A beautiful in a garden raising her hands because she is happy and healthy

The Seven Surprising Steps for Sustainable Success Personally and Professionally

We all have goals, but few will labor to achieve them. Instead, we marvel at those who have reached theirs. In our naturalness bias, we believe successful individuals have some esoteric abilities that distinguish them from us. What we overlook is that the final product we admire results from a series of mistake-ridden, unrecorded, and painful setbacks. I’ve compiled seven proven steps you can learn from those people whose achievement inspires you.

“It is in the moment of decision that our life is shaped.”

Tony Robbins


Deliberately choosing to change one’s unpleasant circumstance is the first step toward success. While life-changing decisions differ across individuals and situations, they share the same vigor and determination. This is the precise moment you say; That’s it! I have had it! I can’t take it anymore! You don’t know what the outcomes will be, what resources and efforts it will require, but you commit to claim your fuller, happier, and more meaningful life. Steve Jobs decided to make a dent in the universe after he knew he was adopted. His stolen bike drove Muhammad Ali’s decision to learn to fight. Life has plenty in store for you. Are you ready to decide today to reach the next level?

Acknowledge Your Strengths

Many of us fixate on our flaws while discounting our unique talents. As a life coach, I spend a great majority of time helping clients focus on their assets. Success results from improving our deficiencies and leveraging our strengths, not disparaging ourselves. Instead of using words such as “There is nothing successful about me,” remember nobody can consistently fail and vice versa. Acknowledge your advantage and use them to fuel you. See your failures for what they are—temporary setbacks with the aim to help you improve.

Be better today than you were yesterday, be better tomorrow than you were yesterday.”

Lorenzo Snow

Practice Kaizen

For those who value success, constant improvement is the norm, not the exception. You must make the Kaizen—a popular Japanese philosophy meaning continuous improvement—your philosophy. There is no room for complacency. One way to remain motivated is to stay open to new learning opportunities.

You mustn’t compare yourself with others; be the yardstick for your own improvement. Steve Job’s words: “life is too short to spend it living someone else’s life,” illustrate this. Comparing ourselves to others can be as delusional as being complacent. As much as we need mentors and role-models, to achieve success we must capitalize on our uniqueness. Fail. Learn. Improve. This is the virtuous cycle that will guide your self-improvement journey.

Activate Your GPS

Success means associating yourself with the right people. Those who listen, energize, and boost your spirit. I call them GPS (Great People Solely). A myriad of studies have showed the significant effects our social circles have on our beliefs, attitudes, actions, and overall well-being. Plato, at the peak of the Greek Empire, noted, “what is honored in a country will be cultivated there.” Psychologist Emma Seppälä, Ph.D. noted, “we are wired for empathy.” Another study shows that we’re 57 percent to be obese if we hang out around overweight folks. So, from today, start building a social village with people who share your vision, interests, and are energy-givers. Well, activate your GPS.

Cultivate a Bias for Action

“I will start tomorrow.” Sounds familiar? Taking action can be the most daunting aspect of success. Fear of failure, procrastination, complacency among many others stop us from beginning. While there are several ways to initiate actions, the following two techniques are an effective starting point. First, be fully present. Excessive focus on the past or the future will generate frustration and cause paralysis by analysis. Second, salami slice your herculean goal into more manageable tasks. You want to create a portfolio of macro and micro-goals strategically linked. Your long-term goals should excite you, while your short-range goals are evidence of progress. Think of an aim you’ve been putting off; write your next step. Don’t continue until you have written it down.

I am going to…

“A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

Lao Tzu

Be Flexible

“Where attention goes, energy flows” is a popular saying to help us focus on our goals. Despite its usefulness to goal setting and success, this advice can do more harm than good. Single-mindedly focusing on a goal as if it’s a must-have may create tunnel vision detrimental to progress. The ambiguous and complex nature of goal setting demands openness and flexibility.

Some are fortunate to discover their calling early, but many don’t. For countless, finding our true north requires us to navigate several paths. Thus, we must embrace a result-oriented and process-oriented mindset. While we deliberately choose a goal, we should keep our aperture open to opportunities. For instance, Dr. Clayton Christensen’s career in academia is the perfect example of an emergent strategy. Having been rejected by the Wall Street Journal, he took a different opportunity that eventually led to teaching. Therefore, I think a better advice is to be “strategic” in your goal-setting endeavor.

Be Persistent

Having a clear, compelling goal does not guarantee a smooth ride, nor does it exempt you from failing. It’s necessary for you to remember that outstanding talents, inordinate amounts of time, and effort do not bulletproof you from temporary defeats. Failure is an option, quitting is not. The bleak moments that accompany success exist to strengthen, not to weaken you. Be persistent. Failure is neither pervasive nor permanent, but temporary setbacks to make us shine brighter. Keeping your eyes on the prize in the face of adversity will make every day count, every action meaningful.

The enjoyment of a splendid piece of music comes from listening to it, not looking at the score. This article is neither comprehensive nor normative; it results from my obsession with helping others set, reach, and maintain their goals. How much my article succeeds depends on your willingness to experience these principles in your own unique way.

GOAL-SETTING PLEDGE: Today, I DECIDE that my life will never be the same. I will use my past successes to help me improve myself. I will activate my GPS, I will be flexible, I will be persistent, and I will keep my overarching goal up front in every action I take. I am confident I will reach the full flower of my potential.

Schedule a free consultation with me for any inquiries regarding 121 leadership, personal development, and communication coaching. You can also connect with me via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Until then, stay healthy, stay busy, stay happy.

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My first book is out! I designed this book to help individuals create lasting life changes. Unlike popular beliefs, I revealed exactly how we can achieve success without sacrificing our health, peace of mind, and relationships with loved ones. I am humbled by the enormous support I have received since I launched this book. Grab an ebook version or a paperback version on Amazon.

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