"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." —Mark Twain ( 1835 - 1910 ), American author

Many people think of success as something you're born into—you either have it or you don't. Or the characteristics of self-made success are hard work and persistence. You work hard, persist and you'll succeed. It's only part of the story. Success has many prerequisites, and most of them are psychological.

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." —Eleanor Roosevelt ( 1884 - 1962 ), First Lady USA ( 1933 - 1945 )

Although no one can deconstruct success to an exact science, there are similarities that most successful people share.

Decide what you want TO BE

The first step to success is to decide what you want to be—not what you want, but what you want to be. Don't write, "I want to be fabulously wealthy." Money is a tangible product of intangible skills. Write down what you want to be good at. For example, do you want to be a professional tennis player? A great writer? A successful business owner? An inventor? As you do, you become.

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." —George Bernard Shaw ( 1856 - 1950 ), Irish writer

That is, be someone who is good at something. Provide a product or service to others, preferably something that enhances their lives. You have to become someone who is valuable to society, then you are rewarded.

"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be...Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true." —Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803 - 1882 ), American author

Again, decide on the person you want to become who is good at something.

Be good at what you do

Once you determine how you can provide a product or service to others, be good at it! You can be rich doing anything, as long as you're good at it. The general rule is that 20% of the people make 80% of the money in any field. The goal is to put yourself in that 20%.

"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine." —Ludwig van Beethoven ( 1770 - 1827 ), German composer

Easier said than done, so we'll cover the specifics below.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." —Theodore Roosevelt ( 1858 - 1919 ), 26th US President

Detox mental blockages

“Until you make the unconscious, conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it Fate.” –Carl Jung

This could be the first step because it's vital to the success process or anything in life. It has to do with the subconscious factors that are holding you back. For some people, their parents and friends were poor and they feel they're undeserving of success. For others, they've been indoctrinated by their social circle or media that it's not their place to be on the winner's podium. Whatever the reason, these subconscious factors need to be examined, brought to light, and reprogrammed.

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." —Carl Jung ( 1875 - 1961 ), Swiss psychiatrist

It's estimated that the conscious mind controls only 5% of your life and the subconscious mind controls 95%. Do a rewind exercise of your life. The things people did and said that might have caused psychological trauma. Then there's also ancestral trauma dating back generations. These negative past events might have formed a false image of yourself.

“The greatest impediments to changes in our traditional roles seem to lie not in the visible world of conscious intent, but in the murky realm of the subconscious mind.” —Augustus Caesar ( 63 BCE - 14 CE ), first Roman Emperor

Whatever events or people you feel are holding you back, let them go! Letting go and moving on could take weeks or years—how long it takes is up to you. Remember that a grudge is the heaviest thing to carry in life. And Buddha wrote, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

“The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.” —Fyodor Dostoevsky ( 1821 - 1881 ), Russian novelist

You need to heal yourself by breaking habits and cycles. Sometimes it's necessary to burn bridges and learn to swim. Let go and move on. In other words, you have to make peace with the past before moving forward. Otherwise, the past will get in the way of everything.

For some, detoxing mental blockages may require professional help as it involves rewiring the neuropathways—your ingrained thinking process and patterns of behavior.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” —Socrates

Believe in yourself

If you don't believe in yourself, no one will.  The cells in your body listen to your thoughts and communicate them to the organs. They will follow your instructions.

“The moment you change your perception is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body.” —Dr. Bruce H. Lipton, PhD

Start by reciting positive affirmations with yourself. Tell yourself:

"This is what I want for myself. I work hard each day to become the person I want. I believe in myself. I trust myself to do the right thing. I know it's a long journey and I follow through. I deserve it."

Meditate each day on the new you. Visualize working hard each day to achieve what you want.

"Every person's life is in the present. For the past is done and spent with, and the future uncertain." —Marcus Aurelius ( 121 - 180 ), Roman Emperor, philosopher

Your goal is to become the person of your dreams—the future you. Therefore, some people won't be on your journey.

"Let go of the people who hinder your path towards prosperity and success." —Iqra Iqbal Akbar

Use naysayers as motivation

This step is just as important as clearing mental, ancestral, and psychological blockages.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” —Winston Churchill ( 1874 - 1965 ), British Prime Minister, author

Those who want you to fail go by different labels: haters, naysayers, detractors, backstabbers, fake friends, critics, Debbie Downers, or non-believers. For some reason they want you to wallow with them in their misery, pass their failures unto you, or they're fearful or envious that you'll succeed. It's not a reflection of you, it's a reflection of them. They are projecting and telling you about themself.

Great goals require great critics

Again, use the naysayers as motivation. Remember, he who laughs last, laughs best.

JEFF BEZOS. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Jeff Bezos was the joke of e-commerce. His company Amazon.com was regularly touted as Amazon.bomb. Jeff Bezos was attempting to take on the world's biggest retailers, from Barnes & Noble to Walmart. A guy who started his online business in a garage wants to take on the world's largest retailers? That's insane, the critics agreed.

