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How to Find Success and Avoid Failure

Posted Oct 06 2012 7:13pm

How do you become successful?

You will reach a destination faster and more surely if you have a map. Far too many people head off looking for success with no idea where they are going or how they will get there. They are surprised, when after years of traveling life’s roads they still have not found the success they were looking for.

If you want a life that fails, you can avoid doing most anything, but to have real success will require some planning. Be careful about following other people s directions, they may not be headed where you are going.

If you would be successful in life invest some time in creating a road map to success that is specific to your life journey.

1. What does success mean to you?

To reach success you need a clear vision of what it will look like when you get there.

Not paying attention to this on has disastrous results. Lots of people go along following others rules; doing what they are supposed to do only to find when they reach the destination they are not where they wanted to be.

Did you say you wanted to make a lot of money? Are you really willing to do anything to get it?  Spend some time at the begging of your success journey thinking about what is most important to you. What are your values and goals? Will it be success if you earn the money you want by doing things that you consider morally wrong?

How much more will you need to get paid to compensate for a life of doing work you hate?

We find in career counseling that people, who are doing work they like and that they have the abilities for, are more likely to be successful.

Get to know yourself well. You should be your own best friend. The more self-knowledge you have the more likely you are to set course for yourself that will be enjoyable and successful.

Lots of money won’t mean much if you are miserable and need to spend it all on therapy to solve your misery.

2. Investigate the possibilities

Be sure you have a clear, accurate understanding of what it will be like to reach this goal.  

Say you decide that for you success is living at the beach- one time I was driving along and saw a sign that said something about an ancient beach. I took the turn off and drove for hours. Eventually I discovered I had ended up in the middle of the desert. There was a beach there all right. An ancient beach complete with fossils. But there had not been any water near there for a gazillion years.

So often clients tell me they perused a dream, an idea of success only to find out that the reality of the destination was very different from what they expected. Make sure you know if you become a novelist – just how much money does the average one make?  Do you know how many hours per week the top business mangers work?

Would it really be worth it to you to go to college for 8 years to become a professor and then maybe work for what that school you are look at pays? Today student debt is at an all-time high. People are finding that they can’t make enough in their chosen career field to pay back that college loan. 

People can pursue career goals, go to school for a new occupation only to find out that they will need to move cross country to be where the jobs are. Is success for you getting your dream job and moving to a new city to start a new life or is it getting the best job possible while living your life in your home town?

Before you take a training class on becoming a jet aircraft mechanic find out if there are any airports in your area that have jets. And when was the last time they hired a mechanic at that airport?

There are plenty of posts in the blog-o-sphere about the importance of enjoying the journey. I tend to agree with that. The destination will be a lot less enjoyable if you do not enjoy the journey.

But life is not all about the journey. Failing to plan and going with the flow may mean you end up somewhere you never wanted to go.

Lots of people struggle to reach a goal thinking that will mean they are successful only to discover the goal does not meet the need they have. In some disciplines half of the people completing a college degree never work in the field. Either there are no jobs, none in the town they live in, or they decide they really do not want to do that kind of work. 

3. Where are you now?

Thousands of kids tell me they want to play professional sports. One look at many of them tells me they are not likely to make it.

If you hate math and science should you really pursue an engineering career?

I am not telling you that you should chuck your dream. Some skinny kids do become Olympic weightlifters. But it is a long road. Do you enjoy doing the things you need to do to get there and when you reach the goal will it really have been worth it?

There are two approaches of getting from where you are now to where you want to be. Find the things you are strong at and build on those skills or find the things you are week in and develop new skills.

What does not work is build a definition of success that requires you to become good at things for which you have no skills and doing things you do not like to do.

4. What roads will you need to follow to get there?

If you can see the path from where you are to where you want to go clearly and that is a path you chose to travel then go for it. But a little planning in the beginning can help you avoid a ton of failure. 

Does the job require education? Do you like going to school. If the job you want requires meeting the public and promoting the company are you a social person and will you enjoy making public appearances?

Lots of small business owners get into a bind when they create a business that involves them doing a lot of things they like to do and then as the business grows they find they are having to do everything and that there is very little they can turn over to others.

If you are a creative artist do you want to do your art or do you want to create an advertising company and spend time selling to clients while having to turn the creative work over to others?

Failure to consider the roads you will need to travel result in lots of people being unhappy along the way as they find themselves having to do things they never wanted to do to reach a success goal that is no longer appealing when they get there.

Starting today begin developing a plan that will take you to the place you call success.   

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, in its infancy, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at . Thanks to all who read this blog.

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