On Achieving Success in Life

I’ve recently graduated from high school and my entire life is ahead of me. I’m not quite sure what I want to do in life. Can you tell me what you see as the key ingredients to success in life? (Q&A from GMA viewer 2010)

No fear, baby! That’s number one.

I love that you’re asking this question at such an important crossroad.  Success in life is often equated with career success, yet it’s so much more than that. It’s also about how much joy we experience along the way and the quality of our relationships too.

When people look back on their lives, they most often regret decisions that were made from a place of fear: fear of disappointing our parents, fear of failure, fear of rejection…fear of making a mistake.   So when you face decisions about major steps in your life, come from a place of faith… faith in yourself, your talents, your dreams, and in the power of following your passion.  When it comes to absolutely believing in the vision of your success, Michael Jordan says, “The worst that can happen is it doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would.”  So it’s up to you to create that vision of success. How?

Follow your passion.  This is number two.  If you don’t know what your passion is, write a list of all the things you’re good at and all the things you find exciting. Ask people you trust to reflect back to you what they think are your gifts, and what they observe your passions to be.  College is a great place to find out where your passions lie and develop your talents.  Remember, if you’re doing something you don’t love, then every hurdle becomes a reason to quit instead of another useful lesson.  Do what you’re good at, do what you love doing, and you will be successful. You don’t have to know exactly where your passion is going to lead you. You just need to pursue it with excitement, dedication, and follow through.

Speaking of ‘follow through’….

The best way to build and maintain self-esteem is to keep promises to your self.  Read that twice.

When it comes to friendships and love relationships, don’t choose them, or stay in them, based on fear of being alone or a need for approval.  Choose them based on the joy they bring you and the way they show their love.  Fill your life with people whom you respect; who love you for being you and support you in your dreams.  Always ask yourself, “Can I be myself with this person?”

You are young, and probably feel immortal, but another key (#3) is taking care of your health.  Go easy on your liver and find some way to move your body every day.  People in their forties who start running, swimming, or doing yoga always say they wish they’d started younger. Exercise is going to keep the ‘happy chemicals’ going in your brain.  So, if you can prioritize taking care of your body while you pursue your dreams and relationships, you’re going to live life at such a high level of daily fulfillment that you will have every reason to leap out of bed in the morning.

I’m very excited for you!