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Copyright 2012 by Emily Josephine. All rights reserved.
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And now, onto the success factors…
Life is meant to be fulfilling. You are made to be happy and to have a sense of purpose. While struggles and frustration are key elements in helping you to grow and change for the better, they are not meant to be your constant companions.
Yet, you may feel that you never get a break. You may live in a state of constant frustration with your life, or with certain areas of your life. You may have dreams and goals that seem to be continually thwarted.
Or perhaps it’s not that bad for you, but you have gotten stuck in a routine that you know is not taking you where you ultimately want to go. You may have a dead-end job, or be in a career you really don’t like but don’t dare move out of because you have to feed your family. Maybe you do love your chosen career, but want to move to a new level of success in it.
You may sense that your relationship with your lifelong partner could be so much better, but are having a hard time stepping back an, putting the brakes on other activities, and giving that relationship the focus it needs. Maybe you struggle with health problems, and need a little push to do the research necessary to improve your overall sense of well-being.
Being successful is much more than having a certain amount of money or being at a certain level in your career. Success has to do with your forward progress in every area of life: work, finances, family, spiritual, health, social, etc. And while you cannot prevent life from throwing you the occasional curveball, there are a myriad of steps you can take on a daily basis to ensure that forward progress keeps happening.
These are the “success factors.” In this book, I lay out seventy-one of them. There are probably more, but they provide the foundation for helping you to reach the level of prosperity and fulfillment you want and need. Some of the factors you do one time, some of them you do on certain occasions, others are mindsets, and still others are basic daily good practices.
I have placed the factors in a rather arbitrary order. The first one on the list is not necessarily more important than the last one, and vice-versa. To read all seventy-one of them at one sitting may be overwhelming for you. If that’s the case, read five or so a day and put them into practice for a couple of days before moving on to the next ones.
Or, you may be one of those people who gets really charged up reading motivational material. In that case, read the entire book at one time, then go back and consider which success factors you need to work on or want to focus on for a given period of time.
Whatever kind of person you are, I ask you not to simply chug down the information in this book set it aside and forget about it. None of us have arrived. We all have room for improvement. So please, go through each factor carefully and be honest with yourself about whether or not this particular one is playing out in your life to the extent that it is helping you move along at the pace that is right for you.
And remember: success is not a destination, it is a journey. Just to be reading these pages makes you more successful, and each day that you put the factors into practice – the continual taking of action, even if by baby steps – you become incrementally more successful.
Read through the success factors, begin to apply them, and enjoy the fruits that will certainly come from your diligence and focus.
1. Get out of debt.
If you owe anybody any money for anything, you are not completely free. Really, you are not your own person. Miss a couple car payments, and you lose your car. Miss a couple mortgage payments, and you may find your home in foreclosure. I’m not saying you must save up cash to pay for your first home. However, your best bet for complete financial freedom ASAP is to buy a home that you can pay off in ten years or less.
The worst kinds of debt are student loans – because they can hang around your neck forever – and consumer debt, such as car loans and credit card debt. Develop a plan to eliminate all debt from your life. Why? What does debt have to do with success? Debt not only keeps you in financial bondage, but also increases your stress levels and makes it a lot harder to focus on living the life you truly want.
2. Stay out of debt.
Once you have paid off all your credit cards and loans, don’t even think about borrowing money again. The only possible exception is borrowing for business purposes when you can see the return coming back to you within just a few months. But as far as household items, cars, and college, only buy what you can save up and pay cash for.
To do this, you will need a completely different mindset than the one that got you into debt in the first place. You will need, in essence, to live counter to the mainstream “I see it; I want it; therefore I need it now” philosophy. You will need to realize the old adage your grandparents likely quoted: “If you don’t already have it, you don’t really need it.”
You will not only end up with more money, but you will find yourself experiencing a lot less stress as well.
3. Increase your influence.
Successful people have a positive impact on the world at large. This may be their local community, or literally the entire world. Think about where your influence is right now, and how you might expand it. If your sole impact is on your immediate family and your co-workers, consider writing for a magazine or volunteering for the next neighborhood Habitat for Humanity project.
Increasing your influence doesn’t have to involve special, big events. It can be as simple, yet impactful, as engaging in conversation with the person in line with you at the grocery store check-out. You may be able to answer a question they have been carrying around for the last few days, or give them your winning smile that turns their lousy day into a good one.
When you increase your influence, you connect with people who then see the value you can bring to their lives. Which brings us to…
4. Increase your value.
Are you doing the bare minimum at work required to get your paycheck? Then hoping for a promotion is futile. People who climb career ladders go beyond what’s required. They help their companies to solve problems and act as leaders among their co-workers. If you own your own business or are self-employed, increase your value by doing what everyone else fails to do: showing up on time, delivering more than you promise and creating unique niches that your competition has missed.
When you increase your value, success follows closely behind you and is quick to catch up.
