This is a comprehensive blog post about learning how to be successful in live and in business.

Success. Ask anyone what they are aiming for, and chances are success is part of their goal. Whether it’s the mom who wants to successfully raise her children or the entrepreneur that wants to successfully launch that business, the goal is the same: to find success at reaching a self-chosen goal. Yet, finding success is often not as simple as it first appears.

Does it seem like some people just find success in anything they touch? Consider a man like the late Steve Jobs. From the Mac to the iPad, everything that carries his logo seems to have great success, with people lining up out the door to make a purchase as new products hit the shelf. There’s no denying that Jobs was a business success.

So what is it about successful people that makes them successful? Is it a certain charisma they are born with? Is it the amount of money they inherit from a rich relative? Sheer luck?

Chances are it’s none of these things. In most instances, successful people are successful not because of luck or outward circumstances. Rather, they are successful because of the way they think.

The path towards success starts in the mind. If you can train your brain to think like a successful person, you will find yourself successful in most areas of life. Whether you are working to get in shape or trying to start a new business, the battle for success starts in your mind.

Are you ready to know how to be successful? It’s easier than you might think.

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Change Your Thinking by Changing Your Inputs

Your brain is much like a complex computer. What you think about is based, largely, on what you put into that computer. Successful people are careful about the things they allow into that “computer.” With the right inputs, success is the result.

So how can you go about changing your inputs? First, be a knowledge seeker. Constantly be on the quest for new knowledge. Then, fill your mind with the thoughts of successful people. This means spending time talking to them, reading their writing, listening to recordings of them speaking, or anything else you can do to fill your mind with their thoughts.

how to be successful in life

Be a Knowledge Seeker

Successful people are constantly studying and seeking new knowledge. In fact, Mike Dillard, a successful marketer and entrepreneur, once said, “Every single successful entrepreneur I know has studied and accumulated information on their industry that is the equivalent of a Master’s or PhD.” If you want to change your thinking so it is in line with someone who is successful, you need to fill it with knowledge.

Make the Most of Downtime

Do you have a long commute? Use that downtime to listen to successful people. With the myriad of mp3 recordings and even CDs you can purchase or download for free, you can make the most of those moments in the car. Sign up for podcasts from leaders in your industry or niche to fill those moments with thought-provoking input.

Take a Class to Add Knowledge

Is there a skill you need to develop or information you need to add to your knowledge base? Then take a class. Taking a class does not necessarily mean you are earning a degree or enrolling in a full program. It simply means you are gathering the information you need to fuel your success, and filling your mind with the right knowledge to shape your thinking.

Read to Expand Your Inputs

Spending time listening to brilliant thinkers and successful people is highly beneficial, but not always practical. Another way to expose yourself to new thoughts is to spend time reading. Reading, whether books, magazines or trade journals, exposes you to new thoughts and ideas in your field. It will expand your thinking to include the thoughts of people who may not agree with you. It will put the seeds of ideas in your mind that you will be able to draw on at a later date.

Wherever you go, have reading material with you. You might not be able to listen to your mp3 player in certain settings, but you can almost always pull out a magazine or book. Keep one in your purse or briefcase or download it to your tablet or smartphone to constantly fill your mind with good inputs.

Use Notes to Maintain Ideas and Gather Information

As you begin filling your mind with the right inputs, you are going to find that ideas are popping in from time to time. Keep those ideas from being too fleeting with a note-taking system. Whether on your tablet or with a tried-and-true piece of paper, have a way to jot down thoughts that you might otherwise lose. Some may end up inspiring you to success.

Whatever system you create, keep it with you at all times. If you have a digital option, like a smartphone or tablet, add a note-taking and organizing app so you can jot down ideas as they come to you. Inspiration will hit at any moment, so make sure you are prepared to record it when it does.

Your notes can also be used to gather information. Did you hear a great quote on the radio on your way to work? Jot it down before you forget it! Did you hear a speaker talking on a topic relating to your field? Pull out your note-taking system to grab the most important points. By having your system with you, you can be an information-gatherer at all times.

Fill Your Environment with Positive Quotes

Beyond listening to the words of great thinkers, take the time to fill your environment with positive thoughts and quotes. Frame a favorite motivational quote and hang it above your desk. Stick a few sticky notes around your office with quotes you want to remember. By keeping this type of positive input in your environment, you will be more motivated for success.

