How to Set Yourself Up for Success: 8 Key Principles to Get What You Want Out of Life

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

If there’s one thing winners have in common, it’s that they know how to follow instructions.

At 18, I got hired on the spot when I followed instructions on the job application (by doing less work, mind you). I left a whole page blank, which impressed the manager since she asked me, “When can you start?”

Soon after, I was folding clothes, working the register, greeting people, and selling credit cards. This was retail.

Selling cards thrilled me. Managers pushed hard and recognized our work by publicly announcing every closed sale. This made me want to sell even more.

One day, my manager offered me a pro-tip on how to sell, and I repeated the wording till I nailed it verbatim.

Minutes later, I practiced on a customer.

“Would you like to save 15% on your purchase today by opening a credit card? The total will be $34 instead of $40, and I’ll just need your name, number, and email.”

After a successful transaction, my manager chuckled and said, “Maaaan, can we be friends? You’re gonna be a millionaire one day.”

It was nothing extraordinary. I just followed instructions.

When I think back on her comment about me becoming a millionaire, here’s what I do that I believe made her say that about me.


Be resourceful.

Resourcefulness is street smart. Get back to the basics, and figure it out. Whether you take a class, read online, or ask for help, you get to where you’re going by learning the ropes and using your resources.


Know yourself.

Self-awareness is key.

It was a fateful March evening, the night before an exam, and my stress was through the roof. Graduating with my diploma depended on this last final.

A few of us had gathered to form a study group, and as time ticked on, one thing became clear: I needed to study alone. As hard as it was to break away, I went home to solo study.

Only you can know what’s best for you.


Be proactive.

In my early career, I picked up on the habits of leaders I admired.

I noticed how one such leader printed materials ahead of a meeting to her boss’s delight. Sounds basic now, but not to me at 22. Her foresight taught me the value of being proactive.

Anticipate what’s needed and get it done before others get a chance to ask you.


Get it done.

Conventional wisdom had us rise and grind, hustle harder, and work hard, play hard.

While there’s a balance to strike when it comes to pushing yourself, people who attract good things also make it happen.

Like yin and yang, there is a push and pull when it comes to rest and output.


Find a strong support system.

Who you know matters more than what you do.

We all know of someone who got hired because Mom or Dad made a phone call.

Studies show that where and to whom you’re born both affect your life’s trajectory. Opportunities are not equally distributed. Research from Harvard and MIT provides further evidence.

Merit alone seldom does it. Even if you weren’t born to well-connected parents in the right zip code, anyone who ever achieved anything was propped up by the helping hands of an entire village.

Your network and supporters matter.


Stay curious.

In grade five, I went on a field trip to a nature reserve.

We sat near a stream where a ranger spit facts on mussels. With no self-control, I asked, “How do mussels reproduce?”

The following year, we learned about ancient Mayan gods. I asked my teacher, “Why does the textbook spell gods with a small ‘g’ and God with a big G?”

A thirsty mind is one that won’t stop learning.


Believe in yourself.

If you’ve ever been belittled, shamed, or discouraged over time, it can be difficult. Perhaps someone used you as their punching bag due to their own personal problems.

Unpack it, discard it, recover, and rise.

The confidence and courage to bet on yourself can often come from the support of others.

At the end of the day though, you’re the one whose success will hinge on how much you believe in yourself.


Be kind.

In kindness, you restore hope and healing to yourself and others. 

As ambitious and focused as you may be, it never hurts to share your stories, your insights, and your process. That generosity will come back ten-fold and bless you with more beauty and abundance than you could possibly imagine.


Closing Thoughts

Since the time I worked in retail years ago, I learned eight key insights that will set you up for greatness:

  1. Be resourceful
  2. Know yourself
  3. Be proactive
  4. Get it done
  5. Find a support system
  6. Stay curious
  7. Believe in yourself
  8. Be kind

Turns out that forging your own path has its own set of rules. For instance:

Set up passive income streams. Sell an eBook. Create a course. Don’t quit your day job till you reach a certain point with your business, etcetera.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the million dollars. It’s about how you get there.


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