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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 August 10, 2020

How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful Life

How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful Life

Change begins with the hope of what’s possible in your life. Hope leads to a sense of expectancy Combine this with setting short-term goals, and the likelihood of being more happy and successful moves from possibility to reality.

Short-term goals, when created with well-formed criteria, offer incremental steps towards successfully achieving your bigger goals.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll discover the secret to creating short-term goals that will set you up for success and help you sail past challenges of staying motivated easily.

What Is a Short-Term Goal?

Short-term goals are ‘short’, meaning the time frame can be as short as 10 minutes, a day, or as long as a week or a few months. Well-formed short-term goals begin with the end in mind.

Quick tip:

Write down the specific result you want to achieve and the date when it should happen. Then, work backward from this date, describing what you’ll notice yourself doing (and achieving) until you take the first step.

A short-term goal is the smallest step you need for you to reach a bigger goal centered around achieving something you passionately desire.

Passionate desire‘ is the key.

As Tony Robbins says,

People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.[1]

Having passion when setting goals means getting your mind and body activated to fuel your energy and focus. Each time you achieve a short-term goal, your body celebrates by producing and releasing chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin oxytocin, and endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters).

Ian Robertson, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure, says,

Success and failure shape us more powerfully than genetics and drugs.

The regular release of the body’s natural chemicals supports brain change at a neural level, building your confidence, and renewing your goal-oriented focus.

The Benefits of Setting Short-Term Goals

Regardless of the area in your life where you set your short-term goals, it will have a ripple effect across all your life domains.

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  • Improve your career prospects and your sense of identity also shifts.
  • Improve your body shape through managing food intake and your energy improves in a way that’s noticeable at work and home.
  • Improve your mindset and your attitude changes around how you engage with others.
  • Improve your health and your desire for self-improvement lifts.

6 Steps to Success With Short-Term Goals

Setting short-term goals will lead you closer to a happier and more successful life, but can you achieve that?

Take the following steps and you will start achieving your dreams:[2]

Step 1: Know Your Best Hopes

Try this process yourself by thinking of an area in your life that you’d like to improve.

For example:

  • What are your best hopes for your finances?
  • What are your best hopes for your relationship?
  • What are your best hopes for your career?
  • What are your best hopes for your health?

This process involves ‘chunking up’ your ideas to imagine the results more clearly. In this process, you try to achieve not only the goal and the outcome it gives you but also the changes in your behavior and mindset as a result of achieving your goal.

Step 2: Notice What’s Different

The next question to ask yourself is: “What would you notice that was different from the way you usually did things?”

‘Noticing’ helps you build a vision of what could be possible. The richer the description you can build around the tiny details, the more ‘real’ your preferred future becomes.

Step 3: Ask: ‘What Else?’

Most of us know there’s a hidden reason or a long-buried hope beneath why we want something.

Often, our ego gets a little defensive about it and protective of it. But if we dig and resurface the truth, then weight can be lifted, allowing you the freedom to move forward.

Step 4: Ask: ‘Who Will Notice the Difference?’

Relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and your partner are important. Seeing the change they’ll notice helps put another perspective on the differences they see in you.

Imagine what they will notice about you that would let them know something changed about you as a result of achieving this goal.

Step 5: Imagine a Miracle Happened Tonight

Imagine that if you went to bed tonight and a miracle happened; and you were the very best version of yourself and that you had achieved your best hopes.

When you woke up tomorrow morning after the miracle happened, what would you notice that would tell you you’ve achieved the change you’re seeking?

Step 6: Describe Your Day as If the Miracle Had Happened

Go through your day, moment by moment. Begin with what time you would wake up and then describe the differences you would notice in every tiny action you do.

Notice in detail what’s different about this day – a day when you are at your very best because you’re living your best hopes.

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How to Track Your Short Term Goals Success

When you set a short-term goal, establish a measurement system to track your progress:[3]

1. Create a Running Tally

One of the best devices to keep your short-term goal setting on track is to keep a running record or tally of the number of days in a row that you’ve sustained your goal.

For example, if improving your health is important to you and you plan to reduce your weight by 5 kilos by not eating any foods containing sugar, then set up a simple chart and track how many days in a row you can do this. Aim for 5 days, then 10, then 20 days in a row. If you have a small diversion and eat sugar one day, simply start again.

Once you feel confident that you can continue with this step, add another such as taking 5,000 steps per day. Again, set up a simple tally chart either in your diary or somewhere visible and enjoy marking up one more day that you’ve achieved your short-term goal. It won’t be long before your goal of losing 5 kilos is met.

2. Keep a Journal

Maintaining a journal will help you focus on identifying the things that are different because you’ve set a well-formed short-term goal.

Aim to complete the journal at the end of each day and recall in detail the things that you’re noticing. This helps keep you connected with your desired outcome and the transformation you’re experiencing in both your behavior and mindset.

Take a look at this guide if you’re starting out journaling: Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide).

3. Share Your Progress With a Trusted Friend or Coach

By voicing the change and expressing how far you’re noticing yourself move towards your goal, you’re reinforcing the power of change you’re experiencing.

And you’ll be activating the feel-good neurotransmitters that are so important for bringing your confidence, motivation, and positive changes to your brain to succeed.

