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Published on April 30, 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 June 2, 2020

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

Goals and dreams are two concepts that are often used interchangeably in the quest for success. Although they can be used to complement one another, they do mean different things. This article looks at what goals and dreams are and how they can be used hand-in-hand in order to achieve personal success.

What Are Goals?

There are different ways to describe what goals are; it can be said that goals are the desired outcomes that you have plans and commitment to achieve. What makes goals spectacular is that the things you want to achieve are clearly defined with a timeframe within which they should be achieved.

Here are some examples of goals:

  • Get certified in analytics in three months
  • Celebrate child’s 5th birthday in Disneyland
  • Attain financial freedom at 50
  • Read and finish at least one book monthly
  • Watch the next Olympic games live

What Are Dreams?

Dreams are thoughts, imaginations, and aspirations that are often about what we desire to attain, experience, or achieve. Dreams can be spontaneous, or they can be desires that we have nursed over a long time. Our dreams are often shaped and influenced by what we see regularly around us, the things we have heard or read about, or the things people we admire are doing.

Here are some examples of dreams:

  • Attend an Ivy League Institution
  • Own a company
  • Be debt-free
  • Be healthy and fit
  • Travel the world

Differences Between Goals and Dreams

There is no need to confuse goals and dreams when you know their differences[1] and how they can work together to facilitate success. The following are some useful insights about goals and dreams.

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Thoughts and Imagination Vs. Plans and Action

In order to have a dream, you need to engage your thoughts and imagination. This means thinking deeply about what you want to achieve, where you want to go, and to what extent you want to achieve those things. For dreams, everything ends in the realm of imagination if nothing is done thereafter.

Unlike dreams, goals require a commitment towards achieving the desired end. This includes deciding the size of the goals, planning the order of events that will lead to achieving them, and the timeline within which they should be achieved.

Spontaneity Vs. Thoughtfulness

You can have a dream anytime, anyhow, and without any form of preparation or formality. This is not the same with goals. Goals must be set thoughtfully, and conscientiously. They must be clearly written down and should be S.M.A.R.T.

Dreams Come Before Goals

It would be right to say that there is no goal without a dream. Dreams must come first because dreams give birth to goals. You must have a desire and nurture it in your mind until it becomes a burning desire that you are ready to pursue. That is when they can be turned to goals.

Captured Dreams Become Goals

There can be dreams without goals. Dreams can go on and on and end only in fantasy. However, when they are captured, they can become actionable goals that can, indeed, materialize.

There is a Yoruba proverb that can be translated thus: “S/he who finds money in the dream and gets excited should be told to focus on working hard so as not to become a victim of poverty.” While the proverb is primarily about night dreams, it can apply to imaginative dreaming, too.

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To realize your dream, it must be captured and turned into goals; then, you will have to create a goals strategy and follow it up with hardwork.

Goals Require Steps

Goals are the steps you set out to take after you are convinced that your dream is truly worth it. These steps will outline what you should do and how you should do them to attain your dream.

Dreams Are Free, but Goals Come With a Price

Dreams come without costs. You can dream as many times as you want in a day without restriction. However, goals are not like that. You have to think about whether your goals are achievable or not when setting them. Because of the costs (sacrifices) associated with getting your goals done, it places a limit on which goals you can set per time.

Lack of Limits Vs. Defined Objectives

There are no structures to dreams, neither are there limits to how far you can dream. But goals have to be framed. They must be clearly defined with measurable objectives and a timeline.

Inspiration Vs. Creating Change

You can dream to inspire yourself and aspire to a greater future, but if you want to experience real change, you have to be specific about what you want and how you want to get there. Goals are the commitments made towards creating change.

How to Turn Your Dreams Into Actionable Goals

To help you take your dreams to the next level, follow these tips and create actionable goals.

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1. Make Your Dream Clear and Solid

Before your dream can become ripe enough to be turned into an actionable goal, you have to be clear about what you really want. Your dream has to go from imagination to reality. Here are some things that can be done to make your dreams clear.[2]

Take Inspiration From Success Stories

Read inspiring stories of successful people to think through your own dreams. Such stories will help you to put your dreams in the proper perspective.

Envision Your Future

Engage the power of vision in picturing your own future. Let your mind be in tune with what you desire for yourself. It is a known truth that you are always drawn towards the pictures you have in your mind.

Think About Your Dream

The mind is very powerful, and it has the ability to create imaginary concepts that can be turned into reality. Most of the edifices you can see existed first in the realm of the mind.

See the Big Picture

Dreams are free, so think big. See the bigger picture of your dream, the highest possible level you think you can attain.

Write Down Your Dream

Capture your dreams by writing them down. This will make them clearer. You don’t have to be economical while writing them down. Just write them the way they occur to you.

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2. Break Your Dream Into Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

You might not be able to pursue your dream in its raw state, and that is why goals are needed. You should have a plan and structure for achieving your dream, and this will include setting both short-term and long-term goals that will get you on the path of your dream.

Short-term goals are goals that you set to achieve from now up to 3 months or in less than a year. Long-term goals are goals that can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to achieve. Your short-term goals are actually your stepping stones towards achieving the long-term goals and ultimately leading you to your dream.

3. Make the Goals SMART

What makes a goal statement differ from a dream statement is that goals should be S.M.A.R.T when framing them. This means that each of the goals you set towards achieving your dream must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.

For more on S.M.A.R.T goals, check out this article.

4. Break Each Goal Into Milestones

Beyond creating goals that are SMART, you should also break each goal into milestones. Milestones are small steps (miniature goals) that can be achieved within a very short time. When you achieve these smaller goals, it keeps you motivated to keep getting closer to your big dream without feeling overwhelmed. You can keep your eyes on the big dream while focusing on the milestones.

Final Thoughts

Anyone can have dreams to create a picture of their own future. If you are not satisfied with your current state, all you have to do is dream. If you have achieved your dreams, then it’s time to dream again or inspire others to dream.

You can achieve anything that your mind can conceive if you take the time to turn them into goals. Make your dreams big, but set smaller goals to move progressively towards the realization of your big dream.

More Tips on Using Dreams to Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Yukie Emiko via unsplash.com

Reference

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