Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Successful Life

This world is not lacking in its quest for success, yet so few of us really achieve the success we seek. Perhaps it is because we have not clearly defined success. Merriam-Webster defines success this way: "a favorable or desired outcome." I like this definition because it leaves room for each of us to put our own spin on what success looks like to us. What makes one successful? True success is far more than accolades, money, and degrees. These things can certainly play a role in what success might look like; however, without a clear understanding of what success involves, it will continue to elude us.

So, what does it take to be successful? How do we achieve this "favorable or desired outcome"?

Step one: know who you are. I remember my 8th grade teacher's parting words to me as I ventured on to high school. Quoting William Shakespeare, her advice was, "To thine own self be true." When we are true to ourselves, our lives are governed by our beliefs, our values, and our principles. Consequently, our decisions are based on what is right for us and we stop living to please the rest of the world.

Step two: know who you want to be. This step involves much introspection because, again, it is based on beliefs, values, and principles. It is only after we apply our beliefs, values, and principles to our lives that we can then build a vision of a better self. An old proverb states: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." I take great liberties here to paraphrase by simply saying, "Without a vision of who you want to be, you will surely die without ever knowing who you can become."

Step three: define your mission. A mission is a definite task; it's the reason we exist. I mentioned in a previous article "The Fuel of Motivation" that our mission statement must reflect the values that govern our lives. A clearly articulated mission acts as a vehicle to help you get to your destination-success. Your mission will always depend on what you know about yourself.

Step four: take an honest assessment of your knowledge, skills, and attitude. What do you know about what you want to do? For example, after working through Jack Canfield's program "Self-Esteem and Peak Performance," I realized that I liked speaking and teaching. I also uncovered the fact that I am well suited for this career, and I am extremely effective. It never feels like work to do a seminar, workshop, or keynote. In contrast, I worked once as a data entry clerk-a job I never liked! I had the knowledge and the skills to do the job; however, I was not happy because I did not have the right attitude. I didn't have all of the knowledge and skills to become a public speaker, trainer, and consultant, but my attitude helped me to get what I needed. Assessing your knowledge, skills, and attitude will help you get on the right track to success and happiness.

Step five: know how you're going to get to where you want to go. All successful people set goals. I remember a woman from one of my seminars who mentioned that she did not believe in setting goals because our lives are already predestined. What a tragic way to live! We are all created to live a full and successful life. I don't believe that our achievement is left up to God. I think He leaves it up to us. SMART goals help us take inventory along the way and measure our success. These measurements must be: S- specific, M- measurable, A- attainable, R- realistic, T- time bound.

About 9 years ago, I decided to get serious about my life and began to set goals. It's magical! I have achieved satisfactory results in practically every area I've set a goal in: spiritual, financial, educational, and educational. Two of my major goals were to finish my master's degree and then finish my doctorate degree. Every semester I was able to determine whether I was getting closer to where I wanted to go. If you are serious about achieving success, you must set goals!

Step six: maintain a realistic mind480set about the challenges on the way to true success. A realistic mindset means that things will happen in an attempt to keep you from the success you desire, but you have to keep pressing on. For instance, on your journey to success, you may have to work through a relationship ending, or changing jobs, or suddenly having to take care your elderly parents. Prepare for those moments, and don't let them keep you from your success. I have met so many people in my seminars who started to _____ (you fill in the blank), but they stopped because life happened and they have never restarted. When I was in boot camp for the Army whenever someone started to lag behind during our morning 5-mile run, we would shout "Man up!" In other words, push yourself a little harder now, but do not give up.

Remember, success - on your terms - is within your reach if you will consciously work through these six steps!

Dr. Angela D. Massey, an international motivational speaker, corporate trainer, and author is the owner of Life On Purpose LLC. She is the author and self-publisher of "Going the Distance - Success Strategies for Online Students" and "Turbo Charge Your Team!" She can be reached at

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