How To Become Successful – 17 Methods

By Sean Stevenson – Latest Revision February 4th, 2021

So... How To Become Successful?

We all question how to become successful.  In point of fact, success is something we all hope for, but many of us fail to achieve. 

Doubtlessly, everyone wants to become successful.  However, few will actively pursue success no matter how difficult or stressful their journey proves to be. 

Most people tend to give up when the obstacles become “too difficult” or too “time-consuming.” 

Despite this, there is a way forward.  By following a series of habits you can easily overcome your own obstacles in time.  The best way to ensure your success is to practice the habits that will reinforce your ability to achieve.

Most people think of success in terms of a “lucky moment” where they will suddenly become millionaires and never have to work again.  Unfortunately, this is far from reality. 

Success is actually a sustained effort over a long period of time.  In fact, to be truly successful, you will have to focus on making steady progress throughout your entire life.  Moreover, you must never deviate from the core values that made your success possible in the first place.  Otherwise, you risk undoing everything you have built on a whim…

A Series of Polls

To better understand what people felt was holding them back from achieving their personal vision of success, we conducted a series of polls via LinkedIn.  Here are some of our findings…:

How To Become Successful

From the above impressions alone, you can see that there was no “one answer.”  A variety of challenges deterred many professionals from achieving their vision for the future.

Naturally, we tried to cross-reference with several other polls, just to confirm our data…

How To Become Successful

They all looked something like this (depicted above).

Based on the data collected from hundreds of active professionals, it seems that everyone finds their own difficulties based on their personalities, preferences, and inclinations.  In other words, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses (unsurprising, I know!).  However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find better ways to operate and improve as professionals!

Here are 17 highly actionable methods to start -or continue- your journey towards personal success:

1. Make A Plan For Your Future And Set Concrete Goals

Consider what your ideal future would look like.  Who would be involved?  What friends would you bring along for your journey?  How much money and time do you need to get the most out of life?

Create the goals you need to reach in order to fully realize your vision.  Whether it’s financial freedom, or building a business.  Make a roadmap with a clear end-goal.

Planning ahead and remaining flexible is by far the fastest way to achieving lasting success.  As long as you remain accountable and keep forging towards your goal, there is little that can stop you.

These personal considerations should help you motivate yourself to act.  Try to visualize how your achievements would positively impact your life. 

Successful people today are always aiming for a better future.  Moreover, they never let themselves lose sight of what’s important.  It’s crucial to learn from these examples by studying the accomplishments of others.  When done properly, this will give you a blueprint of how to advance your own strategy.  You may also gain new ideas about what interests you, and where you would ultimately like to end up.

Above all, your plan should be a step-by-step process that is easy to follow.  Of course, you can include detail, but don’t go overboard.  For now, your primary aim should be to make a plan you can easily follow.  You must also be able to adapt, without compromising on your definition of success.

Take it one step at a time.  Moreover, be sure to remember, that success is a long-term goal.

2. Visualize Your Future Success

During the 2016 Olympics, Michael Phelps used the power of visualization and mental imagery to prepare for success.  He would actively envision himself winning in record time.  This gave him a huge mental boost and helped him build confidence before each race.  

The act of envisioning his victory would become a familiar routine that spurred Phelps to new heights throughout his career. 

In fact, his own coach -Bob Bowman- claims he has been using this technique since he was a teenager (1).  

Given that Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time (with 28 medals and 23 gold medals), you can be certain that there is merit to the idea of visualizing your future success.  Even better, is the fact that this exercise is both simple and only requires a few moments of your time.

Try to relax your mind and guide your own vision towards your goal.  Contemplate the steps you will take to reach that goal, and how it will positively impact your life.  If you can, make a mental note of ways you can improve your odds of success. 

If you find looming obstacles or concerns dotting your vision, it may be time to consider addressing those openly. 

Taking the time to sit down and write out your own worst fears, is not only therapeutic, but it can also grant you important insights that you may not have considered prior.  Dissecting our own thoughts in this way, is one of the most effective strategies for growth.

The key to visualizing any successful action is to take your time.  Breathe slowly, and never rush your mind during this stage.  Let your thoughts, your process, and your concerns, flow openly.  You’ll find yourself more alert, and more ready to act as needed.  

