The keys to a successful life

Successful, but something missing:  the seven keys to making a success of your life.

What would you like to hear first, the good news or the better news? Well, the good news is, that if you feel something is missing in your life, it isn’t. The even better news is that you have simply been looking in the wrong place!

Often we work hard to be successful without having worked out what success really is. We mistakenly believe that if we achieve enough, accumulate enough and get enough recognition then we will be successful. Unfortunately enough is never enough. We need to recognise that true success is not “out there” in the world but it is to be found within us.

If you have placed your best bet for success on your work, material possessions or relationships, you have been seeing the source of what you want as outside yourself. It is comparable to climbing a ladder of success, only to find that you have been leaning it against the wrong wall. Now is the time to shift your focus. The journey of being successful is to rediscover your natural state of optimism and creativity, and to combine it with your muscle for taking action. The following seven keys are designed to help you reposition success in your life.

1. Defining success

Think about your criteria for success. For example, at work, is your criteria getting the job done at whatever cost? Do the means justify the end? What sort of work relationships do you want? Reflect upon the impact work has on the rest of your life. Does work enrich the whole of your life, or does it take away from it? Is life merely recovery from work? Ask yourself: “How do you know at the end of a day if you have been successful at work or not?” Think about your life as a whole; ie, your family relationships, friends, leisure pursuits, personal development goals, and contribution to your community. What is success in your family? What is success in your friendships? What are your favourite leisure pursuits? What are your personal development goals? What function do you have in your community? Remember, success is about life, not just work.  Make sure your life and work is based on your criteria for success.

2 Setting goals

Setting your short, mid, and long-term goals is essential when it comes to creating clear criteria for success. Write down your goals in three main categories, things you want to be, to do and to have. Use the SMART formula to enhance the process. Specifically, state your goals precisely and clearly. Measurable: ensure you can obtain actual proof of your progress. Action-orientated: state what needs to be done. Realistic: make your goal a possible dream. Timing: allow a reasonable time span for each goal, which suits your criteria for succeeding at work and life. Make sure that you prioritise your goals, strengths and actions. Know that you can only be effective in certain areas and prioritise accordingly. Ask yourself: What are you really good at? Where does your natural talent lie? What do you enjoy most? What will be most effective in advancing your life’s goals and vision? Being strategic about key issues at work and in your life will make all the difference to being successful. The process of achieving a goal is as important as the final outcome.

3. Understanding your beliefs

You have beliefs about everything, including work, life, success and happiness. Your beliefs influence your choices and actions. Often, people who feel unsuccessful labour under limiting beliefs such as, “success entails sacrifice”, “success must have a price”, “no pain, no gain”, “long hours are unavoidable” and “success is for other people”. Take a moment now to list any limiting beliefs of your own. Be as honest as possible. By challenging your beliefs, you can create new possibilities and new outcomes. What you believe will be how you live.

4. Perceiving clearly

Perception is subjective and describes the way that you see things and the way you interpret experiences. Perception is a choice. There is always another way of seeing things. By changing your perceptions you can turn problems into opportunities, challenges into stepping stones, and setbacks into set-ups for greater success and happiness. If you are at least prepared to look for solutions, you stand a good chance of finding them. The key is to stay open and flexible. Make it a personal rule that there is always a better way of doing things, and then start looking for it.
Be careful what you look for because you’ll find it!

5. Thinking positively

There is an old saying, “As a man thinketh, so he is”. Psychologists estimate that you think approximately 40,000 thoughts per day and that you have the capacity to choose your thoughts. Try some “possibility thinking” for creating lateral solutions. Possibility thinking helps you to think “outside the box” of your past experience and conditioning. Be willing to let your old ideas make way for the new. Write down your thoughts about success. Identify the thoughts that limit your options. Commit to changing your thinking so as to change your life. Write down any new thoughts you have about this and review them regularly..

6. Taking action

Taking action is about taking responsibility for your life. This means that you do not blame circumstances, conditions or others for your experiences. Either you can wait for your life to get better, or you can act. The extent to which you are willing to act is the extent to which you are exercising your “proactivity muscle”. Developing this muscle is like working out at the gym. It is unrealistic to expect that you can develop strong biceps overnight. It takes continual repetition to create a proactive mindset. Look for opportunities to enhance your life each day.

7. Celebrate success

It is important to celebrate the successes you achieve. Celebration builds your confidence, increases future resolve, and helps to make success a state of mind. Many people achieve successes but fail to enjoy them. There are many reasons for this. One is the tendency to push ahead so fast to the next goal that they skip any time for celebration. Another is that they undervalue themselves and their achievements. Maybe they only define success as “the next thing”. Clearly, one way to enjoy your success is to make sure you reward yourself. This motivates you for taking the next step in your life. Remember that success is a journey, not a destination.

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"The journey of being successful is to rediscover your natural state of optimism and creativity, and to combine it with your muscle for taking action.

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