This past week in LA, I hobnobbed with some of the most successful people in music at the major industry event of the year (okay, well, more like I saw most of them, but I did meet David Meerman Scott!) . Having talked over the years with mega-successful entrepreneurs about what success really means, I decided to share some of their success tactics with you.

Mega-Success Tactic #1: Define Success For Yourself.

Consider this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“To laugh often, to win the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

Think about it- what is your definition of success? Is it freedom, financial independence and wealth, international travel, a happy, healthy family, physical health, doing good for others in the world…what does it mean to you to be successful?

This one can get a little tricky- sometimes we want things because we get the idea we’re “supposed” to want them. As my friend Dixie says, “Do you want what you want or only what you WANT to want?”

For example, when I do the Lifestyle & Business Planning Analysis with clients, one of the areas of the questionnaire focuses on what material things you want. I see a lot of answers- cars, boats, vacation villas in Tuscany. And I think we’ve been trained to believe that’s what success is. We see wealthy people on TV with their conspicuous spending and outrageous purchases and think that’s what we’re supposed to want.

But when it really comes down to it, when you soul search and go deep, when you close your eyes and take a deep breath and envision your perfect life, what do you want?

Once you know what you really want, it’s easy to implement the remaining four tactics:

Mega-Success Tactic #2. State your goals in positive terms.

If you believe in the Law of Attraction, you’ve already heard this message. But even if you haven’t or if the Law of Attraction isn’t your “thing,” your brain receives messages in the same way the universe does. If your brain hears, “Avoid creating problems with clients,” what it actually hears is “create problems with clients.” The brain also hears a negative word, “avoid.” This creates a negative state of mind that follows you around. If, instead, your brain hears, “Create a pleasant and positive relationship between company representatives and clients,” it hears a positive and clear message and knows exactly what to do. This kind of positive message breeds a positive, upbeat state of mind that follows you around. (And thank you to Kat, one of my Facebook pals who recently reminded me gently of this tactic when I said my mantra was “I’m not getting sick!”)

Remember, too, that your brain needs clear messages. “Avoid creating problems with clients” tells you what not to do, but it doesn’t say what you should do. There are lots of possibilities that aren’t “creating problems with clients,” but which is the alternative that you want?

Mega-Success Tactic #3. Define your goals in measurable, time-sensitive terms.
Once you’ve stated your goals in positive terms, you need to come up with a way to determine if you’ve achieved your goals. How do you know you’ve achieved your goal? By when do you want to achieve it?

Using the previously mentioned goal, you can change “Create a pleasant and positive relationship between company representatives and clients,” to “Create and maintain a pleasant and positive relationship between company representatives and clients, as evidenced by quarterly customer satisfaction surveys.” Here you’ve created a measure of your success in the customer satisfaction surveys and you’ve said that you will initially create and then maintain your goal, which shows you what you need to see in those surveys- an increase and gradual leveling out in positive ratings. You’ve also made it time-sensitive by stating that the surveys are to be done quarterly.

Setting measurements and timing for your goals keeps your goals clear and attainable instead of wishy-washy and vague.

Mega-Success Tactic #4. Plan ahead.
Sometimes business owners experience what I like to call “post-success laziness.” You have a goal, you achieve your goal, and then you take a break, resting on your laurels and, yeah, let’s face it, you get a little lazy. This happens when you don’t plan ahead and set your next goal before you achieve the first one.

Creating a roadmap of goals does a couple of things. First, in creating a series of goals, you assume you will achieve the closest goal and the next one and so on, and that’s just smart, positive thinking. Second, you avoid the post-success laziness because you’re already working toward the next goal before you achieve the first. You do want to take time to celebrate achievements, but don’t let yourself get so bogged down in the celebration that you forget to keep moving forward.

Mega-Success Tactic #5. Follow through!
The single most important tactic to achieving success is the ability to follow through. If you create goals and then don’t set up systems and structures to follow through on your goals, you’re not a mover or a shaker- you’re a dreamer.

Don’t get me wrong- there’s nothing wrong with dreaming. Being a dreamer is a wonderful, important thing, actually. Dreamers can be extremely successful people, but not without follow-through. So find ways to follow through on your dreams- and if you need help, find it! If there are things you don’t know how to do, learn how to do them or delegate them. If you struggle with time management and accountability, hire a coach. Because once you figure out where you’re going, all you have to do is figure out how to get there and follow through.

So, start by deciding where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, and then build a plan to follow through. With this plan, you’ll find success on your own terms.

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