How to Be Successful in Life
By Doing the Simple Things Right Every Day
Everybody wants to know how to be successful in life.
And especially at the beginning of each year, we make New resolutions to change our lives, wishing to pivot towards success.
We decide to quit smoking, work out regularly, pick up a new language, or make more money. But studies show that 80% of all New Year Resolutions people make slip within weeks.
Why is it that most of us suck at living up to our resolutions? And how can you create lasting positive change in your life?
Any famous actor, athlete, or entrepreneur says that success does not happen overnight. Instead, success results from years of practice and good choices.
Let’s Talk about What it Means to be Successful
You have to look at advertisements to understand how most view success: having lots of money, shiny possessions, and high status.
And of course, when we don’t have those things, this is what we want. Just look at any get-rich-quick scheme on the Internet: most of the time, they will show a flashy car, exotic destination, an expensive watch, or plain simple piles of money.
However, if you are in the fortunate position to have lots of money already, you know that money alone doesn’t make you happy. There is more to having a fulfilled life than being loaded with cash.
And that is your internal motivation. I deeply value the freedom that comes with being rich. And, of course, sharing with others. Many want to give back to society.
It is what you do with your success that provides a sense of fulfillment in your life. Only when your quest to success also gives you meaning, then you will be fulfilled and happy.
The point is, success is personal. In his audio program Lead the Field, Iconic author Earl Nightingale once defined success as ‘progressive realization of a worthy goal.’
While there is a success blueprint that works for everybody, you have to decide what success means to you. And you start feeling successful once you move in the right direction, which begins with doing the simple things right every day.
‘Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day,’ said entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn.
It turns out Rohn hit the mark. So then, let’s get after the formula of how to be successful in life.
How to Be Successful in Life? Master these 3 Areas
To experience the magic of great success, here are three areas we must master:
First, we need to adopt a life philosophy that helps us tackle daily life positively.
Second, we need to stay curious and be lifelong learners.
And third, cultivate a set of essential habits that will make success unavoidable.
All the reasons why people don’t follow through on their New Year Resolutions relate on one level to life philosophy, learning, and habits.
And perhaps the New Year was just not the right time to change. After all, it is just another date, and any day can be perfect to start on a new path.
‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now,’ says a Chines proverb.
So, let’s dig in and look at each of the three areas for a wildly successful life.
We all can succeed with these three enablers.
Develop a Positive Attitude to Shine in Daily Life Activities
We live moment by moment. And during a lot of those moments, we do trivial activities like making the bed, brushing teeth, walking down the stairs, ordering lunch in a restaurant.
Another word for these daily life activities is mundane, and thus for many of us, a perception of dullness.
Let’s take a second look. Retired US Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven explains in his bestseller, ‘Make Your Bed‘ how the mere custom of making your bed can have a meaningful influence on your life:
By performing this easy task first thing in the morning, you come into the day with a sense of accomplishment you can build on.
It will be easier to tick off the following tasks on your list once you are off on a positive note.
Or how about brushing your teeth? Regularly and thoroughly brushing your teeth is not only practicing kindness to yourself, but it also holds practical long-term value. Less time with the dentist equals less pain and expenses, and a clean smile gives you greater confidence and thus influences your social life, career, and relationships.
And when you take the underground, do you take the escalator and walk the stairs instead? Is it too tiring to walk the stairs? Think about your health and fitness if you walk the stairs every time you can instead of taking the escalator. And then calculate, how many stairs you take in a week, in a month, a year? The adding up of small actions is known as the compound effect: the repetition of tiny actions compounds to huge impacts over time.
And what happens to your finance if every time you drink a coffee at Starbucks, you opt for the local coffee shop instead that offers the same treat at a much lower price? Go ahead and calculate how much you can save per week, per month, per year.
Consistently focusing on the little things in our life, they will cause significant changes in time.
And this is how to be successful in life: Take positive actions and consistently repeat them over time.
Serial entrepreneur and author Jeff Olson calls this the ‘slight edge.’
Understanding the slight edge is recognizing that everything we do works either for us or against us.
Every little action is either a step towards success or failure.
And we tend to overlook the little things because they often do not have an immediate result. Little things compound over time. And as such, they make all the difference.
How You Do One Thing is How You Do Everything
As the ancient Zen saying goes, “The Way a Person Does One Thing Is the Way They Do Everything,” every seemingly small choice in our life matters.
When we control the small things in our life, we demonstrate to ourselves that we are responsible for our life.
Blaming the circumstances never gets us anywhere. And by being in control of the little things in our life, we also develop the right focus that will eventually lead us to success.
95% of people fail at achieving most of their goals in life. How can this be when all we have to do is concentrate on the simple things in life? Successful people know that everything they do in life matters.
Unsuccessful people often think, unknowingly, that what they do right now does not matter.
A Growth Mindset Recognizes Failure as a Chance to Grow
An essential part of our life philosophy related to success is knowing that we can improve our intelligence and abilities. Having this so-called growth mindset, you don’t accept that your current situation is permanent.
