We often comfort ourselves with the belief that successful people are successful by default. We believe they were born with golden opportunities, or blessed with extraordinary luck. This isn’t true. Most successful people have worked hard at their personal and professional goals, made sacrifices and refused to give up. There are common characteristic’s shared by people who have achieved their dreams. If you’re serious about living your dream life, you can learn from those that are living theirs. Here are ten ways to achieve monumental success and live a dream-filled life:
1) Know What You Want – To create a life of your dreams you have to know what it looks and feels like. You must be focused. You need to know why you want the life you aspire to having. Knowing why you want the life of your dreams will fuel the passion required to attain it. Realizing he wanted the life of his dreams, author and inspirational teacher, John Parkin, quit a well-paying, secure job to run retreats with his wife in Italy. He also wrote a popular book on how to get unstuck (2008). As Parkin writes the:
“…problem for a lot of people is that they don’t really know what they want. They have vague desire: to ‘do something creative’ or to earn more money or ‘to be free’, but they can’t really pin down what it is precisely that they want. So they drift from one thing to another, enjoying some moments and hating others, but never really finding fulfilment or success….”
As a young person, Tony Robbins (2015) had “a strong desire to help individuals transform the quality of their lives”. Knowing this dream, he started a project to help others. Three decades later he “has directly impacted the lives of more than 50 million people from over 100 countries with his best-selling books, multimedia and health products, public speaking engagements, and live events” (Robbins, 2015). In The 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris writes, “[T]he question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?” (2007, 2009)
2) Start – The world’s most successful people go for their dreams. They start in the first place. They don’t procrastinate, hoping that it will somehow manifest. They act. As Robin Sharma (2010) writes, sometimes “… success isn’t about making the right decision, it’s more about making some decision.” Many of the world’s most successful people have started with limited resources. They have not let this stop them. They’ve overcome obstacles. They’ve thought outside the box. They’ve started where they are, even if all they can do is take small steps daily. Many of the world’s richest people have come from backgrounds of adversity. Howard Shultz (the founder and CEO of Starbucks) was raised in housing projects in Brooklyn. Oprah Winfrey “was the daughter of an unwed mother in rural Mississippi” (Waters, 2013). Richard Branson (founder of Virgin) dropped out of school at 16 years old, (biography.com, 2015). The list of entrepreneurs, and dream life livers, who started with few resources, is endless. Don’t let anything get in your way of starting.
2) Commit to Radical Self Care – The most successful people realize they must be mentally, physically and spiritually fit. Radical self-care is a priority. To achieve your dreams you must have a daily routine, which supports your health and wellbeing. Physical exercise, regular deep sleep, healthy food, plenty of water, and meditation and mindfulness are commonly cited as daily practices by the world’s most successful people. Where do you need to invest more in self-care? What changes can you make today to move towards becoming the person who can have their dream life? In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington (2014) writes, “[I]t seemed to me that the people who were genuinely thriving in their lives were the ones who had made room for well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”
3) Find a Routine that Works For You – Aristotle is quoted as saying, “[W]e are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” The majority of successful people have daily routines that enable them to care for themselves, maintain their relationships, carry on learning and move productively towards their goals. This may take some exploration on your part. Do you work better in the mornings or the evenings? Which pockets of the day can you use to move towards your goals, spend time with your loved ones, exercise, meditate, enhance professional development or knowledge, develop spiritual practice, work? Find what works for you. Stick to it. Every day. Robin Sharma, (2010) world-class author and leadership entrepreneur, often talks of his daily routine. It involves an early morning start (often before sunrise), daily meditation and learning, and physical exercise. He says,” your days are your life in miniature. As you live your days you create your hours, so you create your years, as you live your days so you craft your life”. Brendon Burchard (2015) offers leadership tips for creating productive days. He suggests specific time slots for reading and responding to emails. Bestselling author Wayne Dyer spent many of his years writing in the small hours of the night when his family were asleep.
4) Care for Your Thoughts – Remember what you focus on grows. Keep your thoughts positive and directed towards the achievement of your goals. Successful people have a positive attitude. They refuse to believe in failure. They practice gratitude for all of the blessings that do show up. Successful people don’t panic. They remain peaceful and grounded. They practice self-control and faith. Before the publication of her international bestselling film, and book, The Secret Rhonda Byrne (2006) was up to her ears in debt, being hounded daily by threats, which would leave her destitute. However, she remained tenaciously true to her vision. She knew her creations would be successful and bring her abundance. She refused to be distracted by fear and consistently visualized a happy outcome. The film and book have grossed close to $300 million.
