If there’s one thing you and I share in common, is that we are all trying to succeed. We may have different goals, but our desire to achieve them may not differ that much. One of the strategies we must use if we hope to ever accomplish our dreams, is that we have to keep learning. I have learned much this past year. Hopefully this is something that could be of use to you as well.

1. Striving for success is uncomfortable (at least initially)

We have said it before: If becoming a success story was easy, everyone would be one. More often than not, when pursuing your dreams, you encounter obstacles you otherwise would never have imagined if you didn’t pursue them. This just means you are now leaving your comfort zone.

This is where progress truly happens. But at the expense of your energy and sanity sometimes. For example, you have finally finished writing your book. But will it sell? How do you sell it? All these questions and more, aimed at crippling you from moving forward.

ACTION POINT: Keep going. The first time is always the hardest. But once you write that first blog post, make that first game, sell that first handmade wallet, you will understand that success lies beyond your doubts and what you think is preventing you from attaining it.

2. There is no substitute for working hard

In a world where “cutting corners” has become a way of life for many, there’s still no substitute for working hard. Your audience deserves the best of what you have to offer. And you can’t offer your best work if you cheat or do a sloppy job.

Working hard is about putting in more effort and dedication into whatever it is you are doing. Maybe its 8 pm and you are tired, but you know that you must finish planning out your Shark Tank pitch before next week. So you go online, you read and research for as long as it will take to have yourself convinced that you are ready. This is working hard.

ACTION POINT: Where there is passion you will easily find dedication. Make sure you do what you love and you will gain a greater chance at putting more effort and heart into it.

3. The best opportunities are created (not realized)

I no longer believe in luck that is not caused. Especially when we talk about pursuing our dreams. I don’t think I would get featured in a video game developer magazine if I didn’t make video games. To get featured is hard. But it’s just plain impossible if you aren’t a game developer at all.

This is how great and also important opportunities show up. Opportunities related to what you are after. And the more you work towards your dream, the greater these opportunities will be.

ACTION POINT: The kinds of opportunities necessary for accomplishing your dream, won’t show up until you do your part in developing that dream, to the most you can.

4. You can never stop learning

No matter the setback you are going through, there is always a solution out there. You can learn a lot from those that have gone before in your field of endeavor. Whether it’s in a book, a blog post, podcast, lecture or even seminar the solution to any problem you are facing exists.

This will also help you move faster. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel, as they say. You don’t have to stay stuck or take a lifetime to achieve what you set out to achieve. Because someone somewhere has documented that part for you.

ACTION POINT: Make it a habit to learn something daily. Whether it’s about your industry, having a healthy mind, exercising or even pursuing your dreams. There’s an endless supply of wisdom and remedies for most problems dreamers face.

5. Time is you most valuable resource

Despite popular belief, time can never be saved or paused. Once December 25th 2014 goes, it will never come back. That is why the most important thing you could give anyone (including yourself), is your time. Every single human being has the same exact time budget everyday which is 24 hours. But how are you spending yours?

Most successful people value their time more than their money. Money you can always get back, but never time. So them giving you just 5 minutes of their time, is a really big deal. And do you know who they spend most of their time on? Themselves. To better themselves and be around the ones they care for.

ACTION POINT: Start treating your time like its precious because it is. The truth is that if you don’t use your time carefully, someone else will… use your time… for bettering themselves.

6. There is no value in beating yourself up

Sometimes we do things that we aren’t proud of and we end up cursing ourselves. Call ourselves inappropriate names. Maybe we even cry and just go into depression. But that doesn’t help matters.

There’s no use in crying over spilt milk unless your tears can turn back the hands of time. What we can do is learn. Now we know what NOT to do to get spilt milk. This is an important lesson to note. Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.

ACTION POINT: Keep moving forward. There are countless obstacles waiting to demoralize you by letting you dwell on your setbacks. You can’t cry every time you hit a wall. Climb over it. Success is probably on the other side.

7. There is a leader in us all

I’m not talking about what we have come to understand about what a leader is today. I’m going back to the textbook definition. One who takes charge and leads by example. Before we lead others though, we must first learn to lead ourselves.

