Success: What It Is And How To Achieve It

Marc Bilodeau/ Core Beliefs, Self Help, Subjectivity

Many people dream of starting a business, find love, or further a career to be more successful. People want to achieve success for many reasons. Yet, what does it really mean to be successful?

Are celebrities, leaders, or affluent people successful simply because they have notoriety, influence, or wealth? What if those people aren’t feeling fulfilled doing the things they do to maintain their level of perceived “success”. Are they really successful?

What Does Success Mean?

Is success a fancy title, a big house, power, money, a good relationship, owning your own company, or an extensive network of friends or followers? There certainly isn’t anything wrong with striving for any of those. However, success isn’t having a big house with a crippling mortgage, a company that’s not profitable, a job that one hates, or a relationship between incompatible people.

The dictionary has several meanings for the word success. One definition of success is the attainment of popularity or profit. Unfortunately, many people directly relate success to how much money one has, or how well-known someone becomes. Fortunately, another definition seems more appropriate to define success as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

Define Your Own Success

Achieving success requires one to wear many hats. Your talents, know-how, problem solving skills, and network of people are your toolbox. There is only one person who will have the passion and conviction to navigate through all the obstacles to achieve a goal. You. When a team is involved, they will need your passion and conviction to navigate the many challenges and hurdles. Even if it’s only you on the journey, that same passion and conviction are critical for success.

However, no amount of skills or passion will achieve success without clearly defining a goal and purpose. First, it has to be within your power to achieve the goal either by yourself or with a group of people. Achievable goals have two characteristics. They are well defined, and they can be split into smaller tasks. Otherwise, a goal will be too broad or vague which usually results in failure.

Discipline And Effort

Discipline and effort are fundamental for success. However, those that only put in some effort will likely never achieve the level of success they desire. Being fully engaged in your work is an absolute requirement. Success requires consistent effort throughout the journey. Furthermore, without discipline to get through the particularly hard or tedious tasks, it will lead to a sub-par outcome.

The secret here is to always have well-defined tasks that produce specific results. Everything you do is built upon achieving the overall goal. If a task doesn’t contribute towards a goal, then it shouldn’t be a priority or possibly done at all.

Unfortunately, it’s tempting to start with the tasks that are fun or more interesting over tasks that need to be done first. Always determine if the task at hand is the most important task to do. If not, put it aside and do the most important task first. Moreover, always put in the same effort to do it right the first time.

Remain Focused

Focus is the ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Unfortunately, there are many things that can break our concentration. Application notifications, a noisy environment, and a disorganized work area are some examples of things that can hinder our focus. Furthermore, our own minds can also break our focus with random thoughts and concerns.

Fortunately, someone can learn to focus. It is a muscle that can improve with practice. Furthermore, each person has different preferences and habits to get them into the zone.

Remove any clutter from the work area. Clutter is distracting. This includes your physical and virtual workspaces. Turn off or silence notifications from all applications while working. Clean and organize your workspace by removing anything that isn’t necessary for your work.

Single Tasking. Do not multitask. People cannot multitask. The results are always sub-par. Do one task at a time. For larger tasks, break them up into smaller manageable tasks and do them in order. This helps build momentum. Momentum helps keep us motivated. Motivation is a must to reach our goals.

Don’t try to keep everything in your head. Develop an external brain. Utilize everyday tools like a notepad or your smartphone to stay organized. Take lots of notes and organize your thoughts frequently.

Work in a quiet place. Noises are distracting. Your workspace should be quiet. If this isn’t possible, use headphones while listening to music. I personally like Ambient Music and Vocal Trance.

Look For Opportunities

There isn’t a single event that transforms a person from unsuccessful to successful. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Success is built upon a person’s ability to do work effectively, and to capitalize on opportunities that further their goals.

Sometimes an opportunity presents itself. Other times, it only appears after lots of work and collaboration with others. However, opportunities can be distracting and lead you away from your goal. Therefore, each opportunity must be carefully considered. Sometimes, they reveal a new path to your goals.

Before acting on any opportunity, it’s critical to consider the pros and cons. It’s okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are tools to help identify other opportunities, and help improve our decision making abilities.

Avoid The Sunk Cost Fallacy

People have an aversion to loss. Giving up is associated with failure. For some people, failing and giving up are embarrassing. People don’t want to be wrong and giving up can feel like that. As a result, some people keep pushing forward instead of giving up. Giving up doesn’t make a person wrong. Sometimes it is the right thing to do.

I’ve seen many people continue to push toward a goal when it’s clear from an outside perspective that they will never reach it. Usually the reason they keep going is because they have spent a lot of time, possibly money, and effort.

This trap is a recipe for failure as it narrows our focus and thinking on what is happening now instead of the big picture. When things are tough, it’s important to be more aware of the results of the immediate efforts, and how they affect near-term results and the overall goal in the long run.

The key takeaway is to identify when things aren’t going well and be willing to stop or pivot to something new regardless of how much time and effort have been invested.

Final Thoughts

Success is subjective as we all have different goals in life. Regardless of those goals, it’s important that we are doing them for the right reason. We shouldn’t do things for the sake of how others will perceive us. A truly successful person will work towards their own goals that shape and enhance their own life no matter what others think.

Success never happens overnight. Each day take some time to work a little more on tasks that move you closer toward your goals. Enjoy each step and find meaning in what you’re doing. Successful people find meaning in their work, have a sense of accomplishment, focus on the tasks at hand, and have fun along the way regardless of the outcome.


This blog was narrated on September 24, 2020 on the Optimal Living Daily Podcast. Subscribe to Optimal Living Daily where they hand-pick and read the best content on personal development, minimalism, finance, health, business, and more.