How to be Successful

Being successful is subjective. What success is, varies from one group of people to another, but in each of these groups, common traits can be identified amongst the people they deem to have risen above mediocrity. These traits can be used in any scenario and can be applied to any person.

Below I’ve compiled a list of what I believe the best traits to inhabit are in order to achieve a higher level of success, and how I’ve used these traits to progress my own career and well-being.

Being Goal-oriented

If your vision is to achieve more than you’re currently achieving, you need to set goals in order to make any progress. Without them, your life will stagnate and you won’t be able move onwards and upwards. You’ll have no yardstick to measure your progress against and you’ll figuratively be ‘pissing in the wind,’ no one wants to do that.

Setting goals works for most things in life and you’ll be much more likely to achieve something the instant you make it into a goal. These can include:

Fitness – If you’ve ever been to the gym without a solid fitness goal for a prolonged period of time, you’ll know that most of the time you make barely any progress. That’s because you need to be constantly pushing your body outside of its comfort zone in order to grow stronger. If you don’t set goals, your bodies natural reaction will be to exercise within it’s comfort zone and you won’t see any progress.

As soon as you tell yourself to lift that extra 1 kilogram per session or run that extra mile each week, something magical will happen; within a couple of months you’ll be so much stronger and fitter. You will be amazed at what you can achieve with only small increments.

Finances – Without setting goals for your finances, you’ll find it very hard to stay motivated on the pathway to financial independence. Achieving any amount of wealth is an ambitious pursuit and you’ll be sure to give up if you don’t give yourself a little respite by acknowledging that you’ve met smaller goals along the way.

I’ve set a £100k goal for 2019 in my end of year review, I’m excited and eager to achieve it. Without it, my long term goal of achieving financial independence would feel so far away that I’d instead feel demotivated.

Financial goals can also be set to promote other positive actions in your life, for example: donating a certain amount to charity, growing your children’s education funds, and getting out of debt.

Side hustles – Creating a successful side hustle is a difficult task. The definition of side hustle is an income which is generated from a pursuit that takes place on the side of your main income earning job. This means that most people don’t have much time to dedicate to side hustles.

These hours normally take place during the early morning, late evening, or at the weekend. We need goals to motivate us to spend our free time working, goals that are achievable but also goals that are moonshots*. We need them to help us envision what we want to achieve and to positively reinforce our vigor, making us work harder and longer.

Learning – It’s always nice to have goals whilst learning something new. When you’re working towards achieving a goal, your learning speed can accelerate. A great example for this is when you’re learning how to program in a certain language, setting a goal of making an application is a sure fire way to keep you motivated. As you’ll have a clear goal in sight, your days won’t be full of monotonous videos or other learning resources, instead, you’ll be working toward an end goal.

Always challenging yourself

In order to improve at all things in life, you need to challenge yourself. You should always be testing your limits with whatever you do. If you stay in your comfort zone, you’ll never learn and grow but if you leave it, the sky is your limit.

Challenging yourself keeps your mind and body sharp, the more hardship we endure, the stronger we’ll become. Try going for that position that is double your current salary, ask that girl who you think is way out of your league on a date, write that novel, start that blog.

Even going outside in the winter without your coat on or getting in a freezing cold shower will be good for you. You need to push your limits to make them expand further, you’re capable of so much more!


“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is a quote that has rung true for centuries. Without a plan, you have no direction. You only have so much time on this world to achieve your dreams, your time should be treated like the precious resource that it is. You should be ensuring that you maximise your happiness in the time that you have and to do this you need to plan!

I plan my yearly budget in advanced so that I know that I can still meet my savings goals. Doing so informs me of how much I need to put aside each month, it also lets me know how much I can designate to holidays or luxury items.

Whenever I go on holiday, I make a plan to ensure that I get to do all of the things that I want to do. No one wants to spend their time and money booking the trip of a lifetime and end up missing out on a special event due to not making a reservation.


