10 Keys to Success in Life

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Do you want to know what leads one person to achieve success in life over another? After doing a lot of research on success in life, we’ve come up with 10 Keys to Success in Life. Whatever your goals, these 10 keys have been identified as essential to achieving successful outcomes.

Here at Finally Family Homes, it’s our mission to lead youth who have the odds stacked against them to success. In order to do that well, we must first identify what determines success in life. What is the secret sauce of success?

What is Success in Life?

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Before we explore these 10 keys to success in life, it’s important to have clarity on your definition of success. To succeed means to accomplish a goal. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you’ll never know when you’ve succeeded.

Having “success in life” can look very differently for each person, depending on your particular goals. It’s important to choose goals that specifically move you towards the future you have in mind for yourself. If are meant to be a yoga teacher, you’d probably be disappointed in life as a “successful” investment banker.

If you don't know what you're aiming for, you'll never know when you've succeeded. #successtips #success Click To Tweet

Most people would define success in life as including some measure of happiness. So don’t overlook goals that will support a happier life. Prioritizing relationships, physical health, safety, contributing to others, and creative expression have been shown to improve feelings of happiness.

Whatever your goals, these keys are the tools, habits, or pathways that will help you to achieve success, however you define it.

1st Key: Make A Plan

The very first key is planning for success. This means having a clear picture of what a successful life looks like to you and putting together a well-defined plan to get you to that life.

Planning well starts with figuring out what you want and writing it down in detail.  This is the foundation for your plan. From there, set up the goals, step by step, that will get you to this life.

2nd Key: Prepare for the Unexpected

Many of the best laid plans have been derailed by a single misstep. It’s no accident we chose this as the 2nd of the 10 keys to success in life. Preparing for the unexpected can make the difference between your plans ending in failure or succeeding despite a bump in the road.

So how do you prepare for the unexpected? Start by making a list of things that could go wrong in your plan. Then create workarounds and back ups for each potential problem. Even when I’m driving a route I know well, I usually keep my GPS up and running to help me navigate traffic jams, construction, or missed turns.

3rd Key: Develop Good Habits  

You can have big dreams, great goals, and still fail. Success requires turning knowledge into action. It means repeatedly taking action towards your goals. Repeated actions become habits. And once you form the right habits, you create momentum.

Creating systems for your life as you are forming good habits can help you to stay on track. You can build systems by grouping good habits together. Having a system in place can keep you from having to make decisions on the fly or keep track of doing all your goal-oriented tasks one-by-one.

Instead, you follow an intentional daily pattern that moves you towards your goals with less stress.  This has the added benefits of reducing stress and freeing your attention to focus on the things that truly require more brain power.

4th Key: Prioritize Your Goals

As you create your systems and put your good habits into practice, you’ll probably find there isn’t enough time in each day to work towards every goal. Prioritizing goals will help you figure out which things on your to do first or spend more time on.  

If you’re not sure how to prioritize goals, it may help to apply some techniques like a numerical ranking system or the Eisenhower Matrix. Prioritizing your goals also means not letting things that never even made your list get in front of pursuing what did. In other words, don’t let talking to a telemarketer derail your plan to clean the house.  

5th Key: Learn from Your Mistakes

They say “the road to success is paved with failure.” What they don’t say, is that each piece of failure on that road probably looks different than the other. Success most likely came by way of trying (and failing) many different ways. Yes, you can fail your way to success, but almost never by making the same mistake over and over.

image of a road and success quote - if at first you don't succeed, try another way

Failure is a part of the process of becoming successful, if you make it a teacher. Learning and growing after failure makes it useful.

For example, consider a runner. Every race a runner loses, they can may be moving forward. If they build up strength and try new running techniques, they will likely see progress. They may move up from 5th place to 3rd place to 2nd. Even though they aren’t first, each race is a part of the process of success, moving them closer to getting first place.

6th Key: Try Different Strategies

The road to success is not straight. There are stops and starts, turns and detours. Anyone who says they’ve got the exact path to success for you is probably lying. As the (creepy) saying goes, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Heck, there’s more than one way to get the meaning of that saying across. Let’s make up a newer more pet-friendly one – “There’s more than one way to peel a banana.”

