America might have a history of being called “the land of opportunity,” but today, fewer than 20 percent of Americans feel as if they are living that dream.
If you’ve ever felt like success is something reserved for a few lucky individuals, you are not alone. When you’re stuck in a rut, and everything you try to do or accomplish seems to slip right through your fingers, it can be easy to feel as though you simply aren’t meant for success.
But the truth is that success isn’t something that just happens. Instead, it requires lots of hard work, as well as a few smart strategies to help you get exactly what you want in life, work, and even love. Keep reading to learn a few of the secret strategies for success that you need to know if you want to start making positive changes in your life.
Get Real with Your Expectations
One of the biggest reasons why people tend to feel that success simply isn’t for them is because they have unrealistic expectations of themselves. They see the things that other people are accomplishing, and feel that they should be doing the same. Or they dream of goals that simply are too far off or broad to ever be realistic to accomplish.
This can leave you feeling discouraged, even if you were already at a major disadvantage right from the start. This disappointment will spill over into all areas of your life. For instance, if you’re feeling as though you aren’t getting the promotions or leads that you deserve at work, you might end up feeling useless at home as well.
Rather than making yourself feel bad about big goals that you simply can’t accomplish, you need to learn to get real with your expectations for yourself. Be honest about what you are capable of and clear about your current skills and what you would need to do to reach those lofty goals.
Here are a few ideas for making those lofty goals more attainable:
- Rather than setting a goal to lose 100 lbs., start with 10-15. While working towards that goal, incorporate healthy eating and regular, fun exercise into your routine. You’ll start feeling better right away, and then once you do meet the goal, you’ll feel motivated to keep going.
- Rather than saying I want to be rich, set a goal of going back to school or starting a side hustle. This will be much more attainable in the short term, and help you track your progress along the way.
Setting realistic goals for yourself will help motivate you to make big changes in your life. As you see yourself reach your goals or at the very least make progress towards them, you’ll start to feel more confident. As your confidence grows, you’ll feel even more able to start working towards more difficult tasks.
Assess Your Current Situation
You’re probably heard it before, but the grass truly isn’t greener on the other side. One of the reasons you’re likely feeling unsuccessful is that you’re constantly comparing yourself and your situation to that of others. This means that you’re probably also overlooking all of the positive things in your own life.
Take the time to assess your current situation, the things you have to be happy or proud about, and the possible reasons why you may be feeling unsatisfied.
The biggest things that many people overlook, but that we all should be grateful for if we’re lucky enough to have them include:
- How many people in their lives love and support them already?
- Having a comfortable home or even just a roof over your head
- Your car that gets you where you need to go
- Maybe you have a job you love, or at least one that you’ve found you truly excel at
As for the possible reasons you may be feeling unsatisfied, these could include everything from a friend having the job that you’d really like to have to your sibling having a bigger or nicer home.
That bigger home that your brother or sister has also comes with a bigger mortgage. Would you want to work more or give up a fun yearly vacation to pay for that? Or that job your friend has; ask yourself, is he or she really happy? Or does the glitz of the position make you blind to the long hours or horrible work environment?
Redefine What It Means to Be Successful
Now that you’ve thought through why you feel that you are less successful than others and the reasons why you should be content with your own situation, it’s time to redefine what it means for you to be successful.
Think about what it is that you really want. Odds are that it isn’t that new job or fancy house. Instead, you might want a bigger paycheck or the respect of your friends and family. Once you start being honest about why you want what you want, you’ll be able to see why your reasons might be skewed, and what your other options are.
You might be surprised to find that you don’t view the steps you’d need to take as success. Some may even be downgrades; if you have to give up time with your family in order to work longer hours, you might not feel like a successful parent.
Rethinking what it means to you to be successful will help you set realistic goals for yourself.
Break it Down
You likely have more than one goal that you need to reach before you’ll really feel successful. But oftentimes, that goal is a big one.
How you break down your goals is entirely up to you. You could break them down by time, defining what you want to accomplish in a week, month, or even a year.
You could also break it down into steps, such as losing a certain number of pounds or putting a certain amount of money into your savings account.
Say that your goal is to get a promotion at work. These are a few steps you might take to achieve that:
- Go back to school or take night classes to learn the skills you’ll need
- Put your full effort into every work assignment, no matter how routine or boring you find it
- Take the leap and talk to your boss or supervisor about a possible promotion, with your success you’ve been working on and new skills under your belt.
Learn to Not Be Afraid of Hard Work and Accept Challenges
While most of us want the benefits of hard work, like more money, more free-time, or more happiness, many of us are also terrified of the hard work or risk that goes into getting those things. As long as you are afraid of these things, you’ll never reach the level of success that you’re dreaming of.
