Thursday, 21 January 2010

6 Important Keys to Success

Living a successful life is likely the most commonly shared goal of most people in the Western world. What exactly is meant by "successful" though? I offer a quick definition that it is a life with balance between meeting one's basic human needs (food, shelter, warmth, etc.) and those higher order needs (love, status, respect, acquisition of knowledge, etc.). Someone able to put food on the table as well as have the ability to continue to learn and be fulfilled emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. If I were to suggest anything else, it would be to say that true success comes from making the lives of those around us better as well as our own. So, with this in mind, here are my top six keys to being successful:

1. Find a way that you are happy with to meet your basic needs.

2. Learn about what you need to prioritise in order to ensure your emotional, spiritual and intellectual well-being. Here are some questions to consider when establishing priorities:

- What makes you happy / miserable? angry / excited? safe / insecure? and how do you act accordingly (in ways that move you towards or away from a life that fulfills you)?

- What gives greater meaning to your life?

- Who else do you affect when you make decisions or act and how do you consider them?

- What new learning or practice would make a significant positive difference to your life?

3. Notice what interferes with your motivation levels. When are you most motivated? As a rule of thumb, notice people who inspire you (informal mentors) and those who "steal" your energy. What does your environment need to contain (light, nature, smells, colours, sounds, etc.)? What times of day, week or year are you most motivated? If you cannot answer these right now, keep a motivation diary for a few weeks and you should notice patterns emerging.

4. Notice what eats your time. Time spent daily determines what your life will become. If you are spending most of your time on twitter, facebook or surfing the web for example, then visualise your life continuing in this vein for the foreseeable future. This might just be enough to encourage you to reduce time spent on these devourers of precious time. Remember that time for relaxation recharges batteries so don't deny yourself these activities completely!

5. Resilience: how do you respond to criticism, rejection and set-backs? Successful people are those who do not give up; who like to keep going even if others are not validating this. Reading a quote recently from someone highly motivated (I can't remember exactly who) made me smile - "never give up, keep on doing what you're passionate about, and never, ever go away - not even when they want you to".

6. Ethics or values: it is important to know what matters most to you and to live in line with those that you personally consider most important. Feeling uncomfortable doing or considering doing something that someone else has asked you to do, or with the behaviour of someone else? It is likely that your core values or ethics are being stretched, are in conflict or are being broken. Core values or ethics include fundamentally important ideologies or principles such as honesty, respect, religion, status, loyalty, fidelity, monogamy, marriage, abortion, family, speaking one's mind, being considerate of others feelings, breaking conventions, entrepreneurship, being part of the community; your personal rights and wrongs of living. If you find yourself feeling stuck or in limbo, it can be worthwhile exploring whether there are values in conflict e.g. if one value is considering the feelings of others but another is to speak one's mind then doing one potentially contravenes the other; or spending time with one's family versus spending time on one's career; or those that are personally important versus those that are communally (culturally) important. Write down those that are most important to you, that you consider the important rules for living a fulfilling life and prioritise these.

Together these keys to success offer a personal path to follow in order to achieve fulfillment and success. They are most likely personal to you and much more to you than others, even those close to you. The better you know them the better chance you have of meeting and fulfilling your own dreams.

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