Remember, your thinking is only going to be as great as the thoughts you are putting into your mind on a daily basis. If you want to change your thinking to fuel success, you must start with changing the inputs you are giving your mind. Fill your mind with the words of positive, successful thinkers, and you’ll find greater overall success.

Change Your Thinking from Hope to Action

Gandhi once said,

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”

This is a quote worth thinking about on the path to success, but what happens when you get stuck in one part of the process? What happens when you are stuck in the beliefs and thoughts, and never make it to actions and your ultimate destiny? To find success, you must learn to turn your thoughts and hopes into positive actions.

Do you hope that this year is going to be better than last year? Do you hope that you will be successful by a certain date? Do you hope that you will be able to retire at age 65? Hoping is fine, but if you don’t act on those hopes, you’ll never find success.

Successful people have to find the perfect balance between thinking and action. Too much thinking without action is not success, but likewise action without thinking is impulsive and dangerous. When you can find the right balance, you will find success.

Thoughts Are Fleeting

Why is it so important to act on your successful thoughts and hopes? Have you ever had a brilliant idea while in the middle of some important task, and then later when you went to write down that idea or to act on it, it was gone? Thoughts are fleeting. The most important and successful thoughts you have need to be acted on, or you will lose them.

Act on Thoughts Without Being Impulsive

The problem with acting on fleeting thoughts is the fact that it can lead to impulsive behavior. This is not beneficial. You must be able to think through your hopes and then find a positive course of action. Once you find that positive action, don’t be afraid to go ahead and act on it.

A Practical Example: Jeff Bezos

Successful entrepreneurs are people who learn to act o their ideas. Consider, for example, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. With one simple idea, Bezos has created a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and all because he was willing to act on his thoughts.

Bezos did not get his start selling online. Instead, he started his career on Wall Street working in computer science. As he saw the potential in the World Wide Web at the very beginnings of the Internet, he began to think about the potential for online shopping. Instead of just thinking about it, he acted on those thoughts, and created Amazon.com, a simple online bookstore.

Bezos could have stopped there and been considered a success. In 1994, the online bookstore sold books in careful categories that were easy to search. Yet, Bezos continued thinking and hoping, and acting on those thoughts and hopes. Acquiring other retailers, adding products and partnering with other online sellers, Amazon.com has grown into the Web’s largest retailer, and the first place many people go when they need to shop online. All of this success started with a few simple thoughts and a man who was willing to act on those thoughts.

Don’t Horde Ideas – Act on Them

Jackie Davies is a woman with big ideas. As a busy professional woman, she realized the demand for restaurant food is growing, yet many people don’t have the time or desire to eat out. Thus, they rely on fast food to feed their families, often sacrificing nutrition as a result. This sparked the idea for her business, Eat Out In.

Eat Out In is a restaurant delivery service that takes food from local restaurants and delivers it to people’s homes. When asked about her success, she credited her ability to act on her idea. Others have had the same idea, to start a restaurant delivery service, but she was the one who took action.

So, practically speaking, how do you do this? How do you take action on the hopes and ideas you have, rather than hording ideas and going nowhere with them? Here are some practical tips:

•         Know Your Ideas – Ideas often come half-formed. A restaurant delivery service seems like a good idea, but the nitty gritty details, such as the way the restaurant business works and how you will get food delivered hot and fresh to customers, can get dicey. Jackie found success because she took time to know the restaurant industry. Know your ideas, your business model, your niche, and your actions will follow.

•         Hire Help when Needed – People often fail to follow through on their ideas and hopes because the lack the right skills. Don’t be afraid to learn a new skill, but don’t be afraid to hire people who know what they are doing if you don’t.

•         Trust Your Gut – In order to act on your thoughts, you have to trust your gut. Yes, you will make a mistake here and there, but your good instincts are going to take you far. Learn to trust them and learn as you go, and you’ll find greater success.

Using the Three-File System

Hording ideals will derail your success, yet in the midst of life and business, ideas often get lost in the shuffle. One way to improve your chances of keeping and working through your ideas is to use a three-file system. For every big idea you decide to flesh out, set up three files, whether they be actual files or simply columns on your brainstorming paper, as follows:

•         Actionable Steps – These are the things you can do right now. These steps start with an action verb and are going to happen right away.