Any way you put it, there’s more than one way to do – just about everything. So, if at first you don’t succeed, try another way.  Try a new strategy. Come at your goal from a new angle, at a different time, with a different person. There could in fact be many effective strategies. You just need to find the right one. The only way to find it is to keep changing and keep trying until you find one that works.

"If at first you don’t succeed, try another way." #successtips #LifeLessons Click To Tweet

7th Key: Take Smart Risks

As you try out different strategies, you may find that you’re trying something entirely new. It might feel scary. Admittedly, taking risks is intimidating, but taking smart risks can have big payoffs. Taking a smart or calculated risk means researching potential outcomes and determining what your chances of success are and if the payoff is worth risking the harm that could be done.

It takes time to develop good risk-taking skills. You may have a few painful failures as you figure out how to take calculated risks in life. It’s best to start out taking small risks. As you get better at it, you’ll probably become more comfortable. But don’t let your comfort be the only deciding factor. Often, taking a risk is the only way to achieve success.

8th Key: Learn from the Experts

While it’s true that there is no one path to success, a lot can be learned from studying other successful people.  Even better is to be mentored or to study directly under someone. Recorded history doesn’t always catch all the details and nuances.

Start with doing some research and study successful people who did something in the same realm of what you are striving to achieve. Want to innovate? Study innovators. Want to be a great painter? Study Van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso. Want to own a restaurant? Learn from someone who knows cooking and business. Watch what they do, take notes, and ask questions.

9th Key: Master How to Say No

I think our culture undervalues the importance of saying no. It can be uncomfortable. If you listen to interviews with successful people, you’ll probably hear them talk about turning down great opportunities they knew aren’t right for them.

Learning how to say no is an essential key to success in life. Successful people say no all the time. Saying no means knowing yourself, your boundaries, and being able to determine what is worth your time and energy. Saying no to the wrong thing leaves space to say yes to the right thing. It leaves room for the right opportunity.

10th Key: Invest in Relationships

While the saying, “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” may overstate the importance of relationships to success, it’s certainly not without merit. As a rule, investing in relationships is quite valuable. People are made to be in community. The benefits of being in a safe and encouraging community go beyond success in any one area of life.

There are many types of relationships that can boost your chances of success in life. For example, the relationship you need most may be a friend who has no “connections,” but supports you when times are tough.

Maybe the relationship you need is with a competitor, someone to challenge you and keep you sharp. In particular pursue a mentoring relationship, which can lead to networking opportunities and invaluable advice. We know that the lack of these relationships that can be the biggest gap between aged out foster youth and success.

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What Makes a Person Successful in Life?

These keys to success in life are not all or nothing. Odds are, the more you have, the better you will do as you try to figure out how to achieve success in life. And all of these keys or tools can be acquired and developed by anyone with enough time and grit.

It also bears mentioning that a successful life is not all about pursuing success. It is not consumed my delusions of grandeur.

Some of your most powerful and most meaningful moments will happen in the midst of failure and defeat. Some of the best memories can be made in the mundane. These are valuable too. Without a doubt, success in life also means developing the ability to be grateful and to find the nuggets of beauty in less glamorous times.

"Success in life also means developing the ability to be grateful and to find the nuggets of beauty in less glamorous times." #successtips #hope Click To Tweet

Ready to succeed? You may find these posts helpful next steps

How to Prepare for the Unexpected

How to Set Goals in Life

Tips to Manage Your Time Wisely

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Comments

  1. Investing in relationships is crucial in having success in life! We become who we spend the most time with so it is important that we seek out relationships with others who are successful in whatever area of life we are seeking. These types of relationships can mentor us and keep us focused on the right goals that are needed to achieve that success.

    1. Absolutely! And I think so much is picked up subconsciously too – just being around a person. I became interested in helping foster youth because I was around people who were doing it. I got to see the need and the example. And then there’s those who’ve laid down a path before you & can help you learn & navigate faster than you would ever on your own. 😉 Thanks LeeAnn!

