While we all define success a little differently, in one form or another, we all want it.
To some, success might be building wealth or getting a promotion. To others, it might be getting into shape or starting a family.
However you define success, achieving it becomes much easier with a clear plan. To become successful in my life, I consistently use 7 dead simple, highly actionable steps to success.
Dead Simple, Highly Actionable Steps to Success
These 7 steps aren’t unique to any one specific type of success, they’re universal.
Whatever your idea of success, use these steps to dramatically increase the likelihood you achieve it.
1. Forget the Past
Plain and simple, the first step to success is to forget about past failures.
Maybe your brilliant business venture didn’t make a profit or maybe a lesser employee was promoted instead of you.
Whatever happened, don’t let your fear of the past control your plans for the future.
Today’s a new day and it’s the perfect day to lay the foundation for your future.
PS: If you’re having trouble overcoming your fear of the past, check out this post for some strong encouragement.
2. Translate Your Idea of Success into a Clear, Actionable Goal
After you’ve moved on from the past, the next step is to turn your idea of success into an actionable, achievable goal.
So, what do you define as success?
Is it saving more money each month? Getting into better shape? Landing a new job?
Each of those “successes” are great goals, but they’re incredibly general and, as a result, will be incredibly difficult to achieve.
Let’s say your goal was to make more money each month. What do you define as more money?
What if you made $5 more each month? Is that a “more”? Have you achieved your goal?
The general nature of these goals makes them difficult to actually achieve.
So instead of creating a general goal, create one in incredibly clear, plain and exact detail.
To translate your idea of success into this type of conscious goal, I highly recommend you use the SMART goal setting system.
The system uses the acronym SMART:
Like you saw above, we want to avoid broad, general goals like:
- I want to get into shape.
- I want to be wealthy.
They’re extremely difficult to accomplish. Does “in shape” mean losing weight? Does this mean that you want to build more muscle mass?
Unless you clearly and specifically define what you want to achieve, it’s almost impossible to fully achieve it.
So, instead of such a general goal, set something specific like (the bold words are what I’ve changed):
- I want to lose weight.
- I want to save more money.
Can you see the difference in these goals?
Setting specific goals will help you keep focused on what’s important.
Next, take your specific goal and make it measurable.
After all, if you’re unable to measure your success, how do you know whether you’ve succeeded?
Let’s take our two specific goals and make them measurable:
- I want to lose 20 pounds.
- I want to save $50,000.
This is a powerful step.
Once you lose 20 pounds… BOOM, you’ve succeeded!
Since you set a measurable point, and you reached that point, there’s no doubt in whether you’ve accomplished your goal.
To make your goal measurable, just ask yourself simple questions like “how much?” and “how many?”
When I outline my SMART goal, I like to complete the T (time based) step before I define the A (attainable) and R (realistic) steps.
Goals that don’t have time frames are rarely accomplished.
Because you have two million things to do and each one of those things need to be finished by a certain date.
By adding a deadline to the goal you make it a priority in your busy life.
So, let’s add a deadline to our goals:
- I want to lose 20 pounds in 3 months.
- I want to save $50,000 by the end of the year.
Can you see the impact of this?
Now, not only do you have a clear and measurable goal, but you know when it needs to be completed by.
Your deadline will keep you focused and will help you accomplish your goal in a timely manner.
When you define your goal, aim for something that’s difficult to achieve but not something that’s impossible.
While it’s important to reach for the stars, completing your goal will give you a huge sense of accomplishment.
This accomplishment becomes momentum which will help you continue your success.
What’s an unattainable goal?
If you’re making minimum wage, a (likely) unattainable goal would be to make a million dollars in 6 months.
Create a goal that you have to work for, but one that you’re actually able to accomplish.
A realistic goal is one that is both physically and situationally possible.
If you just broke your leg, an unrealistic goal would be running a marathon next month.
Be sure that the conditions surrounding your goal don’t prohibit you from achieving it.
3. Write a Highly Practical, Step-by-Step Plan to Achieve Your Success
Great. You’ve intelligently translated your idea of success into an actionable goal.
If you created a difficult goal (like you should have), it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work required to accomplish it.
To reduce this stress, break your large goal down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
To explain this step, I’m going to use the example of creating an app because, from experience, I know it can seem like an incredibly daunting and overwhelming task.
First, outline the high level tasks:
App Development Outline:
- Clearly outline the app and it’s functions
- Competition and market research
- Develop and design the app
- Market the app
- Collect feedback and revise the app
By breaking our goal down into smaller pieces, it’s already considerably less daunting.
Next, break down the outline from above into actionable tasks:
App Development Action Points:
- Clearly outline the app and it’s functions
- In under a page, define what the app does, why people would want an app like this, who specifically would use it, what operating systems it will work on, etc.
