It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t seem to be coming together according to plan. You’ve put in the work, written a great book, built an author website and email list, learned marketing techniques, and you’re still not a millionaire.
Surely by now you should’ve had hundreds of thousands of adoring fans plus a yacht somewhere off the coast of Monaco where you write on your gold-plated MacBook.
Stop right there. You’re caught in a negativity spiral—the dreaded thought storm where all you can see is what you haven’t achieved instead of all the things you’ve done well.
What’s needed is a mindset overhaul. You need to hit the “reset” button on your attitude so that you can focus on what matters, tune out the distractions, and propel yourself towards where you want to be.
We’ve created a simple three-step plan you can use to reset your success attitude starting today!
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
The first step to increasing both your success and your perception of your own success is to stop comparing yourself to others.
You probably have a whole bunch of email newsletter subscriptions to influencers and entrepreneurs who regular send out blasts about “Make $10k while you sleep!” or “Dave brought in a million bucks and a pony by taking this one course!” That’s what you see when you open your inbox first thing in the morning, and it colors your perception of how you’re doing in your own life and business.
I’m not going to suggest that you immediately unsubscribe from all those newsletters; they’re often filled with great insights and tips that you can use to help bolster your success.
But what you need to remember when you see all these crazy, grand success stories is that they’re just that—stories. They were plotted and scripted for maximum impact.
The email about the $50,000 launch doesn’t include the story about that same author’s dismal $19.71 launch at the beginning of her writing journey. It doesn’t include all the years she spent gaining the knowledge that went into creating that book.
Oh, and usually it doesn’t include the army of people she has helping her, like a virtual assistant, production specialist, graphic designer, marketing assistant, etc.
There’s no reason to feel bad that you don’t have identical results when you’re an entirely different person!
Instead of comparing yourself to others and asking “Why are they killing it and I’m stuck here,” try examining their story and their route to success. See if you can replicate any of their steps—or whether you might already have taken some of them.
If you can’t replicate them, that’s fine! You’re a different person and your path will be different from theirs. Look instead at the qualities that helped them succeed, then nurture those qualities in yourself, taking time to concentrate on your determination and grit, perhaps, or your ability to reach out to and engage just about anyone.
By focusing on harnessing and enhancing your good qualities instead of despairing because you haven’t yet reached someone else’s benchmark for success, you’ll make great gains—both personally and professionally.
2. Set SMART Goals
You can’t achieve career success by cruising aimlessly, wandering from one idea to the next in hope that something will stick.
Instead, you need to have goals to guide you. Think of it as a business plan for your career—or even for your life. That sounds rigid, but it really doesn’t have to be. By setting SMART goals, you’re writing a roadmap for how to get to where you want to be.
What do we mean by SMART goals? It’s a term used in business management that’s actually a technique for creating goals that are realistic and achievable. Using this system will help you take a major goal and break it down in a way that you can actually implement, starting today!
A SMART goal must be:
Goals can’t be fuzzy if you want to achieve them. You need to pick a simple, sensible, defined goal to work towards. “I will be rich” doesn’t cut it—but “I will earn $28,000 in writing income this year” does.
It sets a specific amount, a specific way you’ll earn that amount, and a specific timeframe for doing so.
You’ll never know if you’re making progress towards achieving your goal if you can’t measure your results. We measure so much in our lives and our careers—calorie counts, click-through rates, conversions, steps walked in a day—that it’s kind of silly not to be measuring our progress towards our big goals.
Whatever goal you set for yourself, be sure you can measure how you’re progressing. Set mileposts for achievement. For instance, in our example above, “I will earn $28,000 in writing income this year,” you can break it down to earning $2,333 per month…or $7,000 per quarter, which gives you more wiggle room for having a bad month.
In fact, I recommend setting these kinds of dual metrics for yourself. Nothing ever goes according to plan, and allowing yourself to check in and measure your progress in multiple ways helps you maintain a positive mindset and see that you really are going in the right direction…just sometimes with a few bumps.
It might be nice to set a goal of learning to flap your arms and fly to Tahiti, but it’s not likely to happen. All that will come of this goal is increased frustration for you. And that’s not productive at all!
So goals need to be attainable, too. And remember, that means attainable for you, on the scale you’ve chosen, with the resources you have available. So saying “I will make $28,000 in writing income by next month” may be just as unattainable as saying “I will make $13 billion in writing income this year” if you don’t already have a list, a marketing strategy, and a book ready to launch.