  2. Relationships–yes! And learning from past mistakes for sure. I was a perfectionist (past tense), and good grief! That tendency will wrap you up and trip you. It’s so much better to soak in our imperfection (after all, Christ’s perfection is sufficient) and the lesson the hiccup houses. Great tips here. I’ll be pinning this for certain!

    1. Thanks Kristi!

      For sure – relationships are so key!! I feel you on the perfectionism! I’ve finally become convinced that perfectionism can actually undercut our success in life. Great point! Glad you are recovering too. 🙂

  3. I loved all your points, but the one about forming good habits is my favorite. Without them, it is easy to procrastinate and allow our great ideas to simply stagnate. Thank you for the tips! They all are helpful to me on this journey of writing. 🙂

    1. Thanks Marcie! I also am a big fan of creating good habits… they help me make good choices more easily. Even simple things like getting into the habit of always having a water bottle filled up and next to me in the morning – helps me stay on top of my hydration. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  4. I also love how you included relationships in this. God did not create us to be alone but to support, encourage, and challenge one another. I loved reading this and loved how practical you made it all!

    1. Thank you so much Melody! Yes – we are created for much more than our culture tells us. Even as we pursue spiritual growth these tips can be helpful! .. having mentors / disciplers, having a plan for how we face trials, etc. 🙂

    2. Really then tell me why God takes everything I try to away from me.

  5. These are all great tips to become more successful! Especially saying no has been tricky for me. It sometimes still is, but I’m working on it. It doesn’t help our cause to take too much on our plates, and it definitely doesn’t help if we take on the wrong task. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Yes… saying “no” is a challenge for me too! I’m a little more skilled now at saying no to the things I don’t actually want to do or that are poor choices – it’s the good things that are hard to say no to- when maybe “no” is the right answer! I think the more responsibility you have, the more you have to say “no” to good things that are not the right now things. Thank you!

  6. Ummm…YES! All of this! I had to look twice at #2 because we don’t like to look at what could go wrong. But I can see this is a crucial step. A hard step, but crucial. I really enjoy #3 and #4 though! These speak to so many areas of our lives! And it ties quite well into the post I just wrote! Thanks for all the advice on this! I love it and am pinning it for later!

    1. Thanks Stacey! I just watched the short series on Bill Gates on Netflix. Pretty fascinating from a success perspective (of course!). I don’t want to give too much away – but it reviewed some significant derailments he’s dealt with in his nonprofit work. Some, he certainly didn’t see coming and hasn’t overcome, yet. We can’t avoid all the trials, but the better prepared we are, the better our odds of success!

  7. Wow, this article is awesome, All the points are very good, I have to as say that above all goals to succeed putting God first ahead all goals is also important, a man or people try to succeed in life, definitely he succeeded at the end God the creator of heaven and earth did not give him power to enjoyed all that the person struggled for, that’s why a lot of people labour for nothing or for their children who comes after them to mess up all they’ve labour for; so therefore a success without a successor is failure in disguise.
    A wise man leave an inheritance for his children children.

    1. I agree with you there, Benjamin. These goals are meant to be a bit more abstract – so that they can apply to pursuits of faith as well! Ask, seek, knock, .. be persistent in seeking God. Prioritize things like prayer, reading the Bible, etc. Take smart risks (step out in faith)… learn from the experts (theologians, mentors, pastors)…

      And yet, as you mention, in the end.. all our efforts and right strategies do not guarantee a thing. They are helpful though as we pursue doing our part to live well and honor God.

  8. Mentorship has been something I’ve really embraced these last few years and I can testify to its success in aiding success! Great post, with true pointers to success. There’s work on our part, always, and you’ve captured it well. Bless you my friend xx

    1. Thanks Chrissie. Mentorship is really important – especially for former foster youth, who often are less connected to supportive adults than the rest of the population. We hope our posts can help give ideas and encouragement to mentors and others who support young adults in their endeavors to become successful in life!

  9. I wrote all if these down to reference in the future. It’s an excellent list, thank you!! Your last comment struck a cord. It’s easy to confuse success in means of monetary or material abundance when really, success is truly about meaningful moments, memories, relationships and being happy and loving ourselves.

    1. Thanks Cerena! So glad you found it helpful. 🙂

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