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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

What It Means To Have A Successful Life And How To Have One

What It Means To Have A Successful Life And How To Have One

Sometimes it only takes one event in life to get you to ask an important question: “What does it take to have a successful life?”

It seems like a simple question, but the more you dig into it the more complex it becomes. For example, success isn’t as simple as winning. It can mean one thing to one person and something else for another.

That being said, throughout history, those who have become successful have had specific themes in their lives. Sometimes they needed a mentor or an important figure in their lives. Others had a particular mindset.

With this in mind, let’s explore what it means to live a successful life and how you can obtain it.

What It Means to Be Successful

Before diving in further, let’s explore Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a motivational theory in psychology that consists of five tiers.

The first four tiers are simple: physiological needs, safety, a place to belong, and esteem needs.

The last tier is where you want to focus right now: self-actualization.

Self-actualization is the idea that there is more to life and that we aspire to a purpose. Whatever this purpose is, we’ll be pursuing it to feel whole. When it comes to a successful life, it’s easy to say that self-actualization is merely satisfying four aspects of our lives.

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These are the four pillars that create our success:

  • Personal health
  • Strong relationships
  • Financial security
  • A passion for your work

1. Personal Health

Personal health is one of the pillars because, as we get older, things start to function not as they should or would normally. We begin to lose our strength as we pick up unhealthy habits.

Not only that, but the negative aspects of poor health impact many areas of our lives. Furthermore, if you want to help others (yourself included), you need to have strong mental and physical health.

That’s not to say you need to be incredibly buff, but rather physically capable to do what you want to do.

2. Strong Relationships

From romantic partners to friends and other connections, we all have social needs.[1] When it comes to romantic partners, it’s important that they complement you, your goals, and the life you want to live and how you want to live it. You want them to support you in your search for a successful life.

This mentality also applies to other connections. Strong relationships form when both people are getting something out of these relationships.

3. Financial Stability

Financial stability doesn’t mean the same as being rich. Having financial stability can mean being comfortable living with what you have right now or living within your own means.

The whole idea here is focusing on the things in your life you do have over what you don’t. This changes your perspective as you won’t be focused on accumulating items for the sake of it.

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Another way you can look at this is similar to retirement. Retirement is the idea of living with the money you have and still supporting the life you want without working as much.

4. Passion for Your Work

The final pillar is passion for your work. Being passionate about something is huge, but it can be difficult to pin down to specifics. When you start thinking about what your passion is, you will probably discover several topics or ideas that drive you.

Whatever you decide to go for is up to you, but you want to make sure that it allows financial stability in due time. Overall, your work should:

  • Get you out of bed in the morning.
  • Be something that makes you excited and gives you energy.
  • Be something that you know you’ll enjoy doing for many years to come.

How to Have a Successful Life

With the four above pillars in mind, you have an overarching view of what it means to have a successful life. And while all of these things are simple on the surface, these aspects aren’t always so simple to achieve.

Some of these things can take a few years or more to achieve, depending on where you are in life. However, there are some specific traits to help you along the way.

When you develop these particular traits, obtaining your successful life will become easier in many ways. We know this because these are habits and traits that many people have portrayed time and again to obtain a successful life.

1. Self Belief

The first is an obvious one, but it’s one that can be left behind when you face challenges. During those times it can be easy for us to give up and stop doing what we’re doing.

When we have self-belief, believing that we’ll have a successful life is powerful. After all, how we view ourselves is a big contributor to whether we will succeed or fail.

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2. Setting Goals

Another habit is the idea of setting goals. Everyone needs goals as these are treated as your compass and give you a direction to work in.

I would, however, encourage going beyond setting goals. Instead, try focusing on systems. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits[2] realized over time that the goals that he was setting weren’t the source of his success.

Instead, it was the systems that he put in place.[3]

For example, if you’re a musician, you’ll set a goal like learning a new piece once per week. To make that goal a reality, you’ll develop a system. You’ll practice daily for an hour or two and begin looking for feedback regularly.

Another example goal is improving your relationship with your spouse. A system for that is perhaps researching relationship tips and applying some of them within the relationship soon after.

Creating these systems can ensure that you achieve your goals so long as you develop that habit and stay consistent with it. As you can also tell, these systems can apply to various parts of our lives.

3. Time Management

Another valuable skill for a successful life is time management. Everyone has 24 hours in a day and can only do so much in it. Time is the most important resource in our entire lives and shouldn’t be squandered.

There are several ways to manage your time, of course. One of the tried and true methods to stick to is having a schedule or a system in place to give you tasks.

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Similar to a day job, there is a structure and things flow well because people go to work and immediately know what they need to be doing. This time management trick works the same way. If you know what needs to get done or what you want to work on, it’s easier to get into it as opposed to pondering what’s next.

Time management also entails knowing what is worth your time. This is a skill that is built up over time and comes with experience. It’s a valuable skill, and one of the ways to develop it is looking at the amount of work and effort that needs to go into a task versus the potential rewards you can get from it.

4. Money Management

The second most valuable resource is money. Whether you like it or not, money is often needed in order to live a successful life. Money is what we need to survive.

However, the key to it is knowing how much you need in order to live that life. It’s a similar idea to retirement, where you’re living the life you want without working as much.

To improve money management, you’ll want to learn financial lingo and create a budget to stick to. It’s not a matter of being conservative but being able to live within the means of your lifestyle.[4]

When you’re not lacking money, it’s easy to spend money without thought and enter financial arrangements where you don’t know what you’re getting into. So many people go into massive debt without considering financial alternatives or considering whether something is worth investing in.