•         Back-burner Ideas – These are the ideas that will make your process better, but that you can’t do right now. Don’t lose these. Put them on the back-burner to revisit in the future. When you re-visit them, they will either be irrelevant or you will be ready to tackle them.

•         Research – Notes, articles and references you have collected throughout the planning process go in this file. You never know when you will need them again, so don’t lose them.

With this three-file system, those ideas you decide to take action on can be fully fleshed out, researched and acted on, all without stress.

Change Your Thinking by Changing Your Friends

Have you ever noticed that children tend to look like their parents, even if the children are adopted? This proves that nurture may have more of a role to play in this fact than nature, although genetics do create visual similarities between people.

The fact is that you are going to be like the people you hang around with, and they will clearly impact your thinking. If you want to be successful, hang out with successful people.

Plato, one of the most successful thinkers we know, understood this. He once said, “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person, or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.” Your thoughts are swayed by the people you hang out with, so choose them wisely.

Choose Successful People as Your Companions

Take a close look at your closest friends and colleagues. Would you classify them as “good thinkers?” If not, then you might need to make some changes.

Choose to spend time with people who are good thinkers. These people should challenge you with their thoughts, words and actions to think outside of your box. When you are with them, you should leave feeling as though you have grown and stretched and are thinking more clearly.

Have an Agenda When Meeting People

When you meet new people, make sure you have an agenda. Consider the President of the United States. When he has a “friendly” meeting with a head of state from some other country, there will be plenty of pleasantries exchanged. Yet, at the core of what is happening, the President has an agenda. Every word he says and every action he takes are carefully measured to reach that agenda.

This does not mean that you need to avoid being civil and jump right to your agenda every time you shake hands with someone. It does, however, mean that you need to keep your goals in mind throughout the conversation. Doing so will help you take advantage of potential connections every time they present themselves.

Schedule Brainstorming Sessions

Your brain has its own weaknesses and strengths, as do the brains of anyone in your social and professional circles. Once you have figured out who your successful friends will be, it’s time to schedule brainstorming sessions. Good thinkers build off of each other, and the best ideas come from brainstorming and collaborating with other smart, positive thinkers.

So how can you brainstorm? Consider these tips:

•         Expand Ideas Through Brainstorming – Brainstorming sessions work best when you already have an idea, but need to flesh it out. Instead of using the session to come up with the basic idea, use it to extend, blend and grow that idea.

•         Choose People Without Fear – If someone in your brainstorming group is afraid, you will get nowhere. Create an environment where people can brainstorm without fear, and then choose friends who are less likely to give into their fears while brainstorming.

•         Have a Loose Goal – Brainstorming works because it encourages creativity, but you do need a basic goal. Have a loosely defined goal that you are working for or problem that you are trying to solve before you begin the brainstorming session.

Once you begin, follow the brainstorming rules as set forth by Alex Osborn, the “Father of Brainstorming.” These are:

•         No Criticism – Ideas, no matter how wild, must not be criticized during the session, or creativity will drop.

•         Wild Ideas Are Welcome – The more unusual and out of the box, the better the idea. You can always tame the idea later if it’s too crazy.

•         Encourage a Quantity of Ideas – The more ideas you get from your fellow thinkers, the more you will have to work with as you seek success.

•         Combine and Improve Ideas – If possible, combine ideas and improve on them during the brainstorming session.

If you have gathered a group of creative, successful thinkers who are willing to help you hash out your ideas through a brainstorming session, you will find that it does much to help you change your thinking and embrace your future success.

Spending Time with People Who Think Differently Than You

We are creatures of habit, and because of this we commonly surround ourselves with people who think the same way we do, but this could be sabotaging your success. If the only thinkers you spend time with are people who think exactly like you do about everything, you will not grow or change. One way to improve your thought processes and poise yourself for greater success is to spend time with people who think differently than you do.

Remember, your idea isn’t always the best one. Find successful people who think differently than you, and you just might be surprised what you can learn from them.

As you spend time with people who think differently than you, don’t use it as a way to “prove” that your thoughts are the right thoughts. Instead, learn to value other people’s thoughts as well. Give them a chance and value them for their differences, and they will take you far.

Take Time for Thinking

The art of thinking is quickly being lost in today’s society. If you want to be successful, you need to give yourself time to think. Yet, thinking is a discipline, and it’s a discipline many people don’t know how to do. Here are some ideas you can take to get yourself thinking.