That’s the leader I’m talking about. The one in you. The one that can and should take the first step by leading by example. If you have a dream, then you need to start pursuing it. Don’t point at others. Look to yourself for drive, motivation and purpose. And act!

ACTION POINT: Be in control of your own life and the outcomes you are getting. You can do something about it because it is your life after all. The power to take you from A to B is all within you. Lead yourself to the success you crave.

8. Reflection is vital for your personal development

You need to stop and take the time to reflect on recent events. It’s almost like travelling long distance to a place you have never been before. Sometimes you must stop, consult a map or ask someone if you are headed in the right direction. You don’t want to get really far only to realize you missed a turn miles ago.

This can so easily happen in our lives. Based on your everyday actions you could easily drift to a destination that you didn’t intend. And when we eventually realize this wasn’t our intended destination, it starts to feel like it’s too late to turn back.

Every decision and action you take daily must be geared towards something great of YOUR choosing. The best way to ensure this is to have a plan. Whether it’s one for your life or your goals, you need to have a plan. You then need to reflect regularly to see if what you are doing over time, is helping you stay on course of that plan.

ACTION POINT: We live in a world that constantly seeks our attention. Every now and then set aside some quality time with your heart. Away from noise, people and distractions. Figure out what it’s important to you and how you can work towards achieving what truly matters.

9. Who you surround yourself with matters greatly

Now this one is tricky because you probably think I mean that if you know wealthy and successful people with connections, then you need to make them your friends. Those are probably nice friends to have but that is NOT my point.

Consider the people behind certain books, blogs, podcasts and the ones that are around you. How do any of these people contribute to your personal development? My father isn’t around me all the time but he is essential in my personal growth because of the wisdom, knowledge… that he shares with me. My work colleagues, other friends here and back home as well. Not forgetting Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Michael Hyatt and other related podcasters.

These people are positive influences in my life and provide other (and more important) kinds of support outside money and connections. Sometimes striving for success is a mind-war and the kind of help you will need lies in having people like these around.

ACTION POINT: Be intentional about who you give your time and attention to when you make the time to do so. Every moment that passes has the potential to give you an opportunity to grow. Some people will respect this time… but some people won’t.

10. Respect is a two way street

You should NOT expect respect if you do not give respect. I have come to appreciate all those who have respect for me. And I always hope that I show even more respect towards them than they have towards me. I’m human. I make mistakes. But if I can correct myself, I make the effort to do so. Respect is important.

If you take a look at why a lot of business, personal and even intimate relationships fail, many times it’s because respect was compromised. Would you do business with someone that doesn’t respect you? Make friends with them? Or even get into a relationship with them?

Can you seriously expect to make a successful long term business if you don’t respect your customers?

People connect with people. Not institutions. Not ideas. Not products. Not lifestyles. It doesn’t matter that they are older, younger, richer or poorer than you are. If you don’t give people respect their natural response will eventually be to stay away from you.

ACTION POINT: You can’t go wrong by showing respect. Respect people. Respect their time, opinions, choices or don’t expect them to return the favor. There are opportunities that you have missed and will continue to miss if you do not learn to show respect towards people that have no obligation to be around you.

11. You cannot succeed alone

Sometimes we think we have everything figured out about pursuing our dreams. For a while I thought I did as well. But my success will greatly depend on the influence of others, more than I initially realized. Your’ s as well.

As long as you are human, you will need emotional, financial, mental, physical and depending your faith, even spiritual support. You cannot take care of all these needs by yourself. It’s impossible. No one is that perfect. We weren’t built that way. Humans were built to exist in community. It’s why solitary confinement in prisons exists.

ACTION POINT: Set aside fear, pride and shame to do the actions that bring you closer to your dream including asking for help… from those that also want to see you succeed. There may even come a time when they will require your help as well, to accomplish their goals.

12. Gratitude leads to happiness

I have always believed that happiness is not sought, it is realized. Sometimes we are just so used to complaining about everything around us that we don’t take the time to appreciate the things that truly matter.

The relationships we have with our loved ones. We could have had psychopaths for relatives and friends, but instead we have healthy and supportive people in our lives that many will never know.

