You see ... it is not the circumstances in your life that determine your destination. It is your philosophy. As western novelist Louis L'Amour wrote, "Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be... Everyone has it within his power to say, 'This I am today, that I shall be tomorrow'."
1. Spend some time to think and write down WHAT you believe about success.
If you went to the self-help section of a bookstore, you could easily find a couple hundred books on success. But the only definition of success that really counts ... is yours. Have you taken time to think about? I hope you have ... because if you haven't taken the time to define success, chances are very good you'll end up somewhere else. What does success mean to you? Financially? Relationally? Occupationally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Think about it. Brainstorm all your possible answers, and then write down everything that comes to mind. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Just write, write, write as fast as you can ... capturing all your thoughts. On your second or third draft you can weed out the nonsense and refine your definition of success.
And you don't have to rush it. You may engage in this exercise several times over several weeks. And you may add some "good stuff" you learn from other sources.
That's what I did. For example, part of my philosophy is MAKING EVERY DAY COUNT. I hate wasting time. And I found a great quote from Dr. Heartsill Wilson that helped me reinforce that part of my philosophy. Dr. Heartsill said, "This is the beginning of a new day. I can do with this day what I will. I can waste it or use it for good, but what I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be lost forever leaving in its place what I have traded for it. I want it to be gain and not loss, good and not evil, success and not failure, in order that I shall not regret the price that I have paid for it."
Another part of my philosophy is MAKING SURE I KNOW ... and especially ... KNOW WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT. Some ignoramus said, "Ignorance is bliss." No it's not. As Rohn so often noted, "Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is poverty, tragedy, illness, and devastation. What you don't know will hurt you."
I want to know more, learn more, and out of that, especially know what's most important in life. I don't ever want to lose my focus. So I incorporated the following list into my philosophy. It says:
Three things in life that, once gone, never come back:
Three things in life that can destroy a person:
Three things in life that you should never lose:
Three things in life that are most valuable:
Three things in life that are never certain:
Three things that make a person:
Once you've taken some time to think about and write down what you believe about success, there's a second part to getting your philosophy in shape. You've got to ...
2. Clarify HOW you're going to get it.
In other words, it's not enough to simply have a philosophy. You've got to live by it. Helen Keller, the blind/deaf author and lecturer knew that. She said, "Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose."
So I'd recommend the daily duo. In the morning, take 2 minutes to think about or read over your philosophy. Think about your upcoming day and HOW you're going to live out your philosophy at home and on the job. And then in the evening, take 2 minutes to think about HOW well you lived out your philosophy and where corrections might be needed in the future. The daily duo will help you stay on track, on purpose, and on philosophy.
Another way to help you live out your philosophy is to adopt a set of action statements. The more you reflect on them, the more you'll behave that way. That's why I personally like the creed of the Optimists' Club. You can't go wrong if you adopt their creed. It says:
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
Now the ball is in your court. Take some time to figure out: 1) what you believe about success, and 2) how you're going to get it.