To avoid these situations, put together budgets and take note of your spending habits and other behaviors.

The Bottom Line

Success isn’t defined entirely by what you read in a book. Every person has their own definition and views of success. I believe that we can agree, though, that satisfying these core principles is important to everyone.

If we are healthy, we can enjoy our success. If we’re around people we love, it makes the road to success easier. When we are financially stable, we can afford to live the way we want to live. Finally, when we have a passion for our work, we will continue to prosper.

More Tips on Creating a Successful Life

Featured photo credit: Marvin Meyer via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success

15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success

Before their success, some of the world’s most successful people experienced epic failure. We celebrate their success but often overlook the path that got them there. A path that is often marked with failure.

As American writer Elbert Hubbard said:

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”

So get motivated, and accept failure as merely a chance to learn.

Here are 15 highly successful people who failed (for a couple of times) before they were recognized by their glorious success.

1. Sir James Dyson

    You know that frustrating feeling when you don’t get something on the first attempt?

    Multiple that by 5,126 because that’s the number of failed prototypes Sir James Dyson went through over the course of 15 years before creating the eponymous best-selling bagless vacuum cleaner that led to a net worth of $4.5billion.

    2. Steven Spielberg

      His cinematic output has grossed more than $9 billion and brought him three Academy Awards, but the master of the blockbuster was rejected TWICE by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

      As their way of saying “Oops, I guess we were wrong about you” the school built a building in honor of Spielberg.

      3. Thomas Edison

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        In what might be at once the most discouraging statement and worst teaching practice of all time, Thomas Edison was told by his teachers he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’.

        Edison went on to hold more than 1,000 patents, including the phonograph and practical electric lamp. Death most likely spared his teachers the ignominy of their incorrect assessment.

        4. Walt Disney

          Can you imagine your childhood without Disney? Well it could easily have been if Walt had listened to his former newspaper editor. The editor told Walt he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’. Undeterred, Old Walt went on to create the cultural icon that bears his name.

          Disney’s take on failure:

          “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young… Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”

          5. Albert Einstein

            His name is synonymous with intelligence yet it wasn’t always that way for Albert Einstein. As a child he didn’t start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was thought to be mentally handicapped.

            He went on to win a Nobel Prize and altered the world’s approach to physics. I guess he was just thinking of the right thing to say for those first four years…

            6. J.K. Rowling

            JK

              Before there was a wizard, there was welfare. Rowling was a broke, depressed, divorced single mother simultaneously writing a novel while studying.

              Now one of the richest women in the world, Rowling reflects on her early failures:

              “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

              7. Abraham Lincoln

                Lincoln’s failures were broad and numerous. He achieved the unique feat of leaving for a war a captain and returning a private (the lowest military rank).

                He next took failure in his stride during multiple failed business attempts. Undeterred, Lincoln marched into the political realm, where he launched several failed runs at political office before his ascendance to President.

                8. Jerry Seinfeld

                  Before the show about nothing, Seinfeld was a young comedian on the stand-up circuit. His first time on stage didn’t go so well. On seeing the audience he froze and was booed and jeered off stage.

                  His choices: pack it in and accept comedy isn’t his thing or return to the same stage the following night and have the audience in hysterics. He opted for the latter and went on to become one of the most successful comedians of all time.

                  9. Theodor Seuss Geisel

                    Known to generations as Dr Seuss, the much-loved children’s author had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.

                    His books that weren’t good enough for these publishers went on to sell more than 600 million copies worldwide.

                    10. Oprah Winfrey

                      She’s a billionaire with her own TV channel and a penchant for giving away cars but Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore.

                      In 2013, Oprah reflected on her experiences during a Harvard commencement speech:

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                      “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

                      Creating your own TV channel is a sure way never to get fired again!

                      11. Stephen King

                        In another instance in the never ending series “Book Publishers Making Dumb Decisions”, mega novelist Stephen King had his first book Carrie rejected 30 times.

                        Dejected, King dumped the book in the trash. His wife retrieved it and implored him to resubmit it which led to his first book deal and spawned his illustrious career.

                        12. Vincent Van Gogh

                          A Van Gogh painting will cost you upwards of $100 million nowadays. But in his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh couldn’t get rid of the things.

                          He sold just one painting, ‘The Red Vineyard’, during his lifetime, and the sale came not long before his death. Unfortunately for Vincent, others got to enjoy the financial spoils of his lifetime of toils.

                          13. Elvis Presley

                            “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

                            These are the words that greeted Elvis Presley after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry, after which he was promptly fired. Disposing of the keys to the truck, Presley went on to become the world’s biggest star with a legacy that endures.

                            14. Michael Jordan

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                              Either he was part of the greatest high school roster of all time or his coach made a huge mistake in cutting Michael Jordan from his high school basketball team. Six Championships and five MVPs later, Jordan became arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

                              Jordan famously said:

                              “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

                              15. Charles Darwin

                                The man credited with much of how we came to understand the world today, Darwin was considered an average student and abandoned a career in medicine as a result.

                                Darwin embarked on a lifetime study of nature that led to the seminal ‘On the Origin of Species’ and forever altered the way humankind looks at our existence.

                                Final Thoughts

                                These famous and highly successful people’s crowning achievements stem from drive and determination as much as ability.

                                Persistence and certitude are the difference between success and failure. So if you want to succeed, don’t be afraid to fail.

                                Fail often, fail fast and learn from your mistakes. The more times you fail, the closer you’re getting to success.

                                More About Success

                                Featured photo credit: Kal Loftus via unsplash.com

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