Forget What You Think You Know: These Are The Two Most Important Steps You Need To Succeed

Most editorials describing the "steps to success" will list at least five milestones. You might figure that there would be at least five steps, right? There really isn’t a need for so many. If we count our actions as steps, there are thousands.

Generally speaking, however, there are really only two steps to becoming successful in any endeavor -- just two.

Success is a result of a long chain of actions. In order to succeed, we need to do. All that’s really left is to do the right things. Here are two steps to becoming successful, no matter whether it's in academics, work, sports, relationships or any other realm of life:

Step 1: Focus on actions, not goals.

If you want to succeed, you’re going to need to maintain full control over as many variables as possible. Of course, when we are speaking of larger organisms, such as companies, there is no other choice than to bestow control upon those you trust. But when we are speaking generally, if you want to succeed at anything personally, you’re going to need to have control over as many aspects of your life as possible.

Control is crucial to success because it maximizes your chances of navigating the outcome in the exact direction you want it to go, while minimizing the possibility of unpleasant surprises. Having control grants you with the greatest ability to predict the future. As human beings, we understand cause and effect, and although correlation does not always equal causation – due to outside variables – by controlling as many variables as possible, we maximize our chances of success; we maximize the probability that our actions will result in our desired results.

Equally important is not focusing on the variables out of our control. If we can understand what variables are out of our control, we can devote more focus and energy on the variables we can control. Most importantly, we have to accept the fact that the goal -- the end result -- is not completely in our control. There are always variables we aren’t be able to influence. This is a fact of life and we should accept it.

To succeed, it’s best to understand and know your goal, but to focus on the next task at hand. We aren’t capable of multitasking. We can’t think and contemplate over more than one problem at once. We can skip back and fourth, and pretend like it’s multitasking, but it isn’t. To maximize efficiency, you can only focus on one question, one problem, one task at a time. Thinking about your end goal all the time will take up more energy than it is worth, and you’re only bound to get discouraged every morning, when you wake up and you have yet to reach the end of the rainbow.

Step 2: Figure out all the ways not to succeed.

Now that we know we have to act, the question is, how do we act? What do we do to get from here to there? Obviously, every journey has a set number of destinations along the way. Since we are focusing on one task at a time, you’ll figure out the next destination once you arrive at the one you’re heading towards now. Your journey -- your life -- is a learning process.

You can’t possibly succeed knowing only the information you know right now. You have no choice but to learn, even if only from experience. Life is basically a school you can’t flunk out of, only really suck at. You have to learn in order to change, and you’re going to need to change in order to be able to become the person you want to be.

The question now is, what’s the best way to learn? When it comes to information, you can read it online or in a book. When it comes to learning life lessons and "practicing" your work, you’re going to have to take action. You’re going to have to try different things -- again, only one at a time. You’re going to have to make a whole lot of mistakes. You’re basically going to figure out every way not to succeed. Once you do that, you’ll only be left with the right way.

Hopefully, you’ll get lucky and success will happen for you before you’ve literally tried everything. The odds are in your favor. The odds of finding anything in the last place it could possibly be is just as likely as finding it in the first place you looked. If you focus on these two steps and create a sort of iteration cycle, you can’t possibly fail. As long as you can quickly learn from your mistakes, it may take some time, but success will be inevitable.

Photo credit: Jobs