Hard work or a little bit of healthy risk is nothing to be afraid of. Instead, you need to learn how to embrace these things and see them as a challenge that you are more than capable of overcoming.
While you should never overwork yourself or skip sleep and other healthy habits in favor of work, you need to understand that most everyone who has the success you wish that you had also had to work to get there. It’s likely that they’ve been working much harder than you up until now.
Stop Listening to Naysayers
Another reason why many people end up feeling as though success simply isn’t for them is because they listen to the people who tell them that they can’t do something. In reality, these naysayers are often motivated by their own satisfaction with their lives.
They feel that they aren’t successful, so they put others down in order to feel better about themselves. Or maybe they’ve tried to do exactly what you’re attempting, and feel that it is easier to tell people that it is impossible rather than getting back up to try again.
Don’t listen to these voices surrounding you. Only you know what you are truly capable. And if you set your mind to something and give it your full attention and dedication, there’s very little that can stand in your way. And even if something can keep you from reaching your goal, that something will never be the words of another individual.
In order to keep yourself away from this negativity, you may need to distance yourself from certain people in your life who want to drag you down. Or at least distance yourself from them until you’ve had the chance to accomplish their goals. Once they’ve seen what you’re capable of, hopefully they’ll keep their negativity to themselves the next time.
Learn to Say No
Simply keeping from letting naysayers get into your head isn’t enough. You also need to learn how to say no to people and situations that put you further away from your goals or that put you in a toxic environment.
People often feel as though they can’t say no at work or to their loved ones. They feel that if they want to be successful, they have to be able to juggle an endless amount of work and never turn down another challenge.
But no one can do everything. Even if you’re great at multitasking, everyone has their limits. And you should make sure that you never put yourself in a position that over-pushes them. When you stretch yourself thin, your work in every area suffers. So, if you’re constantly running errands for loved ones or taking on more and more work at your job, you’ll likely stop caring for yourself or let your work suffer.
Learn how to say no to things that you don’t want to or to tasks that you know will stretch you very thin. This can have another far-reaching positive affect on your life; it will give your “yes” more oomph. When you do tell someone that you can help them, you’ll be able to give them your full support and work as hard as possible on the task that you take on.
Rethink How You Speak to Yourself
Even if you don’t realize it, the way that you talk to yourself when you’re working towards a goal could be toxic. Simple phrases like “I wish I was thinner” or “I never learned how to do this” put your mind in a state of negativity.
A few simple changes in your language is all that it takes to reverse this. Rephrase those thoughts to “If I eat healthier and get some exercise, I will lose weight” and “The last time I tried this, I gave up too quickly, but this time I will follow through.”
You are your own biggest supporter, but you can also be your own greatest enemy. Making sure that the first wins out will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals and bettering yourself.
Never Stop Trying to Better Yourself
No matter what areas of your life you’re looking to improve, keeping your brain active can have a far-reaching effect. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s or your 90s, you should never stop learning.
A few simple ways to do just that include:
- Take a class at a local college or community center
- Learn a new language, using tapes, apps on your phone, or by signing up for courses
- Listen to an educational podcast on your morning commute
- Try a new style of exercise
- Visit local museums or plan an educational vacation
Whether you realize it or not, 74 percent of Americans already actively seek out learning opportunities in their lives. But it’s important to never abandon this habit, no matter your age or situation.
If you aren’t organized, it can be tough to get anything done. Even people who thrive in chaos need a little bit of organization from time to time.
Whether you’re organizing your work desk, your computer desktop, or your home, doing so can help you clear away the clutter that leads to distraction.
You may not realize it, but that pile of dirty clothes in the corner of your room may mean that you have to dig through your closet to find something to wear. This can mean it takes you longer to get ready in the morning, causing you to skip breakfast and feel sluggish for the rest of the day.
Or it may lead to a hazardous commute as your race through traffic trying to avoid being late. If you’re late often, this can make you look unprofessional and unreliable at work. All of this because your closet isn’t organized, or your laundry basket is overflowing.
Organizing even a few small areas of your life can have a great positive impact on all other areas. You don’t have to organize everything all at once. Instead, start small. You might clear away old files off of your desktop so that you can quickly and easily find what you need.
You might clear off your kitchen table so that you can relax while you eat without worrying about bills and feeling bad about your situation.
Pick up Meditation
While traditional meditation can be a great way to focus your mind and unwind after a long and stressful day, you don’t necessarily have to know how to get your Zen on to reap the benefits of this strategy.
Even taking the time at the end of the day to reflect on what you accomplished and what progress you made towards goals that will help you feel successful can be a great way to make changes in your life.
Be kind with yourself. There are already plenty of naysayers in the world who are ready to tell you what you can’t do. The last thing that you need is to hear those words from yourself as well.