In the 2000s, when Amazon was taking on traditional Brick and Mortar retail giants, Jeff Bezos was tagged as nothing more than another middleman. As of November 29, 2021, Bezos is the second richest person in the world with a networth of $202 billion. Where would Bezos be had he listened to his critics or haters?

‌Instead of hating them back, use their words as motivation. Then once you succeed, they'll have to eat their words. Let's look at a few more prominent examples.

TOM BRADY. In the 2000 NFL draft, American quarterback Tom Brady (Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.) was drafted in round 6 and 199 overall. In the 2000 NFL year, 32 owners, 32 managers, 32 coaches,  countless executives, countless scouts and talking heads believed that 5 quarterbacks and 198 players were better than Brady—for that year alone. Tom Brady used his low draft pick as a chip on his shoulder—he wanted to prove them wrong. As of November 2021, Tom Brady has gone to 10 Superbowls and won 7. He holds nearly every NFL quarterback record and is widely regarded as the best quarterback in history, and perhaps the best overall NFL player in history.

In the 2000 NFL draft, Tom Brady was the 6th quarterback picked and 199th overall player drafted. The "experts" believed that there were 198 players better than Brady for that year.

‌ELON MUSK. When Elon Musk left South Africa for Canada to pursue his dreams, his father called him an "idiot" and said Elon would run back to South Africa soon with his tails between his legs. Elon did not. When Elon Musk started SpaceX in 2002 to take on the established aerospace giants, then cofounded Tesla in 2003 to challenge the entrenched ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) automakers, he was consistently labeled as a fraud and charletan. This went on for over a decade. As of November 29, 2021, Elon Musk is the richest person in the world with a networth of $282 billion.

“Private enterprise will not, ever, lead a space frontier. Not because I don’t want them to, but my read of history tells me that they can’t. It’s not possible. Space is dangerous. It’s expensive. There are unquantified risks. Combined those in one umbrella, you cannot establish a free market capitalization of that enterprise. Who are my investors? I’m not going. What are the risks? I don’t know. What are the costs? We haven’t figured it out, yet. What’s the ROI (Return on Investment)? There isn’t one. Because we’ve never done it before and we don’t know what we might find. Those are the kinds of frontiers that the governments have taken.” —Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist. September 2013
The shortsellers who called Elon Musk a fraud and charlatan paid by losing billions of their clients' money. Where would Elon Musk be had he listened to his haters?

STEVE JOBS. Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in 1976 and was fired from the company in 1985. Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997, at a time when Apple was three months away from bankruptcy. Michale Dell (Dell Inc.) said if he were running Apple, he would "shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders". Dell wasn't the only person calling for Apple to shut it down. At that time, Microsoft Windows had over 95% of the operating system market. Jobs ignored all the naysayers. For most of 1997, Apple's market value was $2.3 billion. As of November 29, 2021, Apple's market value is $2.57 Trillion, making it the most valuable company in the world. That is a return of 1 117 times or 111 700% ( $2.3 billion in 1997 to $2.57 trillion in 2021 ). Would Apple be where it is in 2021 had Steve Jobs listened to the naysayers?

The greater the setback, the greater the comeback. Experts predicted the fall of Jobs and Apple.

‌The examples above are newsworthy and David and Goliath in nature. The doubters and haters in your life may be those close to you and not necessarily the national media. Remember: Don't hate your haters. Take what they're saying into consideration and use it as motivation.

There will be haters, doubters, non-believers, and then there will be you proving them wrong. Use your critics and doubters as motivation. Remember, he who laughs last, laughs best.

Eat healthy

Along with "detoxing mental blockages", eating healthy is just as important since it concerns the physical prerequisites to do work. In physics, the work-energy equation states that energy is required to do work. You can clear the mental blockages, but if you don't have the physical energy to perform the work, nothing is getting done. The physical energy your brain and body require to do work are from the foods you eat. Avoid the extreme diet suggestions: low protein, no carb, all fruits, all meat, no meat, all plants, etc. Eat foods that are rich in nutrients. The physical needs of your body are air, water, nutrients, and sunlight.  

Also, avoid pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines. Anyone who has examined their ingredients will know that prescription drugs and vaccines are literally full of poisons. The side effects alone will hamper your progress.

Again, your body needs oxygen, water, nutrients, and sunlight. It's a good idea to reduce the consumption of meat, because of not the meat itself, but what they're putting in animals: growth hormones, vaccines, steroids, antibiotics, etc.

The general rule: cook your own food, organic when possible. Eat foods that are rich in nutrients and especially brain foods.

Eat foods that are nutritionally dense (nutrient rich) to give your brain the boost it needs to accomplish your daily goals.

