How to Succeed at Anything

how to succeed

Success is very simple. But it is not very easy for most people. In fact, success boils down to two simple steps.

  1. Set goals – have an intention to do, have or be something
  2. Keep acting in a way which is consistent with your goals

Just doing these two things will almost certainly bring you success. The trouble is that most people don’t do either of them. Most people drift along aimlessly, not really knowing where they are going and having no clear vision of the future. If you ask most people why the get out of bed in the morning, why they work, what is the purpose of their life, they won’t be able to tell you. The few people who actually set goals are way ahead of the crowd. And those who take the second step, and keep acting to support their goals make up the tiny minority of people who are successful in life. In fact, the second step flows naturally from this first. If you’re serious about your intention, then you cannot help but act in the direction of its fulfillment. The action is effortless.

Set Goals

The first key component of success is to set goals. In other words, have a vision of what the future is going to look like. So few people imagine what their world will look like in ten, twenty, thirty or fifty years time. They look in the mirror and think ‘where did time go? What happened to me?’ At the end of the year, they say ‘I can’t believe another year has passed!’

Most likely, your life will not work out exactly as you planned it, whatever you do – we are not fortune tellers, and life is full of surprises and odd twists and turns – but a goal (or intention) oriented life will be a successful life.

Honestly, I don’t think it matters much how you set goals. Just so long as you do it. Try to be as specific as you can when goal setting, but don’t  get too worried about detail. It’s also important to be flexible. Things change, life changes, so you need to adjust your goals accordingly. Not to say you should be constantly tinkering, but sometimes a goal just isn’t right any more – maybe you already achieved it, maybe it’s to do with a part of your life that has disappeared, or a new part of your life (maybe you changed jobs, for example).

The main thing is that your goal is something you know you are going to achieve. It shouldn’t be an option – it isn’t going to take strain or stress; in fact, it’s going to be easy. But action is, nonetheless, required. Which brings us to the next point.

Keep Acting in a Way Which Is Consistent With Your Goals

The second component of success is to keep acting to support your goals. This sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. And in fact, it’s unavoidable. And this is really the point I am trying to make here – your actions flow naturally from your intention. If one of your goals is to get fit, then you should start by really believing that you’re going to be fit, saying to yourself ‘I intend to be fit.’ If you really do intend this, then you can’t sit around, do no exercise, eat junk food, drive everywhere and so on. You have to change your habits, but this will be natural and easy if you really intend to achieve your goal. If you want to make money, you’re going to have to get into the habit of saving more, investing, studying money related matters, spending less, finding ways to make more, developing multiple income streams, and so on. But if all this is a chore, then you aren’t serious in your intention. If you don’t find something natural and easy, then it probably means you aren’t serious.

The small, natural and inevitable steps you take will almost certainly get you to where you want to be. A dripping tap will fill the bucket. To give a simple example, if you start at the age of 25 and invest $100 a month at 11% per annum until you are 65, you’ll end up with $760,000. You can fiddle with the numbers for yourself by clicking here.

The point is to keep going. Why do your New Year’s resolutions fail? They fail because you stop acting to support your goal. You hit one rough patch and you give up. And this suggests that you weren’t really serious. Winston Churchill said ‘Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.’ The enthusiasm comes from the seriousness of your intention. When you have a goal and your actions support it, you’ll find that things just seem to work out, often better and faster than you thought possible.

Why People Fail

People fail because they don’t realize the importance of thought. They don’t know how to use their mind to carve out the future, the way water carves a river through a landscape. They think they are the victim of circumstance and that their lives are down to chance. They fail because they don’t have a vision for the future.

People fail because they act like sheep. They don’t think for themselves, instead preferring to rely on gurus and teachers and the latest ‘big idea.’

People fail because they aren’t serious in their intentions. They’re lazy. They think they want to be rich, but they aren’t serious. They think they want to be successful, but they aren’t serious. Most people are too (mentally and physically) lazy to be rich and successful. They can’t be bothered to make goals and act to support them, even when they know that it could make all the difference in the world.

People fail because they give up. They settle for second best. They fall down and think, ‘well, it’s not too bad down here on the floor. At least I won’t get knocked down again if I stay here.’ And eventually, they get so used to being on the floor that they’ve forgotten they used to be standing up.

If you really intend something, then you can have it. Nothing can stop you. But are you really serious?

Photo by Mhogan35

18 thoughts on “How to Succeed at Anything”

  1. “Keep Acting in a Way Which Is Consistent With Your Goals”

    This is where most people lose it. You have to always ask yourself if you’re doing this, and if you get off track, instead of beating yourself up and feeling bad about it, decide to recalibrate immediately.

    Mistakes happen. What’s important is your very next action.

  2. You make a great point in this post. I think if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want something, you will do what you need to to get it. Most people aren’t 100% sure of what they want and that holds them back a lot.

