The success business is an emerging area of influence and entrepreneurship. Talk show host and comedian Steve Harvey has created his “Act Like a Success” brand, which includes seminars, coaching, and books. Richard St. John, an expert who has conducted research about success, may be best know to global audiences via his TED talk, “8 Secrets of Success,” which has been viewed almost 8 million times. Although success can be defined and taught in numerous ways, it is not only connected to money and fame.
Through taking deliberate actions, anyone can become a success.
Below are 7 simple steps to make every day of your life matter, and to live a more fruitful and successful life:
1. Reflect purposefully on what you currently do, and on your values and beliefs.
For a day, keep a small journal with you. As you watch TV or interact with others, take time to reflect about what you think or hear. Also, reflect on your perspectives and determine if you like your responses. To help you to identify your values, listen to others and imagine what you would do if you were in another person’s situation. If difficult situations occur at work, do you respond in a way that reflects your true values and beliefs? If not, what held you back? After reading your day’s reflection, determine what you want to change and what you don’t want to change.This list will be the beginning of creating a happier you.
2. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you and don’t just tolerate you.
Care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner. – Lao Tzu
Abuse is not limited to physical blows. Life is too short to be unhappy and to be surrounded by negative people. Take inventory of the 10 closest relationships in your life. Classify them in one of three ways:
- People who give you energy
- People who neither take away or give you much energy
- People who take energy from you.
If you discover that you have too many people who drain you in your daily life, it’s time to remove many of them. This might not mean that you stop talking to them altogether, but deliberately reduce the amount of time that you allow them to pull energy from you.
On the other hand, if you find that you have few to no people in your life who are bringing positive thoughts and energy into your life, add new people to your personal and/or professional network. Your positive contacts should include people who care enough about you to tell you what you need to hear- not what you want to hear.
Evaluate your top 10 contacts for one week like this, and notice the positive changes that will occur in your life.
3. Bloom where you are planted.
This advice is some of the best that I have received. When I moved to Lafayette, Indiana, from Nashville, Tennessee, ten years ago, and realized that there were limited cultural resources available for black women, I was angry and disappointed. I had moved from a metropolitan city to a place where approximately 2.5% of the people in the county were black. In ten years, I have relied on cable television, social media, and satellite radio to stay connected to the resources that were important to me. Although we still don’t have a great soul food restaurant in town, I have learned to use Pinterest to find ways to expand my cooking and professional skills while staying connected to the things and people that I love.
Whether you are in a situation that is uncomfortable or you are engaged in activities that don’t align with the expectations of where you should be or what you should be doing, identify positive aspects of your situation. Seek advocates and mentors who can serve as bridges between your current situation and your proposed situation.
Also, develop a gratitude and success journal so that when positive occurrences happen in your life, you can refer back to your enjoyable moments. You may archive pictures, letters, cards, e-mails and other artifacts that reflect celebratory times in your life.
4. Set reasonable short-term and long-term goals.
Many people think that success happens by chance.
I’m not one of those people.
People need to develop both personal and professional short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals may consist of plans for the next 1-6 months, while long-term goals may consist of plans for the next 5+ years. My professional short-term goals are to graduate three engineering doctoral students next spring and summer and to set up a project management plan for a $1.4 million grant that is to be awarded in the next few weeks. My professional long-term goals are to grow my educational business to multi-million dollar status and to become a Dean, Provost, and/or President of a university.
To achieve your short-term and long-term goals, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my ultimate dream?
- What would I be willing to do for free if money was not an issue?
- What makes me happy?
- What do I want my legacy to be?
Document these responses in an app, or an electronic/ paper journal. Translate your thoughts into actionable tasks so that you can track your progress.
5. Thank people for their support.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
A few years ago, when a top official at my university took time out of his schedule for me to interview him, I thanked him by writing a thank you note and by sending him a small box of homemade chocolates from a local candy shop. Three years later, he became the president of a major university. Last year, I asked him to serve as a reference for me for an amazing new position, and he didn’t hesitate to speak on my behalf. I have no doubt that his reference carried much weight in the decision process.
Nothing makes people feel better than gratitude. When you appreciate others, they want to help you. Good seeds produce good fruit. In a world when many people are selfish, want to be first, and want to acquire the best of everything for themselves, gratitude stands out in a big way. Establish your gratitude reputation by writing handwritten letters or sending electronic cards of appreciation to people who have supported you, given you a gift, or have influenced you in a positive way. Although your intention for being kind to someone should not be to get something from someone, the people who you thank will not forget that you took time out of your busy schedule to think of them and to appreciate their presence in your life.
6. Resurrect your dead dreams.
As children, we are taught to dream and to dream big. At some point in our lives, however, the practicality of adulthood settles in, and we start being safe in most, if not all, areas of our lives. Success, however, sometimes requires us to become radical in our thinking and in our actions. Think back to that one thing that you wanted to achieve when your teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. For me, it was to become the Governor of Alabama. I don’t know why, at the age of 7, I wanted to achieve that goal. As I’ve gotten older, however, I realize that I really enjoy people and politics. I want to make life better for others, and I want to create and implement policies that improve education. Last month, I seriously thought about what a political future might look like for me. Look out, Kanye West, I might see you at a presidential debate in 2020!
In the same way, take time to reflect deeply about your dreams. List them, note which dreams are still burning within you, and connect to people and resources that can help you to achieve the short-term and long-term goals connected to your dreams. Don’t forget to share your dreams with the people who give you energy.
7. End each day in peace.
Life can be stressful, but happiness is a choice. You must decide on purpose not to let others’ baggage become your baggage. Shut down e-mail and all technology at least one hour before bed. Engage in an activity that calms you and allows you to reflect on the positive occurrences of the day. This might be writing in your journal, enjoying a warm beverage, or meditating. No matter how bad your day may have been, know that the next day brings an opportunity to start over and to change the world.
In conclusion, you have the power to become a success regardless of what you look like, how much money you make, or who you do or do not know. Your success begins with deliberate choices to make positive changes in your life.
No one is stopping you but yourself.
Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via images.unsplash.com