Everyone, throughout their lives, make good decisions and bad ones. If you analyse these decisions, it’s a sure-fire way to bolster your good decisions and trim down the bad. People say that if you don’t fail, you’re not learning and you’ll only learn from your past mistakes if you analyse them.

I analyse my savings each month in my savings spreadsheet. This keeps me informed of my progress throughout my savings journey and means I can adjust accordingly by looking at the data.

You can also analyse many other things such as: Why you had an argument with your partner, why you failed a job interview, and why you didn’t get that promotion. Analysing unlocks the true potential of mistakes; learning.

Creating Positive Habits

Humans are lazy by nature, if you don’t force yourself to create positive habits, you’ll find it much harder to achieve your larger goals. Take this blog for example, blogging is hard work. You need to write on average 1 article per week for months, sometimes years, before you even earn a single penny. Some bloggers then go on to earn 6 figures.

These are some of my own positive habits:

Working on my blog each lunch time – Most people spend their lunch breaks going to buy food or talking with friends. I spend each lunch time working on my blog. Doing so allows me to spend 1 solid hour per day working on my own personal project which I enjoy. I can then either spend time with my partner when I get home, or work on other side-hustles.

Reading factual books whilst on the train – I commute into work each morning. I don’t spend this time playing on phone games or scrolling through my social media feeds. I spend this time reading books that I will learn from. I also spend this time drafting blog posts! Again, this gives me more free time at home.

Listening to podcasts whilst in the shower – When you don’t drive into work, it’s much harder to find the time to consume podcasts, but there are so many excellent sources of information in them, I needed to make time by creating a positive habit. I make sure that each time I have a shower or bath, I listen to a podcast. This is an excellent way to be doing something extra productive when you usually would just be cleaning yourself.

Applying to 1 new job each year – Even if I’m happy in my current position I still apply to at least 1 new job per year. This keeps my wits sharp and means that I won’t start becoming too comfortable. Most of the time, I apply for positions that are a much higher pay than my current package (as I’m just applying for interview practice anyway). Sometimes, like what’s happened to me for my last 3 positions, you’ll get the job!

Doing something new each month – Life is better lived when you’re trying new things, they create new synapse bridges in your brain and your experiences seem like they last longer. Have you ever had a feeling that your year has just flown by? That as you get older, time moves quicker? That’s because you’re not experiencing many new things.

These new things can be in the form of anything: Cook or bake something new, eat something you’ve never eaten before, visit a new place, or try a sport you’ve never done before. New experiences equate to a happier and longer (seeming) life which leads to a greater sense of joy and fulfillment.


This is the most important trait of all. In order to achieve anything that is truly great in your life, you need perseverance. The harder you have worked for something, the more sweet it will taste when you finally succeed.

Have you ever played a video game that seemed like it should be good but you were left feeling dissatisfied and unhappy at the games conclusion? Most of the time this feeling relates to games that were completed quickly with little to no challenges along the way.

Games that truly challenged you, games that had you cursing in anger at the amount of times you failed or holding back rage when all that you worked towards was crushed. These are the ones that fill you with a sense of pride and joy when you’ve completed them. Life is a direct correlation of this. Work hard, persevere through the boring parts, the difficult parts, and you’ll be able to achieve everything and anything.


16 thoughts on “How to be Successful

  1. Wholeheartedly agree with the “Perseverance” point! I setup a digital agency 5 years ago working from my bedroom working after the usual 9 to 5 till 2am in the morning solidly for 6 months to get it off the ground. Now employ 11 staff and have two offices in the UK!

    I’m definitely lacking on the fitness side of things – mainly the issue of balancing my time out!

  2. Totally agree about working during lunch hour. I do the exact same thing for my blog work. An hour lunch is too long anyway, so I take a 15 minute walk and then eat and work on my blog for 45 minutes.

    1. It’s sometimes nice to know that you’ve only got half an hour or 45 minutes to work on something, it kind of focuses you! I think some of my best writing has come from zoning out, listening to some music and writing through lunch.

  3. I think that all of this is very true. The theme that seems to underlie it all is the discipline which you have in your habits bit. Approaching things systematically, with a plan and a goal and then turning up every day is what’s needed for success.

