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By Ruth Tearle

Each new year begins with a promise to ourselves. This year will be different from last year. This is the year when we will achieve something we've always wanted. This is the year we will be happy and fulfilled. Yet, halfway through the year - we find that we are nowhere near achieving what we wanted. Instead we are buried under the same frustrating duties, responsibilities, stresses, and expectations that made last year so frustrating. We look enviously at the people who seem to glide easily through life.

What makes some people achieve success so easily -whilst others struggle year after year.

What is success?

Success is about achieving mastery in a specific area. Mastery in turn provides results such as money, health, fitness, qualifications, fame or recognition. Ruth Tearle.

Whenever we are trying to get a different result (whether it is losing weight, getting fit, learning to play a musical instrument, studying for a qualification, or tackling a work project) we are dealing with the mastery of success.

The dictionary defines success as “The favorable outcome of something attempted.”


The six steps to managing success.

cupThere are six basic steps to achieving success. These are:

  1. Create a goal you wish to achieve or choose a new challenge you wish to attempt.
  2. Break this large goal into tiny, bite sized chunks.
  3. Take some time every day to concentrate on mastering these bite-sized chunks.
  4. Learn from the masters.
  5. Be disciplined. Practice, get feedback, and learn about what works and doesn't - until you achieve mastery yourself.
  6. Then enjoy the fruits of your labours. Celebrate the achievement of your larger goal. Your success.

While many people follow these basic steps, some still enjoy more success than others. What is it that makes the difference?

Characteristics of unsuccessful people

Unsuccessful people tend to share the following characteristics. They:

    At any one moment, you can only truly focus on one thing at a time.

    Multi-tasking is the enemy of focus. Ruth Tearle.

  • Do too much: They believe that being busy or working hard is enough to make them successful. They are inflicted with the superman or superwoman syndrome. They expect themselves to be successful at everything they do. They have too many goals to achieve simultaneously. Often when you ask them what their focus for the year is, they have to consult a piece of paper to remember it all.
  • Get easily distracted. They have so much to do that they are constantly multi-tasking. While this approach helps them to achieve more routine tasks in a short time period, it prevents the single-minded focus that is required to successfully master anything new or complex.
  • Chase results rather than focusing on personal mastery. For example their goals might be: to achieve a certain sales target, to win a road race, or to write a best selling novel. Unlike mastery, these type of results depend on the choices of others. Focusing on results rather than mastery means they rely on things that are beyond their control. This often leads to disappointment.
  • not-about-me
  • Wait for a Cinderella experience. They wait for someone else to make them successful. They believe that there is someone out there who will discover them and make them rich or famous. A big corporation is just waiting to invest time and money in their invention, or to sponsor their event. Of course, in the real world, there is no prince charming who will rescue them.
  • Expect instant results. Unlike professionals who spend three to four hours a day over a period of many years, building up their skills or fitness, unsuccessful people believe they can achieve the same result in a few weeks. And so you find people who believe they will be fit enough to cycle a 100km race within 2 weeks. Or build a business in a few months part time, similar to one that took their competitors ten years to build. Instead of instant results, all they achieve is disappointment, injuries, burnout, stress, and failure. Their confidence suffers as they watch how easily others seem to achieve success.
  • Stop: blaming, making excuses and complaining. Start: focusing on what you can do, each day. Ruth Tearle.
  • Need others to approve of their idea, and help them, before they risk their own time and energy. By not taking their own risk, they come across as uncommitted to their own ideas. This makes others less likely to support them. And waiting for others to share their passion is like waiting for Godot. They will spend the rest of their life waiting.
  • Choose the wrong goals. They choose goals to impress others, rather than the goals that fill them with excitement. So they never have the energy to work on their goal to completion.
  • Expect to be instantly competent and are too scared to ask for help or to learn from others. They fail to accept that learning is part of achievement. And for learning to occur, one has to go through a learning curve - a time when one isn't competent, and has to rely on others.

Characteristics of successful people

Successful people:

  • Believe in the philosophy of ‘less is more’, ‘quality rather than quantity.’
  • They have energy and passion because they choose goals that excite and inspire them.
  • They create a habit of achieving. They spend time carefully choosing a few goals to focus on. They achieve these goals before moving on to newer goals.
  • They break their goals up into smaller tasks that can be achieved within an hour or two’s ‘practice session.’
  • They create chunks of interrupted time each day to achieve their goals. Time they devote to thinking, learning, practice and mastery of new skills.
  • They are committed to their own success. They jealously guard their ‘practice time’ against distractions, interruptions or crises caused by others.
  • “When you focus your full attention on a task, you bring both your conscious and subconscious brain to work. This allows magic, creativity and inspiration in.”

    Ruth Tearle

  • They focus their attention fully on their learning or practice, during their allocated time.
  • They do the doable, rather than the impossible. They understand that they are human and have only so many hours each day. They understand that some days they may not be able to focus on their goals, and are kind to themselves when this happens. But they are disciplined enough to return to their programme the following day.
  • They have confidence in themselves. They believe passionately in their goal, and know that doing a bit each day will help them to achieve their goal.
  • They don’t focus on the end results. Rather they focus on the things they have power to do themselves, which will in turn influence the end results they seek. So they will focus on studying, rather than on the qualification. They will focus on meeting and responding to their customers’ needs, rather than the number of sales they can make. They will focus on taking time out to exercise each day, or eating healthily rather than on their weight.
  • Each year they build a foundation for the year ahead so they are not always starting anew. They develop networks, relationships, knowledge, skills, processes, and systems to continuously make things easier for themselves.
  • They seek help. Even though they may be an acknowledged master in their own comfort zones, they seek out a ‘master’ to guide them in their new focus areas. Someone who has achieved a similar goal in the past. Someone who can teach and inspire them.
  • They create blocks of time in their diaries devoted to the different roles they need to play. They have meeting times, administrative work times, family time, time for personal goals, study time, sport time. They let other people know how they have structured their day and why they can't help others at certain times.
  • They manage their time well. They learn to say “no” to additional tasks and responsibilities, which will distract them from their goals, or cause unnecessary stress. They constantly spring clean their lives – eliminating tasks that are no longer critical, and creating blocks of time for goal related work.

In short, success is about following a simple formula:



Focus + discipline + support = success.

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