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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

10 Essential Steps to Success to Actually Reach Your Dreams

10 Essential Steps to Success to Actually Reach Your Dreams

What are the steps to success? Many people will say that it depends on your definition of success. However, a definition is not what you’re after.

You know what you want, and you’re interested in hearing exactly how you can bring your dreams to fruition.

Your primary problem is time and the demands of everyday life. For every person who delays their journey to success, there are bills to pay. Your invention goes uninvented, or your book remains unwritten because you have to pay the bills right here and now.

Once you’re done working, it’s hard finding motivation to work more on your dream; you’re tired, and you just don’t feel like it.

There is no one key to success—there are multiple keys to multiple doors, and multiple steps, each one leading to the next. Use the following steps to success to get started on your own success journey. 

1. Don’t Make It a Matter of Motivation

Wait, isn’t accomplishing important goals all about personal motivation? How will you succeed if you’re not motivated in the long run?

Here’s the problem with motivation:

It’s subject to whims and feelings. If the only thing motivating you is an internal desire to achieve results, you won’t achieve results when desire is not there. Then, there will be times when your desire is strong, but you’re caught up in some other task. 

Aytekin Tank, founder of JotForm, recommends relying on “systems” instead of intrinsic motivation[1]. Intrinsic motivation is self-motivation to take action, and Tank points out that “there are probably moments when you don’t want to take action.”

Instead of merely relying on desire, set up a system and follow it, no matter how you feel. Here’s a quick synopsis of how Tank runs his system:

  • Identify two or three things you want to focus on. These things should all have something to do with your primary goal in life.
  • Establish a time each day for productive focus.
  • Say no to any activity that doesn’t fit into your focus areas.
  • Give yourself a certain amount of flexibility. If you have absolutely no motivation to sit down and start writing, read a book to help inform your writing, or spend time cataloging your surroundings.

For many of us, the hard part is saying “no” to those inevitable and attractive distractions. Tank recommends concentrating on what you love about your dream. Why are you doing this to begin with? Practice concentrating on what makes your goals great.

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2. Emulate Others

Not learning from successful people is the same as ignoring directions from locals in a city you’re visiting for the first time. It makes no sense.

Regardless of how adventurous you are and how much of a rebel you want to be, you must have mentors. Learn how they did it, start with the basics, and then find ways to differentiate yourself.

According to Ohio University, some of the most successful self-made business people share common traits including[2]:

  • Simple purposes and plans.
  • Tendency to work with and rely on people who will help achieve goals, and to dismiss those who won’t.
  • Grit and determination.
  • Tendency to prioritize and streamline important, transparent communications.
  • Tendency to save money when possible.
  • Decision-making ability that incorporates a mix of facts and people’s stories and emotions.

If you’re having trouble deciding who to emulate, the above traits are good ones to cultivate.

You can learn more on how to cultivate grit and passion in this TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth:

3. Network the Right Way

There’s no doubt you need other people to help you succeed. That said, there’s a right way to build your network through the steps to success.

If you approach networking the wrong way, you’ll walk away frustrated, even hurt. Never underestimate the emotional gamble you’re undertaking when building a network[3].

It sounds daunting, but effective networking is easier when you have a set of guidelines. Keep the following in mind when you begin your networking journey:

  • Be helpful: Follow the Golden Rule of networking—help others, be kind, and do favors. Then, keep in touch with those you help.
  • Be steady: Dependability, consistency, grit—show people you can be steady and cultivate an image that reflects your implacable commitment to your passion.
  • Be authentic: Don’t connect because the person will benefit you. Make connections based on your honest interest in who that person is and what they’re doing.
  • Be candid: Sugarcoating your words doesn’t work. Honesty, sincerity, and forthright communication are the hallmarks of a great communicator.
  • Be attentive: Pay careful and close attention to what others say, and don’t waste words. The more you talk about yourself, the less perspective you gain from the other person. 

Be mindful of the moments, pay attention to what people say and do, and build relationships with the people who are passionate and full of purpose.

4. Practice Right

You know you need to practice to excel at anything—your teachers, parents, and coaches drove this into you while you were growing up. But chances are they didn’t give you an accurate picture of right practice.

After all, this is a discussion on how to actually achieve your dreams. Your dream isn’t to be mediocre or proficient; your dream is to really nail something to the wall with excellence, finality, and precision.

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Practice doing it the right way, and practice it that way again and again.

In Doug Lemov’s book Practice Perfect (co-authored with Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi), the author points out that how you practice is more important than how much you practice. He provides some valuable tips on training yourself to succeed[4]:

  • Determine the correct way and practice it repeatedly
  • Practice the most important, effective things most. The 80/20 rule says 20 percent of right practice yields 80 percent of results.
  • Through repetition, engrain the activity so deep that you barely have to think about it later.
  • Repeat until you are able to think creatively while performing rote tasks.
  • Each time you practice, set an objective first — to make it “manageable and measurable.”
  • Concentrate on what you’re already good at and keep practicing it.
  • If you do something wrong, correct it by going back and doing the right way repeatedly.

To practice to perfection, it helps a great deal to have someone providing feedback. If you don’t have a mentor or coach, consult the information readily available in libraries and online.