3. Embrace Challenges

Challenges come in many forms.  Overcoming challenges is what separates success from mediocrity.

By choosing to actively pursue your goal no matter the odds, you will be setting yourself on a far more positive path than the one you had been on previously.

A simple way to make sure that you are ready for this transformation, is to ask yourself point blank, “Am I willing to pay the cost for my own personal success?”

Go ahead.  Ask yourself if you’re ready.  Will you be willing to sacrifice your energy and time towards becoming a more successful human being?  If you answered yes, then you’re already more than capable of embracing any challenge that comes your way.

Moreover, it can be valuable to recall that not all challenges need to be overcome directly.  There are also times where you may find a way “around” that same challenge.  You may find a new way of doing something, or you may realize that something was unnecessary to begin with. 

However, this should not be confused with failing to meet your goals “because something has proven too difficult.”  That would be self-defeating.  What you really need to consider when facing any challenge, is how to best find a workable solution.  Sometimes that can involve compromise, which is an important distinction to make.

How To Become Successful

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great."

-John D. Rockefeller

4. Make A Solid Routine

Repetition is a priceless commodity.  Successful people always develop a powerful daily routine.  It gives them a big advantage.

By learning to repeat and develop your own process, you will be making your life much easier.  You can also easily monitor your development over time by recording your daily routine and making changes as necessary.  

Ideally you’ll want to keep “adding on” to your routine to make it even more potent.  This can come in the form of adding more exercise, more reading, or even just trying to relax for a few extra moments.

Successful people always make use of repetition.  It safeguards their process as they build towards new goals.

With this in mind, create your own routine and solidify your process through consistent effort.  Try to develop your routine in such a way that you would be comfortable doing it for an extended period of time (read: indefinitely). 

To this end, it often helps if you write out each phase or step in chronological order.  Try making a spreadsheet in excel, or even on a piece of paper.  You may quickly discover that you can order your process more efficiently. 

Perhaps you can even make changes that will help you to keep your motivation and momentum over a longer period of time.

5. Commit To Your Success Story

It can take years of solid efforts to make a real difference in a person’s life.

Successful individuals never give up.  They recognize that perseverance is the key to reaching any goal. 

Fleshing this concept out in your own mind, is integral to your personal advancement.  Try to register that things take time.  Despite the fact you can’t see results right away, be aware that they will materialize over time if you remain committed.   

Unfortunately, most people choose to be short-sighted, because they fear the idea of what the future may hold.  It can after all, be far easier to simply “go with the flow,” rather than taking direct control over your life.

Yet this docile attitude towards success is often the prelude to stagnation.  It leads to a “doom-loop,” where a person’s focus is always scattered, and their goals are never truly realized.  They simply “settle” for less.

Avoid all of that.  Focus on your goal by committing to it completely.  Dedicate your efforts to your goals.  Realize the lasting effect they will have both on you as a person, and on your life. 

You’ll not only find yourself better able to deal with challenges in your professional life, but also issues that emerge in your day-to-day. 

This is because efforts are cumulative, and often snowball as we drive ourselves to new heights. 

People who persevere towards their goals are always more disciplined and self-aware than those who do not.  No matter what the situation throws their way, a committed person will take a deep breath, and find the best way forward.

6. Avoid Distractions

A mind-killer (or career-killer if you prefer?) that many of us struggle with constantly, are the distractions in our lives.  Browsing Facebook or watching television haphazardly is something many of us do.  Without even fully realizing it, we’re suddenly engrossed in the latest drama, or some obscure documentary. 

In our fast-paced existence, it is all too easy to simply “dial-in” to our electronics for those preciously brief moments of solace and sweet entertainment.  The problem is, those moments become hours, and our focus is utterly lost in the process.

Learn to avoid this mistake by instead choosing to be cognitive in the moment.  Taking a walk, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or something else that is at least mildly constructive, can help break this cycle of distraction.  It also has the added effect of helping you to build self-respect. 

If you can expound upon this habit, you will find yourself far more capable of avoiding distractions entirely.  You’ll suddenly realize how much time you’ve been wasting, and that there are more important things to dedicate yourself to.

This will also have an effect of reengaging you with your daily life (as opposed to drowning yourself in enriched media). 

This may sound harsh yet it is absolutely true:  we as human beings are not hardwired for responsible or productive behavior.  These activities are a learned habit that must be reinforced time and again.