Schedule Time to Think

Thinking, the type of thinking that can push you for success, takes time. You can’t just go with any thought that pops into your head. You must take time to sit down and think, critically and reflectively, about what is going on in your life and what you need to do about it.

Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, understands this. Every two weeks, he sets aside a half of a day to think. He also sets aside one full day a month and a couple of weekends a year. During this time, all he does is think. Set up a similar schedule, and you will be thinking for success.

Understand Critical and Reflective Thinking

Once you’ve set aside some time to think, what are you going to do during that time? As a discipline, thinking requires a plan. First, you need to understand two types of thinking: critical and reflective. Both will be part of your thinking exercises.

Critical thinking is the process of using your thoughts to increase the chances of reaching a specific outcome or goal. This can sometimes be called directed thinking, because you are using your thinking energy to focus on a desired outcome or goal.

Reflective thinking is the thinking process that involves analyzing what has happened and making judgments about it. In other words, reflective thinking is actively spending time considering your belief or knowledge of a situation or action. You are in control of the process, actively assessing what you know and what you need to learn as you work toward a goal.

Both of these are an important part of finding success through thinking. Learning how to do each one is an invaluable skill you must gain if you want to find success.

How to Improve Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the key to making wise decisions, and wise decisions will lead to success. Critical thinking does not come naturally. When you think, you naturally succumb to some measure of bias. In order to think critically, you have to be able to put that bias aside and think through the problem without it. Here’s how:

1. Know Your Purpose – In order to think critically about a problem before you, you must know your purpose. What is your ultimate goal? What are you trying to achieve? Outlining that purpose is first, and then you will use that purpose to guide your thought process.

2. Identify Your Bias – Before you begin studying the problem, you need to know what your bias is. You should assume that you have one, and if you can identify it you will be in better shape. To find your bias, outline your beliefs about the situation, then try to think about the problem from a different viewpoint. By actively doing this, you will be able to make decisions outside of your bias.

3. Consider Your Options – No matter what choice you make at the end of your critical thinking exercise, there will be consequences. Try to anticipate what these are. Imagine the potential outcome from the point of view of all people affected by the decision, and then make an informed choice based on all of the implications.

Critical thinking does not come naturally. It requires patience, dedication and time. The next time you face a major decision or a problem, set aside time to think critically about it, and you will be in a better position to make the right decision that will spur you to success.

How to Improve Reflective Thinking

Reflective thinking happens after the decision has been made. It allows you the chance to look at the results of your decision and think about what you did well, what you did wrong and what you would do differently the next time. Like critical thinking, reflective thinking is a skill that must be developed.

Reflective thinking requires quiet. It also requires limited distractions. You must be able to get away and spend a concentrated amount of time reflecting.

To begin, consider a major step or decision you have made recently, and the outcome it brought. Ask yourself questions about it. What did you like about what happened? What would you have liked to see different? Examine your decisions, your motives and your results.

As you take the time to do this on a regular basis you will learn valuable insight about yourself. You will also find that you are more confident in your decision-making skills. You will have seen, time and time again, that you did make valuable decisions that led to successful outcomes.

Reflective thinking will also give you much-needed perspective. You will know what you have tried in the past that has worked, and what hasn’t. This will put future decisions into perspective and help you make decisions that fuel success.

Practical Ways to Think Reflectively

Reflective thinking is a lost skill. Many people know it’s important for success, but few know how to do it. Here are some practical ways to learn to think reflectively:

  • Keep a journal
  • Draw a thought map
  • Question and answer with likeminded people
  • Verbally talking through your ideas

With each of these, you will need to be alone or with one or two trusted people, and you will need few distractions. Remember, it can take about 11 minutes to get your mind back on your thinking if you allow a distraction in, so limit distractions and you will find greater thinking success.

Change Your Self-Talk

In the early 1900s, psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers once said, “Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.” This quote shows that the battle for success is often fought and lost or won in the mind.

Banish Negative Self-Talk

Most people prevent themselves from finding success before they even begin a project. How do they do this? Through negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk tells yourself that you can’t do something, even before you start. These are the self-defeating, unrealistic, negative things we think about ourselves. For instance, if you tell yourself “There’s no way I can accomplish this task,” then chances are you won’t accomplish it. You’ve set yourself up for failure, rather than success.