‌Brain foods can help you think clearer and longer—they provide the energy to finish long tasks. In addition to eating healthy, try FASTING once a week. The health benefits of fasting are well documented, especially in strengthening the immune system.

"The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." —Dr. Ann Wigmore
Eating healthy is as important as having the right mindset to accomplish your goals. Eating healthy foods is also a subtle way of gradually changing your DNA. Remember that diseases run in families because diets run in families.

Again, a healthy diet is vital to getting the energy required to do your work.

Exercise your body and mind

Most successful people have a daily exercise routine. Whether it's physical exercise or mental exercise with meditation.

"I go to the gym and work out for an hour because it keeps my stress at bay." —Tim Cook, Apple CEO
"Staying in shape is very important. Doing anything well requires energy, and you just have a lot more energy when you're fit. I make sure I work out at least three times a week—usually first thing when I wake up." —Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and cofounder of Facebook
“I love to look after my body. If I feel great, I can achieve anything.” —Richard Branson, founder Virgin Group

A good rule is to exercise at least three times a week—aerobic to get the heart pumping and a bit of weight are a good mix. Like anything in life, excessive exercise can be unhealthy. If you find yourself bored from the monotonous gym routines, play a sport. Try tennis, ping pong, rollerblading, soccer, or any sport that interests you.

During the founding of Apple, and throughout his daily life, Steve Jobs always meditated an hour every morning before departing for work.

"If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things—that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before." —Steve Jobs, cofounder Apple
Take time during the day to meditate—calm the mind and see things from different perspectives. 

Steve Jobs practiced Zen Buddhism mindfulness meditation, or as he called it "mind technology".

"Your phone has a charger, right? It's like having a charger for your whole body and mind. That's what Transcendental Meditation is!" —Jerry Seinfeld ( 1954 - ), American comedian and writer

Set goals and milestones

It's been said that the difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline. Your dream may seem too grand and complex, so break the dream into goals and chunks. Think of yourself as a bricklayer building a wall, each brick is a task and eventually all those bricks (tasks) build a wall (your dream). Ennoble yourself, work towards your dream every day.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” —Aristotle ( 384 - 322 BCE, Greek philosopher

Think, "I work hard each day towards my goals".

"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you don't stop." —Confucius

You can measure daily accomplishments by using the Pomodoro technique: Break daily goals into 15 - 40 minute sessions; although 25-minute sessions are optimal. Take a break after each session.

The Pomodoro technique is very effective at tracking daily tasks. Daily tasks are the building blocks of achieving your dreams over the long run. There are Pomodoro apps that can help you track your daily tasks.

Visualize doing your goals

As the saying goes, "Everything is created twice: first in the mind, then in the real world." Write your dreams and goals down. Then visualize doing those goals, daily if possible. Also, visualize accomplishing those dreams. Visualization is also known as imagery and has long been employed by the world's top athletes.

"I mentally tried to put myself in a familiar place. I thought about all those times I shot free throws in practice and went through the same motion, the same technique that I had used thousands of times...I visualized where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there." —Michael Jordan (February 17, 1963 - ), generally considered the greatest NBA (National Basketball Association) player in history

Visualizing familiarizes us with a task before we do it. Most people visualize in bed before sleep or in the morning. Or you can visualize in the same postures as meditation. Visualization is a very active mental exercise because we are creating events in the mind.  Whereas meditation is more passive: emptying or relaxing the mind, then sometimes freely allowing events into the mind to interpret their meanings.

"Visualization is powerful. You can use this process to mend your heart, or a sore elbow. I have used visualization as a tool for a successful career for years. I see myself doing what it is I want, and I do not let go of this picture until it manifests." —Suzanne Somers, American actress and author
It's extremely effective to visualize your goals before sleeping or in the early morning. Remember, everything happens twice: First in the mind, then the real world.

When visualizing, be specific as to how and when you'll accomplish a task. Will there be unforeseen obstacles? How will you deal with difficult people? How much time will a task take? What resources are needed to accomplish that task?

"What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday,
and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow.
Our life is the creation of our mind." —Buddha

Again, everything is created twice: first in the mind, then the real world.

‌Get out of your comfort zone and TAKE ACTION

You first make your habits, then your habits make you. However, things don't become a habit unless you habitually do them. More importantly, nothing happens unless you make it happen. That is, take action!

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." —Wayne Gretzky, most points in NHL (National Hockey League) history
"There is nothing training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach. It can turn bad morals to good; it can destroy bad principles and recreate good ones; it can lift men to angelship." —Mark Twain ( 1835 - 1910 ), American author

The dreaded comfort zone, or our safe space bubble. We all have them because we're creatures of habit. However, everything you want is outside of your comfort zone.

You can live in comfort and familiarity. Or you can step out of your comfort zone and pursue your dreams.