Try deliberate practice too, it will help you pick up something quickly: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

5. Treat Failure as a Part of the Process

If you expect to do nothing but succeed, you’ll be sorely disappointed. In fact, people who avoid failure are often among the most unsuccessful people.

Anything worth doing is difficult, and failure is a part of the process. Failure grants you valuable insight on what not to do as you make your way through the steps to success.

Even if you can’t figure out what you did wrong, there are probably external/environmental factors that contributed to your failure.

Now’s your chance to analyze what those factors might be. When people fail, they need to analyze the following:

  • What were the external/environmental/societal factors that tripped me up?
  • How can I respond differently next time?
  • Were there any problems I created regardless of external factors? Why did I create them?
  • Who can I go to for help this time around?

Analysis and learning aren’t necessarily easy, which is why you should be prepared to fail multiple times.

Failure will become less frequent the more you practice each part of your process with the correct method in mind.

6. Set Realistic Goals

Realistic goals and objectives are the checkpoints you can meet on your way to success. If your goal is to be a rock star or a celebrity, that’s not something you can immediately realize. 

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Without realistic goals that bring you ever closer to your dream, it won’t become reality.

One study found that people experience higher levels of depression and anxiety due to goal conflicts and ambivalence about goals[5].

In other words, you might have a dream of success, but your immediate, small goals may conflict with each other, and when that happens, your mental health suffers.

Additionally, you may be ambivalent about your current goals because they don’t align with what you truly value. Evaluate your goals and ask yourself what you truly want out of life. 

7. Figure out What’s Causing Conflicts in Your Life

You could be facing issues in certain areas of your life, which may cause your dreams and the steps to success to fade into the background.

About 18 percent of people suffer from anxiety disorders at some point in their life, but only 37 percent seek help[6]. Anxiety and other common disorders, such as depression, can affect your ability to perform at work, and can hurt your home-life. In turn, your focus fails as your disorder looms in the foreground[7].

Anxiety can hurt your steps towards success. Learn to identify it!

    Often, those who suffer from anxiety are thinking about the future too much. The path to achieving your dreams will not open until you focus on your immediate goals and objectives. Start goal setting with immediate steps to make things faster and easier—e.g. I will write 500 hundred words a day from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.—and concentrate on the action in front of you.

    Additionally, consider mindfulness meditation to help alleviate anxiety.

    8. Eliminate Distractions

    Distractions are a big part of goal conflict. Strangely enough, you find yourself scrolling your Facebook news feed when you’re at work. You decide to go drinking when there’s an important conference the next morning.

    Sadly, Facebook and drinking have nothing to do with advancing your career, but improving your work has everything to do with your dream.

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    Eliminating distractions can be as simple as loading a productivity app on your phone or tablet. Or, you may need to physically remove distractions from your workspace—whatever it takes to concentrate.

    9. Give Yourself Downtime

    You need to eliminate distractions while you’re focusing on objectives, but you also need to give yourself time to refresh as you’re going through the steps towards success.

    The best type of downtime helps rejuvenate your brain. Take walks in nature, play a game with friends, exercise, read a book—anything you enjoy doing that’s not unhealthy for you[8].

    Practice self-care to improve your steps to success.

      10. Compartmentalize Your Activities

      When you’re working on objectives or networking, that’s all you’re doing. When you’re taking time to relax, you’re not responding to work emails.

      Compartmentalization enables you to achieve maximum focus and heightens your passion.

      Final Thoughts

      The binding thread of these steps to success is focus.

      Determine simple objectives that will bring you closer to what seems like a fantastic dream. As you work on each objective, practice complete focus.

      Repetition is the key to focus. Each small step will eventually add up to something huge.

      More Tips for Achieving Success

      Featured photo credit: Ruffa Jane Reyes via unsplash.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Dan Matthews, CPRP

      A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

      Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress 15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything How to Be More Positive: 15 Habits to Take Up How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) to Practice Mindfulness

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      Last Updated on June 4, 2021

      10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

      10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

      Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

      While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

      Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. — Henry Ford

      Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

        1. J.K. Rowling

          During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

          Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

          A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

          “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

          Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

          2. Steve Jobs

            The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

            Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

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            The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

            “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

            Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

            3. Bill Gates
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              Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

              However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

              In his own words:

              “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

              This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

              If you haven’t found your passion like Bill Gates, this will help you:

              How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

              4. Albert Einstein

                The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

                His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

                “Success is failure in progress.”

                To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

                Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

                5. Abraham Lincoln

                  Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

                  In this great man’s words:

                  “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

                  Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

                  The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

                  6. Michael Jordan

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                    “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

                    This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

                    It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

                    Michael Jordan’s success all came down to his Intrinsic Motivation, one of the most invincible types of motivation that drives people to succeed.

                    7. Steven Spielberg

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                      Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

                      While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

                      Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                      “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                      Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                      To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                      8. Walt Disney

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                        Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

                        Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

                        The logic behind this is simple:

                        “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                        9. Vincent Van Gogh

                          During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                          He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

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                          He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

                          He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                          In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                          “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                          10. Stephen King

                          01-Stephen-King-Rags-to-Riches-Celebs-1

                            As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                            An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                            These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                            “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                            Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                            Fail More Often in Order to Succeed

                            Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                            Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                            If you feel like a failure and think that you’ve failed all too many times, it’s not too late to change things up! Here’s how to turn your limitations into your opportunities:

                            Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

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                            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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