How to become successful: One simple exercise that can change your life

There are a countless books and articles on the topic of success and what it takes to become successful. You have scoured a few or perhaps you are one of those over-achievers who has zealously studied them all? That is quite impressive! But here you are looking for yet another secret to success? Could there be a little gem hiding here that which has dodged you everywhere else?

I don’t know where you are in your life. Perhaps you are waiting for divine inspiration that will get you off your couch and into the gym so you can stick it to your ex, or get you off your mediocre job to living the life of your dreams so you can stick it to your pompous boss? Perhaps you are just waiting for summertime, so you can grow your perfect garden, so you can stick it to your neighbor? Whatever the case may be and whomever you may be wanting to stick it to, if you are one of those people who are “waiting” to do something then chances are you will be waiting a long time.

Yea, you heard me! This article is not meant to be another pep talk that may get you motivated enough to get you off your couch for a day only to be back in it for a year. I am not here to tell you that you deserve to be successful because you are such a changeling and because you deserve better. I don’t know you and I have no idea what you deserve. But if you are one of those people who thinks you deserve something because you are special or because “mum said so”, well then you need to grow up. Nothing about life is fair or given just because you or someone thinks so. Life demands hard work and sacrifice, it demands fortitude to ceaselessly plan your life only to see your plans fail repeatedly and yet have the stubbornness to do it all over again.

What’s more life comes with no user manuals, guarantees or return policies, there are no consolation trophies and absolutely no pauses or escape buttons.

I am not here to give you any secret to success. I am here to tell you that success is not a secret. Or at least it should not be to you. See every body’s concept of success should be unique and personal. Before you set out on your life’s journey to become successful, I want you to take a moment and take stock of what success means to you?

ian-schneider-66374-unsplashSo, what does success mean to you? Yes you, not your aunt Thelma, or your neighbor, or your boss or your wife …but YOU! Elementary as it may sound, this is an important concept you need to understand before you waste any more precious time in this world pursuing somebody else concept of success. Too many people have wasted too much time living somebody else’s dream which is why we are such an unhappy nation. If your concept of success is to get that gorgeous body, or a car that the world can envy, or a vacation with family then that’s fine. I am perfectly fine with shallow dreams. Just know that it should be your shallow dream not somebody else’s. But If you find yourself doubting what success means to you then take a road trip me with me into the future.

Imagine yourself 20, 30 or even 50 years from now, at the fag end of your life. You are on life support, breathing your last few breaths thinking back on your life. How would you like to view your life? Are you proud of the empire you have built, or happy to have contributed to society, are you satiated with the beautiful family around you there to bid you farewell? Or are you perhaps a bit regretful? Are you staring into a wrinkled face you have shared your life with and truly loved and cherished or are you looking at a stranger wishing you had called quits when you had the chance? Are you wishing you had not wasted your time on that mediocre job, or waited on that lucky break or perhaps just wishing you had spent more time with the people you loved? Now bring yourself back to today.

If there is the slightest regret in your life today, remember it will be a hundred times magnified and unforgivable at your death bed. Nobody regrets have done something and failed at it, people regret never having tried!!!

Well sorry if that was a grave exercise (pun intended). But at least you have a better idea of what success means to you now?

Do this exercise often if you need to figure out what you want to achieve and what it is you want to change in your life. So that brings us back to the million-dollar question? What is the one secret you need to know to succeed?

I wasn’t just trying to reel you in with that title you know. The answer is simple. You need to know what you truly value and cherish. What is the one motivation that every action of your life is geared towards?

Don’t have a nebulous idea of success, one that is brainwashed into your head by society, peer pressure or the numerous stream of advertisements on TV and social media. Don’t spend your entire life living somebody’s else dream no matter how precious that person may be to you.

I have an overachiever cousin who has spent years in school studying to become a surgeon while he secretly dreamed of being a banker, only to please his parents. I know of a woman in her forties who married the wrong man only to please her parents, and now is fighting a bad divorce and several health issues due to serious emotional stress at home. I also know of a man who left an ivy league school to start a small business and now is a very successful entrepreneur. Life is not easy as is, the last thing you want to do is live somebody’s else’s life.

So be clear about your dreams. Have a vision board or spend five minutes a day imagining what your perfect future will be. Perhaps you don’t mind being a bit somber and writing your own eulogy. What would your eulogy be? OK, sorry I promised no more grave exercises already!

What does any of this have with making me successful, you ask? That’s the thing. If you don’t know how to define your success, how are you ever going to get it? You may have everything in the world that anybody can ever dream of but in your heart, you will never be successful if what you achieved was somebody else’s success not yours.

Once you know what your idea of success means, everything else falls into place. Ignited by the fire of your true passion, following your dreams becomes easier. I said easier not easy. You still need to pursue your dreams like a warrior. It does not matter how brawny or brainy you are, as long as you truly know what it is that motivates you, you will find way to success and everlasting happiness.

nghia-le-57365-unsplashPhoto by Nghia Le on Unsplash

11 rules to live by for guaranteed success

Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or goal. Whatever our aims are, completion of these gives us a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment and happiness. We all know success is neither easy nor guaranteed, yet we are surprised when our best efforts are not rewarded with the level of success we dreamed of.

Is there a formula to guarantee success?

As it happens, for anything to flourish we must create an environment for it. For instance if we wish to grow a plant, we need to provide it a combination of sun, air, water and soil, or else the plant will perish.

