By Coach Clinton Ages
When you set a goal and define your future, you are embarking upon a journey. There are steps you must take, working through each of them to arrive at the next. Accomplishing each step motivates and inspires you to press on until you reach your desired result.
Before we dive into the 5 steps, there is a step 0: Accept that things won’t go exactly as you’ve planned. Life comes with a bit of uncertainty, and while no plan can absolutely remove it completely, accepting things may not go according to plan will help protect your sanity!
1. TAKE CHARGE
What is your life plan? What are you accomplishing?
These are very simple questions with which we all struggle at different times during our lives. What’s more – can you believe that there are people living their lives as if on autopilot? Yes, lots of people experience life only doing what’s trendy instead of identifying their purpose. Instead of being proactive and taking charge of our decisions, some of us live reactive lifestyles. We react to whatever life and the environment throws at us. When you are reactive, your choices are mostly based on feelings of comfort, instead of dedication and discipline. You cannot achieve success if you keep letting life happen to you.
Strive to be conscious when making day-to-day decisions and become aware of the choices you make. Ensure that the choices you make are not leading you from your desired goals. When you begin making more conscious decisions, you will start noticing if what you are doing is taking you closer to your desired end or steering you away from it.
How do you take charge you ask? The answer is simple. Set goals for your life. Identify what you want to accomplish. Write one goal that you’d like to complete by the end of this year. Got it? Great.
2. TAKE ACTION
Since success will most likely not hit you in the face on its own, you are going to have to get it for yourself. Take action by mapping out the circumstances you will need to get ahead. Goals are like a map which should lead you to your desired outcome. It is not enough to list your goals, take a step further by figuring out what actionable steps will aid you in reaching these goals. Make sure your goals are tangible and realistic. As you reach each goal, you will be motivated to go on to the next one and so on.
Remember Yoda from Star Wars? He advised Luke to “Try not, do or do not, there is no try.” I translate that into not making allowances or excuses while aiming for your goals, as this will only keep you from achieving them. Complete your task and succeed, or complete your task and fail. The truth is, you will never have the perfect setting, and there will always be hindrances to starting or completing something. If you keep coming up with excuses to put things off, chances are you won’t get much done.
Instead of making excuses, take little but consistent steps toward your set goals. This will not only make you feel liberated for taking this action, but you will feel gratified at the progress you’re making on your journey to success.
How do you take action? Look at that goal you wrote down earlier. Answer the following questions:
- What are the steps I need to take to accomplish my goal?
- What do I need to do to finish?
- How do I turn this into a list?
- As I am completing the things I’ve identified, do I need to know something specific to help me figure things out?
3. TAKE RISKS
Following your passion is often risky, but it is necessary if you want to succeed. Success entails you stepping out of your comfort zone and going into the unknown. Keeping safe and doing the same old thing is only going to get you the same old unsatisfying results, but if you indeed want to get ahead in life, then risks are compulsory.
The truth is your success rate can only be realized by doing something you are afraid of. When you take risks and do what’s unfamiliar, you find strengths, talents, abilities, and skills you never knew you possessed. Taking these risks opens you to a new side of yourself you never knew existed; a side of you which is needed to achieve your goals.
Don’t take very large or unreasonable risks in the beginning – unless it’s absolutely necessary. When I encourage you to take risks, I mean I want you to be willing to fail at the task you are attempting to accomplish. While these failures feel like setbacks, they are also opportunities to learn. These increase your intuition and your ability to better navigate future failures. You can’t gain without investing. Your investable capital should predominantly be your time and small monetary expenses toward completing your tasks. Occasionally, that investment is larger and includes changing from a familiar situation (current job, current relationship) and requires you to change to a new situation (new job, new relationship, moving to a new city or neighborhood) and the worst thing that can happen is that you may have to change again sooner than you wanted.
4. TAKE IT IN STRIDE
The journey to success isn’t straightforward and you are going to meet hurdles along the way. Obstacles will appear in the form of criticism, rejection and outright failure, but to be successful, you need to find various ways to handle them. Do not beat yourself up about it, instead, learn to master your emotions after you are knocked down.
Successful people didn’t get to where they are without going through obstacles. In fact, if the journey to success were straight without interruptions, people would become lazy, and achievement would be taken for granted. There would be no opportunity to learn from failure and mistakes. For every successful venture achieved, there are lots of mistakes and failures along the way. You cannot become successful if you give up after failure, or repeat the same mistakes over and over.
It is crucial to learn from your mistakes. Know what went wrong, so it isn’t repeated the next time. After you’re done with evaluating, let it go and move forward. Keep attacking obstacles with persistence, and you will reach your desired outcome.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Our fear is that we’ve never attempted a task before and we now face this unknown journey. We are afraid that we will not succeed. The truth is this, you will often experience results that are sometimes better than you anticipated and sometimes not as good as you had hoped. I encourage you to be comfortable with both outcomes and regardless of which outcome you encounter, that you press forward toward completing your goal.
5. TAKE IT UP A NOTCH
One of the keys to being successful is to be better than everyone else around you. A crucial factor common among successful people is that they are experts at what they do. To stand out from the crowd, you must have a competitive edge. To achieve this, you need to be a master in your chosen field or passion.
No one was born an expert, but everyone can become an expert at what they do through learning. A quick way to learn is by reading. To become an expert in your field, you are going to have to do lots of reading. When you read, you acquire knowledge, and when you act on this knowledge received, the chances are high that you will achieve good results. The Business Insider article, “9 of the most successful people share their reading habits” indicated that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, reads for 10 hours each day. The article also states that former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates reads a new book every week, while his mentor Warren Buffett spends five to six hours a day reading five different newspapers.
A mentor is another fast way to learn. Having someone who will share insights, guide you and tell you what NOT to do, is a sure way to navigate potential pitfalls.
Mingling with the right people is another sure way to success. Pay attention to the sort of people you mix with. Are they like-minded, or do they have goals which do not align with yours? The people in your circles will influence you and the topics discussed will affect your mindset, thereby influencing your choices, decisions, and actions. Move with the right people whose goals are aligned with yours, and you will make the right decisions needed to become successful.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book “Outliers: The Story of Success” says that once you have completed 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” that you are poised to be positioned as an expert. Frans Johansson, author of “The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World” states that there are a number of specific actions that we can take to “seize the moment” when it is presented to us and focus it in our favor. In my opinion, you combine these two ideas and propel through life. Most of our opportunities for success are because we are connected to the right people, are affiliated with the right situations, have enough knowledge to make decisions, and we have given thought to and understand what we want.
You will most likely not reach your goals overnight, but you will hit small milestones along your journey. Recognize these little wins and celebrate them, bearing in mind that every little victory gets you closer to your goal.
Successful people are disciplined, determined and persevere through failure and adversity. Anyone who means to be successful should embrace these qualities and follow these steps.
About the author
Coach Clinton Ages lives in Atlanta, Georgia and has over 20 years of experience working in technical solutions development, as well as technology and management consulting. He has worked for some of the biggest names around, including Elavon, BASF, Lowes, and NASA. He is the author of the book “7 Steps to Accomplish Your Best Self” which is available for sale on Amazon.
When Clinton has time relax he loves to travel and immerse himself in the culture and cocktails of distant shores. His bucket list includes drinking every famous cocktail on the best beaches on the planet and enjoying every second of it.