5. Choose or discover your purpose.
Your success will be severely limited if you don’t know why you were put on this planet. If you are unsure of what your purpose may be, ask yourself these questions:
What have you always wanted to do? If money were no object, what would you like to do all day long? How do you see yourself helping the world with your gifts, skills or knowledge? Think about what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what you have in past days dreamed about doing. Put those things together and you will have at least a small idea as to what your purpose might be. Then you can begin to move in the right direction.
6. Budget your money.
Usually, going after a dream takes some money, money you probably don’t have or you would be living your dream. So start telling your money where to go. At the beginning of each month, write down how much you will spend for food, utilities, entertainment, clothing, gas, etc. for that particular month. Make sure that you will have some leftover to save or pay down debt, if you are having to go through that process.
If you have difficulties in sticking to a budget, try the envelope system. Gather as many envelopes as you have budget categories. Label each envelope one category. Then, take out your last month’s income from your bank and put the money in the envelopes. For example, if you have budgeted $300 for food, place $300 in the envelop marked “food.”
You can only spend what is in that envelope for that particular category for that month. Once the envelope is empty, you are done spending in that category until the next month. This will be hard at first, but once you get used to it and can more appropriately allocate the money to the different categories, you will feel as though you have received a raise.
Believe in yourself. Believe that God is for you. Believe that in general, things are working out in your favor. Many times, people put a ceiling on their success because they have trouble believing that they deserve or have the ability to reach anything higher. While belief isn’t everything, it is an essential factor and determining how much fulfillment and prosperity you will experience in life.
8. Stand out.
Cookie-cutter versions never do as well as the original. So be an original. Make yourself stand out from the crowd with your level of expertise, the quality of your work, with your willingness to take risks.
You may have seen a movie from the ‘80s starring Robin Williams, The Dead Poet’s Society. Williams played an eccentric literature teacher who got on the nerves of the school’s board, but who made an irreversible impact on the lives of his students because he knew that making himself stand out – as opposed to sticking to a dry curriculum and textbook – was what would encourage his students to think for themselves and dare to dream.
When you do things to stand out from the crowd, you get noticed. If you are serious about living a prosperous life, you will not run away and hide in a cave, but make an impact in the world around you.
9. Always have some money to save.
If you’re beginning to think I believe financial responsibility is critical to your living up to your potential, you’re right! Getting out of debt is great, but having extra money after paying all the bills every month could literally one day be worth millions to you. How? Investing a couple hundred a month every month for a couple decades can lead to a nice large nest egg. Or, you may save a few hundred dollars a month for a year to start your dream small business which ends up grossing you millions a few years later.
If nothing else, you can give the extra money away. While you may not see immediate fiscal returns, a generous heart never lacks for what they need and typically belongs to a very fulfilled person.
10. Follow your passions.
Passion usually leads to profit, especially combined with a bit of ingenuity. A passion for pizza could lead to a hot new restaurant or best-selling cookbook. A passion for dogs could lead to a popular blog that makes thousands of dollars a month in revenue, or a cash reward at dog shows.
On the other hand, spending your hours doing work that you hate will eventually be a hindrance to you, financially and in every other way. Any of the top success gurus will agree: if you’re not doing something you are passionate about, figure out how to make a transition into something that you are.
11. Be available to help.
You are certainly familiar with the quote, “Help enough people get what they want, and you will eventually get what you want.” Are you a gifted writer? Volunteer to edit your best friend’s college freshman son’s term paper, or write articles for your church newsletter. Are you hoping to grow your cosmetics business? Hold a free Saturday makeover for a small group of women for several weeks. If you are great at carpentry, surprise a few neighbors or relatives with a piece of handcrafted furniture they have been wishing for.
While successful people are careful not to be doormats are allow themselves to be taken advantage of, they are also happy to give away their talents and skills for free. This, by the way, is also a great way to expand your influence.
12. Use your creativity.
Write. Sing. Paint. Sculpt. Build. Invent. Design. Remodel. Even if you don’t think you’re all that great in your creative endeavors, create anyway. Your creations don’t need to be made public. But expressing your innate creativity in whatever ways are available to you expands your thinking and improves your imagination. Those, in turn, can lead to million-dollar ideas.
Where would we be today if Thomas Edison hadn’t used his creativity? Or Michelangelo? History is made when people pull out their gifts and begin to use them. So start making some history!
13. Expand your creativity.
Learn a new craft or skill. Do you consider yourself a bad writer? Take a couple of community college creative writing classes. If you’ve always wanted to learn to knit, get on YouTube, find some how-to-knit videos, and go for it!
You might also use your existing talents or skills in a new form. Do you usually sing country music? Try Broadway songs. Are you a great French chef? Delve into the world of Jamaican cuisine. Branching out with your creative endeavors will awaken you to new possibilities.
14. Be honest.
Liars are losers. While everybody makes mistakes and therefore can extend grace to others when they mess up, lies are hard to forgive. I’m not talking about lying to save your life or anything drastic like that; I’m talking about the day-to-day dealing with people that are counting on your being a person of integrity. One small lie in that arena could be your downfall, so always be honest. People tend to find it easier to deal with a mistake that you admit as soon as you realize that you made it, than with a lie you told to try to cover up your mistake.
