When it comes to how to be successful, everybody has an opinion.
Many bloggers and authors like to write about the topic of “success”.
How many of them are bluffing and how many are actually truly successful?
What does it even mean to be successful anyway? Success is a vague concept ad there are no two people in the world who will have the same image of what success is and means. Everybody’s vision of success is different.
You’ll have to figure out exactly what success means to you, just like I had to figure out what it meant to me. We all have vague and indefinite ideas of what success is, and maybe that’s why so few people can really be considered to be successful. How can you hit a target when you don’t even know what that target is?
Are you ready to define & achieve success?
Defining Success – A Simple Definition
While everyone has a different idea of success, I believe there’s still a way to define the concept which applies to everyone.
Success is best defined as achieving what you set out to achieve, no matter what that goal or ambition is.
For an overweight guy, success could mean shredding a 100lbs.
For a skinny guy, success could be bulking up by 40lbs and looking in the mirror with confidence.
For a poor guy, success could be as simple as paying the bills every month and not sinking into debt.
For a rich guy like Richard Branson, success could mean anything from going to the moon to beaming wi-fi down from space to every square inch of the planet.
These are all different ideas of success. No two people have the same goal or dream exactly, so their visions of what success looks like will be wildly different.
Underlying all the differences, however, is one simple thing: achievement. Success is simply setting out to do X in a given time-frame, and actually following through and achieving X.
Knowing what success is then is the first and obvious step to achieving it. Getting clear about it, having an exact picture of it in your mind, and getting ready to live that success by a certain date are the starting points.
Success always starts with a dream or ambition. I don’t even like the word dream. To me it’s sappy and new age. We don’t want to dream, we want to wake up and be living in our dream world! We want to create it in reality so we don’t have to sleep and fantasize about it. I prefer the words goal, ambition, target. These imply accuracy. These imply a specific target and you either hit it, which is success, or you don’t, which is failure.
Either way – to achieve what you want – you’ll need to be crystal clear about what it actually is first.
How to Define Success for Yourself
Believe it or not, if you ask 90% of people in the world what success means to them they will have absolutely no idea.
They’ll give vague answers like “getting rich”, “owning a mansion”, “having a beautiful girlfriend”, “not having to work for a living”.
What these people have done is buy into the media image of success, without thinking, and have never actually thought through in any specific detail what success means for them as individuals.
Here ate the Art of Selfhood, we don’t roll like that! We are a community of thinking men who decide for ourselves what ideas and concepts mean to us, and then set goals and use every tool at our disposal to achieve that.
So, what is success to you? When you typed ‘How to be successful’ into Google, what did you have in mind?
Would you agree that success is an Armani suit and a money clip with $5000 in your pocket?
Would you agree that success is driving the latest sports car and having a hot blonde girlfriend in the front seat?
Would you agree that success if having a healthy, happy family?
How about eating three times today and keeping a roof over your head?
How you define success will tell you a lot about your values and who you are as a person.
For some, success is prestige and being seen favourably by others.
For some, the get their self-worth from the calibre of woman they can hook up with.
Yet others define success financially and determine how success looks by how many zeros they can count on the end up their bank balance.
For most, success is vague. They have no idea what it actually is.
What Success Means for Me
I have a very simple image of success.
I will be financially free – without debt.
I will be fit and healthy, in good shape.
My wife & son will have what they need, and a fair amount of what they want.
If I can create those circumstances in my life, I will consider myself successful. These reflect my highest values: family & freedom.
Success for you will look different than my image. That’s ok. This is The Art of Selfhood, not the Art of being more like G Freedom.
You’ll have to define success for yourself. Get crystal clear about what it looks like. Have definite, measurable targets to hit. Figure out what you need to do to get there.
How to Be Successful – Actually!
Once you’ve figured out what success means to you, the next step is to actually achieve success. You can read a million and one websites and books about the subject, but until you create a clear plan of action and start implementing it, you will always achieve nothing.
Here are some things successful people do which everyday Joes do not. These things make all the difference in achieving success and failing.
Successful people are precise. Do you think an Olympic sprinter says “My aim is to be faster than the other guy?” No! They plan their timing down to the millisecond. Whatever it is you are aiming to achieve, be precise. Get an exact, measurable number and time frame. What constitutes achieving the goal and what constitutes failing?
