While the definition of success is a bit different for everyone, most agree being happy, financially secure, and in control of your own destiny is a big part of it.
So how do we make sure we’re on the right path — taking the right steps that will eventually lead us to our goal?
Classic time management and personal achievement advice preach the importance of keeping our objectives in front of us, focusing on the significantly important instead of the urgently trivial.
Sounds simple and straightforward, right?
But all of us know how quickly a day can become derailed with phone calls, meetings, and last-minute requests from customers and supervisors.
The better answer?
In addition to a well-defined list of goals, try creating a set of guidelines to keep you regularly engaged in creating new opportunities, establishing new professional relationships, and consistently making a trustworthy and reliable impression on others.
Each one of the following suggestions is easy to remember and simple to implement. Feel free to alter or edit them to suit your specific circumstances and life challenges.
1. Be the boss of your life
Take charge of your life!
If you’re not making things happen, no one else is going to do it for you. Create a plan based on taking manageable, daily steps. It’s simple, often repeated advice, but the alternative — drifting through life without a destination or objective — frequently results in an ordinary, even mediocre existence.
Without a clear picture of the future you want to create, you’ll typically end up staying in the same place, doing the same thing for five, ten, or twenty years.
Is that okay? Remember, you’re the boss, so you get to decide.
“If you’re waiting around for someone to turn you on, what happens if they never show up?” — Jim Rohn
2. Realize there are no limits to what is possible
Believing you can is the first and arguably the most important step in accomplishing your goals.
Your lot in life is dependent upon what you believe you deserve. Low self-esteem and self-defeating behavior will keep you mired in excuses — and paralyzed with doubt and fear.
Real achievers choose action over excuses. You don’t need a lot of reframing or psycho-babble to get this one on your side. Try these three steps:
(1) Decide what you want
(2) Visualize yourself accomplishing it
(3) Determine your first step and take it
3. There are no “little people” or “little jobs”
The minute you classify someone as beneath you or less important, you’ve just built a wall.
One of the most important characteristics of the successful is being approachable. Regardless of rank or position, financial status, or birthright, we all have the same need to be acknowledged for what we do, recognized for who we are, and appreciated for both.
Treat everyone with respect, because all of us deserve a chance to contribute something of value.
4. While in public, act as if someone is watching — because they are!
Your actions and behavior should always reflect the better you.
True story: A few years ago, I walked outside a restaurant to buy a newspaper. I noticed the machine had been left open, so I lifted the door and removed a paper, then deposited two dollars in quarters (Sunday edition), and shut the machine.
Forty-five minutes later, I was standing in line to pay the bill and a stranger approached. He said, “If anyone wants a character reference, refer them to me. I’ll tell them you’re an honest man.”
Turns out, the guy was a corporate attorney for Keller Williams and, after exchanging business cards, he became another networking business reference.
Bottom line? You never know who’s watching, so let them “catch” you doing something right.
5. Never settle
Good enough usually isn’t.
Others will view the quality of your work as a reflection of your attitude and commitment. Taking short-cuts or leaving a job half-done may prevent others from developing the level of confidence they need to trust you with more important work.
6. Never compromise your integrity
While it’s true a lot of life falls into the gray area, in most cases, you clearly know what’s right or wrong.
Taking advantage of the less intelligent, inexperienced, or those in desperate circumstances is not only wrong, it often returns a similar reward (if not in this life, perhaps in the next).
7. Value and protect your personal and professional relationships
You may need an introduction, a recommendation, or maybe an “insiders” opinion of an area of business unfamiliar to you.
Professional organizations are a good place to start. And don’t think your “networking” contacts must be at an equal or superior professional level. I know of one entrepreneur who found the greatest networking value came from administrative assistants (folks we used to call secretaries). They were part of a very unique group that actually knew what was going on and could describe the company’s current activities in detail.
8. Realize the road to success is paved with failure
Learn from it. Determine what you could have done to produce a different outcome.
The only problem with failure is letting it stop you.
There are opportunities everywhere, and they’re much easier to recognize when you’re ready. One of the most valuable outcomes of failure is being ready to succeed the second time.
9. Let others know how you expect to be treated
Unfortunately, not everyone plays by the rules.
There are plenty of arrogant and abusive people who will test your limits just to see what they can get away with. Don’t let them. Politely explain you will not tolerate attacks on your character or person.
If they persist, you have two choices:
Take legal action, or get as far away from them as possible (or both). These kinds of people have no place in your life. They rob you of cognitive objectivity — the capacity to enjoy the positive, enjoyable aspects of just being alive.
10. Enjoy the ride!
When successful people look back on the struggles and sacrifices necessary to reach their goals, they often consider those experiences to be some of the best times of their life — especially when their efforts were balanced with gratitude and appreciation.
Enjoy the journey.
Take vacations. Visit with friends. Spend private time with your spouse. In the end, life is made up of all the day-to-day experiences we collect in a lifetime of living.
Waiting to enjoy your life until you achieve some level of professional recognition or arbitrary financial status is taking a huge risk with the time you have left.
I’ve met far too many people who, after working their entire life in the accumulation of wealth and status, told me if they could live their life over, they’d have very different priorities — on a wife they miss every day, on their kids who rarely speak to them, and on the act of appreciating the value of being in the moment, just enjoying each day as it unfolds.
“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” — Wayne Dyer
© 2020 Roger A. Reid. All Rights Reserved.
Roger A. Reid is the author of Better Mondays: The New Rules for Creating Financial Success and Personal Freedom (While Working for the Man)
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