15. Grow another stream of income.
Whether you want to get out of debt, or save up for making an investment in your dream life, having another stream of income will help you reach your goals more quickly. While you can deliver pizzas every night if you want, obtaining another income stream will be much more fun if you do something you enjoy.
Sell something online. Write for magazines. Landscape yards on the weekend. Consult in your field of expertise during the evening hours. You will not only increase your income, but your influence and connections with other people.
16. Exceed expectations.
Are you employed? Go above and beyond the call of duty. Are you self-employed? Most of your competition will show up late, be sloppy, leave messes, and take forever to return phone calls. Be the one person or company in your field who doesn’t.
I once hired a plumbing company who, during their several days working in my house, continually dragged in dirt and debris from outside, and never swept it up. Another guy from a different company on another occasion was deliberate about keeping my floors clean. Guess who I never hired again, and who I have hired for subsequent plumbing jobs?
Exceeding the expectations of others will make people talk well of you, and you will subsequently make critical connections as well as be able to expand your influence.
17. Learn something new every day.
Stagnation produces a stench. Keep your mind going with fresh content, fresh ideas, fresh “a-ha” moments by constantly reading, listening to educational podcasts and audio courses, and attending seminars and workshops. You never know when you will stumble upon that one concept that ends up being the beginning of a more prosperous life.
18. Read non-fiction books.
If the only books you read are fiction, it’s time to expand your horizons. Okay, you are reading this book – congratulations on delving into the world of non-fiction! Readers of non-fiction books have no trouble learning something new every day.
The books you select can be books that help you to improve on a skill you already have or teach you something brand new. Once at the library I saw a non-fiction book that looked interesting to me. I thought it would be about one thing; it turned out to be about something related, but different. While it had nothing to do with my usual interests or career, it opened my eyes to a part of the social realm that I had no idea was going on.
19. Read classic literature.
If you read a Reader’s Digest version of Romeo and Juliet or Moby Dick in high school, consider finding unabridged versions and plowing through them. Not all classics are as difficult to get through; try The Grapes of Wrath or Catch-22.
Why read classic fiction? For one thing, pieces and quotes from such classics are constantly referred to in modern literature and speech. For another, this kind of literature challenges your thinking…because it makes you actually think. The classics truly help your brain to grow, and when your brain makes more and deeper connections your creativity grows along with it.
20. Read blogs and magazines in your areas of interest.
The fun thing about the vast variety of blogs and magazines, even in one specific area, is that each writer has a different perspective and experience to bring to the table. So the more places you get your information, the better your overall picture of the topic will be and the better you will be able to apply the knowledge to your life.
21. Look before you leap.
I once joined an Internet Marketing membership site that taught specific money-making strategies. The problem was, these strategies were about getting rich quickly and often violated the terms and overall mission of big online entities such as Google and Amazon. Two years after I stopped subscribing to that site, the rules in both arenas had drastically changed.
Of course, no one could know ahead of time what was going to happen, but my money was mostly wasted because I leapt right in without analyzing what the membership site was really all about.
Read every contract before signing. Research your buying alternatives before spending your hard-earned money. Study the ins and outs of potential opportunities to learn if they are really worth your while. Every risk you take should be calculated, or may end up in trouble.
22. Choose to lead.
It’s okay to follow in order to learn. But eventually, if you are serious about succeeding, you will have to become a leader yourself. How? By being the one who takes the initiative and takes action. By being the kind of person who is ready to help others who want to improve.
Being a leader doesn’t mean taking a certain position or making some sort of proclamation that you are now a leader. No. Simply do what you do with excellence, and help other people to do the same.
Remember: followers are severely limited in what they can achieve.
23. Become an expert.
No, you will never know everything there is to know about any given topic. Contrary to popular belief, Warren Buffet doesn’t know everything there is to know about the stock market, and Julia Child doesn’t know everything there is to know about cooking. The good news is, to be an expert you don’t even have to be close to knowing everything about something. You just have to know a few more things than the people around you.
And being two or three steps ahead of other people means that you can provide them value in that area, and your success in that area is almost inevitable.
24. Befriend people who are where you want to be.
Are you interested in making a million dollars a year? Find and make friends with someone who makes a million dollars a year. Do you want to be the champion of a particular game or sport? Find and make friends with someone who is very skilled in the same game or sport. If you are serious about achieving your highest goals, you have to rub shoulders with people who have already reached theirs.
25. Change your friends.
This is the corollary to number 24, and probably much more painful, especially if you are a woman. But face the reality: you will become no greater than the people you hang out with. Now, does that mean that if you are a woman whose best friend is a stay-at-home mom of five children who has no other earthly ambitions, and you desire to start a six-figure work-at-home business, you should dump your friendship?