Unfortunately, our natural bent is toward negative self-talk, and it gets worse if we are struggling with periods of depression or a long period of unsuccessful outcomes. The good news is that there are ways to challenge your negative self-talk and change it into something positive.

Challenging Your Self-Talk

If you find yourself defeating your goals before you even start, then it’s time to take a closer look and start challenging your self-talk. By doing so, you will be able to respond to the issues you face in a helpful, more positive way.

Because self-talk is automatic, challenging it takes practice, but it’s a skill worth learning. To begin, pay attention to the way you feel. If you are feeling negative feelings, like anger or anxiety, stop and reflect on your thoughts. Once you know what you are thinking, ask objective questions that will help you determine if your thoughts are reasonable. Here are some examples of these questions:

  • Are my thoughts based on facts or feelings?
  • Am I jumping to any conclusions?
  • Is there evidence to support my thoughts?
  • Can I find evidence to support my thoughts?

Once you have answered your questions, try to find an alternative thought. Consider these questions to guide your thinking:

  • Could these feelings/thoughts means something different?
  • Can I view this situation in a positive light?
  • Are there alternative ways to view the problem or situation?

Even with just these initial questions, you will find your thoughts turning toward a more positive light.

Now, it’s time to put everything in to perspective, and this requires asking some hard questions, like:

  • Am I making too much out of this?
  • What is the worst possible scenario?
  •  How likely is that worst possible scenario to happen?
  • What is the most likely outcome?
  • Can I find any good in the problem or situation?
  • Will this matter tomorrow or in several years?

After performing this basic exercise you will likely find your negative self-talk dissipating. Now, it’s time to change that negativity into something positive.

Directing Your Thinking to the Positive

Often, negative self-talk comes from failure. You’ve failed, and you assume that you will fail again in the future. To change your negative self-talk in this scenario, you must learn to learn from your mistakes. Ask yourself questions like this:

  • What can I learn from this failure to help next time?
  • What can I do differently next time to solve the problem?
  • What way of thinking can help me avoid this negativity?

Practice Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations can be the best way to combat negative self-thought. Practicing positive affirmations puts your mind in a position to think positively, and this helps ban negative self-talk.

Positive affirmations are positive statements that you say to yourself. These statements are phrased in a factual manner, not a hopeful manner. Examples of positive affirmation statements include:

  • I am getting closer to success every day.
  • My business is growing and thriving.
  • I am feeling less stressed today.
  • I am a success.
  • I am beautiful.
  • I am thin.
  • I am learning from my mistakes.

You affirmations may be completely different from this list, and that’s fine. The key is that you have affirmations, and that they are specific to your goals.

How to Use Affirmations

Having positive affirmations is the first step, but in order to make them a part of your thinking, you need to use them. Sometimes, people fail to use positive affirmations because they feel a bit silly. You need to get over this and start using these phrases, because they are a powerful tool in changing your thinking to reach for success. Here are some practical ways you can use positive affirmations.

  • Repeat them to yourself – Several times a day, stop and say your positive affirmations out loud to yourself.
  • Record yourself saying them – If you can’t get a private spot to say your positive affirmations out loud, record them on an mp3 and listen to it. Be sure to use a calm, slow voice.
  • Write them on notes – Write your favorite affirmations on sticky notes and put them up around your home or office in places you will see them regularly.

If you get in the habit of using positive affirmations daily, you’ll see your negative self-talk slowly melting away.

Don’t Be Overly Optimistic

In Chapter 5 we talked about the dangers of negative self-talk, yet now we are going to discuss the dangers of being overly optimistic. It may seem that these two chapters contradict each other, but that’s not the case. You can be realistic while also being positive, and finding this balance is the key to thinking like a successful person.

This Isn’t the Yellow-Brick Road

When Dorothy and Toto started out to meet the Wizard, the road seemed simple. Just “follow the yellow brick road” and you will get there. Little did they know that the road would be riddled with witches, fields of changed poppies and, of course, lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Had Dorothy filled her head with purely optimistic thoughts, rather than realistic thoughts, she might have run back to Munchkinland and missed out on all of her adventures.

We can learn much from this simple children’s movie. The fact is that the road to success is not easy. Too much optimism is going to set you up for failure when you reach real obstacles. This is why successful people are realistic thinkers. Yes, they think positively about their abilities and the task ahead of them, but they temper that optimism with a healthy dose of reality.

