The Art of Success: How to Set Yourself for Success before You Start

Pastel colors

Is success a science (governed by laws and rules) or is it more of an art, or is it just plain luck?

A lot of successful people believe success is a systematic or scientific process—work hard and keep at it and you will get there. On the surface, this seems like a very good idea.

Success is not going to magically come out of thin air and choose us. We have to choose it. With that said, there is an element of luck. It’s not as important as work and persistence. But being in the right place at the right time can help. It won’t hurt for sure.

What happens though when we show up, work really hard, but still feel stuck … and eventually we give up?

There is an element that we don’t hear much about except in phycology and some self-help books.

In order to get to success, you need to create the environment and the mindset that will help you get there.

Working hard will take you far, but if you don’t get the results you expect, you will give up. Or you won’t stick with it long enough to see the result.

Setting yourself up for success is not a clear step-by-step scientific process. It’s more of an art.

The art slice of success is about using your own intuition. It’s about opening up to the possibility that we can succeed. It’s about believing that we deserve to succeed. It’s about visualizing that we can succeed and feeling it with utmost certainty.

The art portion of success is necessary if we want to achieve a long lasting and meaningful success.

Now the question is:

When it comes to success, which comes first, art or science?

I don’t think it’s a matter of the chicken and the egg. When it comes to success, I believe art precedes science.

If we don’t set ourselves up for success, all the hard work in the world will not be enough. If we don’t think we deserve and can achieve success, we will self-destruct at one point or another.

If we don’t manage doubt and have a mechanism in place for dealing with it, we will eventually stop.

How do we set ourselves up for success?

Creating a success environment is pure art. It starts with the mental and emotional aspects of our desires and what we want to accomplish. After that we will need to look into the practical side to ensure that we have what we need to get going.

And just like any form of art, it’s highly personal. I invite you to consider the following and add your unique imprint to each idea.

A burning desire

The first step is to go deep into the why we want to achieve something in the first place. Motivation is very important and can help us withstand many difficulties. It can help us also when doubt rears its head.

Why we want to do something is intimately connected to who we are—our values, desires, and traits. A genuine motivation would not come from family’s pressure or society’s expectation or the need for validation.

The truest of motivations is the aching burning desire that consumes your heart and soul. You feel compelled with all your being to do this thing.

Excitement and anticipation

Before we start, it really helps to visualize not just the end result and how it would feel, but doing the work as well.

For example, instead of imagining just that you published a book and it’s a bestseller, imagine first what it would feel like to write for a certain period of time every day.

What do you see yourself doing? Are you writing by hand, or using a computer? Imagine the words flowing on paper. Imagine deleting or scratching out a few lines. What does your writing space look like? Is there music in the background? Once you’re done writing for the day, how do you feel?

Spending a few minutes visualizing the activity creates a sense of excitement and anticipation.

Visualizing a pleasant activity also helps with resistance. When we’re dreading something, we’re in effect imagining that we’re struggling and sucking at it. So this positive visualization overrides any sinister mental resistance.

Depending on what you want to do, you can search the Internet for images or videos that can add to your excitement. The most important thing is to do this at least a week or so before you start.

A dialogue with fears and buts

When we’re starting something new, a lot of things will come up and attempt to deter us from moving forward. The little protective demon will whisper in your ear how bad you will suck, or how hard it’s going to be.

Once the negative thoughts take over, doubt will creep in and we start to question our ability and/or motivation (why we wanted this in the first place).

Fears and doubts are a natural part of living and growth. Instead of trying to eliminate or resist the feelings, we can reframe them.

Have a conversation with them and see what they have to tell you. In most cases you will find reasons you shouldn’t do something, but in the end you will have more compelling reasons that you should. This is a confirmation of your desire, testing whether you really want this or not—nothing more.

Let the doubt talk. Reaffirm your intense desire and move forward anyway.

It’s also a good idea to address the yeah buts (reservations) before you start.

The “yeah but” is an excuse why you shouldn’t or couldn’t do something. It might be: I’m too old, too young, too broke, to tired, not smart enough, not good enough …etc.

The best way to deal with the yeah but is to find others who did what you want to do, or something similar. History is full of inspiring people from all walks of life who pursued their desires against all odds.

Inspiration is all around us, if we make a conscious effort to see it. We can look for people in our own surroundings who are doing their thing.

When you acknowledge your reservations ahead of time and address them, you will be more prepared for setbacks and discouragements along the way.

Flexibility within your success/failure metrics

With excitement mounting and a burning desire to get started, we can lose perspective and take things way too seriously. That’s why it’s very important to keep things in perspective when embarking on a new adventure.

Before you start determine your ideal outcome and your worst nightmare—the best and worst case scenarios.

What is the worst that could happen? If you fail miserably is it going to matter a few months or years from now? Imagine yourself failing, how does it feel?

It’s equally important to define what success means to you. Like so many things in this life, success is in the eye of the beholder. So after you determine what your best outcome is, deconstruct your defined success into smaller portions.

What is the smallest amount of success that will satisfy you and keep you motivated?

For example, if you want to write, one page per day can be all you need to keep going.

If you can break down your ideal outcome into smaller targets, it will be much easier for you to accomplish them, one at a time.

And if you miss the target, for whatever reason, you can pick up again and start. Missing a small target is not the end of the world.

The simplest and most basic tools

I have mentioned this in several articles because I need to remind myself (and you) not to get bogged down with finding the best tools for the job.

Decide ahead of time what tools you need. If you need to learn a musical instrument, do you have it? Or are you going to go somewhere and practice?Do you have a book /video or a tutor?

The tools are important when you start. The main focus here though is on the most basic tools—the very minimum to get you started.

If you want to workout, just make sure that you have a comfortable pair of shoes to walk with and start walking. If you want to learn a language, what are you going to need?

Limit the tools you need to three (absolute max of five). This way you can get on with the practice (doing) instead of getting sucked into the never-ending search for the perfect tools.

The above recommendations are not an all inclusive package that will guarantee success. You will be more open to it though when you take the time to prepare your mind, heart, and soul ahead of time.

Whether you have tried to do something and didn’t succeed in the past, or you want to try something new, I highly encourage you to set yourself up for success.

If you are going to start (or restart) something in the upcoming year, this is the perfect time to prepare yourself for it.

I’m a true believer in human potential that is beyond our wildest dreams. Sometimes it’s not about our dreams or abilities, but our perception and conditioning—our openness and readiness to accept and realize at least part our potential.

Now is your time—always.