Absolutely not – with one caveat: does she support your dreams, and is she generally an optimistic person of integrity? Don’t drop your encouraging, enthusiastic friends. But if you have a few who think you’re crazy, or don’t have a prayer, or are seeking something you will never find, or if you have any friends whose characters are in question, you need to release them from your life.
26. Get a financial coach or counselor.
If you are extremely well-disciplined in the area of money, this may not pertain to you. However, if you have a hard time reaching your financial goals for any reason, hiring a financial coach or counselor – even for just a few months – will impact your finances in a hugely positive way that probably would never happen without that extra help.
(By the way, this is true in any area of life: parenting, marriage, business, health, etc.)
27. Marry the right person.
If you are either single, or divorced and planning to remarry one day, my best counsel to you is to find someone who supports your dreams, goals and ambitions. Especially if you marry young, these dreams, goals and ambitions will change over time. Nevertheless, you can still find someone who is more or less on the same track as you are, and whose own dreams are likely to be more or less compatible with yours over time.
That person also should share similar financial beliefs. If you want to retire by age forty-five, marrying a woman – guys – who must buy a new wardrobe every Saturday is not the one for you, no matter how sexy she is in every other way. Ladies, don’t marry a guy who can’t hold down a job for more than six months and is known for having to move in with his parents every so often because he can’t handle money.
28. Write down your goals.
There is some kind of magic in writing something down. Wherever you wish to be a few weeks, a few months, a year from now in various areas of life – health, finances, career, relationship, etc. – write those things down. And after doing that…
29. Write out a Vision Map for each goal.
A Vision Map breaks a goal down into baby steps so that you can successfully work on each goal every day. With a Vision Map, you break the overarching goal into the steps needed to complete before you can achieve that goal. Then you need to write down each task required to complete each step, then create a realistic deadline for each task.
For example, say you want to earn an extra $500 per month by adding a weekend freelance writing gig to your schedule. You would break that goal into steps, which might include:
1. Research magazines that pay at least $500 per article.
2. Register at an online freelancers website, such as guru.com or odesk.com
Your tasks for the first step would include:
1. Research popular topics for articles based on the subjects of the magazines.
2. Write and submit ten article proposals per month to the various magazines.
3. Write two or three of the articles on spec, before your proposal is approved.
Creating vision maps helps you to eat an elephant one bite at a time.
30. Use afformations.
You have heard of affirmations – basically, positive statements, such as “I am losing more weight every day,” “I am rich,” or “I can control my tongue.”
The problem is, your mind fights against such statements when they are clearly false. Afformations, on the other hand, serve to form the kind of world you want by making your subconscious go to work on whatever you are wishing to change. For example, say you are fifty pounds overweight and pre-diabetic. An appropriate afformation would be, “How is it that I am at my ideal weight and the healthiest guy I know?” Continually ask yourself this question, and your subconscious will work overtime seeking for the answers that will bring you eventual success in your health.
31. Be patient.
Doing the right things at the right time does not guarantee instant success. Anything worth waiting for is, well, worth waiting for. Take the actions you know to take to achieve your goals, and realize that results may be much slower to manifest than you had expected.
If you become impatient, on the other hand, you may scrap everything you have done when you may have been on the brink of breakthrough. Or, your impatience may lead to a decision that lands you into trouble.
Perseverance is patience in action. Going back to the weight loss example, nobody ever loses weight by eating healthy and exercising for one day, then going back to the couch and bags of potato chips. Whether you want to build up physical strength, learn a new skill, generate more income or improve your marriage, you will only get there if you are faithfully consistent with the right actions to move you toward your goal.
33. Figure out what is not working.
And stop doing it!
Our human tendency is to take the path of least resistance. The problem is, many times when all is going smoothly over an extended period of time, that means we have got stuck in a rut, or that we are just going along with the status quo and are becoming blind to whether or not we are headed in the direction we really want to go.
So if you’re not achieving what you want in a particular area of life, take a long, hard look at what you’re doing, figure out what’s not working, and change your plan of action.
34. Stop tolerating.
If you’re like me, when you get stressed and tired you tend to tolerate a lot more of the negative: a cluttered house, whiny kids, a dirty car, emotional eating, bad communication with your spouse, and so on. The problem is, the more negatives you tolerate, the more these negatives will build up in your life and cause distractions that keep you from focusing on your goals.
Sit down and write out a list of things – from behaviors and attitudes in yourself to external circumstances around you – that you have complete control over and that are negatives that are increasing your stress and decreasing your sense of fulfillment. Begin to take one at a time and eliminate it from your life.
35. Eliminate excuses.
Making excuses is one behavior that many people tolerate all their lives without realizing what a detrimental effect it is having on their success, and even overall sense of well-being. Think about the areas of health, relationships, career, money and spiritual life. Where have you been making excuses that keep you from improving in that area? Figure out another, better behavior or mindset, and stop making the excuse.
For example, you may eat a Snickers bar every day at 2 p.m. because, you say, it’s a comfort food that helps pick up your energy. You continue to eat it, even though you know it is not helping you with your health goals one iota. Admit that it is a lousy excuse, and figure out how to have more energy in a healthier way – get more sleep, eat a high-protein lunch, take a brisk walk around the office at around 1:30.
