8 Proven Keys To Success That Will Set You Up For The Rest Of Life

How do successful people get where they are?

All of us want to be successful in life, whatever success means to us. It is entirely natural to desire the best for ourselves, our family, and those we love. However, success rarely comes easy. It takes consistent effort, discipline, and motivation, no matter what your vision of success is.

Often far too many of us tend to live our lives on autopilot. We go through our days almost mindlessly, moving from one task or short-term goal to the next, receiving immediate gratification but failing to make the changes necessary to take us closer to achieving our long term vision of success. We enter a state of anticipatory reactivity, where we wait for the next thing to come along, which forces us to take action. 

We forget to stay focused and motivated to achieve our goals. If you’re guilty of the above, don’t be too hard on yourself. Life requires us to juggle multiple balls at once, and it’s easy to get distracted from working towards what we want to achieve.

Still, if we neglect our dreams of success entirely, we might wake up one day with a lot of regrets. Fortunately, there are practical steps that you can take today to prevent that regret from happening. 

In this article, we’ll offer some keys to success used by the most successful people on the planet. First, let’s explore the nature of success. 

What is success?

Success looks different to everyone. For some, it may be getting that big promotion at work. For others, it’s saving enough money to retire early or to fund your college education. Some people see success as starting a family, buying a home, or achieving a particular fitness level. 

Whatever your vision of success is, the critical thing to remember is that your success is unique to you. You don’t have to live your life pursuing other people’s definitions of success. Far too many people follow trends or take on other people’s ideas of success as their own, then feel unsatisfied or unfulfilled when they achieve it. If you genuinely want to be successful, you need to identify what that means to you.

What gets in the way of success?

1. Procrastination

Procrastination kills motivation and hinders success like nothing else. If you want to achieve your dreams, it’s important to stop procrastinating. If you constantly tell yourself, ‘I’ll do it later,’ you risk never getting it done.

‘Each human being has the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day.’ – Denis Waitley.

We often procrastinate because we believe that we’re not ready or don’t have the resources to achieve success, but the only way to succeed is to get started. As you begin your work, you’ll develop a clearer vision of the next steps you need to take.

2. Fear and doubt

You might not work on achieving success due to a fear of failure. Alternatively, you might fear success itself. Many people neglect to follow their dreams because they know that to be successful means getting out of their comfort zone and leaving behind some aspect of their life now. 

Doubt prevents many people from following their dreams. If you don’t believe that you can be successful, you’re unlikely to try. 

‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.’ – Henry Ford.

Doubt is a mental battle that we must fight and win if we want to realize our version of success. Overcoming doubt isn’t always easy, but it’s essential to let it go. It is merely a distraction and gives the mind an infinite amount of excuses not to create the life you want.

Related: How to Get Over the Fear of Rejection in 10 Essential Steps

3. Not having a plan

Without a plan, it’s doubtful that you’ll be successful. Many of us go about our days with an idea of what we want to achieve. We may even share those ideas with other people but neglect to plan for how to get there. Sometimes life gives us opportunities to move close to our dreams, but if you only wait for these opportunities and don’t do anything in the meantime to prepare for them, you might not be ready when they come knocking at your door.

Related: Personal Vision Statement: Its Importance, How to Write It and Examples

Keys for success in high school and beyond

4. Lack of discipline

‘Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.’ – Roy L. Smith.

One of the biggest problems people face when trying to achieve their goals is a lack of discipline. Discipline is about getting up and doing what you need to do, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s important to give yourself a break sometimes, but it’s equally important to push yourself and overcome your desire for immediate gratification to get what you want in the long term.

Keys to success that will set you up for life

Key 1: Set clear goals

Goals are a vital ingredient to success. Set clearly defined goals in the short and long term to stay focused on achieving what you want.

Write down your long-term goal, then write down all the short-term goals that will help you get there. To help you get started, take a moment, or an entire day, to think about what you want in life. Visualize what success looks like to you, and write it down. Be as specific as possible when writing down your vision of success.

For example, if your long-term goal is to gain 10lbs of muscle, your short-term goals would include:

  • Eating enough protein each day
  • Hitting the gym four to five times a week
  • Getting enough sleep every night, so your body has a chance to rest and recover

If your goal is to save money to go back to college next year, your short-term goals would include setting aside savings every week or every month out of your paycheck.

Making a plan begins with figuring out what you want, then writing that down in detail. If you can be clear and honest with yourself about what you want to achieve, success becomes much more likely.

Success can be defined as accomplishing a goal, so without a plan, how can you be successful?

Related: 5 Different Types of Goals to Get You Moving in the Right Direction

Key 2: Believe in yourself

All successful people share at least one thing in common – they all believed in themselves to get where they are now.

Doubt is a powerful repellent against success. It’s incredibly normal to have some doubts about your abilities, but you might never fully realize your dreams if you let them stop you from taking action. Instead of doubting yourself, which is highly unproductive, try to cultivate some belief in yourself.

Self-belief is a matter of self-confidence. You can become more confident by addressing your limiting beliefs and facing your fears head-on.

Overcome your limiting beliefs

What are your beliefs about yourself and the world that are getting in the way of your dreams? If you experience a lot of doubt or anxiety about your abilities, they may have stemmed from your past experiences. Loved ones may have told you that you’re not good enough, or perhaps you were never encouraged to follow your passion, so you learned to neglect it.

One effective way to identify and address your limiting beliefs is to examine your self-talk – the way you speak to yourself in your head when something goes wrong or when you want to achieve something. Negative self-talk keeps you in your comfort zone and leads to low self-esteem.

On the other hand, positive self-talk improves your psychological well-being and encourages you to chase what you want. Next time you hear negative self-talk, challenge it. Ask yourself if your thoughts are based on evidence or if they’re unnecessary and unproductive.