I’m happy I can see, walk, listen, learn, develop, write… Because those who can’t, know that some of us take these things for granted. I can dream and act towards building that dream. Because that’s who I am. That’s what I was given or had to develop. But not everyone can have what I have. Maybe because they can’t physically do it. Or maybe because they don’t believe they can. So I’m grateful that.. I do believe :)

ACTION POINT: Negativity yields no desired results. Having a positive mindset towards everything you do will show you possibilities that can’t be realized by focusing on what you lack. This is key to your ultimate satisfaction. See the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. You will slowly begin to see just how blessed you really are.

13. Procrastination will be the death of your dreams

Death is probably too strong of a word, but it truly does explain it best. Wanting to achieve greatness is only a quarter of the fight. The remaining 3 quarters is taking action.

We keep putting off doing things that matter to our hearts like it’s no big deal. We convince ourselves that we just can’t do right now because we don’t have the time. But I previously said that we all have 24hours of time in our daily budget. How do successful people exists and how come I’m not one of them?

Priorities. There must be more important things than my dreams because I can’t make the time for them. I keep saying tomorrow or next week or even next year, when I reset my resolutions.

Nothing will move, if you don’t cause it. Same way a bicycle won’t move if you don’t get on it and start pedaling.

ACTION POINT: These are your dreams and goals. No one else’s. Prove to yourself that they are so important to you, by working on them NOW. If some activity/event takes priority over your dream, then the sad truth is that they were never important to begin with.

14. You are more capable than you think

That is all I have to say about this point. Whoever is telling you that you can’t do what you know you must do, tell them to shut-it. Even if that person is you, just refuse to listen to that lie.

It’s amazing to see how people hold themselves back from pursuing their dreams. Equipped with excuses and even legitimate reasons why pursuing something won’t work.

The most important reason why people’s dreams DON’T even take off is failure. People fear failing. Some to the point that they won’t even start. Others may have started, but come across a couple of obstacles and decide to quit then.

Failure is never final. As long as you are willing to learn from it, you can get back up and keep moving forward. You have this in you. You should trust yourself to see yourself to the very end of your journey. Set-backs exist because we don’t know everything. We can’t predict everything that will happen in the future. But we can predict and even control how we will respond to it. Like refusing to quit.

ACTION POINT: Stop having crippling conversations with yourself. Start asking the right questions. Instead of asking “Can I do it?”, ask “When can I start doing it?”. Instead of wondering “Do I have what it takes?”, start wondering “What do I need to do/learn/gain to get to the next step of my dream?”. Look for solutions and not excuses.

15. Love is the key to everything

Yes. That’s right. Love. This was the biggest eye-opening experience I went through when I realized this. You need to show love in everything you do, and to everyone you engage with.

Think about it yourself. How much more time, effort and dedication would you put into your dream if it wasn’t something you loved?

What about your audience? Would you be able to serve them better if you had love for them? Not thaaaaaaat kinda love. But what I ask is how much better would your relationships with your customers be if you cared?

If you don’t love what you are doing, who you are serving or anything else about your life… I can only imagine how stressful life must seem for you.

ACTION POINT: The world has enough self-centered, narcissistic and heartless people. For the sake of a better tomorrow for you and the younger generation you care about, it doesn’t need one more. And as I have said before, we were meant to exist in community. We could use a couple of loveable people right about now. And for love to have true impact, it must be shown and not just said.

In conclusion

I’m truly committed to seeing myself through to the end of my journey and I can only hope that these points will constantly be a reminder of what I must do to not only succeed, but to succeed in a way that makes me feel good about myself at no expense to my morals or other people.

People keep saying that nice guys finish last. And I have been told that I’m a nice guy. And I responded in agreement by saying, “True. Nice guys do finish last… when they are trying to win the wrong race”.

Never forget that this is your life which you have complete control over. No one but you can hold your own dreams hostage. The outcomes you want shouldn’t come to you by accident. You should cause them.

How about you? I would be interested to know what kind of lessons you had to learn that helped you regain focus on what was important to you. Please share your thoughts below.