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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 April 8, 2021

      How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide)

      How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide)

      Take a moment and imagine what your life would be like if you had no fear. What would you do if you knew how to overcome fear? It’s not difficult to imagine that it would alter your life significantly.

      I believe that fear is the single biggest obstacle that holds people back from fulfilling their potential and becoming the best version of themselves. Fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of success, fear of not being good enough

      The question is, where does it come from?

      Neuroscientists claim that humans are the most fearful creatures on the planet because of our ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds. We scare ourselves by imagining the worst possible outcomes, assuming that we are protecting ourselves from imminent danger.

      You make the choice to be a victim of your fear and anxiety or to push them aside and be courageous.

      In this article, we’ll look into the root cause of fear and how to conquer fear to realize our potential.

      What Is Fear, Really?

      This acronym best reflects what fear is[1]:

      Learn how to overcome fear with the fear acronym

        Fear is an emotion created by your mind based on real or imagined threats. Fear may be completely founded in reality, or not. It may also manifest as anxiety disorders in some cases, as anxiety is based on worries or fears about the future.

        These imagined scenarios of perceived threats end up feeding your fear to the point where it becomes all-consuming. Often, these scenarios never happen.

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        The real issue is not the fear itself, but rather how we hold it in our minds.

        How to Overcome Fear

        Overcoming fear may sound easier said than done. When you are in the thick of fear, it’s hard to see a way out. The good news is that, because you are the root cause of your fears, you are also the solution to them.

        1. Identify Your Fears Through Writing

        There are times when I’ve felt afraid but couldn’t identify why. If you keep your fears inside, you allow your mind to control how you feel.

        In order to prevent this confusion from happening in the first place, identify what your fears are before moving on to learning how to deal with fear.

        What makes you feel afraid?

        Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down. When you write down your fears on paper and actually question them, it forces you to analyze why you are afraid. Questions are designed to trigger your fears and bring them to the surface.

        This isn’t a comfortable process, but deep inner work never is. However, if you continue to keep your feelings in the dark, the scarier they will be, and the more disempowered you will become.

        Once you identify the type of fear and the experience that you associate with your fears, you become armed with the power to take action to change them. Eventually, your fears become smaller and smaller, and your strength gets bigger and bigger.

        As you’re identifying what your fears are, you can try Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment. It will help you identify which areas may be causing you more fear and which you can fall back on as strengths.

        2. Practice Gratitude

        If you want to learn how to overcome fear, gratitude is key. From personal experience, I have learned that it’s difficult to experience fear and gratitude at the same time. They are literally on opposite ends of the continuum of the human experience.

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        When you are experiencing difficult times in life, it’s easy to drop into fear and overwhelm. In that energetic space, it can be hard to stay grounded.

        Developing a gratitude practice allows you to not drown in fear. It doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel it, but the blow will be lessened, thereby allowing you to see the brighter side of struggle.

        In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their physical and mental health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships[2].

        Anyone who experiences fear knows that there is almost always a story attached to whatever it is that you’re fearful of.  Fear loves to hang out with your inner critic and come up with worst-case scenarios about what could happen.

        Gratitude helps keep these limiting stories at bay when you’re learning how to overcome fear. When you practice gratitude, your brain shifts to what is currently working instead of what isn’t working.

        The act of being fearful is a future-oriented process, while gratitude is a present-oriented one. The next time that fear tries to creep its way into your head, replace that disempowering thought with an empowering one.

        You can learn more about how to replace fear based practices with more positive ones in this video:

        3. Release Control

        Being a control freak is how a lot of people manage their fears, or so they think. Unfortunately, control has no place on the path to learning how to overcome fear.

        In actuality, all that they are doing is masking their fears by trying to control everything. If you can relate, it’s time to release control. Trust me when I say that this is a losing battle.

        Fear results in controlling behavior, and when this behavior doesn’t give us the results we’re seeking, it further intensifies our fears.

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        In your attempt to control fear, you actually become a victim of it. This fear and control cycle leaves a lot of people feeling defeated. The reality is that there will always be things that are far beyond your control.

        The only way that we can move past needing to be in control is to accept that it is not always up to us. While you may be in control of your decisions, you don’t always have control over situations that you are pushed into, nor can you control how others react.

        The only thing that you have control over is your inner world and how you choose to respond to your external environment. The next time you catch yourself trying to control everything, step back and ask yourself what you are afraid of.

        Start to get curious about what thoughts are generating your fear. Curiosity and fear don’t like to co-exist. Once you let go of one, you invite the other in, which will help as you learn how to get rid of fear.

        True freedom comes from fully releasing control. When you are able to do this, you begin the process of releasing your fears as well.

        4. Recite Positive Affirmations

        Positive affirmations can be used to combat almost any negative thought pattern, which can be very helpful when you want to learn how to overcome fear. Using them to help challenge your fears can help retrain your brain and have your fears reframed as powerful statements.

        Research shows that you can actually train your subconscious mind such that it will help you to attract exactly what you desire in life[3].

        Instead of saying “I am afraid of doing this because I might fail,” look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I am prepared for this, I am ready, and I will not fail.”

        The more you use positive affirmations, the stronger they become. The best way to cancel a negative belief is to develop its positive counterpart.

        Commit to making positive affirmations a key component of your morning ritual. It literally takes one thought, repeated over and over again, to set you on the path to transforming your entire life.

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        Here are more positive affirmations you can try: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

        5. Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

        Living in your comfort zone will get you nowhere in life, and it certainly won’t help you learn how to overcome fear. In my experience, not doing the things that scare you will only increase the likelihood that your fears will grow and inevitably take over every decision that you make.

        I want to encourage you to do one thing every day that scares you. It can be something small. All that matters is that you take action. Make it a habit to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

        Putting yourself in new and uncomfortable situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical. Here’s the mind-blower: that unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things[4].

        When you condition yourself to do something every day that scares you, your fear fades away, and your courage grows. Think about it…when you face your fears, how can you fear them again? Soon enough, your confidence will skyrocket.

        Final Thoughts

        The next time that you feel threatened by fear, I encourage you to pull upon one or more of the above strategies. Change your relationship with fear. Instead of letting it knock you down, use it as motivation to grow and achieve more.

        Once you recognize that fear is not real, the obstacles that appear to stand in your way will be removed, and you will feel empowered to take action.

        Your potential in life is limited by only one factor: you. Are you ready to transform fear into action?

        More on How to Overcome Fear

        Featured photo credit: Jonathan Klok via unsplash.com

        Reference

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