12 Steps To Success

I wrote about the 12 Steps to Success for my local RWA chapter newsletter. I thought I'd share these steps with you too.

Whether you want a career as a writer, a bricklayer, an engineer, or a strong healthy body, these 12 Steps to Success apply.

Think about these steps. Think about them so deeply and so often that they seep into your consciousness.

Take 12 Steps

1. Dream.

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 television. Maybe the price is getting up an hour early or staying up when everyone else has gone to bed. Identify the price and ask yourself: "Am I really willing to pay the price?"

3. Develop work discipline.

Everything worthwhile can only be achieved through focused, consistent work. Think about it and establish how often you will work. Make a schedule and keep to it as if it were the most important appointment in your life.

4. Fake it until you make it.

Yep. That's just a short way of saying you need to behave as if you have already achieved that goal. Want to be a bestselling author? How does a bestselling author spend her day? Want to be sculptor? What does a sculptor do each day? Keep regular hours devoted to your goal achievement. Develop professionalism in whatever endeavor to which you aspire. Let others see you are dedicated to the goal. Believe it, and you'll see it.

5. Learn your craft.

Whatever it may be, know everything about it. Strive always to improve.

6. Practice your craft.

Start a project and complete it. Then do it again. And again.

7. Expose yourself to the best examples of your chosen career.

Meet those who are successful in that career. Ask for insight and guidance. Hang with those who have achieved what you want to achieve.

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, your life.

Dedicate a space to your work. Set it up. Keep it workable. A cluttered desk is not a mark of genius, but of disorganization. Enjoy going to your special space because it means it's time for you to work on making your dream – your goal – real.

10. Manage your time.

If you plan to dedicate an hour to working on your goal, don't spend that hour emailing, talking on the phone, filing, or playing Solitaire. 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 every time you work.

11. Network.

Join in forums and subscribe to lists where others seeking the same goal congregate. Tweet or hangout on Facebook, but don't let social media keep you from goal achievement. The Internet is a wonderful place to meet like-minded individuals, but it can also be an enormous time suck. Don't forget to meet people in real life too. Share the joys and sorrows. Learn from them. Give to them so they can learn from you.

12. Celebrate.

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 your progress and keeps you from burning out.

Takeaway Truth

You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything. So figure out specifically what you want, and go for it!


  1. Thank you for the excellent and excellently written advice!

  2. Joan, this is great advice. Thanks for posting it! I'm saving it in my "favorites" writing folder.