36. Join a mastermind group.
A mastermind group consists of individuals with common goals who meet on a regular basis, usually once a week or once a month, to talk about each members’ respective difficulties and to brainstorm how to overcome them. They also encourage each other with stories of goals achieved and obstacles they have pushed through.
You can search online for a mastermind group in your area, or talk to other people you think may be part of one or at least know about one. If you can’t find one, start one yourself! It is best to keep it small; in fact, if you find just one other friend who is interested in masterminding with you, that would count just fine.
37. Review your goals regularly.
Many people, when prompted, will write down a list of goals, but then get caught up with the business of life and forget the goals exist. On your calendar, pencil in dates when you think it would be appropriate to review certain goals. When you review them, ask yourself whether you are on track, or if you are lagging behind. If you are not on track, why? Do the reasons indicate a need to modify the goal or deadline for the goal, or do they indicate that you are tolerating negative things?
One reason people fail to achieve their goals is that they fail to prioritize. Depending on your schedule, every day or every week sit down and make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish in order to progress toward achieving your goals. Number the tasks in order of highest priority to the lowest, with the highest-priority task being number one.
39. Manage your time.
Wasted time leads to wasted lives. While you don’t want to micromanage every second of your day – there is nothing wrong with keeping a few minutes or a couple of hours here and there open to spontaneously planned activities – you want to make sure that you use most of your time wisely.
If you prioritize your daily tasks, you will automatically begin to manage your time much more effectively. In addition, monitor how much time you spend checking e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Many people lose a lot more time than they realize because they are continually checking online communications. Do it one time a day, maybe two times, and be done.
When I use that word, I don’t mean that you should give up all your hopes and dreams in the service of someone else’s lives…although many people – like mothers – do certainly do that for a period of time. What I mean is, if you really want to get somewhere, be willing to give without expecting anything in return. This not only helps you to better your craft or skills, but also can bring you more personal fulfillment as well as get you noticed by other people.
41. Face your fears.
The vast majority of people in the developed world never fulfill their dreams, and one of the main reasons is fear. People fear they don’t know enough, aren’t good enough, might fail, might be overwhelmed if they succeed, will get laughed at, will offend people, if they go after the life they really want.
Such fears are certain to keep you from a prosperous, fulfilling life. Think about the fears you have been carrying around, and seek counsel and create a plan to go about dealing with those fears.
42. Live by the Golden Rule.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We talked earlier about expanding your influence and exceeding expectation; live by this rule and you will automatically, immediately and consistently do both.
Price your products and services competitively, but don’t try to rip people off. Return phone calls and e-mails promptly. Give others the benefit of the doubt; everybody has a bad day now and then. Keep your communications positive, even bright. Pay for the gas of the person ahead of you in the gas station who is fumbling to find the right amount of money.
43. Give as liberally as you can.
How does giving to others contribute to your success? It ties right into the Golden Rule. When you learn to be a giver, your focus becomes much more on the present moment and much less on how you can manipulate the game so that you come out ahead. When that happens, you begin walking out your purpose with hardly a thought.
In addition, when you are generous to others, others will be generous to you. In time, this may equate to making connections that may not have otherwise happened – connections that ultimately increase your level of success.
44. Write down your dreams.
You can write down those crazy scenarios that run through your head while you’re sleeping, but that’s not what I meant. Rather, write down those things you have always wanted to do. Just as with writing down your goals, writing down your dreams gets a momentum going in your subconscious mind that will lead you toward taking steps in the direction of fulfilling those dreams.
45. Use mind-mapping.
Are you needing to solve a problem at work? Plan a spectacular anniversary vacation with your spouse? Write a new book or story? Plan a community-wide event? Mind-mapping, also known as “bubbling”, is a way to brainstorm that connects related concepts via circles on a piece of paper.
How is this a success factor? Mind-mapping is a great way to improve your creativity, or to get it flowing again if you’re experiencing a block.
46. Solve problems.
When something is bothering you – at home, at work, at any other place you find yourself in your community – do you complain about it, or do you do something about it? Those who complain and wait for somebody else to “fix it” are leaving a lot of money, influence and promotion on the table.
Successful people take action. And one of the things they take action on is solving problems that somehow get in their way. If they can’t solve the problem, they find someone who can. This can lead to enhanced relationships to a job offer that doubles your current salary, or anything in between.
So be a problem solver, not a whiner.
47. Be real.
I once worked with a woman who was purely professional. She was fair and civil, but so shut up and cold that no one had a clue what her family was like, where her struggles lay or what her favorite meal was. She was not well-liked by much of the staff, and her leadership position lasted only one year.
You don’t have to walk around with your heart on your sleeve in order to be more successful, but people are much more likely to seek you out for your products, services, counsel, etc., when they see you as a genuine human being.