Realistic Thinking Is Not Positive or Negative

Often, realistic thinking is viewed as either a positive or a negative thing, but the truth is that it is neither. Someone filled with negative self-talk isn’t being realistic at all. Telling yourself “I am a complete failure and everything I touch goes wrong” is the most unrealistic thing you can say. On the flip side, thinking that everything you will do will be successful is also unrealistic. You are going to have some successes and some failures as you pave the path to success. Realistic thinking understands this. In this way, a realistic thought is often quite neutral.

A Look at Health

Looking at the health field will help you understand the power of realistic thinking. Consider, for example, three cancer patients. One is filled with hope and positive thinking, waking daily with a positive affirmation of “I am healed.” The second has a positive outlook but a realistic one, trusting her doctors to do all that can be done to heal her, but refusing to give in to the negative self-talk that is so common with chronic illness. The third has given up, deciding, “I am going to die, this cancer is going to kill me, there is no hope.”

Of these three, which one is the most likely to be healed? According to Dr. O. Simonton, an oncologist and a believer in mind-body medicine, it is the second one, the positive thinker who is also a realistic thinker. In his studies, he found that outright positive thinking, without a healthy dose of reality, was as dangerous as grossly negative thinking for cancer patients. Those patients who believed they were getting healthier and were taking active steps to do so were the most likely to have the hope of healing.

While success in your case may not be tied to a medical diagnosis, this anecdote shows that reality and positive thinking must go hand in hand, or you will be setting yourself up for failure.

Realistic Thinking Prepares You For Obstacles

On the road to success, you will face obstacles. When you are thinking realistically, you are ready to tackle those obstacles. You have the tools to persevere even through difficult times, because you know they are inevitable. They don’t derail you, but rather push you to keep going so you achieve even greater success in the long term.

Realistic Thinking Gives You Responsibility for Your Success

Why is realistic thinking so important? When you are thinking realistically, you are putting the control over your success back in your own hands. You know that you are the only one who can, intimately, control your success. This will help you stay motivated to find your success.

As you go about changing your negative self-talk into a positive one, make sure it is tempered with a healthy dose of reality. This balance can be difficult at times to find, but once you do, you will be in the best possible position for success.

Think About Setting Goals

Successful people don’t just rush out into the world and find success. They learn how to set and then attain goals. If you can train your mind to be a goal-setting and attaining machine, you will be poised for success.

While most people understand the need to set goals, successful people understand this need and act on it. Not only that, but they do it well. Setting quality goals and then reaching for them, will fuel your success.

Learning to set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Goal-setting begins in the mind, and that’s why it’s an important aspect of changing your thinking to fuel success. As you learn how to set goals, learn the acronym S.M.A.R.T. It stands for setting goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

In this chapter, we will take a closer look at each of these.

Specific Goals

The more specific your goal is, the more likely it is that you will reach it. Reaching your goal is success, so learning to write specific goals is valuable.

A specific goal is clearly defined. It answers the “who, what, where, when, which and why” questions. “Start a photography business” would be a generic goal, whereas “Have three photo shoots by May 1” is a very specific goal.

As you set specific goals, be sure you understand the value of setting small goals. Whenever possible, break down your big, overall goal into small steps. This will help you reach small successes on your way to your larger overall goal.

Measurable Goals

Measurable goals have a concrete way for you to measure your success. In the photography example, your measurable outcome is having those three photo sessions. If your goal has a set, measurable outcome, you will know when you have reached it.

Attainable Goals

One area where many lofty thinkers go wrong in goal setting is creating goals they cannot attain. Your goals need to take into consideration your resources, abilities and skills. Can you, realistically, reach that goal with what you have at your disposal?

Don’t sell yourself short when creating your goals, however. Often, if you are willing to think creatively and plan your steps carefully, you will be able to reach any goal you put out there for yourself.

Realistic Goals

Your goal needs to be realistic. This means it needs to be something you are able to work for and willing to work for. You are the only one who can decide how lofty of a goal you can make without destroying your motivation. Keep in mind that high goals are not bad, as they can be very motivational, but keep reality in mind throughout the goal-setting process.

