There’s a story about how two seeds are planted in different locations.  One seed was planted in a pot inside the house and the other seed was planted in the backyard.  Which one do you think grew larger and was more successful?

Life is full of many obstacles and it’s the people who weather the storm that profit the most. All too often people become comfortable inside and settle for mediocrity.  They accumulate a certain degree of knowledge and decide it is enough.  But human nature resists stagnancy.  Therefore,  you will always have a feeling of yearning to be greater than what you are today.  It all begins with the mentality of being a life-long learner.

Be a Life-Long Learner

Pursuing knowledge eternal is easier than ever with technological advances delivering information instantaneously. You can be the best version of yourself— grow both personally and professionally in life.  Take these 5 full circle steps to maximize a version of success that fits your unique need.

Figure Out Your Goal

Walt Disney was fired from his first job because he lacked imagination.  That imagination would later create a billion dollar company bringing global joy.

“To some people, I am kind of a Merlin who takes lots of crazy chances, but rarely makes mistakes,” Disney said. “I’ve made some bad ones, but, fortunately, the successes have come along fast enough to cover up the mistakes. When you go to bat as many times as I do, you’re bound to get a good average.”

For some of us, setting goals can be challenging in itself.  But without a goal to work towards, you are lost at sea swimming endlessly with no land in sight.  One of the best acronyms to date for goal-setting is the S.M.A.R.T. method.  Any goal you have must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-oriented
  • Time-bound

“I want to make $100,000 with my management consulting expertise by acquiring 20 new clients at the end of 2018.”

If you know WHAT it is that you want, then the rest of the steps to follow will make much more sense.  Which leads us to the next question… HOW do you reach your goal?

Reverse Engineer The End Result

Reverse Engineer: taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object.

Put this simple definition into goal setting and you create the path to success.  A common habit across highly effective people is brain dumping all your thoughts into the written word.

Break down each task that needs to be achieved as a prerequisite to meet a goal.  In marketing, a goal hierarchy includes strategies, objectives and tasks.

Building off your goal to earn more money by acquiring more clients at a predetermined date, let’s look at how a single client is acquired.

The strategy is to recruit a clients through digital sourcing on social media.

The objective is to contact 20 leads on Linkedin each day.

The task is to send a templated InMail to each lead.

When you think backwards, now you have steps you can take to acquire one lead.  Rinse and repeat that process 20 more times and you suddenly reach your goal.  Remember though, goals are meant to be smart, measurable, achievable, result-oriented and time-bound.  So don’t be unrealistic in goal-setting.

Surround Yourself With The Right People

Have you ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat?”  It’s true that good food makes us perform better while bad food puts a toll on our physical and mental energy.  The same rings true for the people we decide to surround ourselves with.

It makes sense then to choose to include people who share the same goals and values we do.  Here’s a homework assignment for you: Pick five people in the world that you would like to sit at a dinner table with.  These people can be anyone alive.

Six degrees of separation is a theory that any person on the planet can be connected to any person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediators.  If you wanted Michelle Obama at your dinner table for instance, I bet there’s someone in your network that can introduce you to her.

The point is, you should identify these key people that are going to push you towards your goal and lean on them for mentorship, partnership and inspiration. As Entrepreneur James Cash Penny once said, “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the results of forces working together.”

Do the Work!

There is no substitute for hard work.  It’s okay to dream about the end-goal, but at the end of the day you will need to act on your passion.  You will need to address the WHY.  Without answering “why am I doing this” you will quickly give up.

If it were easy everyone would do it.

This is a very intrinsic question that fulfills a much deeper ambition inside you.  You may want to earn $100,000 as a goal but how does that money translate into happiness in your life?   Even worse, talking about accomplishing a goal makes it less likely to happen in the first place.

Once you start doing the work, embrace the sacrifices and failures you will inevitably encounter. You will discover whether the goal you set out to achieve is still worth it.  Remember that passion plus work equals success.

“Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.” ~Thomas Edison.

Learn From Your Failures

Only through self-reflection can you iterate and improve on your shortcomings.  It’s important to measure progress based on the benchmarks you set for yourself in earlier steps. Maybe you fell short on reaching your client acquisition goal.  Jump into the response rate to each of the messages you sent.  Identify possible solutions to improve the weak points.

For instance, perhaps changing the wording of an InMail on Linkedin can yield better results.  Or the leads you pitched to were not the decision-makers or industry you needed to appeal.  When you identify the successes you have, you can begin to recognize a pattern and replicate the good while eliminating the bad strategies.

And now you’ve come full circle on 5 steps to grow your career. The next part of the process is to take what you’ve learned and refine goals to be smarter.  Life is an ongoing learning process.  You may stop for the world, but the world will not stop for you.

Sell Yourself (Your Personal Brand)

One final important key to keep in mind. Gone are the days where people would join one employer for life.  The average number of years a person sticks with his/her company is 4.2 years.  The invention of the internet has made it easier for people to connect across the globe.

It’s no surprise then that your online presence can make or break personal and professional success. To benefit most from your reputation, you should learn the ABCs of personal branding.

Following them can open up doors to leadership, a steady stream of ideal clients, credibility and so much more.