5) Don’t Give Up – There are countless examples of those who are living their dreams who did not achieve success on their first attempt. Others have achieved success and then lost it, only to pick themselves up and achieve it again. One of the main lessons we can learn from these successful people is not to give up! We have all heard by now how the infamous JK Rowling of the Harry Potter success was rejected 12 times before she was finally accepted by a publishing company. Similarly, Stephen King’s first novel received 30 rejections. Simon Cowell (who is now worth over 90 million) had a record company that went bust. Even Bill Gates (the richest man in the world) failed at his first business attempt. None of these people (and there are many examples that could be cited) gave up when things looked bleak. The most successful people look at their mistakes and they learn from them. They use this knowledge and rebound stronger, and more determined, than before.
6) Make Sacrifices to Achieve Your Final Goal –You may need to make sacrifices to get you started, or you could need to make sacrifices along the way. For example, if your dream life involves a completely different career path to the one you’re currently on, you may need to leave the comfortable job in order to start again, at the bottom of the ladder. When determined to raise the capital necessary to begin building the first Apple product, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, sold their most precious items (a VW microbus and a Hewlett Packett calculator). The company is now worth over 670 million US dollars. Refusing to betray his political beliefs, Nelson Mandela sacrificed 27 years of his life in prison, before his release in 1990. After which time, he became the president of South Africa and received the Nobel Peace Prize along with an excess of 250 other honorary awards.
7) Value the People Around You – Everybody needs somebody. It’s unlikely that you will achieve your dream life without the help of others. We all need teachers, mentors and supporters. As we begin to achieve our dreams goals we may need colleagues and/or employees to help us. If we alienate our loved ones, on the way to achieving our dreams, we may find that our dream life is a lonely place to be. Bill Ford (the chairman of the Ford company) advocates daily meditation and mindfulness as part of his management style. He dedicates each of his days to being compassionate, which will benefit his employees and the growth of his company, as well as himself. Other successful people, President Obama included, are reported to schedule time each day to being with their families and loved ones.
8) Engage Your Passion and Principles – Most of the world’s most successful people are passionate about what they are trying to achieve and they know why they want to achieve it. Achievements often involve being in service to other people. Having a dream life is often accomplished by solving problems for others, fulfilling a need in society, or offering comfort, pleasure or connection. As with Tony Robbins, he knew he wanted to help people. How will the achievement of your dream life be of service for others? How can you aid others, or the world, as you aspire towards your dream life? Once you can engage with these altruistic principles, the momentum, meaning, and purpose, of your goals will have more potency. You will be fired up. Huffington (2014) is not alone in the following opinion. Many of the world’s most successful people, those living a life of their dreams, find that their happiness comes in direct alignment with how much they are able to be of service to others, or the world. She says, “[Y]ou can work in any field, and you can make it to the top of any field. But what I urge you to do is not just take your place at the top of the world, but to change the world.”
9) Take Risks – Most of the world’s successful people have taken risks, at some point, on the way to reaching their dream lives. Sometimes, the risks have paid off in the way that they had been hoping. Other times, the risks have rewarded them with different lessons, such as how to face adversity, how to start again when you experience loss, how to live with flexibility and less attachment. As mentioned above, many of today’s billionaires have failed at some point or other. If you don’t take risks you are unlikely to fail. You are also unlikely to succeed. Most of those who have failed have learnt valuable lessons from their experiences and gone on to achieve bigger and better things.
10) Remain Focused and Positive – Seize and cherish any opportunities that come your way. Keep your attitude positive. See everything as an opportunity, even if, at first glance, it appears to be a failing. See it as a learning experience. Stay in tune with your passion and principles. Know why you want your dream life. Reframe any experience, which may feel disheartening. If anything seems to be going wrong, keep in mind the words of Thomas Eddison: ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ Keep going. Keep believing. You were born to achieve your dreams. As Richardson (2002) writes, “[T]here is nothing heavier than the burden of potential”