Personal Development
How to be successful in life

How to be successful in life

Life is full of fun but can be a bit challenging as well. As a reader of The Learning Me, you likely want to get the most out of life. If we are open to change, full of imagination, and are willing to work hard almost anything is possible. Before 1903 it was not possible to fly in the air. However, the Wright brothers with their dedication, perseverance, and imagination made it possible at the end of that year. Now it’s almost impossible to imagine life without any airplanes in the sky. So, if you combine desire with thoughtful planning and perseverance you too will be able to achieve whatever you set your mind to and be successful in life.

On your journey of becoming the best version of yourself, you will find strategies that will help you get further on your journey to be successful. Here are some that I found helpful.

Define what success means to you 

Success and being successful mean something different for everyone. This is great since we can’t all be Elon Musk. But this also means that we all have to figure out what success means to us, as to avoid living someone else’s dream. What do you value in life? Does success mean being the best father/mother for your children? Or do you want to become an expert on a certain topic? Try to think of success beyond just financial success. Because often if we do what truly fulfills us the money will follow. 

Once you know what being successful means don’t quit 

Once you have figured out what success means to you it is important to build habits that help you work towards your goals. By setting good habits in place you ensure you won’t abandon your goals and quit halfway to your success. A great book about building habits is Atomic Habits by James Clear. Staying consistent is one of the most important factors of success. Oftentimes successful people are the ones that just don’t quit no matter what. This is what made them successful. 

A slip-up can always happen so make sure that when you break the cycle you forgive yourself and get back on that horse. One bad day will not be the end of you nor your success. You just simply fell back into your old patterns, acknowledge that and move on. You don’t have to win every battle as long as you win the war.

Feeling like you slip up too often? It can help to simplify things. When we start our journey it is easy to overcomplicate things and want to do everything at once. Review what steps you need to take to get closer to your goals and then try to make these steps as simple as possible. As Steve Jobs says:

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

Steve Jobs

So try to be a lazy person at times and review how your time is best spent. 

Make goals bigger than yourself

I also found that if you set goals that are bigger than yourself it is easier to stick to. So for instance, if you want to become an expert in your field, don’t just think about how this will affect and benefit you, but also think about the positive impact you can have on others. By sharing what you learn and being generous with the information you acquire you can help others as well which makes the journey way more fun and presumably you might even learn better as well. In my opinion, there is nothing more rewarding than helping others. 

You are in control

Realize that you are the one in the driver’s seat, you are responsible for your successes and failures. This might feel scary at first but at the same time, it should be liberating and empowering as well. You are not a victim of circumstance, you are fully in control of your life. Of course, we all carry some baggage and the playing fields are not always leveled but knowing this can make it your strength. Know what you want, be inventive, and do not stop until you get there. 

There are amazing stories about people defying all odds and achieving their goals. This can be you, take their stories as motivation and stick to your journey. 

Be brave and face your fears

Discovering new places and things is always a bit scary in the beginning. This is no different for the people we look up to. However, it is how you handle these fears which will determine your success. Know where you want to go and make a plan to get there and don’t stop. Fear means you’re very close to the next level of your journey, and thus one step closer to be successful. So fear is not something to avoid but something to strive for. 

Willpower 

At the beginning of creating new habits, you will need some willpower. On the first days, we are riding the adrenaline high and change feels so easy. However, after a week or two reality kicks in, and all of the sudden change feels so difficult. There are things you can do to make it a little easier on yourself. For instance, if you want to lose some weight make sure you don’t have junk food at home and your workout clothes are next to your bed so you can workout first thing in the morning. This will help, but it will not eliminate all the hardships of the first period. This is when willpower comes in handy. 

After a while, once you see progress in your hard work, you will need less willpower to get going. This is because you have changed your identity, you are now the person you wanted to become, and seeing your results will motivate you as well.

Training your willpower

Willpower is like a muscle and thus can be trained. Training willpower can be very beneficial for the moments you truly need it, like when starting to implement a new habit. You train your willpower by challenging yourself and making tasks harder. When you hear the voice in your head saying “we don’t have to do this” or “I don’t want to” you are on the right track. When this happens you can override the voice in your head and do what needs to be done. This will train your willpower. 

Taking cold showers is a great example of training willpower. No one likes to get soaked in cold water, however, this is exactly what the challenge is about. Stepping into the cold shower even if you don’t want to. Overriding the voice in your head and strengthening that willpower muscle. 

Cold showers can train your willpower and have numerous other benefits as well.

