We all want to be successful, but it can be seemingly impossible to get there. Only 8% of people report reaching the goals that they set out for themselves, which leaves the majority of us stagnating in both our personal and professional lives.
Even though so few people end up achieving their dreams, we are all capable of seeing our deepest aspirations come to life. We’re here to discuss how you can climb your way up the ladder of success and reach your full potential, no matter what your goals might be.
What is the Ladder of Success?
Like a ladder, it takes many steps to reach the loftiest heights of your ambitions. Each of these steps, or rungs, brings you just a little bit closer to the dream that lies at the top of your ladder. It’s best to take each step in turn, taking your time so that you don’t risk stumbling and falling.
What lies at the top of the ladder is different for each of us. While some are motivated by family, others might be more concerned with professional success. Regardless of how people define it, around 90% of Americans believe that success is more about happiness than power, possessions, or prestige. Some of the most common measures of success include:
- Getting married to a spouse that you love
- Having two healthy children
- Being close with at least four friends
- Earning a bachelor’s degree
- Working just 31 hours a week and making a healthy salary
- Working from the comfort of home
- Commuting ten minutes or less each day
- Getting more than five weeks of vacation each year
- Traveling to a different city, state, or country three times a year
- Owning a home and a car
No matter what you want out of life, the best way to get there is by taking careful, methodical steps. The ladder of success helps to lay out how you can best rise to the challenges you will face as you work your way towards achieving your dreams. Each rung that you manage to pass places you one step closer to your goals.
The First Rung: Visualizing Your Dreams
All success stories start with a dream. If you want to achieve your goals, you need to be able to picture them in your mind’s eye. Whatever you see will help to drive your actions and work your way towards making that vision a reality.
By consistently visualizing what you want, your mind starts to build a new plan for your future. Because your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between dreams and reality, you can essentially trick yourself into changing your thoughts, actions, and even lifestyle. Sometimes you may not even notice yourself making the changes that will have the most significant effect on your success.
Visualizing your dreams can also help you to come up with a conscious plan to reach your goals. The more you think about your aspirations, the easier it becomes to recognize the pros and flaws in your ideas.
Even Olympic athletes take advantage of the power of the mind’s eye. According to sports psychologists, imaging a win is key to achieving it. Many Olympians use visualization both to see themselves winning a medal and to figure out the best ways to beat the competition.
It’s crucial that you take the time to reflect on your dreams for at least a few minutes each day. If you don’t, then the drive and ambition that once helped you to grow as a person may fade into nonexistence.
Visualizing your goals also helps to ensure that you don’t accidentally lean the ladder of success against the wrong wall. You don’t want to spend the time, energy, and effort it takes to achieve a dream that isn’t truly yours. Only pursue an aspiration if the thought of it makes you truly happy.
The Second Rung: Setting Goals
Knowing what lies at the top of your ladder allows you to start setting goals to help you get there. There are three main types of goals that people tend to create, though sometimes the categories overlap.
Time-based goals are those set to reach an accomplishment within a predetermined time frame. They can be either long-term or short-term depending on the complexity. For example, you may have a goal to study for an hour, or you may be aiming to lose a certain amount of weight by this time next year.
Focus-based goals are those with a definitive end result in mind such as sending a job application, finishing a book, or completing a class assignment. The majority of the goals that people set are focus-based.
These are goals set to improve different areas of our lives, be it personal, professional, or financial. Starting a new diet or gunning for a promotion at work are both examples of topic-based goals.
Setting clear, concrete goals is a critical step towards actualizing any objective. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Well begun is half done.” By getting off to a good start, you set yourself up for later success.
When setting goals, you must be realistic about the result you expect. Starting with goals that are too much of a challenge can end up whittling down your motivation. If you’re looking to lose weight, for example, it’s not realistic to aim to lose twenty pounds in a week.
According to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept, you can set clear objectives by using the SMART system. Each goal should be:
- Specific, simple, and significant
- Measurable, meaningful, and motivating
- Achievable and agreeable
- Relevant, reasonable, and realistic
- Time-bound or time-sensitive
Because there’s no clear-cut definition, the SMART system may mean something different to each individual. By keeping the acronym in mind, however, you can ensure that you’re able to create, develop, and eventually achieve goals that will drive you closer to your version of success.
It’s a good idea to write your goals down on a piece of paper or a notebook app. Studies have shown that vividly describing your objectives in written form can make you anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them. Seeing your goal in writing is not only a constant reminder of what you hope to do, but the process of writing itself helps you to internalize and analyze the objective on a deeper level.
The Third Rung: Gaining Confidence in Yourself
Just as you need to be able to visualize your deepest ambitions, you also have to be able to picture yourself achieving those dreams. If you don’t believe that you can do it, then there’s a good chance that you won’t.
A growth mindset as described by research psychologist Carol Dweck is one of the keys to finding success. By believing in your potential, you’re more likely to stay motivated and work harder towards your goals.
If you have a fixed mindset, on the other hand, your own lack of confidence holds you back from achieving success. Those with a fixed mindset allow insecurities and doubt about their ability to limit how high they can rise.