48. Love yourself.
I’m not talking narcissism here. To love yourself means to value your dreams and goals, to consider yourself a person worthy of prosperity, and to take care of yourself. People who achieve their goals have also achieved a healthy balance between helping others and keeping connections with them, and making sure their own needs and desires are met.
Moreover, when you love yourself you are healthier, happier and experience much less stress, which gives your creativity room to blossom and ensures the energy you need to keep moving forward.
49. Ready, fire, aim.
Certain personalities have no problems with stepping out and taking risks. But if you tend to be perfectionistic, you will never get to where you want to go until you understand this critical success factor: you need to make your move before you have all the knowledge and skills you need, because you will never have all the knowledge and skills you need without actually going in and doing.
Of course, you don’t want to be irresponsible and end up broke or hurting other people. But most of the time, opportunities that are entered into with a strong ethical foundation don’t cause dramatic problems. Once you jump into a thing and get your feet wet, then and only then can you begin to see clearly how to tweak your plans and take more effective action.
Don’t wait until every circumstance is perfect and every detail is laid out before you do what is on your heart to do, or you will never do it.
50. Reduce stress.
When you are under chronic stress – and unless you have taken strides to not be, you probably are – you cannot be at your best, mentally, physically or emotionally. Chances are you are also feeling pulled in all directions and therefore cannot focus on the most important things. You are more likely to let goals slide, not communicate well, and grow indifferent toward close relationships.
The first step in reducing stress is recognizing the stress triggers and figuring out how to better deal with them. In some cases, you can eliminate them by making different choices. In other cases, you can learn to perceive the triggers differently so that they no longer cause you stress.
The next step in reducing stress is taking time to relax every day. Read a good book. Play an instrument or sing. Work on your favorite hobby. Take a walk through the park. Take a long, hot bath while listening to your favorite music or podcast. Whatever activity help you to de-stress without compromising your health, take some time to indulge in it every day.
51. Break the rules.
The most successful people are non-conformists who regularly break the rules that the status uo and mainstream culture have set up. What kind of rules? They include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
Do you really want to prosper? Start breaking some of these rules, and any others that I did not include on this list.
52. Pay with cash.
Yes, we covered this in the success factor dealing with staying out of debt. But here I want to delve a little deeper. You see, there are a lot of people who cling to their credit cards and manage to stay out of debt by paying the cards off every month. What they don’t realize is that they are probably continuing to sabotage their financial freedom. Studies show that people spend less when they pay for things with cash, because the fact that they are losing money is much more real to them than when whipping out a plastic card.
In other words, it’s a little painful. To avoid the pain as much as possible, they end up buying less stuff, which enables them to save more, give more and invest more.
53. Think bigger.
Most people limit their potentials by limiting their thinking. They think that they will never make a lot of money from the book they want to write, will never make more than their current income, could never handle more responsibility, will always lack the skills needed to move into their dream job, aren’t smart enough, strong enough, powerful enough.
Do yourself a huge favor. Start recognizing small thoughts when they come into your mind, and don’t let them stay. Instead, replace them with bigger thoughts – yes, even seemingly impossible ones, such as:
Successful people are always letting their minds expand toward greatness.
54. Be an encourager.
Contrary to popular belief, people who obtain true success – who end up living fulfilling lives and achieving most of the goals they aim for – are not driven, manipulative people who get what they want by sheer force. Rather, those who succeed tend to be positive and optimistic – not just about their own personal lives, but also about the lives of those who cross their paths.
That’s not coincidence. The fact is, when you make a habit of encouraging the people around you, they are likely to remember you, and talk well of you to their friends and co-workers. So when you are an encourager, in essence you end up with a network of people who help you to expand your influence.
Besides, encouraging others along their own journeys just feels good.
55. Focus on your strengths.
Staring in Kindergarten – perhaps even earlier – most children are forced to work on what they are not good at. Sadly, this trend continues into adulthood, because we’ve been trained to think that we need to set our inborn talents aside and try to improve our weaknesses.
The exception is with Olympic-bound athletes. Take a ten-year-old with a knack for gymnastics and an aspiration of becoming a gymnastics Olympic champion. Say she cannot carry a tune in a bucket. She is not made to spend even thirty minutes a day in a voice lesson class. No! She spends most of her day learning all the right flips, jumps and somersaults at the hand of a professional coach.
Work on your strengths ninety-seven percent of the time. That is how you qualify for the Olympics.
56. Take action. Now.
If you’ve read the previous fifty-five success factors and are still just sitting in your chair, waiting for some kind of magical motivation to rise up and make you get moving, here it is.
GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND START MOVING.
Really. Turn off your Kindle (or whatever gadget you are reading this book on) and do a baby step. Prosperous people do read a lot, but much more so they actually get out there and live.
So go take action. I will wait for you to come back before moving on to the next factor.
57. Get organized.
I will admit – it is possible to experience limited success even if you are totally disorganized. Some people seem to accidentally run into happy opportunities in a Forest Gump sort of way.
