By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
To learn how to become successful, you must first define what success means to you. To some people, success means graduating from college or becoming wealthy, while for others it’s being happy or giving back to the community.
All of these definitions are correct. After all, success means different things to different people. At its core, your personal idea of success drives your feelings of purpose and fulfillment. This doesn’t mean that it will come naturally. In fact, no matter what success means to you, it is probably something you will have to work for.
That’s okay, though! If something doesn’t just drop into your lap, it doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be. To truly be prosperous, you can’t wait for something to be handed to you. If you wait, you’ll be waiting forever. Instead, create your own opportunities, and don’t be afraid to try several different tactics to reach your goals. If you’re having a hard time getting a job, for example, perhaps you should launch your own business. If you wrote a book and no publisher has picked it up, maybe you should self-publish.
Even though the concept of success is different for everyone, there are several characteristics that each aspirational person shares. First of all, you must start with a positive state of mind. Without self-confidence in your abilities, you can never accomplish anything. A positive mindset is where success actually starts before you have any tangible evidence to back it up.
Have you ever heard the old adage “what you think, you become”? How about “whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”? In order to be successful, you must truly believe you can be before you see any glimmer of hope.
Besides confidence, you must also have a dream. This dream is a focused goal—a purpose. It might sound self-evident, but you can’t achieve anything if you don’t know what it is you want. Without a purpose, you would be taking shots in the dark, hoping you’ll gain success at random.
Another first step toward becoming successful is not being swayed by the opinions of other people. There may be many naysayers on your path who say you can’t achieve what you want. You must have enough willpower to shut out their negativity.
I covered a few of these characteristics above, but I want to highlight them clearly now. If there were 5 characteristics that define a successful person, they would be the following:
If you come across a quality you’re lacking from this list, have the wherewithal to realize it and surround yourself with a group of friends, coworkers, and partners that have them. Your skills combined with theirs will cause your circle to thrive. Never expect to be perfect but learn from those around you.
You will be better at some of these skills than others, and they play a big part in your personality. These things are your strong traits and skills.
In addition to cultivating skills, successful people also develop specialized habits to keep them performing at their best. They take care of their bodies and minds, stay focused and optimistic, and never stop learning.
Out of all of the things you have in this world, you, as an individual, are the greatest gift you have. You are the only one with your specific vision and the only person who can achieve it. You are the only one who can make your dream come true. This means that you must first take proper care of your mind and body in order to keep working efficiently.
Oftentimes, self-care may seem like a waste of time, but it is important so that you can avoid burnout and stay focused. Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to be anything extreme. The best ways to have a healthy body and mind are to eat healthy, sleep, exercise, and meditate. Counseling may also be helpful for managing your stress.
As was mentioned above, taking time to meditate can help your performance in the workplace. Not only does it act as a self-care tool to help you deal with stress management and negativity, but it also helps you enhance your learning and memory. A study conducted at Harvard University found that people who practiced mindfulness for about 27 minutes per day over an eight-week period experienced a variety of benefits. These include an increase in focus, empathy, emotional management, and positive stress response. Mindfulness should be treated like an exercise program. Just as you can become stronger from exercising regularly, consistent mindful meditation can help you become mentally stronger. You will be able to better respond to each situation that comes your way, connect better with those around you, and stay focused with clients.
Today there are many resources available to you for meditation. If you don’t have time to go to classes or prefer to meditate alone, meditation with Muse 2 is a fabulous resource. This app provides a variety of guided meditations for beginners to advanced practitioners.
You might think when you’ve finished college you’ve also finished the learning stage of your life. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The most successful individuals are always learning, adapting, and pushing themselves to be better. They have a growth mindset. They know that each day they are becoming better equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities they face.
Staying motivated when you’re succeeding is easy, but what about when the going gets tough? What if you fail more times than you succeed? How do you stay motivated and keep pressing forward?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to appreciate the journey. If you can see each step you take or the changes you have to make as growth, you will see the process as amazing. Stay away from a fixed mindset that tells you “it’s not meant to be” and see what tweaks you can make to adjust your original plan. Just because your plan doesn’t unfold exactly how you want it to doesn’t mean that you have failed.
Also remember that giving up doesn’t solve your problems! This is a simple yet mind-blowing truth. If you give up on a goal of quitting smoking, for example, does your problem still exist? Giving up may cause temporary relief, but once you realize you’re right back where you started, how will you feel?
Jim Rohn is the man famous for the quote, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This means that your closest relationships greatly affect your motivation, beliefs, and confidence. These core relationships affect your life the most, but every person you surround yourself with matters. Your environment has a great impact on your motivation levels.
If you want to be successful, you must spend time with people who are supportive and build you up. It’s also important to spend time with people who are more skilled than you so that you can constantly challenge yourself.
Having a winning attitude will also help you be successful. Influential people have confidence in themselves and know they can accomplish their greatest dreams. They show themselves what they are capable of as they complete each task, whether they like it or not, to the best of their ability. This is an important trait of a winning attitude, because each achievement builds self-confidence. To stick with it requires passion, ambition, and discipline.
A winning attitude also requires you to be extremely organized, follow a strict schedule, set goals, plan ahead, and learn how to balance your life. But remember, you can start small. For example, start by organizing your office desk. Then, move on to other areas of your home, office, and life.
If you have no set plan in life, how will you reach your goals? A sure way to be unsuccessful is to go through life scrambling to figure out your next move. If you have a focused plan that balances your career goals with your personal life, you will be much more successful.
Planning may not seem like a vital part of achievement, but it allows you to take control of your future. It also helps you avoid stress, because you’ll be prepared for what is going to happen. For example, if you plan how much money you can spend each week, you will be aware of your financial needs and avoid overspending. If you plan your workouts by signing up for classes or joining a 6-week challenge, you will have a greater chance for success. Planning gives you the tools to accomplish what you want, reduce your anxiety, and help you concentrate.
Setting goals—big and small—is a vital part of planning. Goals are important because they help you focus and visualize a plan of action. They allow you to prioritize and highlight problems in your overall plan. In addition, goals give you the opportunity to adjust, edit, and find solutions. Goals are the glue that hold your plan in place and provide you with a blueprint to follow.
Planning for success also requires that you learn how to balance your life. Some people believe that their work defines who they are. However, too much work and not enough rest and play often results in burnout. If you lack the motivation to continue working, how can you continue producing high-quality work? Therefore, socializing with friends and family and self-care should be planned out in addition to your goals.
Success takes on a different meaning for every single person. Whatever it means to you, though, it still requires you to work hard. No matter what, you must have confidence in your abilities and learn how to plan. Surrounding yourself with encouraging friends, practicing mindfulness, and appreciating the daily journey will help you come out on top no matter the problems you face.