Looking at it from another context, if we were to say bake a cake, we must first collect and mix all the ‘right’ ingredients (flour, milk, eggs, baking powder, sugar, essence) in the ‘right’ proportions. We then have to bake this concoction at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time.

If anyone of you (like myself) has persevered to bake the perfect cake but fallen short of expectations, then take a look at the list of ingredients I have put forth below. If you missed even a single one of them, then you found your missing Ingredient!

Secrets to SuccessIngredient Number One: Inspiration/Dreams/Motivation

For any change to happen the level of our effort has to be strong. But what drives effort? As it seems the stronger our dreams the stronger are our efforts. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”.

Context: Baking a cake will take some effort. It is important to be clear on the motivation behind this effort, or why do it? Your motivation may be as simple as you wanting to eat a cake. But why chose to bake one, why not just buy one at the grocery store, which will definitely be easier and faster? Motivation is what will drive your efforts, without which your project may fail half way; losing steam.

Ingredient Number two: Hard Work

This is no secret. Success takes a lot of effort, even for those who are naturally endowed. Beethoven’s 9th symphony took him many years in the making. Leonardo Da Vinci spent four years to create his masterpiece: Mona Lisa. It took Shah Jahan ten years to build the Taj Mahal. Einstein once said, “Genius is 1% talent, and 99% hard work”.

Efforts must be consistent, persistent, proactive, and energetic to be successful. What’s more one may need to try and try again until one succeeds. Urban legend has it,that it took Thomas Edison a thousand unsuccessful attempts before he successfully created the light bulb.

Context: Baking a cake is no easy effort. If you are worried about the hard work, then go buy a cake. Baking will require a lot of work from assembling the ingredients, mixing them together, baking and then cleaning up the mess, before you are able to even enjoy the first bite. The effort will be well worth it, but be fully prepared to make it.

Ingredient Number three: Focus

The truth is hard work without focus will never yield desired results. Alexander Graham Bell said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

Context: Baking is all about the right proportions and timing. If while baking a cake, you get distracted and add too much of milk or too little eggs, your cake will not come out light and fluffy.  Single minded focus on the work at hand, yields definite success.

Ingredient Number four: Tools & Techniques

Work Smart not just hard. Utilizing Tools and techniques not only includes utilizing the “right” ones, but also includes improving the ones you have and improvising what you don’t.

Context: You may wish to use an egg beater for instance to whip up the egg or mix the ingredients together nicely, thus saving yourself time while making sure the batter is of a perfect consistency.

Ingredient Number five : Goals

For any task to be successful, you must have SMART goals. This means your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. Breaking goals into smaller bite size pieces is also helpful.

Context: You must know for instance what kind of a cake you want: chocolate, vanilla or carrot cake? This would drive the ingredients that you assemble as well as the method you use to bake it. You may also want to break your ultimate goal into smaller achievable goals such as making the base, making the frosting, decorating etc.

Ingredient Number six: Support group

A strong, equally determined support group can make all the difference between failure and success. Remember you don’t want false adulation, you want constructive criticism.

Context: Baking a cake is fun if you can bake with a friend. Or if you can share notes and tips with your friends. This will help both of you improve your baking skills in the long run. Agreed?

Ingredient Number seven: Effectiveness

I feel this is a very important ingredient to success. While many people work hard and persevere, few are effective. The secret to being effective is to constantly monitor results, critically assess ones failures and successes, learn from mistakes, and to continually revise and update one’s plan. “What has worked well in the past”? “What can I do better in the future”?

Context: When you bake a cake, you may want to taste the batter to make sure it is not too bland or too sweet, or frequently check the cake is not burning.

Ingredient Number eight: Pray/Believe

While luck favors those who work hard, it also helps those who believe. Prayers come a long way in helping us keep our faith during difficult times. I believe Rick Warren (spiritual author) says it best when he says, “The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.”

Context: Before you even bake a cake, you must believe in yourself. You may never have baked a cake before, but to try it for the first time, you must have faith in your own success.

Ingredient Number nine: Set Milestone

Setting Milestones helps one check one’s progress. Create frequent check points and set deadlines. These keep us on track.

Context: You may want to create Milestones such as, buying ingredients, creating the batter, making the icing and so forth. It helps breaking a large task into manageable chunks while also making sure we are not forgetting something, or running out of time.

Ingredient Number ten: Creativity

Creative people will find new and innovative ways to doing the same things. Creativity includes thinking outside the box and constantly reinventing oneself and one’s art.

Context: This is what will make your cake stand out. Go ahead whip out a nice design with colored icing or try baking a multi-layered cake.

Ingredient Number eleven: Just Chill!

If you have done everything that you needed to do, and you have done it to the best of your ability, then just sit back and relax. Leave the rest to rest. Obsessing over something or the past only takes away from the joy of achieving it.

Also learn to celebrate smaller successes while continuing to endeavor for the big enchilada!

Oprah Winfrey has famously said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate!”


Context: You put in all the effort to bake a cake. The cake is now ready. It’s now time to sit back and enjoy the labors of love. Go ahead take that first bite, dig into the sweetness of your cake. Feel the chocolate melt into your mouth (assuming it is a chocolate cake). This is the reward of your hard work, be proud of it. And chill!

Inspired by Daily Post: Ingredients