7 Steps to Success That Most People Aren’t Willing to Learn or Utilize

Making changes that will lead you to success in any area is tough work. Whether your goal is to lose weight, pay off your mortgage or reach that million dollar mark in your investment account, a daunting goal is hard for most people to hold on to.

In this world of “I want it now and I shall have it now!” we’ve become offended at the suggestion of waiting for more – and often at the suggestion we work our tails off.

Big Goals that Lead to Success Are Hard to Reach

Working on ginormous goals is not easy. We live on a small hobby farm with several dozen trees on the front half of the land and bona fide woods in the back of the land.

When we had a tornado come through last week (a “small” one; an EF-1) it didn’t touch our animals, buildings or our family (thank God) but it did take down four really large trees in the yard and another several back in the woods.

Looking at the mess when I got up that morning (the twister had come through at 2:30 a.m. and we had very little idea it was any more than a severe storm) I start having an honest-to-goodness anxiety attack.

We’ll likely all agree that life is busy as heck with normal, day-to-day routine stuff. Ask us to throw in a massive “extra” job like cutting down and disposing of 4 humongous trees, and it’s enough to make anyone go off the deep end.

The problem is that much of the “busy” we’re all so swamped with is not doing anything to really improve our quality of life. Yet we still do it, and it still hinders us from achieving our dreams, because it takes away our drive to work hard for the things we truly want.

So the question you need to ask yourself is: are you truly committed to creating the life of your dreams? If you want to truly live the life of your dreams, you’ve got to commit to taking these seven steps. Are you ready?

Step #1: Be Willing to Dig Deep and Uncover the Truth

You can’t take steps to live your dream life unless you know what your dream life really is. While if asked on a whim you might spurt out “a million dollars and a house on the beach”, I urge you to do what successful people do and dig deeper.

Rick and I had to do that a couple of years back. Decades of unresolved pain from childhood traumas had clouded our heads and damaged our hearts. We were running away from those hurts while trying to keep our heads above water in life, but eventually everything came to a head and we both had to face some truths.

After some help and healing, the smoke cleared and we were able to truly discover who we were as individuals and as a couple. This exercise (a long and drawn out one, I’ll warn you) enabled us to sit down and figure out what our real dreams were. Among the answers:

  • a house with more land
  • total debt freedom
  • priorities on family/loved ones instead of “stuff” and “work”

What we learned about our goal of debt freedom was interesting. After months of work, we realized that we didn’t want debt freedom so we could have more money to spend (this is what we had previously thought).

Instead, we wanted debt freedom so we had less money we HAD to spend and the ability to make changes as we saw fit because we didn’t need income as much as we wanted income.

While this might seem like a small revelation, it had a profound change on how we viewed the sacrifices we are making as we get out of debt. Those sacrifices seemed burdensome before. Now they feel SO FREEING. Each dime we pay toward debt, or save, or choose not to spend, evokes a “WOOHOO!” from everyone as we see our finish line to freedom getting closer and closer.

When you discover WHY you want something – I mean why you REALLY want something, you’ll have an abundantly greater reserve of motivation to get you through the tough times as you work toward your goals.

Step #2: Decide Whether or Not You Can Live With Mediocrity

It’s time to envision your future. Think about the next 5, 10, 20, 40 or 50 years. Are you okay with living those years in mediocrity, or does the thought of not fulfilling your dreams make you nauseous?

Successful people can’t stand the thought of living with mediocrity. They have a burning desire in their hearts to achieve their dreams. Without that burning desire, you’ll never put in the work that needs to be done to get there.

If you can live with mediocrity that’s okay, but if you decide you can’t, get moving and do something different.

Recommended Reading: Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals

Step #3: Teach Yourself to Believe That You Deserve to Be Successful

Many people fail to be successful because they don’t believe they deserve to be successful. Their minds are filled with negative messages such as:

  • You’ll NEVER do better
  • You’ll ALWAYS be broke
  • You’re DESTINED to be a failure

Don’t let these types of lies permeate your mind. Life is a series of choices, my friend. Choose to believe you deserve your dreams, because you DO. Choose to re-train your mind with messages of encouragement and motivation, and cleanse your mind from negativity, self-pity and doubt.

Recommended Reading: Money Love

Step #4: Accept That Success Will Require Hard Work and Commit to Putting in the Effort

Success doesn’t just “happen”. The Warren Buffetts and Sam Waltons of the world worked their tails off to get what they have.

I remember years ago, long before I knew that I could achieve – and deserved to achieve – debt freedom, taking a mortgage application from a 40-something married father of four. The guy made $500,000 a year.

That is a colossal amount of money, so I asked the guy (I’m blatantly honest like this) “Do you have to be away from your family a lot to make that kind of money?”

