Success is such a subjective term. Personal. Context-dependent. Relative.
I was asked recently by a student if I could write something on how to be successful.
This got me thinking.
Success means different things to different people.
What you might think is a success may be something rather ordinary for someone else.
For example: my two-year old son sees peeing in the toilet as a success. Frankly, who doesn’t! But to those of us who have mastered the art of peeing in the toilet, this doesn’t seem like such a big deal (unless you’ve had a few).
So how do you become successful, when success is variable? Subjective? Personal?
I started working backwards.
What are the steps taken towards success?
If you are to be successful you need something specific to aim for. A goal. A target. Something that you aren’t doing now. Something that you can’t do now. Yet!
Make it relevant. There has to be a reason behind your target. A purpose. Something linked to what you already do. Or something that will develop you in another direction and broaden your skillset. Or something that will bring your personal satisfaction. Whatever it is. Make it relevant. You’ll be more inclined to work on it if you see a value and purpose in what you are doing.
Of course, it’s very easy to set yourself the target of turning over £1m a year within the next five years. And for some that is an achievable and realistic goal. But not so much if you’ve just started your A-levels.
And therein lies the crux. Whatever you want to be successful at has to be within the realms of reality. It has to be achievable. By all means be aspirational. But don’t be a fantasist. If you want to be successful, you need to give yourself a chance to succeed. A target that is unrealistic and unachievable is unworkable. Set the bar too high and you’ll end up demoralised, dissatisfied and dejected. Set the bar too low and there’s little value in your success.
Targets need to be in the Goldilocks Zone. Just right.
You need to be able to measure or quantify what success will look like. It makes it easier to judge how far you’ve progressed and whether or not you have ultimately achieved what you set out to do. Say, for instance, being able to complete 50 push-ups without stopping. Or write a blog post every week (yours truly).
These are easily quantifiable targets that you can use to measure your level of success.
Without this, how will you know if you’ve been successful?
How do you know when you’ve achieved?
The next logical step is to decide how long you think it should take you to reach your target. Achieve your goal. Be successful.
Give yourself a manageable timeframe within which to hit your target. As you progress you may find you need to adjust this. You may take less time. Or you may need more time. However, don’t get caught in the trap of procrastinating. Adding time and doing nothing. Try to be strict with yourself and keep to your original timeframe. Making it realistic from the off means that you give yourself a fighting chance to succeed at whatever your goal is.
Once you know your aim and how long you want to take to get there decide on the actions you need to take during the allocated timeframe to get you to the end product. What are the steps? Small increments that you can make on a regular basis to advance you towards success? What little changes can you make? Something that won’t have an immediate big impact on your progress or your current way of life, but if formulated into a routine, if made into a habit, will, over time become second nature. Something you can build upon. The foundations of your success.
No matter what the end product. No matter what the means you go through to achieve it. The process remains the same for anyone wishing to be successful.
So what’s the secret to success? How do you become successful?
Give yourself specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-constrained goals.
This is the formula. Stick with it.
Success will follow.
Also published on Medium.