- Mock up drawings of each screen of the app.
- Create a flow diagram that illustrates how a user can navigate from screen to screen.
- Create a budget for your project.
- Competition and market research
- Exhaustive Google search for related apps.
- Patent search for related apps.
- Interview mobile developers and ask them for feedback on the app.
- Ask potential consumers if they would use the app.
These actionable tasks make a large goal much more manageable. They also give you an easy to follow to do list that’s in prioritized order.
4. Create a Clear Schedule and Set of Guidelines to Keep You on Track
Completing most goals, like getting a promotion or losing weight, are self-driven.
There might be people motivating you, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to put in the time and effort to complete the tasks you outlined in step #3.
It’s unlike a day job, where someone is telling you when to work and what to do, and more like entrepreneurship, where you set your schedule and define the tasks that you need to accomplish.
Being an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to keep myself on track is to follow a clear schedule and to establish a set of general guidelines.
Using the app development project above as an example my guidelines and schedule might be:
- Spend at least 20 hours per week working on the app
- Save $1,000 a month to fund the project
MON-FRI – After my day job, work 2-3 hours on the app
SAT/SUN – Work a combined 10 hours
Let’s say your goal is something like losing 20 pounds in 3 months, your guidelines and schedule could be:
- Eat 10 fruits and vegetables a day
- Only eat red meat 1x per week
- Avoid carbs
- Don’t drink soda or eat candy
- Drink more water
MON – Run 1.5 miles before work, do 150 push ups, 200 crunches and 4.5 minutes of plank
WED – Run 3 miles before work, do 100 push ups, 100 crunches and 3 minutes of plank
FRI – Run 1.5 miles before work, do 150 push ups, 200 crunches and 4.5 minutes of plank
Similar to how you established your SMART goal, be sure that your guidelines and schedule are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based.
Having these two clearly defined will dramatically increase the likelihood that you stay on track and ultimately find your success.
5. Stay Hungry
Anyone who’s chased success will tell you that it doesn’t come overnight.
It’s tough to stay motivated to complete a goal over a long period of time. You’re often working for months (even years) before you see any sort of return.
Pay attention to what motivates you and use it whenever you lose your drive. If you’re looking for motivators, here are a few things that work really well for me:
- Motivational videos. These are literally designed to pick you up. Here’s one of my favorites:
- Keep a picture of someone who you want to succeed for close by. This could be your parent, your significant other, your child. Anyone who motivates you.
- Review your success. Go back over the list of tasks you’ve accomplished in step #2 above. Realize how far you’ve come.
- Targeted quotes. Quotes are succinct and instantly help you keep moving forward. Check out this post for some great quotes about strength and being strong.
6. Set Yourself Up for Success
Whatever you’re aiming to accomplish, create an environment that will help you succeed.
If your goal is to lose weight, avoid lunches with your friend who only eats hamburgers and fries. If you want to make more money, surround yourself with people who are financially successful.
Base these around what you specifically want to succeed.
There are a few general tips for success I would highly recommend:
- Get regular, consistent sleep. I go to bed every night at 11:30 and wake up every morning at 7:00. Consistent sleep will do wonders for the function of your brain.
- Improve your memory. This doesn’t apply to every goal or success (weight loss for example), but improving your memory will help you achieve any goal that involves even a small amount of intelligence. I recently wrote an article on the Pythagoras Memory Technique that if you haven’t already read, I HIGHLY recommend.
- Meditate daily. Daily meditation will help reduce your overall stress and worry and will refocus you on achieving your success.
- Eat well. Food is your body and mind’s fuel. Eating well will improve the function of both your brain and your body.
- Exercise regularly. Exercising stimulates your brain. Need proof? Check out this image that shows your brain before and after a twenty-minute walk.
7. Stop Thinking. Get to Work
#7 is by far the most important of all these steps to success.
So, you’ve got an intelligent goal, an actionable plan and schedule, some motivation and the right frame of mind to succeed.
There’s no more thinking; there’s no more planning. Now is the time to put everything into action.
All too often, people get what I like to call analysis paralysis.
They think about every possible detail and every possible outcome. Then, after they’ve thought about seemingly everything conceivable, they think some more.
They effectively think themselves into inaction. This over thinking is often a result of the fear of failure.
Dale Carnegie said:
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Don’t be afraid to achieve your success. Stop thinking and get to work.
If you’re serious about achieving your success, make it a point to complete steps #1 and #2 by the end of the day. You’ll be amazed how impactful and encouraging taking these first few steps to success can be.
In the words of Walt Disney:
All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Whatever your dream, whatever your idea of success, have the courage to go after it.