Face your fears

Anxiety and fear are an incredibly natural part of the human experience. However, the consequences of these feelings can go one of two ways – they can hold you back, or they can inspire you to take action. When you find yourself hindered by fear or anxiety, try to face your fear and go for it anyway.

Set goals that challenge you to leave your comfort zone. It can be scary at first, but as long as you set realistic, achievable goals, you will cultivate a deep sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment creates confidence, which goes a long way in helping you overcome fear and anxiety the next time they come up.

Related: 9 Reasons to Never Give up on Your Dreams and Achieve your Goals

Key 3: Improve yourself

No matter what your vision of success is, there are universal steps you can take to live the life you want. True success is not only about achieving a specific goal but doing so while also taking care of yourself. If you focus too heavily on achieving a financial or career goal but neglect your physical and mental health in the process, then the ‘success’ will not have been worth it.

Consider the following self-improvement tips to help you get closer to achieving your dreams.


Physical exercise elicits the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are ‘feel-good’ chemicals and are the body’s natural painkillers. Invest some time in the gym, working out at home, or going for a run as much as you can. Doing so will improve not only your physical health but also your psychological health.

Research proves that regular exercise improves mood, increases energy levels, improves focus, and increases mental clarity. As such, exercise can help you take on the challenges that come up when you’re working on achieving your goals.

Nourish your body

The food you choose to eat has a profound impact on your mental health, and you need to keep your mental health in check if you want to achieve success. Next time you go to the grocery store, consider whether or not the foods you’re buying will nourish your body and mind. If not, opt for healthier, more nutritious foods.

If you’re not used to eating healthily, it can be tricky to get the hang of it. Many people try to start a healthy eating routine but feel lost when preparing and enjoying the nutritious food they’ve bought. So they leave the food in the fridge to expire and order take-out instead. Sound familiar?

If you aren’t sure where to begin, there is a wealth of healthy recipe websites online. Pick something that looks delicious and healthy, and go out to buy those ingredients. You can turn to YouTube or food blogs for help on how to prepare and cook the delicious, nutrient-rich ingredient you’ve purchased.

Extensive scientific research points to a strong correlation between gut health and mental health. Serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for mood regulation and feelings of happiness, is produced in the gut. As such, if you nourish your gut with healthy bacteria, you feed your mind at the same time. With greater mental health, you’re more capable of working on and achieving your goals.

Keys to success


Learning a new skill can do wonders for your confidence, which improves your chances of success. Look online for how-to blogs and YouTube videos that teach valuable yet straightforward skills. You don’t need to become a master overnight – simply learning something new at least once a week is enough to boost your confidence and reduce doubts and limiting beliefs.

Related: How to Feel Better Right Now with Effective and Proven Strategies

Key 4: Embrace failure

Suppose you want to succeed in life. Well, the truth is that you need to accept failure. Failure is not a sign of weakness and should not deter you from trying again. Don’t expect yourself to achieve your vision of future success without a few mistakes and failures along the way.

‘It is failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.’ – Ellen DeGeneres.

Nobody is born a master. We must acquire and learn how to use the tools that will help us get to where we want to be, but that doesn’t always come easy. If we accept that we might fail several times before we succeed, we won’t get demotivated when failure inevitably happens.

Key 5: Learn from your mistakes

Mistakes are inevitable. One of the biggest keys for success is accepting and learning from them. Mistakes are only valuable when you understand the lesson within them.

Try to keep a journal of your progress. When something throws you off track, write down what went wrong and consider how you could have done things differently to avoid that outcome. If you keep allowing yourself to make the same mistakes, you’ll never learn from them. Keeping track of your mistakes, the lessons within them, and how you plan to move on is crucial to success.

Related: How to Live Life to the Fullest: 26 Easy to Follow Strategies

Key 6: Adjust your strategy

One of the primary keys to success is to be flexible with your strategy. You need to set a plan for success early on, so that you have something to follow. However, you will have new experiences and learn further information along the way that may require an adjustment to your strategy.

‘Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.’ – John Wooden

If you’re too rigid, you won’t make space for external factors that could get you a lot closer to achieving success.

Key 7: Learn how to say ‘no’

Learning how to say ‘no’ is a skill. Many of us try to say ‘yes’ to as much as possible. Saying ‘yes’ is often done out of a perceived sense of duty to another person or because we fear missing out. Furthermore, saying ‘no’ can feel uncomfortable. We feel like we’re not supposed to let other people down.

“No” is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can genuinely answer someone’s request with a simple No.” – Sharon E. Rainey.

You always have a right to say ‘no’. If you say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that comes your way, you might spread yourself too thin and leave yourself with no energy to do the things you want to do and those that will most help you succeed.

Key 8: Understand the importance of relationships

One of the biggest keys to success in life is to invest in high-quality relationships. This relates to both your personal and business life. If you want to be successful, network with others who share the same goal and will help you get there. Speak to experts, teachers, and even amateurs to gain exciting and inspiring perspectives. Professional relationships help you network and meet people who can help you move further along your path to success.

Interpersonal relationships are also great for success. When we feel safe, valued, and appreciated in a community, we can call upon those feelings when life gets tough, and our vision of success seems far away. Encouragement and support from others will make us feel good about ourselves. Equally, giving encouragement and support to others can make us happier and more likely to work on our own goals.

Related: How to Stop Being Insecure in a Relationship: Rebuild Your Self Esteem

The Bottom Line

Success requires a clear vision, discipline, commitment, and a lot of self-belief. If you have a dream that you want to realize, apply the above keys to success to your life and watch what happens. On a final note, to get started on achieving success, consider the following:

‘Start from where you are – not where you wish to be. The work you’re doing becomes your path.’ – Ram Dass.

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