It’s important to recognize your own skills and talents and realize that you can succeed in whatever you put your mind to. All humans have an impressive capacity for inner growth, though it sometimes takes time and effort.
If you have complete confidence in yourself and truly believe that you will achieve your goals, your subconscious mind will help drive you to make your dreams a reality. You can shuck your self-doubt and work your way towards a growth mindset with several simple exercises:
- Look in the mirror each day and think of one thing you appreciate about yourself
- Put yourself out of your comfort zone
- When you internally criticize yourself, stop and ask why
- Face your fear of rejection
- Instead of reflecting on what you need to do, every once in a while spend some time thinking about what you’ve accomplished
- Use your strengths to help others through mentorship, volunteer work, and more
- Take care of yourself both physically and mentally
- Practice saying “no” to people
The Fourth Rung: Accepting Your Shortcomings
Often, we let our fears hold us back from what we want in life. We can be hesitant to take that first step towards success, whether it means quitting your job, starting a new diet, or even just asking out the barista at the local coffee shop.
As Winston Churchill once famously said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” Along the ladder of success, you face many obstacles, and you won’t always be able to overcome them all. It’s inevitable that you’ll fail at some point, but you can’t let this turn you away from your goals.
You shouldn’t aim to avoid failure, but rather, to embrace it. Each time that you struggle in life, you should see the challenge as an opportunity for growth. It’s only through trial and tribulation that we learn how to succeed in the world around us.
Acknowledging your own shortcomings can be a challenge, and accepting them can be even harder. Your flaws are an important part of who you are, however, and not always something that you can change.
By accepting your weaknesses, however, you can instead turn them into some of your biggest strengths. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your flaws:
- Seek advice or guidance from a mentor who has faced the same struggles as you.
- Consistently practice any skill that needs honing, from chopping vegetables to public speaking.
- Match your weaknesses with other people’s strengths both at home and in the workplace.
- Work to help others with the same problems as you. Join a friendly meetup, go to a support group, or even start your own venture.
- Remember that you’ll never be perfect at everything, and allow yourself to be adequate. Even just a basic grasp of your flaws can make a world of difference.
The Fifth Rung: Building a Positive Outlook
While you can’t control the obstacles that you face in life, you can control your reaction to them. Attitude is everything on the ladder of success, and you need plenty of positive energy if you want to keep on climbing.
In the face of constant obstacles, however, it can be challenging to keep a smile on your face. Always remember to keep things in perspective and remind yourself that all troubles pass eventually.
Raising your vibration can help you to maintain a more positive outlook on life. We all vibrate at a certain frequency, and the lower the frequency, the darker your energy. Mentally, a low vibration can cause a state of anxiety and depression, while physically, it can cause pain and discomfort throughout the body.
People with a low vibration frequency often have to work harder to achieve their goals, and they easily lose motivation in the face of strife. Raising your vibration helps to bring positivity into your life and gives you the drive that you need to keep climbing up the ladder of success.
By the law of attraction, a higher vibration will also draw in things vibrating at a similar frequency. If you raise your vibration and exude positive energy, you’ll attract positivity from the universe. With greater personal power and mental clarity, it will be easier to focus on achieving your aspirations.
It requires a conscious effort to raise your vibrational state and build more positive energy. Here are just a few of the steps that you can take to improve your natural frequency:
- Be aware of the world around you: It’s important that you both look for the beauty in the world around you while also avoiding toxicity that can bring down your vibrational state.
- Find a friend with a smile: Surround yourself with others who give off a higher vibration to get in tune with their frequency.
- Spend time in the wild: Getting in touch with our natural roots by hiking, watching wildlife, or simply walking barefoot in the grass can help to raise our vibration and ground our spirit.
- Be aware of your thoughts: Negative thoughts and internal criticism can bring down your vibrational frequency. Try to let go of this toxicity and learn to forgive yourself and others.
- Turn complaints around: Just as you shouldn’t voice negativity in your head, you also shouldn’t say it aloud. Negative comments not only bring down your vibrational state but also those of the people around you.
- Stop and smell the roses: It’s important to take pleasure in the little things in life to put yourself in a positive state of mind.
- Eat a healthy diet: The foods that we eat all have a certain vibration. Food that’s high in fat or refined sugars tends to give off a low frequency while nourishing and natural foods have a higher vibration.
The Sixth Rung: Improving Yourself
The only way to push yourself even further up the ladder of success is by taking steps towards self-improvement. None of us are perfect, and there are always useful skills that you can hone to help you better achieve your goals.
Accepting your shortcomings allows you to recognize what you need to change in order to become the best version of yourself. Flaws such as fear, doubt, and negativity can all get in the way of you reaching your dreams and building the life that you desire.
