Success seems somewhat of a mystical creature — much like a unicorn. You hear stories of them, but you haven’t seen one yourself. This aura that we appropriate to the concept of success encumbers our ability to do what needs to be done. We not only focus on that end goal, but become frustrated when we realize we have yet to reach it.
We are running a marathon as if it were a sprint and burn out after the first 100m. Maybe we simply lack patience. Maybe we lack willpower. However, I believe it likely that most of us fail to succeed because we simply do not understand the formula. We imagine it to be a complex formula of such that we would see in the laboratory of a theoretical physicist. That is not the case. There are only 8 individual steps to success, which in practice become elongated depending on a number of factors. I will explain more later, but for now, here are the 8 steps to success:
1. Where are you now?
Before you can figure out where you want to go and how you want to get there, you must get a good understanding of where you are at the moment. Who are you as a person? What are your character traits? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What is your financial situation? How is your social life? How is your health? You must get to know yourself inside out in order to understand the task in front of you fully.
If you do not know where you stand, there is no possible way of knowing in what direction you must travel to get to where you wish to go. There are many ways of getting to know oneself — all of which require two things: time and some alone time. You do not need to lock yourself up for a year and remove yourself from humanity, but you do need to spend time reflecting on your thoughts and actions in solitude.
“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. ” - Mahatma Gandhi
2. Where do you want to go?
This step comes second because unless you know who you are and where you are in life, there is no way of making a proper decision as to where you ought to go. If you do not truly know yourself, then you cannot make a good decision in such respects. Your major goal should be your unicorn — it should be a dream that you know is possible even if statistically improbable.
Impossible is only what you deem so. If there is even the slightest possibility that it could happen, then it is enough for you to dream it to reality. No dream is too big or too small if it is what you know that you want for yourself.
“The objective of a dream isn't for it to end after you've awoken, but rather to continue dreaming, and in essence, manifest it.”- Aaron Caresosa Gallego
3. How can you get from where you are to where you want to be?
Now that you know yourself and you know where you want to go, it is time to make a plan. How can you best get from the present to your future? What needs to be done in order for you to become the person you wish to become and to find yourself living the life that you want to live? Sit down with pen in hand and write down your plan.
Write down several stepping-stones along the way — mini goals. These mini goals will serve as markers and will help you stay motivated as you reach one after the other. Keep in mind, however, that your plan must be flexible and mutable. Nothing can be set in stone because life does not allow for such rigid measures. Your plan must allow for the necessity of adaption.
“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.”- Harold B. Melchart
4. Take Action.
Now that you know where it is that you want to go and have a general idea of how to get there, it is time to get moving. Now, when I say take action I do not mean to take your time to warm up, stretch and then do one or two things off your 10,000-item checklist. You need to take life by the balls and act as if your life depends on it — because, in essence, it does.
Your life literally depends on the actions that you choose to take or fail to take. You have a reason to do what you want to do, but are likely not to go ahead and do it for sheer laziness. Or perhaps fear. Whatever your reason not to act full-heartedly, it is a poor one. This is your life; no one will live it for you.
“Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
5. Take a pause and reassess.
Now that you have taken action and reached your first stepping-stone, it is time to reassess the situation. Have the circumstances changed? Does your plan need to be adjusted? Maybe your goal itself needs to be adjusted? Life is one big classroom, the longer you live, the more you learn about yourself, what you want and how the world works.
There is no shame in adjusting your plan or scrapping it entirely. The most important thing is that you yourself are happy, have a goal and a plan of reaching it. After moving along through your plan, you may find yourself a bit lost. You may have come to realize that what you believed was right for you, isn’t. That is okay — in life it is the journey that really matters. You live and you learn.
Your goals in life will change and alter as your years add on. Do not be afraid of never finding your purpose, it will present itself over time — but do not waste time waiting. You must act on what you believe at the moment to be your correct path. The path that you are traveling will reveal the correct direction as you walk along it; staying stagnant and complacent will give you nothing.
“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” - André Paul Guillaume Gide
6. If things are going the way you hoped, continue.
When reassessing your situation, you must come to a conclusion: either your plan is working or it is not. If it is, then it is time to press even harder. You must build momentum in order to keep moving when times get tough — there always comes a time when they will. Stay focused and energetic — focus on the passion that is building up inside of you. The more you work toward your dreams, the more passionate you will be of attaining them.
“We’re here to put a dent in the universe.” - Steve Jobs
7. If things are not going so well, go back to step 3.
We must occasionally take a step back before we can take two steps forward; don’t let that sway you. If you noticed that the plan you laid out for yourself is not working the way you hoped it would, just go back to the drawing board and figure out how you should proceed. Do not continue to follow down a path you know for a fact will not lead you where you wish to go.
Life is a learning process filled with mistakes. No one gets things right the first time around — in fact, it usually takes more attempts than you’d be willing to count. The important thing is not to give up and to keep searching, keep moving towards your goal. Every failure is a lesson learned and a step in the right direction.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping-stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”- Johnny Cash
8. Get lucky.
This is the last step and the one step that many people would prefer not to admit. Not because it is something to be ashamed of, but rather because people would like to hold the false belief that their lives are fully in their control. They aren’t. Nothing in our world is certain and nothing happens only because we will it so. We all need some luck.
We need the universe to play out in our favor — not because we need it in order to act or to move in the right direction, but to beat the competition. We live in a world where each and every person is trying to make something of themselves — or at least a good majority of us are attempting to do so. There is much tragedy in the world and much negativity. It is luck that pushes us that finally mile. Luck is the world and the stars lining up in such a way as to make your path just a little bit easier to travel.
Why or how this works I cannot pretend to know — but ask anyone who considers themselves to be successful and they will surely tell you that luck played a part. However, you cannot simply sit back and hope that luck takes you all the way to the top of that mountain. Hard work and dedication to the life you wish to lead is the only way to make your dreams a reality. Luck is only a helping hand.
“Man can change his destiny -- not by wishing for it, but by working for it.”- Swami Chinmayananda
These are basically all the steps necessary for success. They are simple and rational. There is nothing more that is needed other than the understanding that you will get hung up at some point during your journey and have no choice but to either alter your plans or to scrap them entirely.
You will have to go back and forth between these steps until the path you must take unfolds in front of you. Life is about living, planning, learning, reassessing and repeating until you have reached your goal. Don’t look at life as a straight-lined journey; it has many twists, dips and turns. Often you may find that you have to pop a U-turn.
Don’t get disgruntled, life is about making such mistakes and learning from them. There is no rush to get to your dreams because once you arrive at them, you will find that you have new dreams that you wish to make a reality. Enjoy the moments as they are given to you — live in them. Time will pass whether or not you wish it to. Enjoy this life while you have it and make the best use of it that you possibly can.