Think of most successful people you know, and you may agree that most are passionate about what they do, are rarely affected by negativity, and tend to enjoy their work. I know for certain that the better your attitude the better your work and your life will be for you.
Recharge the Batteries
While there are many people who are financially successful, there are many that don’t really have much balance in their lives. Balance really is an essential component to a happy life. After all, what does money mean if you’re lonely or miserable? Giving the mind time to relax, step away from work and responsibilities, and just enjoy life can actually lead to greater success as a rested mind is better able to think quickly and be creative.
Easier said than done. Believe me, I know. But in a 24-7 world, a work-life balance is no longer a nicety but a necessity, for organisations and individuals. The reality is that humans don’t have Intel inside and unlimited energy, only caffeine. Without proactively managing your downtime the result will be stress, burnout, illness and increased anxiety —all of which reduces chances of success at home and at work.
Everyone has different ways that they replenish their energies, be that through exercise, art, religion, reading and so on. Make sure you find yours and make time for yourself.
Build and Nurture Your Network
You never know when you’ll need to tap into your network of contacts on your path to success. You may find a previous post (Business Networking – It’s not ‘what’ you know…) useful.
If someone invited you to go sky-diving, would you go? If you were offered a top job in an industry that was unfamiliar to you, would you accept the position? Whether it’s a fear of heights, a fear of the dark, or a fear of public speaking, we have all experienced fear. Perhaps the biggest fear for many of us, is a fear of failure.
But if we never try, how will we know the outcome? So many people worry about what will happen if they fail, that they lose sight of what could happen if they succeed. Fear can keep us from moving forward. Consider the missed opportunities in your life. Think about the relationships you didn’t pursue, or end. Think about the career opportunities you allowed to pass you by because you were more comfortable with the status quo. Think about the dreams and goals you once had, but are now stuffed down into a seemingly unreachable place in your memory. Imagine if you had taken a leap of faith.
A leap of faith is just that – a leap from what you know and trust and to the unknown. Frequently, personal growth lives on the other side of the leap – try it!
Be Open to New Experiences
An old proverb says
You may conclude that the converse of this is therefore: If you want something that you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something that you’ve never done.
To achieve continued success, you must open yourself up to new learning experiences that may make you feel uncertain at best and incompetent at worst. Remember that those feelings are temporary and a prelude to greater future.
If you do what you say when you say you’re going to do it, people will trust you because your word will mean something. This can be a big deal when it comes to getting promotions, managing others, or even negotiating business deals. Honesty, integrity, and fairness are all aspects of personal accountability worth working on and will help others view you as more responsible and dependable.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Would love to hear any comments or feedback.