Are there any rules to success?
Like, wouldn’t it be great if you could have a playbook that tells you exactly what to do to achieve your goals and tick every dream off your bucket list?
And yet… your dreams and definition of success may be completely different from mine, your BFF or a stranger. An one-size fits all playbook to success wouldn’t do.
We all have our own unique paths to walk to achieve our wildest dreams. But I do believe there are a small set of “success rules” that are universal and can be applied to everyone and every situation.
Break them at your own risk:
1. Love What You Do
Are you really successful if you hate what you do?
I remember when I started freelance writing. I thought that if I were able to pay all my bills I could call myself successful. But when I reached my goals – surpassed it even – I didn’t feel successful at all. I felt miserable.
On the outside, I had all the trappings of success. I was making a good income that allowed me to rent a flat in one of the most expensive cities in the world, had a small collection of designer clothes and stayed at 4 star hotels on my holidays.
On the inside, the work wasn’t fulfilling me. I became a writer so that I could use my voice to inspire women to live life on their own terms, not to sell them a bunch of products they don’t need. When I realised my work was making me so stressed, I was lashing out at my partner for no reason, ignoring calls from clients and struggling to string a few words together, I knew it was time to quit.
When I did, the fire within me lit up again. It didn’t matter if I had to stay up till the wee hours of the morning to finish a task, work on a project for free or give up shopping so I could invest my money in my new ventures. I was willing to make any sacrifice to make my new dream come true.
That’s the lesson I learned the hard way: when you truly love what you do, you won’t stop at anything.
Related: The Key To Finding Your Passion
2. Take Risks
Making your dreams come true is risky business. How do you know if your business will be successful, your book will become a bestseller or your dream company will give you your dream job?
You don’t. No one can guarantee you a smooth ride to success. But I can guarantee you that if you don’t give it a shot, you’ll be wondering “What if?” for the rest of your life.
I should know. I had been dreaming of moving to London and become a writer for years but I always had plenty of excuses why it wasn’t the right time. My boyfriend doesn’t want to come. I don’t know anyone there. London is too expensive.
Deep down, I was just terrified of failing. So, I stayed put in my hometown. Kept playing it small. Do the same boring things every day. Until the fear that’d be all life would ever have in store for me became bigger than the fear of failing.
That’s when I took the risk and jumped on that one-way flight to London with only a pink carry-on bag. It was the best thing I ever did.
I didn’t land in London and became an overnight success overnight. There were lots of sleepless nights when I worried how I would be paying rent the next month, times when I cried myself to sleep because I was so lonely and months when all I could afford to eat were noodles and frozen pizzas. And then my dream came true only to turn into a nightmare.
But I’ve learned that risks pay off – even when you fail.
If you don’t take risks, you stay stuck. You do the same old things you always did. You never grow.
But if you take a risk, you move forward. If you succeed, amazing! If you fail, you’ll learn what you did wrong so you can tweak your approach until you make it.
That’s how dreams come true.
3. Play To Your Strengths
If it were up to me, I’d spend my days writing, writing and writing some more. But there’s a lot more to being a writer than penning articles and books (at least, there is if you want you writing to pay the bills). You also need to market your work, find an audience, create a website, learn public speaking…
A lot of those things I’m not good at. Like social media. I’m a reserved person who doesn’t understand why people are interested in what I have for dinner so my efforts there have often fallen short. I couldn’t crack the social media code and it was frustrating me to no end. Plus, I wasted so much time on it just to see a minimal improvement.
That’s why as soon as I could, I hired someone to help me with social media. With that taken care of, I can focus on what I do best – writing articles that inspire women to live life on their own terms.
I’m sure you can relate. Any job requires hundreds of mini skills. Trying to master them all is a waste of time. Instead, figure out what you’re good at, double down on that and delegate the rest.
You’ll reach your goal that much faster.
4. Build Your Network
I hate networking. There, I said it.
I’m the kind of person who prefers to spend my evenings lying in bed with a good job than walking into a room full of strangers. Yet, tomorrow night I’m forcing myself to do just that. Why?
Because I can’t make my dreams come true on my own – and neither can you. Making your dreams come true takes a village.
You need mentors who believe in you and give you the right advice to speed up your journey. Employees and contractors who help you bring your vision into reality. Influencers that help you put your name/brand on the market. Friends who can tell you about new opportunities and job openings in your industry before everyone else knows about them.
How else are you gonna meet all these people if you don’t network? So go out there and talk to anyone. You never know who can help you make your dreams come true.
P.S. The key to successful networking is to be genuine and give, give, give before you take. When you help others, they’ll want to help you in return.
5. Work Hard… On The Right Things
I remember when I started my first blog. I was publishing two articles a day, every day. It was exhausting but I thought the more articles I published, the faster I’d grow.
It didn’t work out that way. A lot of the articles I was churning out were poorly written, barely scratched the surface of a topic and didn’t provide any useful information. I just wrote them so I could fill my quota for the day.
When someone suggested I cut back to writing only 3 articles a week, I thought they were insane. Wouldn’t that cut my traffic in half?
Quite the opposite. When I tried it, my traffic skyrocketed. Rather than waste my time on stuff no one was reading, I started writing long, informative, evergreen articles both readers and search engines love. I also had a lot of time to spare to do social media and other marketing activities to promote my blog.
I was still working hard on the blog – I literally spent every little bit of free time I had on it – but now I was working on the right things, the things that helped me grow and move the needle forward.
So if you’re frustrated because your efforts aren’t going anywhere, ask yourself, “are you working hard on the right things or are you just working hard?”
One will lead you to burn out. The other to your dreams.
Related: When More Hustling Isn’t The Answer
Over to you, now. What are your rules for success? Share them in the comments below.