But if you count on that sort of lifestyle, you will be limiting yourself and will fall short of your potential. When you have your both your things and your activities in some sort of order, you save a lot of time trying to find things and remember your agenda. You are also much more likely to show up on time for appointments and have the ability to carve more free time you’re your day.
Writing out a vision map for your goals is a good start toward organization. So is decluttering your house. Beyond that, you need to decide what you are going to accomplish during each hour of the day, before the day begins. You need to write out your grocery list before heading to the store, to systemize every part of your work that can be systemized.
Disorganized people have already planned to fail. Don’t be one of them.
58. Create a vision.
A vision goes lightyears beyond a goal. It is the overall picture, or even just a sense, or your general mission in life. It’s an idea of what you want your future to look like, and includes your purpose and usually also your ideal lifestyle and specific dreams you want to fulfill in it.
Some people are born visionaries. They have no problems picturing their ideal future. Others, however, struggle with seeing more than what is before them for this one day. They say, “I don’t have a vision.” In that case, create one! Sit down and think about what your ideal life would look like. What would your work consist of? What do you want your mission in life to be? How do your gifts, interests and desires tie into this?
Jot down your ideas – and don’t worry about being “realistic”; visions usually are not considered so – come up with a mission statement for your life, and you will have created a vision for your life.
59. Destroy distractions.
Once you are following a vision map and have honed in on a personal vision, distractions will, for the most part, fall away. Still, you may have to face a friend who is really a leech, a health problem, people clamoring for your time, and other distractions that take you off the focus of where you want to go.
Diplomatically drop that unhealthy friendship (it isn’t, really). Research together with a health practitioner on possible ways to improve your health. Determine which demands on your time are important to you. In other words, control whatever distractions you can, which plugs right into…
60. Realize that you always have a choice.
One of the main reasons people fail is a victim mentality. They have convinced themselves that they cannot move forward because of their past, their ethnicity, their physical handicap, their lack of skills, their stature, their family background, their lack of intelligence, and so on.
Consider the following folks:
You always have a choice. Always. Research your options, choose one that fits you, and go!
61. Do it as big as you can.
What are you doing to market your brand or product? To improve a certain relationship? To vie for the next promotion? Whatever you are doing, chances are you can do it bigger.
Put out ten tweets per day instead of five. Plan to write three books a year instead of one. Invite reporters from the tri-state area to your community marketing event, not just those from your place of residence. Ask your girlfriend to marry you on a hot-air balloon ride instead of in the middle of dinner at McDonald’s.
Sure, sometimes your budget forces you to scale things down. But don’t let a lack of money stop you from being creative. Successful people not only think big, but they go for excellence and over-the-top value whenever possible.
62. Tap into your natural genius.
Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But the fact is, most people hold down jobs that allow little to no room for them to pull out all their creative stops. Teachers must teach to a test, instead of being able to present lesson that are truly engaging, relevant and intellectually challenging to their students. Computer programmers must spend their days writing and analyzing whatever code is deemed necessary by their companies, instead of using their analytical skills to help solve real problems.
If your work keeps you from using your gifts and talents, find ways to do so during your free time. And then…
63. Express your natural genius.
Are you musically talented? Start a weekend band, or record songs and put them up for sale online. Are you given to hospitality? Invite young single people, or single mothers and their children, or anyone with a particular need for a friend, to your home for dinner. Are you an artist? Make time to paint or sculpt. Love to cook? Offer your recipes to a local restaurant or supermarket deli, or write and sell a cookbook.
People who live prosperous, successful lives never squelch their talents. Rather, they find a way to make a living from them.
64. Be optimistic.
Go back to the success factor on tolerations. Many people tolerate negative thinking and pessimism in their own minds without even realizing it. If that’s you, stop tolerating it! Your mindset directly impacts your perspective, which directly impacts your behavior. Pessimism, then, will inevitably lead to behaviors that will impede your goal achievement.
Optimism has the exact opposite effect on your life. You will have a bright outlook on life that encourages you to take the necessary steps and risks in order to move toward fulfilling your personal vision.
65. Be healthy.
Sick people not only lack the energy and ability to concentrate that success requires, but also are usually indifferent toward achieving goals on living a fulfilled life. After all, if your head hurts all day long, or you can’t keep down half of what you eat, you are constantly fatigued, all you can think about is your problem.
So do your due diligence when it comes to health. Read several books on diet and nutrition, and apply the principles you learn. Commit to a regular fitness routine. Learn how to remove toxins out of your environment. You would be surprised how many acute, chronic, and degenerative conditions can be remedied by making a few simple – albeit perhaps drastic – lifestyle changes.
66. Find an accountability partner.
There’s something magical about talking to one other person every week or so about how you are progressing toward your goals. You want to be able to tell the person that you did what you committed to do at your last meeting, and so you actually get it done!
The best accountability partner is someone outside of your family. While some people are gifted at being objective and non-judgmental even when discussing issues with their spouses or close relatives, most are not. A good friend who won’t let you slide will do; the best choice is always a professional coach – life coach, business coach, wellness coach, etc. – who knows how and when to question, listen and advise.
