Success. That word means different things to different people – but I imagine that when you read it, you think about how it would feel to achieve your goals, to enjoy yourself, and to be proud of the life you are living.
I believe that success is relatively simple. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy – but it does mean that it’s achievable. For all of us.
Before you Start: Knowing What You’re Creating
If you try out a new recipe, you’ll want some idea of what you’re expecting at the end. Cookbooks usually have photographs, so you can see how the finished dish should look. Even if there’s no photo, there’s at least a title for the recipe. The lists of ingredients might look similar at a glance, but from the title and photo, you know whether you’re baking muffins verses bread, or making a stew verses a curry.
When you’re going after success in your life, it’s just as important to have a clear idea of what that means for you. “Success” is as individual as we are.
For me, success doesn’t mean a certain bank balance or a fancy car. It means things like:
- Doing work which I enjoy
- Having a sense of freedom and fun in my life – being able to take time out mid-week to spend with family and friends
- Making a difference in the world
- Being healthy and fit enough to do everything that I want to do
What does success mean for you? Is it really about a certain amount of money in the bank, or a certain figure on the scales?
Once you’ve got a clear idea what you’re trying to create, start figuring out how these ingredients come into play:
Ingredient #1: Enthusiasm
A certain degree of enthusiasm is important for any major undertaking. Big changes take a lot of work – and you’ll only be motivated to do that work if you’re feeling enthusiastic.
The importance of enthusiasm means that you’ll be more likely to succeed if you:
- Choose a career which you love – not just the one which makes you the most money.
- Take your interests seriously. If you love writing comics, don’t dismiss that as being too frivolous to spend your time on.
- Look for ways to maintain your enthusiasm. That might mean constantly learning new things in a particular area, or trying out different techniques.
- While you’re feeling particularly enthused, write down all your reasons for working on this particular project or goal. Turn to this as a reminder if your enthusiasm wanes.
Ingredient #2: Time
Any big goal is going to take time. In some cases, that’s simply the hours you put in – for instance, writing a book might take you three hundred hours, which you could spread across a couple of months or a couple of years.
For other goals, the time is relatively fixed. You can’t lose 50lbs in a month, however hard you try – it’s going to take you around a year.
Check that you’re giving yourself enough time. That means:
- Don’t take on so many projects that you end up rushing or abandoning most of them.
- Accept that some changes will take a steady commitment over a period of time – like losing weight, getting fit, or getting out of debt.
- Estimate the time commitment before taking on something new. Sure, you might feel really enthusiastic about your book idea – but is it a realistic project right now?
Ingredient #3: Energy
However many hours you’ve got available, you need the energy to actually use them. I’m sure you’ve experienced this for yourself – perhaps you had a whole afternoon to spend writing your book, but you were feeling drained and tired, and didn’t get anything done.
Obviously, energy is necessary for physical goals (like training for a marathon) – but mental energy is just as important.
Making sure that you have enough energy involves:
- Giving yourself the down time that you need to relax and re-energize.
- Getting enough sleep, and eating sensibly: basic, but important.
- Paying attention to your emotional state – if your mood is often low, it’s hard to have the energy for your goals.
- Focusing on your health as a key priority.
Ingredient #4: Support
The final ingredient for success is support.
Sadly, it’s not always the case that our nearest and dearest support our goals. You may face resistance from family or close friends – often because they love you. They might be afraid that you’ll fail, or that you’re taking on too much.
When you’re working towards your definition of success, it’s important to find other people who can value it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they share it (perhaps your dream is to travel the world, and your friend loves her cozy home life) – but they’ll understand why it’s important to you.
If you’re struggling to find support at home or amongst your friends:
- Look for a club or group to join. If you’re trying to lose weight, for instance, there’s almost certainly a slimming club nearby.
- Find an online forum where you can get support from like-minded people.
- Look for a conference or other event that relates to your goal – you’ll get a real buzz from a focused period of time spent in the company of others who share your dreams and ambitions.
Got an extra ingredient to add? Or a tip for using one of the ones above? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments…