As 2022 closes out, it brings a time for reflection on all you learned and achieved. It’s a time to celebrate all your hard work and the positive impact you had on those around you!
And it’s also the best time to start looking ahead and planning out your successful year.
But what is success? And how do the world’s most successful people achieve it?
Over the past few years, I’ve been on a quest to understand what separates the best from the rest. I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, and scoured social media to uncover the secret of success.
All my research has helped me develop healthy habits across multiple areas of life. And it’s given me better results than I’ve ever had in the past.
Although everyone’s definition of success is slightly different, there are a few universal secrets to achieving it. Think of this post as your guide to the secrets of success to help you achieve big goals.
If you’re looking for the most effective way to a more successful life, you’re in the right place! And if you’re pressed for time, click the link below to jump to the success secrets most relevant to your personal journey.
- Secret #1: Mindset is Everything
- Secret #2: Small Habits = Big Transformations
- Secret #3: Success Takes Longer Than You Think
- Secret #4: Talent Has Limits
- Secret #5: Distraction is Expensive
- Secret #6: Failure is on Your Terms
- Secret #7: Heal Your Past
- Secret #8: Move Your Body
- Secret #9: Release Perfectionism
- Secret #10: Get a Hobby
What is your definition of success?
The first step is defining what success means for you. This will look different for everyone, so take some time to think about your goals and what you want out of life.
Do you want to launch your own business? Are you looking to become an expert in a specific skill? Or do you simply want to live a happy and fulfilled life?
Small steps add up quickly. Choose a couple of areas of your life to focus on at once. Focusing on more than a couple of goals at once can be overwhelming.
Use the following list to brainstorm possible goals across each of the following areas:
- Family and relationships
- Physical health and fitness
- Personal development
- Hobbies and recreation
Go through your list and rate each goal according to importance. Think about which goals feel most aligned right now.
Select one or two goals and think about what successfully achieving that goal looks like. Does your definition of success mean working out 5 days a week? Or does it mean publishing 5 blog posts a month? It may mean committing to advancing your piano studies by signing up for an exam.
Once you have identified your definition of success, setting measurable goals and reaching them will become much more manageable.
How can you make the most out of this success guide?
Each of the secrets to success included in this post is highly effective. Use them to form an action plan for pushing out of your comfort zone and toward bigger and better things.
But you will find that some of the advice is more applicable to your individual goals than others. The best way to use this guide is to take what feels most aligned for you and leave the rest.
The most important thing is to start small and be specific. Write your goals down, set a timeline, and start taking action. Setting aside 10 minutes daily to work on your goal is a great start.
By setting goals and making little daily progress toward them, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in 2023 and beyond!
Secret #1: Mindset is Everything
One of my favorite quotes ever is by Henry Ford. His timeless advice is, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Decades after Ford uttered those famous words, Carol Dweck published an entire book on the concept of a growth mindset. A growth mindset is an idea that our mindsets can be changed and adapted to new situations.
Having a growth mindset means you’re open to failure. It means you embrace rather than avoid challenges. And it means you’re willing to work harder than anyone else to achieve your goals.
In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck contrasts the growth and fixed mindset. Through a series of stories and elements of research, she emphatically proves that with the right mindset, success is inevitable.
Setting yourself up for success means changing your beliefs about what’s possible and being open to learning the lessons failure teaches.
Change how you think and talk about yourself, and you’ll see dramatic improvements in your outlook on life. If you take only one thing from this post, I hope it’s a firm belief in the importance of a growth mindset.
Secret #2: Small Habits = Big Transformations
Small habits are the building blocks of success.
It’s easy to get excited about setting big goals and immediately jump into action, but frequently this leads to burnout. Instead, breaking down each goal into small achievable tasks that you can complete daily is a more effective strategy.
For example, if your goal is to write a book, setting a goal to write 500 words a day is more achievable than setting the goal of writing 1,000 words in one sitting.
Creating small habits will help you stay on track, and it also enables you to set realistic expectations for yourself. The key is finding manageable activities, so your daily progress adds up quickly and eventually leads to success.
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear outlines the easiest ways to incorporate small changes that lead to big transformations in your daily life.
His advice has helped me find unique ways to fall in love with the daily habits needed to achieve my goals. The book has also helped me understand the impact environment has on whether you adopt positive habit changes or not.
And his thoughts on being 1% better every time are inspirational and approachable. Atomic Habits is a must-read for the new year if you haven’t read it.
Secret #3: Success Takes Longer Than You Think
Crossing the finish line of your goal will always take longer than expected.
And it’s so easy to get discouraged because everywhere you look, there are countless stories of overnight success and the promise of a silver bullet solution that will solve all your problems.
But all the best stories in books and movies involve the hero overcoming a seemingly insurmountable challenge. You get sucked into stories with obstacles at every turn, and failure seems inevitable.
The truth is, setting yourself up for success takes dedication and hard work. And the journey rarely looks like you thought it would.
My advice is to be patient and celebrate progress, no matter how small. One of the most profound ways to do this is by comparing your progress with where you started rather than your end goal.
It can be disheartening to think about where you are now compared to your ultimate goal. But it’s inspiring to consider how far you’ve come since your very first step.
Success isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon that requires consistent effort over time.
Secret #4: Talent Has Limits
One of the most persistent myths out there is that of talent. There’s this assumption that people who are the best in their field are at the top because they were born with a specific skill set. And it’s this skill set that naturally puts them ahead of anyone else.
Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool explore one of the most famous examples in their book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. In the book, they dispel the persistent myth that Mozart was a child prodigy born with the gift of music.
The more likely explanation for his uncanny abilities was hours upon hours of practice. And through research study after study, Ericsson and Pool methodically dispel the idea that sheer talent has put anyone at the top of their game.
Instead, they focus on deliberate practice as the critical path toward greatness.
The idea that countless hours of deliberate practice will yield improvement in any skill may not seem motivational to some. But it’s one of the most hopeful ideas I’ve ever encountered.
It means that with the proper focus, you can succeed regardless of the roadblocks ahead.
Secret #5: Distraction is Expensive
One of the most challenging parts of setting yourself up for success is avoiding distractions.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of daily life and let it derail your progress. But it’s important to remember that every moment you spend doing something other than what you should be focused on costs you valuable time, money, and energy.
The key to setting yourself up for success is staying focused on your goal, no matter how many obstacles come. The best way to do this is by setting boundaries around what you will and won’t focus on.
This could be setting specific times during the day dedicated to working on your goal, limiting how much time you can spend checking emails, or creating systems that help keep you focused.
No matter what your plan is, setting boundaries will give you the clarity and focus needed to stay on track and get closer to your goals.
And for the best advice on combatting distraction in your daily life, check out the book called Indistractable, written by Nir Eyal. It’s an eye-opening book on how distractions impact your ability to achieve goals and your overall life experience.
Secret #6: Failure is on Your Terms
Only you can define what success and failure mean to you.
Some of the most successful people in the world refuse to acknowledge failure as part of their vocabulary. When they don’t achieve the desired outcome, they assess the situation and make a calculated decision about their next best move.
Sometimes that means trying again. At other times it means pivoting to something different.
Either way, successful people don’t let the people around them define failure. They don’t listen to the chatter from those around them about their actions.
People who are successful write their own stories. And you can do the same by embracing the inevitable challenges between you and your goals.
If the goal you’re chasing means something to you and feels aligned, then embrace that you will get there slowly.
And if you’re looking for more success mindset advice, read Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover. Grover has worked with some of the world’s top athletes and is the expert on what it takes to be the best of the best.
Secret #7: Heal Your Past
Did you know that your brain loves patterns? Your brain is wired to look for patterns to minimize effort.
Although this can be a good thing when you’re practicing a new skill, it can be a massive detriment to your emotional well-being.
The reality is that most of us experienced trauma as children. This trauma occurred when we were not emotionally mature enough to process the world around us. And our brain coped by developing specific thought patterns to protect us from further trauma.
As a result, you have likely adopted maladaptive coping patterns, which can exacerbate anxiety and depression and cause self-sabotage.
To move forward, you need to unpack what happened in the past. And you need to start recognizing the role your maladaptive coping has on the challenges you’re currently facing in pursuing your goals.
Talking with a licensed counselor or mental health provider can be immensely helpful in making sense of your emotions and thought patterns.