He said, “I did when I was younger, but I worked my tail off for several years and now I have a team under me that does the selling, and I train them and act as their support system and make commission off of their sales.”

It’s a simple matter of living like Dave Ramsey says: “Live like no one else will live, so that later you can live like no one else lives.”

In other words, be willing to work ridiculously hard at achieving your goals so that you can relax once you’re there.

In debt payoff, it’s about being ridiculously frugal with your money as you work your tail off to maximize your income so that you can be debt free and enjoying life in a relatively short matter of time.

The time you spend being crazy frugal and working your tail off will be tough, but it will be worth in when you no longer have to pay those creditors each month and you have thousands in surplus income to play with each month.

Recommended Reading: 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness: Power Ideas from America’s Foremost Business Philosopher

Step #5: Accept That Discipline in All Areas Matters

When you are working to be successful in your business, in debt payoff or whatever, it’s important to know that you can’t be disciplined in one area, be a slacker in all of the others and expect success to come.

For example, if you want success in debt payoff it will help you exponentially if you eat well and exercise because you will have the energy and strength you need to work more and spend less.

Or if you want to be successful in real estate you’ve got to spend time educating yourself in a plethora of related areas such as business ownership and networking.

Successful people are people who are disciplined in general.

Step #6: Be Willing to Face and Conquer Resistance and Temptation

Once you make your mind up to set out to be successful, I can promise you without a doubt that resistance and temptation will come. As the old saying goes:

“At first they’ll ask you why you’re doing it. Later they’ll ask you how you did it.”

When you first set out to accomplish your bigger-than-big goal, people will ridicule you, make fun of you and shake their heads at you. They’ll tell you it’s not possible or it’s not worth it.

And you’ll be tempted to get off track by new and shiny things. You’ll go through periods where you’re sick and tired of working and sacrificing and you’ll be tempted to stop at “good enough“.

It’s human nature for people to try and keep others from doing great things. I’m not really sure why this is, exactly, but I know it’s not always out of jealousy or hate. Sometimes people will try and keep you from reaching big goals because they don’t want to see you get hurt if you fail.

Other times they think they know what you want better than you do.

And your own mind will be just as big of a naysayer as the people around you will. It will be tempting to settle for “good enough”, especially when you’re at the half way point and you’ve worked so hard to get there.

It’s at this point that you need to decide whether you’re going to let the crowd pull you in, or whether you’re going to commit to rising above the crowd to get what you want. It’s the “knowing” that this will happen that will allow you to recognize and overcome sabotaging attitudes.

Know that you will have to be committed to facing and resisting naysayers and temptation if you truly want to reach your goals.

Recommended Reading: Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want

Step #7: Be Willing to Finish the Race – No Matter How Long it Takes

Successful people know that this one difference is key between success and failure: perseverance. Success isn’t about not failing. It’s about getting up and moving forward even after you’ve failed. Even after you’ve failed a thousand and one times.

Those who have achieved success commit to finishing the race – no matter how long it takes.

I’ll be the first to admit that perseverance is tough stuff. In our journey toward debt freedom (we’re not quite there yet) we’ve had many setbacks. Family emergencies. Major car repairs. A new roof that was needed for our house and a $1200 repair on our air conditioning unit (hey, at least it was cheaper than the $7k replacement cost!).

When major setbacks come along to smack the motivation out of you, it’s hard to persevere. You start entertaining thoughts of giving up. Your mind works to convince you that you’re really not any worse off than anyone else or that how far you’ve come is far enough.

If what you’ve accomplished so far is truly good enough in your eyes, that’s great. Pat yourself on the back for what you’ve done, be proud that you’ve finished the 5k and forget about finishing the full marathon.

However, if you’re not going to be truly, truly happy with the 5k run, get up, dust yourself off and keep running. Make lists, charts, celebratory plans or whatever else you have to do to motivate yourself to keep working toward your goal. Count your steps if you have to.

They say that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Well, just start walking and don’t stop until you are completely satisfied with how far you’ve come. Then  and only then can you think about throwing in the towel.

But you might be happier if you force yourself to run that full 26.2 miles. Only you know the answer to that question, however.

It’s about what truly makes you feel happy and fulfilled.

I pray that you give yourself the success you deserve by not settling for less and instead discovering and achieving your true dreams.

29 comments

  1. This is a great list. Each item here takes hard work, patience and commitment, each of which can be quite hard to start and even harder at times to stick to. Thank you for the book recommendations!

  2. Great post. I really like the list you have here and it’s something that everyone should go over and think about. The first one is the most important step…you really have to be introspective and figure out what you truly want. The second one is also a good one. Too often we settle for mediocrity. Maybe we think that that’s just what everyone else is doing so it’s fine or that it’s too hard to get out of that rut, but with hard work and determination, it can be done.