Our brains are fickle things and enjoy consuming mindless entertainment.  The release of neurochemicals in our mind as a product of this consumption is a stimulant that we naturally crave.  With endless access to media cycles, video games, and of course, the internet, we have no shortage of ways to induce our own psyche into a pleasurable coma.

Avoid this by unplugging entirely, or committing to something else.

This is not to say you can’t ever enjoy your favorite shows ever again.  It is to say that turning media off while you work, is not only advisable, it is the only way to ensure you can focus on what’s most important in your life.

After all, you can always make time later to sit down and thoroughly enjoy your vices.  Just do so after work is finished.

How To Become Successful

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."

-Thomas Jefferson

7. Be Comfortable With Telling Others “No”

Many of us are far too eager to please everyone around us.  This can have an adverse effect on our capacity for self-improvement. 

Our resources and focus are finite things.  Without using them wisely, we diminish our very existence as we sacrifice blindly for others.

Rather than surrendering all of your time and energy towards the welfare of those around you (tempting as it may be), instead try to hone yourself by learning to tell others “no.” 

This is often easier said than done.  Many of us fear telling others “no” because we worry that they will ostracize us.  They may even see us in a different light. 

In truth, saying no will show others that you have self-respect and integrity. 

Sharing your concerns openly, and stating that you need your own time to dedicate to things that are important to you, can be a huge step forward.

Moreover, nobody ever respects a “yes” person who fails to take their destiny into their own hands.

8. Make Better Financial Decisions

For many people, living paycheck to paycheck is a harsh reality.  However, for anyone who wants to one day become successful, learning to be fiscally responsible is an absolute must.

While it can be challenging to adopt a more financially intelligent mind-set, you can easily start by saving some money from each paycheck you receive.

Even if it begins as a relatively small amount, you can build upon that.  The most successful people in our modern world today, all started in this exact way.  Each “gain” however small, becomes cumulative to a much larger proportion over time.

The famous Chinese general Sun Tzu was quoted as having said, “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” 

From experience, I can tell you with certainty, that the same is true of money. 

By saving today, you will have far, far better opportunity for tomorrow.

9. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Choosing to pursue new skills, ideas, or goals, is integral to personal growth and development.  Unfortunately, most people will never pursue these things -glorious as they are- because they fear change. 

Successful people understand all too well, that change is not something to be feared.  In fact, changing is the surest way to ensure your own future well-being and success. 

By thriving in tumultuous or changing times, you will be taking the risks that most other people wish they could.  Certainly, you may fail.  At times, you may regret.  However, when you succeed, you will make gains that most people can only ever dream of.

How To Become Successful

"There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed."

-Roy Goforth

10. Develop Your Personal Productivity

Something that often gets left out of so many discussions about the nature of success, is productivity itself.  Being productive is what allows anyone to achieve in life.  If you’re the hardest worker out of a thousand people, odds are you can build your own business, or drive a successful career well into the future.

With these benefits in mind, strive to develop your own ability to be productive.  Learn to do things faster, better, and with a greater attention to detail.

Over time, your efforts will pay you huge dividends.  You’ll find tasks that beguile or hamper others, are simple fare to your efforts. 

Having developed your own personal capabilities and productivity, you may even find you enjoy the work you do.  

Whether you want to someday start your own enterprise, or simply take control of an existing one by getting promoted, developing your personal productivity is something you must actively dedicate yourself to.  The benefits are simply too great to ignore.

11. Find What Motivates You

Amongst the most common advice in becoming a success is the idea that you have to find what interests you.  More than this, you have to find what makes you passionate, and what will drive your motivation forward.

The reasoning for this is simple.  Without having motivation you’re unlikely to go far.  The age-old adage, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” certainly applies here.

Take the time to actively brainstorm what interests you.  Write down the careers or opportunities that apply to these interests.  Then, go out and get them.

Even if you need to make a career transition to fully pursue what interests you, the efforts will be well-worth your time.

12. Over Time - Never Lose Focus

One of the biggest pitfalls of being human is that we are often emotional creatures.  Losing focus and interest in a job over a decade or two, is a common story many of us hear.  Often, this person who has lost their sense of purpose in their career is mindful of the likely consequences that will follow by quitting.  Yet they do it all the same.