Don’t be scared to make some mistakes

Don't be scared to make mistakes to be successful

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear you will make one”

Elbert Hubbard

We have to make mistakes in order to learn, just own up to them, apologize if necessary, and reflect on how we can grow from the experience. 

Perfectionism ties together with the fear of mistakes or not being good enough. It, therefore, is really a secret killer to being successful. Trying to get things perfect will result in you taking longer just pondering about “what could be even better” whilst you could be making progress. Trying to be perfect will only put so much unnecessary stress on you, just believe in yourself and try to do everything as well as you can in a set timeframe. By setting a timeframe you ensure that you will make progress. Make the deadline realistic but don’t make it too long because of Parkinson’s law. Getting things done, learning, and improving your work will get you way further than pondering in fear about what could happen.

Of course, this does not mean you should not be pushing and developing yourself and your work anymore but just don’t take it too far. Improvement happens one small step at a time. 

Be your own cheerleader

Know you can do it or will be able to learn how to. Be kind to yourself and growth will be eminent. If you tell yourself you can’t do something you have already lost the battle before it started. That is why it is important to look at things from a learning perspective: you either already can do it or you will learn to. There is nothing you can’t face. Believe in yourself and you will be able to cope with anything life throws at you. 

Adopt an attitude of seeing challenges and opportunities instead of problems. This will also help tremendously with overcoming the hurdles of life. 

Don’t be inpatient 

I see a lot of people who want to have their big goals finished in one to five years. I have to admit, I have been guilty of this too. Of course, this is not impossible, however, I do believe that by putting such pressure on yourself you miss out on the fun of the process and can wear yourself down. Instead, it is better to dream big and work every day towards these dreams, and have clear daily plans. But only review your progress every 6 to 12 months and only then change course if needed. Till that time keep your grind on and enjoy the process. When you know the goal you’re working towards, the value you will bring, and enjoy the process you will get there!

Reviewing your goals, process, and results every once in a while will monitor your output as well as keep you from getting caught up in mindless routines. Don’t be scared to change anything when needed, just make sure not to fall into the ‘paralysis by analysis trap.

Get rid of distractions

To make sure you have enough time in your day to work on your daily plans eliminate distractions. In our digital world, it is easy to get caught up in social media and the internet in general. Monitor your digital habits and see if they are in line with your goals. If not, manage your time on these platforms wisely and create more time to work on your success. Also, make sure there are no distractions around when you are working on your goals. This makes it easier to focus and allows for you to submerge in the topic and enjoy it. 

Work on creating financial stability

Secure your future by starting early. By starting to invest you can benefit from something called compound interest. The younger you start the more it will benefit you. By having a good financial plan you are securing your financial future. Having a financial plan laid down now means you only have to follow these rules and you will be financially set even when you retire. Read more about compound interest and investing here

Don’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself

Know that there is always gonna be someone who is further in life or more successful than you are. Comparing yourself to others will only make you feel worse and in turn, will make it less likely for you to reach your goals. By making yourself insecure and putting yourself down you will only become less motivated to do the work that you planned out. Social media platforms amplify the contrast of different people and thrive on people comparing themselves. Know that most of what is posted does not represent real life and is based on only the peaks of someone else’s. I, therefore, recommend unfollowing anyone that, with their post, will give you a negative feeling. It does not matter if this is because they speak negatively or because you compare yourself to them. If it is not adding positivity to your life it should go. 

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

Steven Furtick

This does not mean you can’t look up to someone and their expertise. But just don’t start comparing yourself to them. 

Learn from experts

Learn from experts to be successful

Learning on your own is fun and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. But sometimes finding a coach, specialist, or expert can be a great advantage. By consulting someone who has been through the thing you want to achieve you can reduce the time you will need to learn significantly. Besides that being invested by including someone else and maybe even paying them, you will be more accountable. 

If you are in the presence of someone who is further down the line of “your road” ask questions. By asking questions you will probably make a good impression since you’re engaged and excited about the material the other is “an expert” in and you will also learn a ton of new information. 

Take care of yourself 

In this life, we will only get one body and one mind. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we take good care of them so we can enjoy them as long as possible. Fuel your body with the food that is good for it, train it and make sure to take a break when needed to give your mind some rest. The Blissful mind has some great content about self-care.

Enjoy the process

Working towards your success should be enjoyable most of the time. It is the process of getting towards our success that we will look back on, not the result itself. So frequently ask yourself: Am I enjoying this? If the answer is no, figure out if it is your success you are after, not someone else’s.