‌It's been said that passion or motivation is what gets you started but habit is what keeps you going. Those small tasks everyday add up to a big pile of accomplishments in the long run. In general, a new habit takes about 21 days to form.

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” —Thomas Edison

It's what you do habitually that defines you and not what you do occasionally. So, take action, work hard and smart, and be consistent. If you feel like you don't fit the role, remember: As you do, you become.

Expect failure and embrace it

Once you step outside your comfort zone, unexpected things happen: rejections, failures, and doubt. These are temporary setbacks and are part of the learning process. In fact, they are natural to the learning process. This process is akin to learning how to ride a bicycle: You fall, get back up, try again and again until you know how to do it. Or perhaps you've witnessed a baby learning how to walk or talk. It takes time but the baby persists.

If something didn't work out, write the reasons it didn't work, and what to do differently next time.

Success is a marathon, not a sprint. The road to success is paved with obstacles and iterations.

Let's reinforce ourselves with wisdom on failure as part of the success process.

"Fail seven times, stand up eight." —Confucius

"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you don't stop." —Confucius

“Practice is the master of all things.” —Augustus Caesar

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I didn't think I'd regret trying and failing. And I suspected I would always be haunted by a decision to not try at all." —Jeff Bezos, founder Amazon, Blue Origin

When you do something new, expect to fail or be bad at it the first few times. With enough repetitions, you slowly master it. The general rule is that it takes 10 000 hours to master a skill—5 hours a day for 2 000 days ( 5.5 years ).

Focus: eliminate distractions

Distractions come in many forms. Normal distractions are often vices and procrastination. But these vices and procrastination can be causing mental blockages. Reread the "Detox mental blockages" section if you need to.

In general, distractions are a way to escape reality or avoid responsibility—the excuses we make to ourselves. Some do drugs (alcohol is a drug) to escape reality, while others fabricate excuse after excuse.

Let's consult with the sages on the wisdom of distractions and temporary pleasures.

"The end and perfection of our victories is to avoid the vices." —Alexander the Great ( 356 - 323 BCE ), Greek general and king

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” —Pema Chodron ( 1936 - ), Buddhist

"If you do something good with hard work, the labour passes quickly, but the good endures; If you do something shameful in pursuit of pleasure, the pleasure passes quickly, but the shame endures." —Musonius Rufus (25 - 95 ), Roman Stoic philosopher

"The reason most people fail instead of succeed is they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment." —Napoleon ( 1769  1821 ), French Emperor

“Pleasure flit by—they are only for yourself; work leaves a mark of long-lasting joy, work is for others.” —Dmitri Mendeleev ( 1834 - 1907 ), Russian scientist, creator of Periodic Table of the Elements

If you find yourself unmotivated, it could be burnout. If it's burnout, take a long break or vacation. If it's not burnout, go back to the Pomodoro technique.

You do things and feel good, and not you feel good and do things. Therefore, sometimes you have to force yourself to do things to feel good and gain momentum.

"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." —Leonardo Da Vinci ( 1452 - 1519 ), Italian artist, engineer, scientist, author, sculptor, architect

In the age of social media, social media can be the biggest source of distraction! Social media is a necessity; however, limit your use and only use it when necessary.  Otherwise social media can be a weapon of mass distraction.

There is no need to brag about your accomplishments on social media. Social media is a useful tool for marketing, but it can also be a distraction if used in excess or mindlessly. Be mindful of how much social media you use. 

Network to increase your visibility

As the saying goes, "Sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know." Use social media and connect to those in your field. You can start with one person and that one person can lead you to more people, and so on. Before you know it, you'll have a group of friends with similar interests as you. And soon, you'll have your own tribe.

Enjoy the journey

Life is a journey, not a destination. Life is a journey with problems to solve and lessons to learn, but most of all life is full of experiences to enjoy.  What if you are miserable while accomplishing your goals? Or that you can't share the accomplishments with anyone? There would be no purpose in doing it. Enjoy what you do and celebrate each milestone, but don't celebrate too long or you may get stuck in celebration mode.

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” —Steve Jobs ( 1955 - 2011 ), cofounder of Apple, founder of Next Computers, cofounder of Pixar

Work hard, be persistent and consistent, but don't burn yourself out.

Don't burn yourself out. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Apathy and lack of motivation can be signs of burnout.

Be a finisher

The hardest of an endeavor is starting it. The other hardest part is finishing it. Remember that accomplishing a dream is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll face obstacles, critics, distractions, and a myriad of unforeseen problems. Your job is to find creative solutions to overcome those pesky problems that keep popping up.

Be comfortable in your own skin, forgive yourself, and pursue your dreams! Tell yourself you deserve whatever you want and the finest things in life.
Steve Jobs on why you should pursue your dreams. 
‌"In the end, all that matters is what you've done." —Alexander the Great ( 356 - 323 BCE ), Macedonian general and king