  3. Hiya

    I enjoyed this post because it is direct, do-able and I also agree with the last part about the sheeple.
    I’ve lived moments where I’ve let ‘life’ sweep me along it’s dubious waters and I also live life with clear goals, attitudes, and a willingness to learn and be flexible. There are now 2 aspects that require my loving attention.
    Most of all, I live my life as my life, and not societies or anyone else’s reflections.

    thanks for your article

  4. Hi Michael,

    I agree with you on the idea that people fail when they decide that they will settle for second best. This mistake will cause us to give up trying we will stay stuck at the level that we gave up. Results tend to appear when we refuse to accept second best and we only want the best in life.


  5. To be honest, my mind was almost completely closed by this post’s title, “How to Succeed at Anything,” yet my mind was still partially open to the content.

    My mind closed a bit further when the “Set goals” step was followed by “have an intention to do, have or be something.”

    For the average person, unfortunately, the hyper-intentional motivation to “be something” sets them out on a path to become something other than themselves.

    The reason for this mistake is that most influences, such as parents, schools, and media noise (this includes most blogs), collectively known as social conventions, all represent the metaphor of “the paved road.”

    When one ventures to “be something” the paved road does not lead to meaning and purpose — the true self — the paved road leads to the same place that the road of good intentions leads…

    This post redeems its value, however, in the final section that is summed up by the statement that “people fail because they act like sheep.” I will add that most people do not fail because they are “lazy” or “not serious” — they fail because they are looking outside of themselves for the answers.

    I humbly submit that people act like sheep because they are trying to hard “to be something.”

    I do not mean to be critical but, as Peter knows, I like to share constructive criticism — devil’s advocate, if you will — when I believe it can be of some value. The blunt rock sharpens the blade…

    My only overall perceived weakness regarding this post is that the first step should be to “Know your self,” although it is implied in the final section. Self-knowledge will have an individual define what success means to them personally and will largely avoid the trap of social conventions — the trap “to be something.”

    Thanks for provoking thought. Cheers…

    “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” ~ Chinese Proverb

    “Every one rushes elsewhere and into the future, because no one wants to face one’s own inner self.” ~ Michel deMontaigne

  6. You’ve made some great points here. I think the one about laziness is one of the most important. I’ve joined this blog master mind program, and one of the things that somebody who has been successful with it pointed out was that people tend to blame the gurus but they are lazy. I think it’s funny that you have two steps for success because it’s like the 80/20 rule at work. 20% of your actions generate 80% of your results, but you have to do that 20% of 80% of the time and most people don’t even do that.

  7. Hi Michael .. we all need reminders – to set the goal and to follow through … and be creative, don’t be like sheep, & work, work, work .. til it’s done and you’ve created new goals and plans by then.

    Thanks – I enjoyed that .. Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters

  8. This is a great, simple insight. Set a goal and keep working towards it. It doesn’t get any simpler or more effective.

    As you say people aren’t serious about goals, and that’s because in the cluttered mind, it’s not always easy to distinguish between true intentions and ephemeral “shoulds.”

  9. Hi Michael,

    I agree with your statement that what prevents people from achieving success is laziness. People want things the easy way and sometimes achieving your goals takes time and effort but if you love what you are doing, it will be fun.

  10. nice post, i would like to share my thoughts too, i believe that sometimes people stop because they don’t know what to do in order to reach their goals thus they lack motivation and become indifferent

    i believe a major component of success is knowledge because it helps people know the next step instead of being indifferent. for example reading your post gives useful knowledge to people that would have otherwise remained indifferent or even depressed

  11. To me, this is the most powerful sentence:
    “People fail because they act like sheep. They don’t think for themselves, instead preferring to rely on gurus and teachers and the latest ‘big idea.’”

    If we all think for ourselves and live the way WE want to live, we can succed at anything we want.

    Thank you so much for this, I loved it :)

  12. Inspirational piece. This is a really great blog . Your definitely providing tremendous value to each of us. As someone says, You have to pay the price to get what you want.

  13. Many people put more thought into their destination when driving a car than they do in setting goals for achievement. It’s the little reminders, such as presented, in this article that reminds us of the simple things we need to do consistently for success. Thank you.


    Self Improvement and Motivation At

  14. The only trouble with success is that it must be maintained. Isnt it better to let life
    guide you intuitively rather than cleverly imposing upon yourself, the stress of maintaining an ego based life of successful manipulation? ———Doug Rosbury

  15. Lovely post.

    Here is what i would like to share.

    The only way to achieve your “GOALS” is :-

    We stop living in the past and stop thinking about future because PAST is History, FUTURE is a Mystery and TODAY is a gift that is why it is called “PRESENT.”

    So let us all live in it and make the most of it.

    Thanks & Regards,

  16. Great points! Makes it seem so easy, when in reality it’s so hard.
    I definitely need to start making sure my actions are aligned with my goals.

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