A Simple (but not easy) Formula for Success

Towards a Healthy Mind & Body

simple formula for success

One thing I have learned: the formula for success, for most goals, is pretty simple. But it is not easy to implement. Simple is the opposite of complex. It’s not the opposite of difficult.  So simple does not mean easy.

This is the case if you are trying to have a better outlook on life, lose weight, get fit or are trying to be better motivated to do well in your career or life in general.

In fact, any time you can envisage a better life for yourself.

It’s often said that ‘anything is possible’ or that you should ‘follow your passion for success’.

Sure, anything is possible – but is it likely? Being passionate about what you are doing will give you a head start.  But success requires a more structured approach.


First, Set a Goal

When I am asked by a client about the best way to achieve a goal, I first ensure they have an idea of what they mean by success. I define it quite simply – it is achieving a goal you have set for yourself.

This means you must set out your goal right from the start. You can always change it. And you should review it regularly and change it as required.

This makes sense. As you start along some course of action you learn more about yourself. It is correct to reassess any expectations you may have set at the start.

Of course, you don’t keep making the goal easier to reach just to ensure you reach it. That’s not being honest with yourself.

I help clients to set appropriate goals as they need to achieve a balance in a number of respects.

I need to show them that I will have a role in helping them, but that it is they who will determine what they achieve.

I need to help them to set a realistic objective. If their expectation of what they can achieve is too low they will be demotivated. If it is too high they will fail.

I need to motivate them, but not drive them beyond their capability.

Above all, I need to get them to understand that they will need to accept certain limitations, while not giving them an excuse to settle for less than they can achieve.


The Formula for Success

I always tell people that there is a formula for success. But that it is only available to be used by them – not by me.

I structure my answer around the following formula:

simple formula for success

It works in an exercise regime. But this approach works well in many areas of life. So, let’s look at it a little closer.


Where You are Starting From

The first part of the formula requires an honest assessment of where you are. This is crucial as it is the key input for forming realistic expectations.

Importantly, this assessment can and should take place before you start out.

I love exercising and keeping fit. (That’s just as well given my profession!). But I’m never going to be a global sports superstar no matter how much I work out.

And there are lots of areas of life where average or passable is an achievement for me. As it is for everyone.

So, no matter what area of life, my expectations, and your expectations, must be based on an honest assessment of where you are starting. This is a key determinant of that goal.


The Help You Will Have

Everyone will be able to access help from a range of sources.

Obviously, I, as the coach, have a central role in helping. But family and friends, other professionals, online information sources and role models are all sources of assistance.

I always stress to clients the importance of identifying possible sources of assistance. Then try to assess the extent to which you will access and rely on those sources.

Crucially, once you decide to rely on a source, accept that assistance. Accept advice. Do not get into the habit of judging the advice provided by a source that you have decided is a source of help. This is the default approach of far too many people.

simple formula for success

You are in no position to judge a coach or anyone else you have decided can be of assistance. Can you see the obvious conflict in that sort of mindset?

If you find that the source is not helping, then remove them as a source of assistance. Accept that you were wrong in your initial decision that they could help. You are not making any comment on them. You made the original decision and now that you have new information – that they are not helping you – you change your mind.


The Effort You Put In

This is so obvious and clearly of importance. However, people have a human failing to fall into one of two groups if they don’t see the progress they expect.

One group may see this as the only factor that matters. And when things don’t go as well as they expect they beat themselves up over it.

They second group of people see themselves as the reason when things are going well, but blame others when things don’t work out.

A good exercise or motivational coach will ensure that the required input is made, but make sure that the client sees that the outcome is the result of a number of factors.


Unforeseen Events

Life happens. We don’t have perfect foresight. Even if we did we cannot control all of our environment. Just as we must accept our starting point we must also accept that we cannot control all that will happen.

We commit to accepting that we will face happenings and outcomes that are not as we would wish. We then proceed with following the rest of our formula. No one ever said that life was fair.

There is no rule that says that you will get the outcome you want just because you did the right thing. But it will be better than if you go about life the wrong way.


Most of the Formula for Success is Outside Your Control

simple formula for success

That’s the formula for success. You need to follow it. But here’s an unexpected truth: you can do little or nothing to influence most of the factors in the formula.

You’ve no control over where you are starting, you’ve limited ability to control sources of help and you’ve no control over unforeseen live events.

But this need not be a problem. You cannot control these factors, but you can control how they affect your chances of success.

You assess your starting point and set realistic expectations and goals. You change these if life hits you in an unexpected manner. You take responsibility for the help you access. And you accept the outcomes that you cannot control.

And here is an important advantage you need to use. Since you cannot control many of the factors that determine success, you can concentrate on the one thing that you can control: the effort you make.

That is why the formula will only work for you. It will not work for your coach or anyone else. Because the one input that can be controlled is under your control. No one else has much input.

You, and only you, can take responsibility for your success.



Get Immediate Access to the Free 30-day Course ‘Mindfulness in a Busy Life’.



Share Follow Share Tweet Share Print