Timely Goals

Your goal needs to have a time frame, as this will push you to reach it and create a sense of urgency. That said, the time frame needs to be realistic. If you’re setting the goal to have three photography sessions, it’s not realistic to have them in a week. You have to market your skills, find clients, scout locations and plan for the weather, and this takes time. Make your time frames realistic.

Goal setting ties hand in hand with scheduling time for thinking. During your thinking sessions, spend some time fine-tuning your goals. Once you have accomplished them, reflect back on the process to see where you could make changes next time to reach the goals in a more timely manner or with fewer hang-ups, or to see where you did things right. In the end, you will only find success if you have carefully created S.M.A.R.T goals.

Be Able to See the Big Picture to Push Past Obstacles

Often little failures derail an individual’s push for success, but what happens when that individual can begin to overlook the small problems? The ability to overlook small failures in favor of seeing the big picture is the recipe for finding true success.

Have a Realistic, Positive View of Obstacles

Extremely successful people don’t have fewer obstacles in their way than those who don’t attain success. In fact, in many cases they might have more obstacles. The difference is in the way they view those obstacles.

Successful people don’t view obstacles as a brick wall. Instead, they view them as a little speed bump. Yes, they are annoying. Yes, they slow down progress. But in the end, they do not derail your attempts to find success. Keeping your eye on the ultimate goal will help you reach that goal.

Instead of stopping in their tracks when they face an obstacle, successful people use the opportunity to think. That inward dialogue will begin with a diagnosis of the problem. What is the root cause of the obstacle? Is there a way to troubleshoot this cause? What is fueling this opposition to your success?

Once you’ve identified the root cause, research the problem and use critical and reflective thinking to find a solution. If needed, get the help of others to get past the obstacle. Eventually you will find the solution to the obstacle if you just keep trying and don’t give up.

Throughout this process, make sure it’s not your own attitudes causing the problem. Through reflective thinking and pinpointing your own biases, you can remove any obstacles that come from within.

No matter what, keep the big picture, your goals, in mind as you face obstacles. This will motivate you to keep trying, rather than tempting you to give up. In the end, not only will you overcome the obstacle, but also you just might learn something about yourself or your goal in the process.

How Successful People View Failure

Obstacles are one thing that can derail your thoughts and keep you from attaining success, but for some people they are not a problem. Some people are able to view obstacles as outside influences and push their way past them. Failure is another thing. When you fail, it takes the wind out of your sails and makes you feel as though success is not attainable.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, most major successes start with failures. If you can learn to think of failure as a stepping-stone to success, you won’t get derailed because of it.

The key is to learn to embrace mistakes. Don’t berate yourself when you make one. Instead, think critically about your mistake and reflect on what you could have done differently. Use the data you gain from your mistake to spur your actions next time.

This may require a shift in your internal dialogue. When you make a mistake, ask yourself “what can I learn from this?” Instead of chastising yourself, take the time to grow.

How to Change Your Mind About Failure

It sounds great to say that “failure is the stepping stone to success,” but if you’ve lived your life fearing it, changing your mind isn’t that simple. Here are some thoughts that can help.

First, remember that you can’t fail if you aren’t trying. If you are not failing at all, you are not trying hard enough. So, failure, by default, is simply the result of trying.

Henry Ford understood this. He was once quoted as saying “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” Thomas Edison knew this. He tried hundreds, maybe even thousands, of filaments before “inventing” the light bulb. Both of these men failed and embraced those failures, and both were tremendous successes.

What was the difference between them and you? They used failure as a tool, rather than viewing it as a drawback. They thought about their failures, learned from them, and tried again. You can do the same thing.

Finally, remember that failure builds character, including the ability to be tenacious. The more often you fail, the more resilient you become, and the stronger your character will be. You simply have to learn to think correctly about failure, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, and try again.

As you embrace failure and look for a chance to grow as a result, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often, failure will spur you towards getting the help of experts, and this will push you to success more quickly.

How To Be Successful Conclusion

Success is not some secret formula that only a few people have the key to find. It’s not like a hidden stash of pirate booty. Rather, it is a highly mental process that most people fail to understand. This is why it only seems to happen to a few people.

Changing your thinking is work, but it’s work well worth tackling. By changing your thoughts to put them in line with the thoughts of a successful person, you will start finding success in all areas of your life.

If you want to find success, you need to make some changes. Change your friends, change your habits and change your thinking. In the end, you will find yourself thinking like a successful person.