Eliminate Meaningless Distractions
The average American now spends more than 24 hours a week on the internet. While for some, the internet is an important tool for getting work done, most of us end up wasting at least a few hours scrolling through social media or simply web surfing.
This can have a number of negative side effects. Social media is known to inflate the way we see others. We rarely post those unflattering selfies or the struggles that we are facing. Instead, most of us only upload flashy vacations photos or heavily edited updates about our lives. When we see others on social media, we are only seeing one side, but we don’t think about this as we are scrolling through. Instead, we often compare ourselves to those images we see, leaving us feeling less than adequate.
Another negative side effect is that social media is addicting. What was supposed to be just a few minutes of scrolling might turn into an hour or more. If you put that time towards learning a new skill, exercising, or reflecting on our progress, we could accomplish more than we can even imagine.
Unfortunately, eliminating these distractions can be difficult. It takes careful tracking of all the ways that you waste time each day. Then, you have to find positive alternatives that you can spend your time on instead.
One good way to do this is to keep a journal of how you spend your day, or utilize a time-tracking app. This can help you realize just how much time you are wasting and allow you to start swapping out those negative activities for positive ones.
Be Open About Your Progress
While the idea of “fake it until you make it” might help you confidently take on situations that you’re nervous about, this isn’t advice that you should follow when you’re trying to become more successful in your life or work.
Confidence is always a must, but only if you’re honest about your progress. Lying to other people about your success won’t make you feel more confident; instead, it may make you anxious. You’ll worry that you might get exposed as a fraud. This will make you feel like a fraud to yourself as well, even if you are actually making progress towards your goals.
If you have people close to you who are supportive, be honest about your setbacks. You might be surprised to learn that they have faced similar challenges. The two of you can offer support to one another and advice on how to proceed.
If you lie and act as though you are more successful than you are, other people may feel that they need to embellish as well. This will only leave you feeling even worse about your own personal situation.
Track Your Progress in Every Area
Whether you have specific goals in mind that you’re hoping to accomplish in the future, or you’re simply focused on your work and personal obligations, tracking your progress can help you stay focused.
Keep a record of the milestones that you’re passing in your goals or at work. Set specific expectations for how long you think it will take you to reach the next milestone. Be realistic about these expectations; the last thing you want to do is end up disappointed in yourself when you fall behind.
Monitoring your progress will also allow you to make adjustments. If it is taking you a long time to make any real progress, it might be time to reassess the way that you’re spending your time, how you’re spending your money, or where you are focusing your energy.
Don’t Let Setbacks Set You Back
We all make mistakes from time to time. And other times, our setbacks are entirely out of our control.
Whether you could have changed the situation or not, it’s important not to let one mistake or roadblock derail all of the progress that you have made up until that point.
Instead, use it as a chance for self-reflection. Consider why the mistake happened, and how you might have changed the situation. Accept what happened, and then move on from it. When similar situations arise later on, you’ll be better able to react appropriately, making even big mistakes an important opportunity to learn and grow.
Make the Most of What You Have
Too often, we are so focused on what we want that we don’t realize what we already have. Just as you need to assess your current situation in order to realize everything you should already be proud of, you also need to assess the skills and knowledge you already have that you could put to use in working towards your goals.
Maybe you have a skill that could help you get ahead at work. Or you already know how to do something that you could monetize in order to bring in some extra income and improve your financial situation.
Using what you have, you can quickly get a little bit closer to your goals right away. This will help motivate you to keep doing more, so that you can finally reach the success that you have been dreaming about for so long.
Go Your Own Way
When everyone around you is dressing or acting a certain way, spending their time doing the same thing, or striving towards the same goals, it can be easy to feel as though you need to fall in line as well.
But if you really want to feel successful in your skin, it’s essential that you stick to your path and push past the temptation to follow the crowd.
Barack Obama once said;
“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. Humans are programmed to depend on others. We want to lean on the people close to us. We yearn to fit into the crowd that we find ourselves in.
Often, that means bending our own wills and ignoring our own wants and needs in order to better fit in. But this can quickly derail your own goals because you will be so focused on what other people are doing.
Mastering the Secrets to Success
From forging your own path to always seeking new opportunities to learn, the secrets to success aren’t rocket science. But that doesn’t mean that they are simple either. They take a lot of hard work and dedication if you want to master them.
Most people will struggle to master them, especially at first. You’ll fall off the bandwagon at least once or twice. This can leave you feeling lost and discouraged. You may feel even less successful than when you first started.
When this happens, it is important to stay focused. Think about all the progress you have already made towards reaching your goals. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. Then, get to work.
Everyone is capable of success, but success also means something different to every individual. Once you’ve decided what success means to you, stop at nothing to achieve it.