This belief is of particular importance regarding how we deal with setbacks and failures. When you perceive faults as evidence of having an unfit disposition, this limiting and biased idea will become a fundamental restriction to your growth.
This mental restriction is known as a fixed mindset.
In 2007, the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck illustrated the growth and fixed mindsets in a two-year study examining hundreds of high school students participating in a challenging math program.
At the beginning of the study, Dweck identified if students had a fixed or growth mindset.
As the study went on for a few months, students’ progress with a growth mindset surpassed that of their fixed-mindset peers.
The difference in performance between the two groups grew wider with time.
When investigating what specifically had created this disparity, Dweck noticed that those with a growth mindset managed to bounce back from failures. More precisely, she observed that because the growth-minded students didn’t judge their intelligence level as settled, they did not see failure as a threat.
Instead, they understood that failure was the opportunity to learn from that experience and improve. Consequently, growth mindset students were more willing to take on complex tasks and learn from the mathematical challenges they faced.
In the same vein, Thomas J Watson, the founder of IBM, once declared, ‘The formula for success is quite simple: Double your rate of failure.’
Developing a growth mindset is available to all of us. So, are you ready to succeed and double your rate of failure today?
Lifelong Learning and Practice Will Help You Benefit From the Slight Edge
Having a growth mindset, you understand that you can and must continuously evolve with your environment.
Good past choices that brought you where you are today might not keep you there as the world changes.
It takes continuous, lifelong learning by any available means for the slight edge to keep working in your favor.
Reading ten pages of an inspirational and educational book every day can significantly enrich your life. Doing so would mean that you could finish a 300-page book every month. You could also listen to 15 minutes of life-transforming audio every day or take a course or a seminar every few months.
While studying is helpful, what you do with the newly acquired information will have a lasting impact on your personal growth and development.
When you learn something new, you need to practice to nurture retention. Practicing newly discovered materials also expands your understanding of the insights you get and makes them part of you.
The Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, ‘Knowledge without practice is useless, and practice without knowledge is dangerous.’
This saying is excellent advice by Confucius, and it also reminds us that we ought to deliberate before taking any action.
Then there is also the option to learn from others. Identify a person with similar aspirations to yours and who has accomplished far more. Carefully observe, copy and assimilate to your style.
But this education will only have a transformative effect if you use it to train your mind. To do this, you first need to find out how the conscious and unconscious brain work.
The conscious brain is potent, but it can only focus on one thing at a time and is easily distracted. On the other hand, the unconscious brain runs virtually all of our brain processes.
99.99 percent of everything we do is our brain on auto-pilot.
For example, have you ever walked or driven a familiar route while your mind was wholly engrossed in something else? Sure. We all have. Why does that happen? Your conscious mind has learned the path so well. It’s become embedded in your subconscious.
To keep making good choices, you will have to train your unconscious brain. You need to develop mindpower.
And how to do that? Consciously decide what you want to learn and then repeat the new practice until it firmly seeds in your unconscious brain and becomes an automatic part of you.
How to Be Successful in Life? Use the Power of Reflection, Momentum, Completion, and Celebration
How to Be Successful in Life? Use the Power of Positive Habits to Become Unstoppable
Giving up a bad habit can be challenging. And many try hard to no avail.
It doesn’t matter how much ability, education, experience, or means you have. They only matter if you do something with your resources.
Practice Seven Key Habits to Stay on the Path to Success
- Show up and be present
- Be consistent in your actions
- Practice optimism
- Show long-term commitment
- Cultivate a passionate desire backed by belief
- Be ready to pay the price
- Practice slight-edge integrity.
While showing up is good, more important is to do so consistently.
Consistently showing up becomes more powerful with an optimistic outlook. Research, particularly in positive psychology, confirms that one is more like to be successful with a positive outlook.
We also need to be committed for the long term. Applying the virtue of patience, we need to avoid expecting instant success.
Every farmer knows that one has to wait for the entire season until the orchard bears its fruits. Similarly, living by positive key habits over time tilts your fortunes towards success.
And then there is the habit of cultivating passionate desire. Some say that you even have to be obsessed. Either way, we want a deeply rooted desire that derives passion from believing that we are on a path that is aligned with who we are. It is a desire that does not wane during tough times or when we have reached our goal.
Next is knowing that nothing comes for free. Hence we are willing to pay the price to achieve our goals.
If one of your goals is being fit and healthy, yes, your price will be to give up on excessive junk food and pushing through the physical resistance when you feel lazy to work out.
Whatever it is we seek and the price we have to pay to achieve success, the price for failure is always higher in comparison.
Last but not least, we need to practice slight edge integrity, which is a form of intrinsic motivation. Am I just behaving in a certain way to please others, or am I also committed when no one is watching?
How to Achieve Your Dreams – Write them down, Look at Them Every Day, Develop a Plan and Execute
Summary and Actionable Advice on How to Be Successful in Life
If we are consistent with taking small, simple, positive actions, success will materialize over time.
In contrast, by ignoring the mundane matters in life, we forgo a powerful compound effect.