Successful people hold themselves accountable. Once a plan is in place, the goal posts are never moved. Many people find this difficult and tempted to say “I aimed for 1000 unique page views per day, I achieved 950, that’s good enough!” Yet, by the true definition of success, you have failed.
Facing up to failure is the best thing you can do for yourself. It allows you to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. This then allows you to refine and re-evaluate. You can then take what worked well and use it in the future, and discard or tweak what didn’t work. The first step to all of this, however, is holding yourself accountable.
Successful people start at the end and work their way back. This is precisely the opposite of what most people do. Most people consider where they are, and work forward towards where they want to be. Successful people do the opposite. They start where they want to be in their minds, and work their way backwards to where they are. This allows them to then figure out every step they need to put in place to get to where they need and want to be.
Successful people do not quit. It is important to recognize the difference between being stubborn and being persistent. Stubbornness is foolish and will cause you to fail while persistence is enlightened and will cause you to succeed. The difference is in being willing to change your approach.
The stubborn man will make up his mind that his way is the only way and keep going, no matter what. The persistent man will try one way, see if it works and if it doesn’t he will take advice and change his approach while still persisting toward the end goal he has set in his mind.
This is a fundamental yet often overlooked difference. Don’t be stubborn, but do be persistent.
Successful people are realistic. Optimists see the glass as half full, pessimists see it as half empty. Neither of these is correct. The truth is the glass is both half full and half empty. Successful men have the ability to weigh the pros and cons of a situation, arriving at a neutral yet informed opinion. They then proceed using the best, well-thought-out plan of action they can conceive of.
Many people think optimism is the better of the two, and I would tend to agree in most situations. However, in the world of business, for example, over-optimism can be just as dangerous as extreme pessimism.
If you want to be successful, learn to think in a balanced way.
Successful people think long-term. The people you know who are broke, overweight, down and beat all have one thing in common: the inability to delay gratification and think long term.
This is a fatal weakness and all successful people do battle with it. You need to learn self-discipline and the ability to think long-term.
Building blogs is a great way to do this. You won’t see any measurable results for the first year or two. Only those with a long-term view and the ability to keep plodding on no matter what will be successful in this game. You can take this patience and strategic, long-term view and apply it elsewhere in life.
Bill Gates started with a plan to put a copy of windows on every PC on the planet. Could he have ever built his empire if he wasn’t willing to dedicate more than six months or a year to the project?
A quote by Tony Robbins sums this point up quite nicely:
Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.
Successful people have balls. Fear and timidity is going to stop you and kill your ambitions before you ever begin. You need to realize what you fear and what terrifies you, and you need to turn that into fuel for success.
I’m a human like everyone else and I have certain fears. One of those is getting old and being unable to care for myself, stemming from a summer I worked in a care home for the elderly. I actively use this every time I don’t want to go to the gym, and I visualize myself old yet strong and with a solid foundation, because of the effort I am putting in today. As a result, I have made excellent progress towards my fitness goals.
Successful people are willing to sacrifice to achieve their goals. This could possibly be the one thing which separates the successful from the unsuccessful most of all. This ability and willingness to give up comfort and pleasure, and even to risk ruin today for gain tomorrow, is something that puts you on the fast track to success in life if you possess it.
Are you willing to sell your car and take the bus to pay down your debt or get the startup capital you need? Are you willing to work extra shifts? How about losing a few hours sleep a week?
You need to be comfortable with being out of your comfort zone. That’s one of the defining characteristics of successful people.
How to Be Successful Summary
Remember, success to you and success to me are two very different things. Don’t mindlessly buy into the media images force fed to you through TV and banner ads about success and what it looks like. Real men make their own minds up and don’t apologize for living life on their own terms.
Get clear about what success mens to you. Get precise about it. Create a success plan of action. Learn from others who have already achieved it if necessary. Turn your fears into fuel. Then proceed and persist.
That’s all there is to it, gents. Maybe you won’t get there – but if you’re willing to die trying, then I’m willing to bet my bottom buck you’ll get there.
Until 2016 (the Year of Badassity),
Desire. Decide. Persist.
Oh, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!