Many of these people come to regret their emotional decision.  However, they still understand that it was something they felt they “had to do,” despite what it may have cost them financially.

Rather than making this same mistake, try to keep yourself focused on the prize.  Whether that’s an early retirement, or simply a vacation, be sure to plan well ahead to keep yourself motivated.

If you find that you absolutely must make a change in your career, then do so with tact and careful planning.  Never make an emotional or “spur of the moment” decision. 

There’s never a shortage of ways to reinvent yourself once you rekindle that inner passion to do so.  

How To Become Successful

"I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite."

-G.K Chesterton

13. Take Good Care Of Yourself

An unsurprising issue in today’s world is that many of us simply don’t look after ourselves.  We sleep too little, eat too much, and often work too hard.  This can have a devastating effect on our health over time.  It can even lead to disease or burnout.

Rather than suffering needlessly, always take the time each week to give yourself some much-needed rest.  Whether you choose to meditate, or simply lounge about in your favorite chair, relaxation is something we all desperately need from time to time.

Further, try to incorporate healthy diet and exercise into your daily life wherever possible.  Even a mere few moments of healthy stretching can make a huge difference in your day-to-day.

If possible, try to laugh and make others happy.  Be social, embrace relaxation, and never stop having fun!

14. Eliminate Toxicity From Your Life

It is an unfortunate truth, that in today’s world many situations, things, and people, are simply toxic by their very nature. 

Toxicity of any kind needs to be removed from your life-experience as soon as possible. 

While this can be hard to accept, it is absolutely necessary for your own well-being. 

Rather than let toxicity seep into your life and drain you, instead choose to associate with individuals, places, or events, that are worthy of your time. 

Good people will often these people will share commonalities with you.  They are likely to even be on their own path towards personal success.

A big part of our character is who we choose to associate with.  Make the right decision by associating with those who will help you on your own journey.  Make certain also, to offer your own help in turn.  

Build relationships that are rooted in a desire for mutual prosperity, and you will have obtained a priceless commodity within your life.

15. how To Be Successful- Learn From Past Mistakes

As Chinonye J. Chidolue so aptly put it, “You’re wiser than your last mistake.  Congratulations!” 

Learning from our past mistakes is the best way forward.  While you may feel some embarrassment toward your younger self, this is entirely natural.  Everyone has a past.  They key is to learn something from it.

Rather than fearing the memories, try to learn as much as you can from them.  This will only serve to reinforce your need to reach for a brighter tomorrow.

How To Become Successful

"If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary."

-Jim Rohn

16. Wake Up Earlier If You Have To

I myself have actually taken to this one with gusto.  In my quest to become successful, I realized I had to make a serious change to my habits.

Where I once chose to wake up at the last minute possible before running through the shower on my way to work, I now get up at 3:00 AM.

Yes, you heard correctly.  3:00 AM.  More than four hours before I am expected at my place of work.

Why do I do this?  Simple.  It gives me a great deal of extra time to prepare myself for my day.  Moreover, while my peers are still getting ready, I’m already at ease and completing my work.

You may not wish to go to such an extreme yourself.  But consider waking up even half an hour early, just as an experiment.

I bet you’ll be happy you did.  The extra time to get ready, and to relax yourself before your day, can prove a wonderful thing to experience with regularity.

17. Finally… Believe In Yourself

As a final note, its necessary to reinforce this one.  You absolutely must believe in yourself.

The world can be a seemingly terrifying place.  Often, there seems to be a total lack of coherency in the day-to-day affairs of the world.  Prices can go up for little to no reason.  Wars can start without notice.  People seem to get more tribal and polarized every year.  

It’s both ridiculous and unfortunate.

The best thing you can do in these uncertain times (and they are always uncertain) is to believe in yourself.  Never let anything or anyone tell you what you are capable of.  Always reach for the stars.

Summary - How To Become Successful

Success will always be defined in the eyes of the beholder.  For your own purposes, using the 17 strategies contained in this article can help you on your path to realizing your own potential.

Try to understand that there will be many ups and downs.  Your path certainly will not be linear.  However, by accepting reality, and choosing to practice optimal methods going forward, you can dramatically increase your chances of becoming truly successful.

And there it is.  The world lies before you.  Go forth and seize the day!

Your Very Own Leadership Story

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