Here’re more reasons why you should get yourself a life coach: 7 Reasons Why You Should Find a Life Coach to Reach Your Full Potential.

4. Visualize Your Progress

Before you go to sleep in the evening, visualize your tomorrow. See yourself continuing to do the things that support your change.

Walk yourself through the tiny details that add up to the changes you want to see yourself doing, including the time you’ll wake up. In the morning, re-activate the visualization and then ‘step into’ your day.

Short-Term Goal Example: A Career Short-Term Goal

How to advance your career with short-term goals? Specifically, you will need short-term goals to help with your career. This is also how many people want to utilize short-term goals.

Start by Planning Your Career Visually

Walt Disney was sacked for lacking imagination. Oprah Winfrey was told she’d never make it on television. Careers are destroyed by naysayers intent on keeping you small. The successful person designs a career goal and then creates incremental steps to ‘ladder up’ with short-term goals.

Justin Dry from VinoMofo, a successful Australian wine distribution company, always begins his goal-setting process with visual planning. He says,

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I need to see it all in front of me like a puzzle I’m putting together. It kind of looks like the workings of a madman with lots of weird and wonderful shapes and lines connecting the words.

Whether you use masses of post-it notes that cover a wall, large sheets of paper to spread your ideas on or a journal to map your path – messy planning gets your ideas out of your head so you see different possibilities and pathways available to you.

Begin this process by asking, “What are my best hopes for my career?”

Write them down and place them somewhere you’ll notice them every day.

Make You Think Like a Start-Up Entrepreneur

While successful career planning starts with a messy and random process to let those ‘idea gems’ – the embryos of well-formed short-term goals rise, the next step is taking these nuggets and using them to set your direction.

Think of yourself (and your career) as if you’re the CEO of your successful start-up – one with a clear vision of what you want and how you’ll get it. Rather than waiting for a boss to give you goals, be proactive, and set your own.

Karen Lawson, CEO of Slingshot says,

Set a vision, and be focused on the intent of these goals. Create actions which not only build on those of yesterday but also improve what you do tomorrow. Your pathways will need to be flexible, challenged, and accountable.

Begin by listing the bigger steps needed to achieve your goal. Then chunk these down into smaller steps with specific actions needed to achieve them. These action steps are the workhorses of your short-term goals.

Create a specific time frame to complete them and maintain accountability – as if you’re reporting to your ‘higher up’.

Begin this process by asking yourself: “What difference will I notice when I take these steps?” Then ask: “What difference will my boss/es notice when I take these steps?”

Establish ‘Triggers’ for Your Daily Habits

Twyla Tharp (born 1941) legendary dancer and choreographer, maintains an exacting routine designed to trick her mind into a daily exercise habit.

I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I workout for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.

It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it — makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.[4]

To do this list, create a trigger point – the smallest step you’ll do that will catapult you into taking action as Twyla Tharp did. What will be your ritual of ‘getting in the cab’?

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Get You to Talk About the Future

Melanie Perkins CEO of Canva, a thriving design and publishing solution, is known for ‘frequently talking about the future’.

Orienting your thoughts towards a future-focus reinforces how important your vision and goals are to you. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “You are what you think.”

  • Make it a habit to read your goals daily.
  • Think about what you’ll notice that will be different in your life when you achieve them.
  • Express your goals to someone important in your life.
  • Whisper them to yourself throughout your day.

Future-focused conversations (both with yourself and others) establish a pattern of expectancy, which continue fueling not only your desire but also the expectation of achieving it.

Manage Mental Resistance

When you begin with ‘hope’, you activate a sense of ‘expectancy’. A belief that what you want is not only possible, it’s within reach. Hope and expectancy are two powerful motivators in propelling you forward to a successful life.

When you’re ‘moving forward‘ with hope, you’re orienting yourself towards your desired future. When ‘moving away from‘ something you perceive as painful you’re activating ‘fear’, which can also be a strong motivator helping you avoid pain; for example, losing your job if your quarterly performance scores don’t improve.

Sarah, a manager at a busy merchandising company saw her doctor because she was feeling tired. After a thorough examination, the doctor advised Sarah to lose 15 kilos as this was contributing to her tiredness. The news felt overwhelming as Sarah worked long hours and rarely found time to shop for fresh food, so she relied on fast food to keep her going.

For Sarah, the doctor activated her fear by describing what could happen (heart attack and/or diabetes) if she didn’t manage her weight by shedding 15 kilos.

While ‘moving away from’ motivation can be successful, a way of amplifying positive motivators that will see Sarah begin ‘moving towards’ her goal is by talking about what outcomes Sarah would notice by losing 15 kilos.

For example, managing her weight may see Sarah being more efficient at work, getting out more socially, or feeling more able to manage work pressures and deadlines.

To do this with your own goal setting, think about what’s important to you about achieving your goals. Write down your answers. Ask: “What will you notice that will be different in your life when these changes happen?”

Summing It Up

Change is possible. Short-term goals that build upon each other are the stepping stones to achieving your best hopes.

Using your creative imagination by noticing the small differences occurring daily offers a positive way to create practical change in an easy and doable way.

Above all, make sure your goal is powered by ‘passionate desire’ so you achieve your desired outcomes.

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

Reference

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