Another resource that can help you unpack your past is a book by Dr. Nicole LePera called How to do the Work. I’ve read several books on learning to manage your internal world, and this is, by far, the absolute best.
Secret #8: Move Your Body
Physical activity is an absolute must when setting yourself up for success.
Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being, which in turn will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Exercise also helps increase energy levels, which can be incredibly beneficial if you work long hours.
Regular exercise improves your sleep at night. It also has the power to give you an immediate sense of accomplishment, which can be difficult when it seems as if your to-do list has no end.
Both of the above reasons are why I make it a point to make exercise part of my daily routine. It feels great to say that I conquered my workout, especially when my workday doesn’t go as expected.
But don’t feel like you have to go out and join a CrossFit gym! You can find enjoyable ways to move your body that fit your interests and lifestyle.
So whether it’s setting aside 15 minutes a day to do yoga, or taking regular walks with your dog, just focus on moving your body in some way every day.
Secret #9: Release Perfectionism
As a recovering perfectionist, one of my favorite mantras is “done is better than perfect.”
Believing that you can attain perfection in anything is one of the fastest ways to invite defeat into your life. And believing the myth of perfectionism is a downward spiral into low self-esteem and anxiety. It’s a path paved with procrastination and self-sabotage.
When you dig deeper into perfectionism, you often find an intense need to control situations and avoid failure. At its core, perfectionism is about the ego. It’s about appearances and what others think about you.
But you are the author of your story. You get to decide the meaning behind everything that happens to you, good or bad. And only you can define success and failure.
But you have to be fair to yourself. And chasing a vague and ever-rising bar isn’t fair to anyone, least of all yourself.
If you struggle with perfectionism, develop a new habit of being realistic with your goals. Make your goals measurable and attainable.
And once you accomplish them, celebrate!
If you’re serious about ridding yourself of perfectionism in the coming year, read The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar. It completely transformed my outlook and gave me a roadmap to living without the burden of perfectionism.
Secret #10: Get a Hobby
It may sound counterproductive, but having a stream of different hobbies is the reason for my success.
I’ve always been multi-passionate, and hobbies allow me to dabble in a little bit of everything.
Pursuing interests outside of work keeps your passion alive, especially when your work may be essential but less-than-thrilling. It gives you something to look forward to when things get tough. And it can teach you many lessons that would be otherwise difficult to learn.
Hobbies push you outside your comfort zone. They encourage you to approach the world with a beginner’s mindset. And they teach you that failure is the best opportunity to learn something new.
And, who knows? A hobby could turn into a side gig that eventually transitions into a full-time business.
So, find something you love and make time for it. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day, it will pay off dividends in the long run.
Success is a personal definition. It’s something that looks a little different to each person.
But setting yourself up for success in the upcoming year and beyond requires setting boundaries and staying focused on your goal. It requires refusing to accept failure as part of your narrative and understanding that talent has its limits, but hard work pays off.
These are just a few secrets I’ve used to set myself up for success. What works for me may not work for you, so always take time to find what methods and approaches suit you the best.
These secrets can be applied to any goal you set for yourself, and if used correctly, they will put you on the path toward success in 2023 and beyond.
This post was inspired by several great books that are required reading for anyone serious about setting themselves up for success. Clicking the convenient links below will take you directly to Amazon, where you can check these fantastic reads out for yourself.
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
- Indistractable by Nir Eyal
- Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover
- How to do the Work by Dr. Nicole LePera
- The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar
And if this post inspired you, make sure to check out my other posts:
- How to Tell When You’re Overwhelmed
- 5 Simple Tips to Help You Be More Productive
- The ONE Thing: A Case for Narrowing Your Focus
- 5 Powerful Ways to Halt Limiting Beliefs
- How to Dramatically Improve Your Mental Focus
- Why Having Multiple Interests is Your Greatest Strength
And if you’re looking for piano inspiration, check out these posts:
- Can You Really Learn Piano Without a Teacher
- Your Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Piano Practice Routine
- ABRSM Piano Exams: What They Are and Why You Should Take One
- The Best Unconventional Ways to Learn Piano
- A Complete Review of ProPractice by Dr. Josh Wright
- 5 Simple Reasons You Should be Calling Yourself a Pianist