How to set yourself up for success

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For most people, there’s no arguing that success is a magnificent obsession. It’s a powerful psychological driver, not just because you find self-worth in your achievements but also because of the value society places on them.

But it’s good to remind yourself that success isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. There’s no general formula of success for everybody. Rather, success is particularly ciphered according to individual circumstances and goals—and not all of them are tied only to your career, property assets, or bank account.

As the truism goes, “Do not make others the barometer for your success.” Success starts with yourself and finds its fulfillment with yourself.

How then do you set yourself up for success?

Kevin Dickinson, Learning Curve columnist at Big Think (a multimedia web portal), offers five ways to prepare your personal journey to success:

1. Start with your values, not your goals

Categorize your values into three life domains: yourself, your work, and your relationships. Use these values as guides for determining where to place your attention, what goals you want to accomplish, and how much time you’ll need to dedicate to those goals.

Quoting Nir Eyal, the tech entrepreneur who writes for Psychology Today, Dickinson notes: “Don’t spend a fraught number of hours weighing the importance of every goal and task. Instead of starting with what we’re going to do, we should begin with why we’re going to do it. So we should start with our values.”

2. Learn before you leap

Do not assume you understand what is necessary for success and begin chasing it right away. Start by preparing yourself and focus on climbing the learning curve.

To underscore this step, Dickinson quotes Michael Watkins, professor at the IMD (International Institute for Management Development): “There’s lots you don’t know, and in fact, there may be lots you don’t even know that you don’t know. The time before you actually start is a really crucial time when you should focus on preparing yourself.”

3. Build early momentum with small victories

Sometimes the necessary changes can seem too big.  With so many steps between you and your ultimate goal, you may find the process infeasible or intimidating. But success begets more success, no matter how small the victory may be.

Victories in smaller steps build confidence in your ability to succeed, and each accomplishment becomes a milestone you can use to prepare yourself further still.

4. Don’t do it alone

Another means of building momentum is to tap into your network or, if those relations don’t exist for you yet, begin building them as part of your goals.

Despite the myth of the self-made man, anyone who has ever been successful has done so with the help of others—coworkers, friends, relations, mentors, etc. 

5. Setting up success with failure

Success isn’t a condition without failure; it’s a condition of overcoming failure and improving.

Dickinson quotes American actor Nick Offerman who said, “What keeps us living or vitally engaged is a constant pursuit of betterment.”

True, indeed, because life is a never-ending work in progress—and each moment is an opportunity for success.

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