Success comes in many different flavors. But there are some common threads that run through each and every success anyone has.
Whatever success look like to you, it won’t always come easy. You will likely face some challenges along the way.
Some of the biggest challenges are those things that you must start doing for yourself, even if they don’t come naturally.
Here are 13 things that you’re going to have to get comfortable doing if you want to lead a life you can be proud of.
1. Start taking ownership of your life.
There is the life that happens to you and the life that you make happen. You must focus on the latter.
This means taking ownership of things and being accountable to yourself for what you choose to do or not do.
You need to start focusing on the things you can control, the levers you can pull to change the way situations play out. You have way more power than you give yourself credit for, and you must begin to direct that power toward your goals, dreams, and ideal outcomes.
No more making excuses. No more living in ignorance. No more wishing for the best and leaving things down to chance.
2. Start making sacrifices.
Success often comes at a price in terms of the things you must give up in order to achieve it. It’s virtually impossible to keep everything going if you want to reach a particular level at something or realize a goal or dream that is important to you.
You only have so much time in each day, and you must choose wisely how you spend that time. No matter what you want to succeed at, it must become one of your top priorities in life. Other things that are less essential may get pushed out altogether. This could include certain hobbies, people, or commitments.
This is why it is essential that you truly, honestly want the thing you are aiming for. Your goal or dream has to be worth the sacrifice to you or you won’t give it your all in the long term.
3. Start being consistent.
Often, success requires practice—and lots of it. Success rarely happens overnight; it takes time and dedication. It all boils down to consistency. Consistency of effort. Consistency of application. Consistency of mindset.
Continued effort over a long period of time dramatically increases your chances of success. But it’s hard to do. So many people give up just before a breakthrough because they aren’t seeing the results they want to see.
You must persevere and be consistent. You must keep taking the actions that will lead you to where you want to go, no matter how difficult it might feel to keep pushing yourself day after day.
4. Start facing your problems head on.
You will face problems of all kinds in your life. Those problems aren’t likely to go away by themselves. And while a problem remains unresolved, it hangs over you like a cloud, sapping you of your energy and focus.
As difficult as it can be, you must try to tackle each problem as soon as you can after it pops into your life.
The time and energy it takes to find a solution might seem like a waste when there are so many other things you could be doing, but know that you will not be working at your optimal mental level until your mind is free to focus on the task at hand. And your focus will be split if you leave problems to linger and fester.
Tackle the problem, put it to rest, and then come back to the things that contribute to your success.
5. Start to re-evaluate what’s not working.
As we’ve established, consistency is important if you want to succeed. But you don’t have to stubbornly follow a single path to get where you want to go. Sometimes, things just won’t click for you, and you might need to find a different way of achieving the outcome you desire.
When you notice that what you’re doing isn’t bringing you closer to your vision of success, take a closer look at why it’s not working. What obstacles are standing in your way? Are you lacking the drive and motivation for this particular thing? Are you just struggling to master a particular skill?
Learn the lessons from the difficulties you are having, and see if there is an alternative path that you might take that leads to the same or similar outcome you are aiming for.
Sometimes, the new path will look very different from the one you were treading initially, and the outcome might not be quite what you expect, but trust your intuition if the new path feels more suited to you.
6. Start pushing beyond your comfort zone.
In order to achieve something you’ve never achieved before, you have to take action you have never taken before. This is precisely what it means to push beyond your comfort zone.
As hard as it can be to face something new and unknown, you will need to if you are to reach the goal you are aiming for. You can’t expect to change your life in positive and healthy ways if you remain glued to the spot, unwilling to move.
Outside of your comfort zone is a whole heap of discomfort. You will have to do things that challenge you, things that scare you, things that you might have doubts about. You will need to face fears and overcome barriers to your development and growth.
7. Start being kind to yourself.
Many people find it hard to show themselves the same kindness they show to others. They treat themselves poorly, they beat themselves up when they make mistakes, they talk themselves down.
If you do these things, you are going to have to stop. You aren’t likely to succeed in your goals and dreams if you are continually being unkind to yourself.
In the moments where you feel less than’ or like a failure, you must force your mind to softer, more compassionate thoughts. You must remind yourself that you are human: imperfect, but full of many great qualities nonetheless. You are worthy of success, you deserve happiness and peace, you have it within you to keep going and do better.