By continually working to improve yourself, you set yourself up for success in all areas of life. If you’re looking for professional or academic improvement, you can:
- Taking night classes or workshops to build upon your skill set
- Attend seminars by experts in your field
- Make a point to read more literature
- Learn a new language
- Find a coach or mentor
- Set a rigid sleep schedule
Not all of us measure success by our careers, however. You can work your way towards improving your personal life by:
- Check out self-help books that pertain to your situation
- Go to psychology or counseling sessions
- Write in a journal
- Ask for feedback from loved ones
There are countless ways that you can work towards improving yourself. Just remember that it often takes time to see evidence that your efforts are working. Whatever you choose to do, make a commitment to stick with it. If you keep changing your approach, you may end up never seeing the improvements that you want.
The Seventh Rung: Seeking Out Support
Self-improvement doesn’t always have to come from within. Others can also help to guide you on your journey of growth, giving you the strength and wisdom to become a better person. By approaching experts in your chosen area of interest, you can glean invaluable advice and guidance that will ultimately help you to climb even higher on the ladder of success.
Many people form groups or workshops where they can meet on a regular basis with others who share their vision. This type of support group can go a long way towards motivating you to keep up with your goals.
Sharing your success with others can help you to feel validated and give you more the drive to work even harder towards your goals. It also creates a sense of accountability. If you have to share your success stories with others each week, you’ll be motivated to ensure you have good news to deliver.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to meet like-minded people. If you’re looking to build a support network, there are a couple of steps that you can take to reach out to others in your area:
- Try new clubs and activities to grow your pool of acquaintances
- Join special interest groups at your local college or library
- Talk to friends, family, and loved ones about your goals
- Start your own social media or meetup group
- Try out different positions at work
The Eighth Rung: Monitoring Your Progress
One of the best ways to maintain motivation is by witnessing the progress that you make first hand. Making progress towards your goals not only gives you a sense of fulfillment but can also improve your overall physical and mental wellbeing.
You should keep a record of how far you’ve come since first setting your goals. Make a note of each time you hit a milestone on the ladder of success. You can do this using a specialized app to track progress on your phone, tablet, or another mobile device anytime and anywhere.
Many people choose to opt for more traditional methods of goal tracking. The “Seinfeld Strategy,” named after the world-famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld, uses a calendar to record progress and prevent procrastination.
With the Seinfeld Strategy, each day you create a specific goal. When you’ve completed it, you can check the day off on your calendar. The idea is to create a continuous, unbroken chain that offers visual evidence of progress. This tracking method keeps you on-task and ensures that you take at least one small step towards success every single day.
No matter how you track your daily progress, you should also check in at least once a month to analyze your process and your development. If you find yourself struggling to reach the goals that you set, you may have to go back and rethink your game plan.
During your monthly review, ask yourself exactly what you’ve accomplished in the past four weeks. Look at any notes you’ve taken on your progress, and if you’re stagnating, try to figure out just where or when you went wrong.
A monthly review also gives you a chance to shift your focus and amend your goals. For most of us, our interests and values change as we age. Your road map to success needs to be adaptable so that you’re not thrown off-course by the unexpected.
The Ninth Rung: Taking Care of Yourself
When you focus your energies on climbing the ladder of success, it can be easy to forget about your other needs. You may neglect work, relationships, or even your health in favor of working towards your goals.
Creating balance in both your professional and personal life is important. If you fail to strike a healthy work-life balance, you will find yourself suffering because of it, no matter how successful you might be.
Spending too much time focusing on a single area of your life, be it your family, your social circle, or your job will lower your natural vibrations and may lead to stress and depression. Over time, it can even take a lasting toll on your mental and physical help.
It’s vital that you make the time each day to take proper care of your mind, body, and soul. Shut off the computer, mute your work phone, and tell your loved ones not to disturb you as you take a bit of well-deserved “me” time. Some of the best ways to improve your overall health include:
- Eating a healthy diet with plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be one of the healthiest meal plans.
- Getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night, or seven to eight if you’re over sixty-five.
- Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity in each week.
- Staying hydrated by avoiding sugary juices and sodas and instead drinking around two liters of clean, fresh water each day.
- Brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing at least once.
The Final Rung: Never Giving Up
Persistence is the ultimate key to success. No matter how many times you fail, it’s vital that you never allow yourself to give up. If you lose faith in yourself, you’ll never live to see your dreams manifest themselves as reality.
Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have had to persist in the face of adversity. Walt Disney was turned down for a loan more than 300 times before he managed to secure the first deposit for his wildly successful theme park. Colonel Sanders, the founder of the KFC chain, had his recipe rejected over 1000 times before he managed to open a restaurant.
Though rejection can put a damper on your motivation, all setbacks are temporary. If you keep on giving your goals your best effort, eventually you’ll succeed. You should see each failure as a chance to learn, analyzing what went wrong so that you don’t make the same mistake on your next attempt.
In reality, the ladder of success is never-ending. You can always reach greater heights of success in both your personal and professional life. Climbing to the top is a lifelong process, and though it may not be easy, the satisfaction that we find in achievement is well worth the effort.
You should never stop setting new goals for yourself as you grow. Though your dreams and values may change with time, your motivation and dedication should remain steadfast. Keep on climbing up the ladder of success with a smile on your face, and you’re sure to find fulfillment in life.