Whoever you choose to help keep you moving in the right direction, you will find that you progress much more quickly than when you were just going solo.
67. Take time to play.
Workaholics eventually burn out. And burned-out people don’t achieve their goals. They may even lose sight of their vision because their mind has so completely crashed.
While you want to work both smart and hard to move toward the most fulfilling life possible, you also want to be sure to take time to play – every day, if possible. (If it’s not possible, you may consider changing your routine and/or reshaping your priorities.) You might schedule an hour every morning or evening to play tennis with a friend, snuggle with your spouse, take a dance or art class, or run around the park with your kids.
Schedule at least a couple additional hours on Saturday or Sunday for an extended period of fun – and once you are out of debt, feel free to take as many vacation days as you are granted!
68. Learn good communication skills.
I once knew a man who was the extrovert of extroverts and a great talker – but he was a lousy communicator. His off-color jokes often offended his friends, and he seemed much more eager to loudly express his opinions than to listen to the concerns of others.
Put plainly, he was obnoxious, and the last time I heard from him he was – as a fifty-something-year-old – unemployed and living with his mother.
If you are extroverted, learn to listen and be non-judgmental with your words. If you are introverted, learn to shake hands firmly, look people in the eye, and ask quality conversational questions (there are books that teach basic conversational skills).
You don’t need to take a class in order to learn good communication skills, but if you lack them it wouldn’t hurt. At least read Dale Carnegie’s book, How To Win Friends And Influence People.
Successful people are careful to steer clear of misunderstandings, and regularly practice the principle that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
69. Do the math.
The number two reasons that the vast majority of people who start a multi-level marketing business end up dropping out, is that they run out of money before they make any. This happens to other solo-preneur start-ups as well, from Internet Marketing to small brick-and-mortar businesses.
Wanting to grow a semi-passive or residual income, or to get out of the rat race and become one’s own boss, is a noble and worthy goal. However, it’s not nearly as easy as the gurus who are already making money in the various industries make it look.
When you set out to build your own business, set a monthly budget that won’t keep you from paying your bills. Most small businesses need two to three years of consistent work and growth before it begins to bring in a consistent profit. Even a simple online business – which can cost as little as $27 per month with an e-mail marketing service and webhosting – could end up costing thousands of dollars in courses, e-books, membership sites and outsourcing tasks if the entrepreneur doesn’t tread very carefully and learn to ignore every new money-making idea that comes down the Internet pike.
Literally count the cost before you move into a new endeavor. You do not want to be the next failure statistic.
70. Get a plan.
What goal are you trying to achieve? Building a profitable website? Losing twenty pounds? Improving your parenting skills? Learning a new language or to play an instrument? Whatever it is, you need to plan it out if you are serious about being successful.
Start with a mind map. How many ways can you think of to reach your goal? Brainstorm until your head almost hurts, then take a break to let things settle in your mind and give your subconscious a chance to start sorting through all the options. Then go back to the mind map and decide which options fit you best.
Based on your choices, create a vision map that breaks down the goal into steps, which you then break down into tasks. Mind mapping and then vision mapping are powerful tools in increasing your success in any area of life. But even a few sentences written down on paper will be all the plan you need, especially if you…
71. Stick to it.
Look at your plan every day, and do what it says. Every day. Yes, you may find that you eventually need to modify your goals. So modify your plan accordingly, and STICK TO IT.
You might think that once you have decided on a goal and written a plan, that of course you will stick to it. But think of all the people who never achieve certain goals. Sometimes, it is because life happens, but more often than not it is because they get distracted by shiny objects and stop following their plan.
And when the new plan gets boring or takes “too long” to get the results they want, they scrap that one and jump onto the next shiny object.
People fail at life because they get impatient and won’t stick to their plan.
Successful people – can you guess? – stick to their plans until they get the results they want.
No more excuses. No more tolerations. No more procrastinating.
You now have all the tools you need to create a prosperous, meaningful life. So do it.
And remember to download your free copy of Take Back Your Life! When you do, you will not only receive an e-book but weekly tips that will help you on your way to living a life of freedom. Sign up to get the book at .
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To your success!
What are the success factors needed to live a prosperous, fulfilling life? If you hate your job or career… if you struggle to make ends meet…if you want meaningful, strong relationships with other people…if you know that life could be better, but are not certain what your next step should be…if you keep falling short of achieving your goals…then this book, “71 Powerful Success Factors” is exactly what you need. The principles in this book establish a solid foundation on which to build the life of your dreams. Do you need some tools to get your financial life in order? You can find them here. What about creating vision and purpose for your life? The success factors guide you down that path. Wondering how to get noticed in this noisy, crowded world? This book explains how to do just that. Whether you are ready to climb the next rung on your career ladder, or dive head-first into a whole new, exciting lifestyle, “71 Powerful Success Factors” provides you with all the tools you need to build a happier, more prosperous life.