The mental side of success is half the battle. A kinder mindset encourages strength, clarity of thought, creativity, and so much more.
And remember: good is often enough. Perfection doesn’t exist.
8. Start believing in yourself.
If you believe you can do something, you’ll often find a way to do it. If you believe you can’t do something, you’ll find a way to sabotage your efforts and give in.
Self-belief can be grown in many different ways. One of the most effective is to recognize all the times where you have achieved things, and the effort and determination that you had to put in. You have a track record of success, whether you realize it or not. You have succeeded in so many things, you have overcome difficulties, you have set and reached goals implicitly over and over.
Whenever you feel like you are struggling, tell yourself that you can do it. Heck, why not start each day by looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself how much you believe in you. Make it a part of your mindset and it will help you overcome the obstacles you come across.
9. Start being authentically you.
No matter what you are aiming for, success will not taste as sweet as it might if you achieve it by wearing a mask or playing a role. Only when you live and act authentically will you feel the sense of joy at reaching the desired outcome.
And when it comes to desired outcomes, make sure that it is your desire and not someone else’s desire that shapes your actions. If you are trying to succeed at something to make someone else happy or proud, chances are you will not feel much happiness of your own, even if you hit all your targets.
Set authentic goals. Take authentic action. Be your authentic self. Be unapologetically you. This may mean that you upset some people. You may even lose a few from your life if they can’t be happy for who you are or what you want to achieve. But this is a price worth paying to enjoy the freedom of expression that authenticity brings.
10. Start standing up for what you believe in.
Part of being authentic is knowing what you stand for and being willing to fight for it. The journey begins by getting to know yourself, your inner world, your values, your beliefs, your wants and wishes.
You need to know what’s important to you and why. Then, and only then, can you take a stand and live your life in harmony with those things. You will discover an almost endless source of motivation and energy in living true to yourself.
And, yes, it will sometimes be hard. You might face conflict and resistance because not everyone will agree with what you stand for. But if it maters to you, it’s worth the disagreements. Again, it might lead to certain people no longer being a part of your life, whether through your choice or theirs.
11. Start trusting others.
Your success—whatever that may be—may involve other people. This requires a certain level of trust in them. You need to trust that they can do what they say they will do to the required standard. You need to trust that they aren’t going to screw you over. You need to trust that they are invested in the outcome and want to see you succeed.
You may need to delegate some things to other people to free up your time and energy for the tasks that matter the most. This is challenge, a huge one for some people. You have to be willing to let go of control and trust that things will not fall apart just because you are not doing it all yourself.
The truth is, there will come a point where you are trying to keep too many plates spinning and some will inevitably crash to the ground. You’ll realize that it’s better to trust someone else to take care of some of those plates so that they all keep spinning indefinitely.
12. Start investing in yourself.
You might not have everything you need to find the success you want in life. That doesn’t mean you can have those things. You just need to invest in yourself, in your skills, in your understanding of things, in your willingness to do what needs to be done.
Learning how to invest in yourself is itself a challenge for many. It’s hard to look to the future and focus on improving that future when you’re faced with so many responsibilities in the present. You may feel like you just don’t have the time. But your future is worth the time. And remember, success requires sacrifice.
Whether it’s learning to do something, maintaining good mental health, or surrounding yourself with people who can help you achieve your dreams, be willing to put the time—and sometimes money— into it.
13. Start taking a day off just for you.
As hard as you may sometimes need to push yourself to create the kind of life and outcomes you want, you must never push harder than your body or mind can take. That path leads to ruin.
Instead, you must ensure that, when your fuel reserves begin to run low, you fill up the tanks again by taking a day purely to focus on yourself and your well-being.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is actually an easy thing to do and that it shouldn’t be on this list. If it were easy to prioritize self-care and rejuvenation, there would be no burnout, no feeling of overwhelm, no sense of dread at the long list of duties you’ve got to perform. Yet, these things are something we all experience at some point.
So, rather than wait for them to take hold of you, sweep everything else to one side for a day—or as long as you can feasibly manage—and do things that revitalize your body, mind, and soul. Don’t feel guilty for it. Don’t feel like you can’t afford to—you can’t afford NOT to!