    The only thing that I would add is to learn how to fail. Failure will come to us all in some form or the other. Get up. Keep on going. Learn how to deal with it Success comes to those who are still there on the other side.

    1. Excellent point Caveman, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough (or trying enough new things!) 🙂

  4. Very good post, SN.

    Setting goals is key – before I set mine, I was happily drifting but with nowhere to go, nothing to aim for. Now I have purpose! 🙂

    I’m not sure I’d want to adopt some of the habits you mentioned (applying for a new job each year fills me with horror!) but doing something new sounds good. I did do that in the early days of blogging for something different to write about but I was getting distracted. At least I’ll be visiting some new places on holiday this year, so I guess that will count for something.

    And yes, perserverance – I think I can confidently say that I have some of this, with the post I’ll be publishing shortly!

    “Games that truly challenged you, games that had you cursing in anger at the amount of times you failed or holding back rage when all that you worked towards was crushed.”

    Hah, I know you were in successful raiding guilds in WoW but I wasn’t and recall spending HOURS wiping on raids so you can imagine how sweet when we finally defeated a boss haha!

    1. You’ve definitely nailed perseverance Weenie! 😛 Gratz again on 5 years, amazing.

      Hah, yeah, some of those raid clears were sooo satisfying. We still wiped a lot, only difference is you probably didn’t have someone screaming at you 😛

      1. Cheers!

        We used Vent in those days, so yes, there was a lot of screaming and as the only Hunter in the group, I was occasionally trigger-happy and pulled a bit too early….or stood in the fire, oops! 😀

  5. Great post, SN!

    I know I’m at my post effective when I’ve set a goal and make it a habit to work towards it every day, even if only for a short while each time (say, 20-30 minutes a day). Doesn’t mean that I always have the discipline to set that goal, but once I do, I’m away!

    One thing I disagree with at the moment is to work on a side-project during lunch. For me, the chance to stand up, stretch my legs and socialise with colleagues is more important. I feel as though I need to take a break in order to work more effectively in the afternoon.

    I can definitely relate with the idea that the most memorable videogame experiences tend to be the most challenging! I remember being lost on an old RPG when I was about 7-8, and being stuck for years! This was way before the internet had guides for every game as soon as they’re released. When I finally figured out what to do, it was incredible! And I still remember it, nearly 20 years later.

    And finally, I like the idea of doing something new each month. It’s too easy to fall into a routine and suddenly realise half a year has flown by.

    1. Yeah, all humans (at least the ones I know) naturally defer things and procrastinate, unless you’re really excited about something. But whatever it is, the excitement will die away eventually and you’ll need to set yourself a goal and make it into a habit in order to see it through!

      Yeah, as I think the lunch thing would be different depending on what company you work for (and if there’s anything to be gained from doing well at your job!) Some big companies are just so bad and politicy (not a word) that it’s almost a work culture to do less.

      Bloody hell I’m sorry you were stuck on a video game for years, glad you finally got through it 😛 What was it?

      1. Not only do I find lunch a good time to unwind, but I then usually end up talking to a colleague about the work that we’re doing, which helps to give me ideas! Thankfully I haven’t noticed any politics at work yet. Maybe because, in academia, everyone at my level is on a fixed term contract, so promotion within a university isn’t an option.

        It was Final Fantasy Adventure on the original Gameboy. It’s not that the game itself was difficult, I just ended up lost and unsure how to progress. Some years later, I finally figured it out, and then finished the game not long after!

        1. There was a Final Fantasy Tactics game which took me nearly two years to complete. Wasn’t on the original GB, think it was GB advance.

  6. This was a solid post. Nothing new but still very valuable information. Perseverance and consistency are keys to success. I admire your lunch-time habit. Is it normal to have that long lunch breaks in your country?

    – Nordic Fire

    1. Thanks Erik 🙂

      Yea – 1h is normal, normally we have 7 hours working per day with 1 hour for lunch (8 total). What are your days like where you are? (Where are you from :O?)

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