    • Laurie says:

      I remember for years we never made any progress on our debt because we were so preoccupied with patting ourselves on the back because we had less debt and less wasteful spending than other people. That attitude severely hindered our ability to build wealth!

    • Laurie says:

      I agree!! Our instant gratification, technologically advanced world has encouraged many to take the easy route, and that’s not always the best route!

  3. Definitely hits home – perseverance, and knowing exactly what you want and why you want it are the most important to me. And mentality has a lot to do with it too, especially when people are questioning you and why you’re doing what you are.

  4. Wow! Such a good dose of motivation, Laurie! “Successful people are people who are disciplined in general.” That is something I’ve recently come to recognize. I struggle with discipline in my eating (sugar) and in my house-keeping (clutter). I know that neither one is directly related to money management, but I expect that as I work on them, there will be a ripple effect in my finances. Fitness (specifically planking) had the ripple effect of making me excited to save money. The balanced, steady, patient work that went behind the plank extended to our finances. Have I completely lost it? Or does that make sense? Anyway, I’m all about becoming more disciplined. (And it’s a fruit of the Spirit – self-control.)

  5. Mrs. Groovy says:

    All the items on your list are important but developing discipline might be the easiest way to take a transformative step. You can decide to change, break, or assume a new habit in the blink of an eye. I think many of us need to claim our small victories where we can, while working on our larger goals and purpose.

    • Laurie says:

      Deciding is one thing – doing it is another. I think that’s where people have trouble, but when, as you pointed out, you claim those small victories, that motivates us to work on bigger goals. Great comment, my friend!

  6. Happy the tornado didn’t do more damage and I hope you’re making headway on the cleanup. I can only imagine…

    I love this list. #1, in particular, stood out to me. I don’t think I always dig deep enough. But, lately, I’ve been thinking deeper and looking at more of the “whys” behind my “whys”, if you know what I mean. For example, I want to achieve FI in the next decade, but why? What is it that I really want? Is it security, time, freedom? Sure, all of the above. But I need to go deeper! I don’t have all the answers yet, but I think it will help me understand more of what I need to do if I explore more thoroughly.

  7. Very very good list. Step one is so important. I can’t remember the exact quote from Stephen Covey but it is something like

    “Don’t spend your life climbing the ladder of success only to find out it was leaning against the wrong wall”

    You gotta know deep down what you after and typically it isn’t stuff. How did you guys find your truth? Just through conversation or did you attend a class or use a specific book?

  8. I love this so much, Laurie! It took me a long time to figure out the “why” behind my goals and how I want to live my life too. To be completely honest, I’m not 100% there yet but I’m getting much closer every time I push myself to dig a bit deeper. Many of us seek lives we think we want (often times because we’re following the herd and societal expectations) but there is some sort of disconnect, ya know. I felt that way for many years. Where I thought I knew “why” but it didn’t resonant with me. And I think it absolutely must so that it becomes freeing the way it has to you and Rick. When not a must or something you do begrudgingly but with so much joy.

    And finally – OMG! I didn’t realize you hit got hit by a tornado. How scary!!! I’m glad everyone is okay and sorry about the big mess you have to clean. My parents had a bad hailstorm hit them a couple weeks back, and it did a number on their crops. My Dad says the beans were perking up a bit, so he is hopeful that it won’t be a complete loss.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh no! Hailstorms are horrible for farm crops!! I hope they recover okay! Yes, it was very surreal. 🙂 Luckily it wasn’t a horrible one, but it was an experience to say the least. 🙂

  9. Awesome!

    Discipline is often said but its so hard to convey the true power of discipline. Wasting 30-60 minutes per day is easy. So easy. Incredibly easy.

    Checking your phone every 10 minutes. A slightly longer lunch. Going to bed 20 minutes later. These things add up quickly. Discipline lets you harness this wasted time and put it toward more useful activities. Having an extra hour per day is huge!

    • Laurie says:

      Great point, Owen!!!! You are so right about how easy it is to waste time that can be used to work toward goals. Thanks for pointing that out!

  10. Josh says:

    Great points in #1. My wife likes to talk about “the victim mentality.”
    It can be real easy for us to say we want to improve or “have a million dollars and a beach house” as you mentioned, but, it’s real easy for us to just sit back and make excuses because of our past.

    I appreciate how you and Rick have shared your past and how it has influenced your present and future decision making. Too many of us, myself included, don’t live to our full potential because we still focus on the past. Meeting my wife was a real blessing in many ways.

  11. Vantucky Vegan says:

    Love this list and your blog! Thanks for the book list as this is just what I’ve been looking for. 🙂

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