If you want greater success in any area, these ten questions will help you deconstruct your pursuit and your plan. These ten questions that point you towards success sound simple when you first hear them but answering them proves difficult. The answers, however, provide you with a definite direction about what you need to do to find your success.
- Do You Know What You Want: Your idea of success is your own? It doesn’t matter how other people define success, but it matters a great deal what the word means to you. One way to think about success is to explore it by asking and answering the question, “What do you want?” This question provides clarity, especially when you apply it to every area of your life. Limiting the question to a single area of your life, like income, leaves too much ground uncovered. Your answers guide what you are going to do with the 4,160 weeks you have.
- Is What You Want Aligned with Your Identity: I know you are supposed to start with “why” but your “why” is really “who?” Who are you? What do you believe? What are your non-negotiable values? There may not be anything as potent as your identity when it comes to your beliefs and your behaviors. Does “what you want” allow you to be who you are becoming?
- Do You Have a Plan: Some of us believe our work is play and our life is our work? A lot of people plan their work without giving the same (or more) attention to planning their success in every area of their life. If you don’t have a plan to bring what you want into existence, your likelihood of success is negligible. Your written goals provide clarity about what you want, and your written plans give direction to achieving them. More still, a list of the disciplines you need to maintain will provide even stronger guidance. Is your plan in writing?
- Are You Disciplined About Doing the Work: You can answer the three question above in the affirmative and still fail to find success if you are not consistently doing the work. There are countless people who “want” success but far fewer who are willing to pay the price in full and in advance. Instead, they spend time looking for secrets, hacks, and tricks. But success is an auditor, and as such, it measures your effort, refusing to give you anything you haven’t earned. If there was a video camera monitoring your every activity, would it show you working on what you want?
- Is Enough or Your Time Spent on the Right Things: It is possible to work very hard without producing the result you want. If you are not spending your time on the very few things that produce those results, you will not create them. Twenty-percent of the activities produce eighty percent of your results. You have to invest your time and energy in the twenty-percent. The time you give to the distractions and the trivial robs you of the future you are building. Are you focused on what matters?
- Are You Using the Resources Available to You: We tend to get so focused that we fail to look up and see what other resources are available to us. We also overlook the people who might be able to help. If you haven’t made a list of resources available to you, you are most likely spending time doing things that might be more easily achieved in some other way or by some other person. By using the resources available to you, you speed the time it takes to produce a particular outcome. Are you getting everything you can from what’s available to you?
- Are You Addressing the Obstacles That Stunt Your Progress: There are some natural obstacles to success, including time, energy, and competing priorities. But other obstacles block your path forward. What’s stopping you? What’s not working? It is often necessary to identify and remove the barriers to progress towards what you want. If you leave the obstacles unaddressed, they will slow—or halt—your progress. Are you eliminating the challenges?
- Do You measure Your Results: One always comes before two, and two always comes before three. If you do not measure your progress, it can feel like you are not moving forward. In all things, you want progress, not perfection. Measuring your progress helps you maintain your focus and motivation. Looking back on your progress inspires you and sustains your effort over long periods, and it can also help support you when you plateau. Are you moving closer to what you want?
- Are You Making Adjustments: Are you changing what you are doing and how you are doing it? If something isn’t producing the result you want now, or if it isn’t providing that result fast enough, are you making changes to improve what you are doing? It doesn’t matter how hard you work with an approach that doesn’t produce the result you want. Nor does it matter how much you want what you are doing to work, if it isn’t working, you need to make adjustments. Is there another way? Is there a better way?
- Is Your Determination Making You Persist: Too many give up too soon. If you desire what you profess to want, you have to work at over time. Success avoids people who give up on what they want. It never gives itself to people who aren’t willing to persist. Mediocrity is available to anyone willing to settle, to give up what they want because it’s difficult and takes more time than they wish. One of the variables of success is intestinal fortitude, the courage to persist and gut it out. Are you determined, and are you persisting?
Your idea of success may not match anyone else’s. It doesn’t have to, nor should it. The principles of success, however, don’t change by person, time, or place. Let these questions point you towards success.
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