Since 2009 is less than two weeks away, let's start thinking now about goals and achievement. Success isn't just a random throw of the dice. There are specific things you can do to ensure success.
This post isn't about what you want to achieve. This is about how to achieve. The advice that follows applies whether you want a career as a writer or a career as a sculptor or a career as a home-office based CPA.
Here are 12 steps to success, regardless of what you want to achieve. Think about these steps. Think about them so deeply that they seep into your consciousness. Think and assimilate.
You have to dream. If you're afraid of dreaming about what you want because you're afraid you won't get it, then you're already lost. Dream about what you want to gain. Make it a dream so rich in sensory detail that it's very nearly a virtual reality experience.
2. Set goals
You must lay it on the line. Write down what you want to achieve. Then write down what you're going to have to pay to achieve it. We all pay, one way or the other. Maybe the price is working toward the goal when the rest of the family is watching Burn Notice. Maybe the price is getting up an hour early or staying up when everyone else has gone to bed. Then ask yourself: "Are you really willing to pay the price?"
3. Develop work discipline
Everything worthwhile can only be achieved through focused, consistent work. Establish how often you will work. Make a schedule and keep to it as if you were being paid a salary.
4. Image and behave as if you have already achieved that goal
Keep regular hours devoted to your goal. Develop professionalism in whatever endeavor to which you aspire. Let others see you are dedicated to the goal. Believe it.
5. Learn your craft
Whatever it may be, know everything about it. Strive always to improve.
6. Practice your craft
Practice makes perfect. Start a project and complete it. Then do it again.
7. Expose yourself to the best
Every field has bright shining stars. Expose yourself to the best examples of your chosen career. Meet those who are successful in that career. Ask for insight and guidance. Learn from them. Find someone who is doing what you want and model your behavior and habits after them.
8. Market your work
You eventually have to put your work and yourself in the marketplace. No one will ever discover you and what you can do unless you let them see you and your work.
9. Organize your work, your office, your time
Dedicate a space to your work. Set it up. Keep it workable, not a cluttered mess. Enjoy going to that space because it means it's time for you to work on your goal.
10. Manage your time
If you dedicate an hour to working on your goal, don't spend that hour emailing, talking on the phone, or playing Free Cell. Use the time to achieve your goal - no matter how small or how large the block of time. Know how long it takes you to accomplish a certain task. Record your time on a calendar or journal.
Join in forums and subscribe to lists where others seeking the same goal congregate. Meet them. Share the joys and sorrows. Learn from them. Give so they can learn from you.
Always celebrate your triumphs no matter how small. Don't wait for those big scores to pop the bubbly. Big scores don't come along too often. Celebrating the small victories helps you mark progress and keeps you from burning out.
You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything. So figure out specifically what you want, and go for it!