Honestly, I am not a fan of the 9 keys to your future and 13 things you should avoid when seeking success type articles that seem to be everywhere these days. Don’t get me wrong, it is not because they do not have good advice—many of them do. I have read several and even learned a few things along the way. In general I love lists, just not when those list are combined with tools for success.
My concern is the misconception that comes when people assume they can take 4 steps and their lives will change dramatically. There is no direct line towards success no matter how we attempt to simplify it. Very few people move along a singular uninterrupted path that results in their ideal life. Success is not like building an IKEA bookshelf. In fact, most of us do the Paula Abdul “two steps forward and two steps back.” It is the dance of accrual.
Success is a consistent accumulation of lessons and accomplishments.
In keeping with this, I’m going to share with you 3 incredibly powerful “steps” to success that can be applied to any situation. You will constantly repeat them over and over as you move along the continuum of progress. This is not a bad thing. In fact, if you learn to master the application of these steps, you will improve your ability to adjust to circumstances without getting off course. However, they are designed to ebb and flow according to your needs. You may not move in a forward only motion, nor will you complete one step fully and never have to revisit it again. So, if you are seeking a “paint by numbers” process, this is not for you. However, if you want to have a fail proof plan of action that you can work as fast or as paced as you would like then please, keep reading.
Step 1: Stop Dreaming
Now, before you get ready to criticize me and say that people should never stop dreaming, understand what I am saying here. If you look up the definition of dream you will see words like: imaginative, fantasy, too good to be true and seemingly unreal. You will also notice that dreaming is an involuntary act that occurs while we are unconscious! I want you to stop involuntarily thinking about the unreal possibilities of your future. They will never happen.
We have all sat around and discussed what we would do if we won that next big lottery ticket. In the same manner, we do this with our lives. We dream and fantasize our circumstances so much that we get confused with what is real and what has been a figment of our imaginations this whole time. In order to obtain true success, in order to affect change in your life, you have to STOP DREAMING. If your relationship sucks—recognize that. You can dwell on what it used to be if you want to, but that will not change what it is. If you hate your job and your boss is much less intelligent than you, don’t dream of knocking her out and don’t dream of her suddenly seeing you for the amazing employee you are either. Neither will happen. Your finances will not magically fix themselves and if you win the lottery, without learning how to manage your money you will simply end up in the same predicament. Your house will not de-clutter itself, no matter how many HGTV shows you watch about hoarding or how often you hang out in Home Depot for Kitchen Crashers. In order to evoke actual growth and change you have to stop looking at the dream version of your life.
The only way to see real results in life is to stop thinking of your desires as dreams and start setting them as GOALS!
Step Two: Get Real
Now that we are no longer fantasizing our current circumstances, we have some work to do. Getting real requires you to: accept responsibility for your circumstances. In other words: Grow Up! What do YOU need to stop doing in order to have the life you desire? This question may need to be answered over and over and over again. Be sure to pay attention to what you are telling yourself. Nowhere in this question does it ask what someone else did to you or what consequences in your life were at the hands of someone else. Next ask yourself what you need to stop doing in order to be the person you want to be? Think about it like this: right here and right now, would you want your son or daughter to be exactly as you are? If not, then you got some work to do and you have to get real about it.
This part also has to do with being realistic with our decisions and expectations. It is both irresponsible and illogical to walk into your office tomorrow, clean out your desk and leave your boss a post-it note that says #deuces. (Unless of course you have enough savings to carry you 6 months- 1 year—and even then it’s risky.) Remember this step is also called “Grow Up” so being sure that we side with maturity at this point will be one of the actions that keeps you on track or not.
Additionally, this is the time when you need to do some examining of all that stuff people have been saying to you or hinting around for years. How much energy are you putting into things that are not helping you move toward the life you want? How much time do you spend fixing things for other people instead of fixing your stuff? How many people have suggested the same solutions to you over and over that you continue to ignore? Again: what are you doing that is contributing to your undesirable situation? Now what are you willing to stop doing?
You will never grow beyond your circumstances until you can take full responsibility for them.
Step Three: Do Something
The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but whoever said that must have forgotten they could change their mind, change their intentions and move in a different direction. This last key is all about action. You are no longer fantasizing your situation; you have gotten real about your own contribution now you have to do something about it.
We are not arm chair revolutionaries here; I will not contribute to a group of silent philosophers. We act round these parts which means it is time for you to take the steps towards rectifying your situation. Maybe the first thing is to forgive yourself or someone else before you gain the strength to put a plan into action. Realize, however, that is part of the plan. Maybe you need to address someone or something that you have been avoiding forever. Maybe you need to sit your tail down one Saturday and review your finances. Maybe you need to skip the wine after work and work on seeing who else is hiring. Maybe you need to stop self-medicating long enough to pack your bags and change your phone number so that no-good mate can no longer call you. Whatever the thing is—you must do something. And then you do something else until you have done everything it took to look up to see yourself living a completely different life.
Behave yourself into the life you want. It is possible. And these three things will get you there.
When You're Ready!
*These are not real titles and do not refer to any specific piece or body of work. Any similarity is coincidental.