Look at your own situation and assess whether your goal is attainable given where you currently are. Don’t say “it’s attainable IF” you do something or IF certain stars align to help you out. It needs to be doable with what you have to work with right this moment (time, energy, money, help, etc.).
Don’t worry—you can set other, bigger goals down the line once you’ve achieved this one and have a whole new arsenal of resources to call on!
No goal has a hope of success if it doesn’t really matter to you. Think about it—if someone comes in and says “Your new goal is to paint your neighbor’s house,” you’re probably not going to take the time and energy needed to accomplish that goal. Other than a nicer view out the side window, you’re not getting much from it!
So when you’re setting your SMART goal, you have to ask yourself WHY you’re setting it. What is the bigger reason behind your goal? Why is it relevant to you?
Maybe you want that $28,000 from writing because you’ve calculated that’s the bare minimum you can live on without a full-time day job. Maybe it’s because it’s the exact amount it will cost for your upcoming wedding. Maybe that’s the price of your dream car. All of these are valid reasons to set the goal, and all of them will help you remember why you’re working so hard to achieve it.
Make your goal relevant to you, not to someone else. It needs to have personal meaning and a personal “reason why,” not be something someone else wants done.
You should also assess your goal to make sure that now is the right time to achieve it—is it relevant in your life right this minute?—and that it aligns with any other goals you’ve set. For instance, a goal to earn $28,000 in writing income this year might not be precisely relevant to your life if you also have goals to complete your PhD in quantum computing and teach your toddler jazz piano this year. You’re going to have to streamline if you want to succeed.
Finally, a SMART goal has to have a defined timeframe. This keeps it from spreading out too far, creating a nebulous end point that you can always shift. It also keeps daily tasks from overwhelming your goal in the short term.
Plus, by setting a time limitation on your goal, you can set up mileposts, like we talked about in the Measurable area. You can break your timeframe up in to smaller pieces where you check in with yourself. If you want to reach your goal in the stated time, where should you be next week? Next month? In six months?
Set mini-goals and mileposts for yourself so that you can check in and course-correct if necessary.
Remember: this doesn’t have to be a hard deadline. You don’t have to say, “I’ll earn $28,000 in writing income by November 13, 2018.” Instead, “a year” will do—it’s specific enough to give you a clear target and ways to measure your progress, but it’s loose enough to give you a little wiggle room on either side. If you take 13 months to earn that income, it’s still a victory!
3. Celebrate Your Victories
Speaking of victories, that’s the third step in resetting your attitude for success. You should always celebrate your victories!
It’s easy to get swept up in all the things we haven’t done. To-do lists never, ever go away entirely and when they seem to magically regenerate every morning like the baddies in a video game, it can be disheartening.
So remember to celebrate your milestones and all the hard work you’ve put in. If you’re aiming to earn that $28,000 from writing this year and building from nothing (no list, no website, you only just wrote the book and got it back from the designer)…celebrate your steps! Pat yourself on the back when you put the book on Amazon Kindle. Give yourself a toast when the first copy sells. Treat yourself to a movie when you break $5,000 in sales. Stand up and cheer (and maybe get some other folks to cheer with you) when you’ve hit the halfway point.
Always notice and appreciate your wins. Scientific studies have shown that thinking positive, rather than focusing on obstacles or things yet undone, has an array of benefits, including improving our physical health and boosting our personal resources.
So by celebrating your wins, you’re helping to move towards the life you want to be living and gaining additional psychological and physical resources to help you live it!
Take a day or two to step away from the constant bustle and churn of influencer emails pitching no-fail keys to success. Sit down and define for yourself what “success” will look like for you, personally, in six months, a year, and/or longer. Then write yourself some SMART goals to get to that personal definition of success. Start taking small steps today to achieve those goals and celebrate your wins every time you hit a mini-goal.
In no time, you’ll be feeling stronger, more confident, and happier—and that equals success!
Reset your thinking to change your definition of success and create actionable steps to achieve your goals.
For more on creating a positive mindset and achieving personal success, read on:
Kate Sullivan is an editor with experience in every aspect of the publishing industry, from editorial to marketing to cover and interior design.
In her career, Kate has edited millions of words and helped dozens of bestselling, award-winning authors grow their careers and do what they love!