How to be Successful (in 5 easy steps).

As any advice column, motivational quote, or marginally more successful relative than you will attest, success is about belief. You have to believe in yourself, get motivated, and make it happen. We all have the ability to be successful. All you have to do is truly utilise the skills and experiences that are unique to you.

If you’re still struggling to muster up your own ‘success-mode’, however, perhaps the following ideas can really help bring your dreams to life:

1. Define ‘successful’

The Business Dictionary describes success as follows:

Achievement of an action within a specified period of time or within a specified parameter. Success can also mean completing an objective or reaching a goal.

As the name of the dictionary itself might suggest, a successful person is often seen as synonymous with a person who has a good career, or who makes a lot of money. And yet, as the definition shows, a successful person could just as easily be someone who continuously achieves small things that make them happy. Perhaps one day they make a really good cake. Perhaps the next they see an old friend. They have the means to continuously have good experiences and enjoy their life.

To be successful then, it is likely that you will be financially comfortable at least, but your personal definition of the word doesn’t have to be tied to money. Realistically, it should include a long-term goal: you can have success with something in the short term, but to be truly successful, your success should be sustained.

Decide what you want to achieve in your life.

2. Break down your goal

A classic piece of advice for achieving any kind of goal is to break that goal up into smaller, more digestible pieces. That is, you set yourself mini-goals that are necessary to complete to achieve your overall goal.  Forbes claims that doing so will help stop the phenomenon of “people abandon[ing] goals because they’re just too dang big”, Mind Tools sees it as a way to motivate yourself “By …crossing each [piece] off as you complete it, you’ll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal”, while WikiHow simply states that the creation of ‘subgoals’ “can help you stay focused and keep you on track”. 

In essence: you need a plan. You’ve decided what you want, so go away and make yourself some achievable steps!

3. Motivation, motivation, motivation!

Lock yourself in a dark room, cut yourself off from civilisation, and paper your walls with photoshop mock-ups of yourself achieving your full potential – just make sure you’re working towards your goal at all times.


4. Realise that not everyone can be successful

If your definition of success is linked to a career and/or financial gain, logically you must accept that not everyone can be successful in this sense. The UK workforce is approximately 31 million strong, but the more aspirational careers are limited in numbers.  Managers, directors and senior officials comprise about 10% of the workforce, and if success to you means being a company director and living in luxury, it is comparatively unlikely: particularly when you consider that people already in these positions are likely to want to hold onto them.

But perhaps you are less interested in money, and more interested in creative autonomy? The percentage of true creatives in the job market is smaller still: making up just over 1% of the workforce and encompassing authors, actors, presenters, artists, musicians and photographers. Again, statistically, it is path where the odds are not in your favour.

Whatever your goal, you are likely to be hamstrung by statistics such as these. They may not be thrilling, but the country and economy needs low-skilled occupations in order to function. They may be less than thrilling and less than lucrative, but they need to be done.

Perhaps, if you want to speed up the process that may one day allow reams of highly-paid workers and boundless creativity, try designing robots to eliminate manual work and render those at the bottom of the food-chain almost entirely obsolete.

5. Check your privilege

It has been observed that Britain, more so than countries similar to it in many other ways, is bad at social mobility. The rich tend to stay rich, the poor tend to stay poor, and accordingly, those born into advantage are likely to have more opportunities. In short: “advantage is hoarded by the privileged”. If you are driving to be ‘successful’ and come from the middle or upper classes, good news: you might well manage it. Being working class does not necessarily preclude failure, but success is likely going to be harder (at least if it’s financial success you want…and even if it’s not, money always helps).

It’s a similar story when you look at your educational background. Privately-schooled students overwhelmingly believe that those attending their school are likely to be successful, whereas state school students are less optimistic. The former also get to meet more adults at school whom they deem to have ‘interesting jobs’ – which can have a real impact on the careers the students go on to pick. Furthermore, if you consider that private school children likely already come from a wealthier background than their state school counterparts, the problem compounds. Not only are they likely to retain that level of wealth, but, exposed to more ‘interesting’ career options, perhaps their jobs and lives will be more interesting too.

So, there you have it.

Statistics are not infallible, of course, but they make for some interesting reading. Money is not everything, and nor is social class. The fact that the odds are stacked against you should not dissuade you from trying anything. The fact that the odds are stacked in your favour does not make your achievements worthless, or your ventures immune to failure. What this information should be used for is to provide a backdrop to your endeavours, a greater self-awareness.

What you do with that awareness is entirely up to you.






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