Your version of success and someone else’s version may differ. What someone else calls “success,” you might describe as an abject failure. What would satisfy you might displease someone who has a different idea about what one should do with a life. There are, however, some things about success that are universally true, priorities and execution being the two most fundamental. These two factors are also the defining difference between those who succeed and those who struggle.
Your Priorities Define Your Success
However you define success, doing so creates an intention to achieve something, to close some perceived gap. Deciding what you want can be some of the most challenging work you will ever do, but it’s your single life and your future to decide for yourself. I want to tell you that you are the only one who can do this work, but it isn’t true. By not deciding for yourself what you want means you Drift, following the path of least resistance, and living a life that is happening to you. If you don’t intentionally decide for yourself, the “Drift” will decide for you, something that will surely prevent any hope of real success.
When you know what you want, you can prioritize what you do with your time and energy, the first being your single, finite, non-renewable resource, and the second being another resource with limits. Without priorities, you can spend your days, weeks, months, and years wasting your time and energy on things that are of no real consequence.
Priorities provide boundaries. You draw a line in the sand by establishing what is most important, deciding some result is more important than some other outcome, based on what it is that you want and how you define success. When you establish priorities, you cut yourself off from the distraction of all the options available to you, especially those that would move you further away from your goals.
A goal is a priority defined. A series of goals that results in you becoming the best version of yourself, doing what you believe you are here to do, possessing the things in your life that are important and meaningful to you, and contributing what you are here to provide is as good a definition of a well-lived life as I have been able to come up with.
If you were to ask any one of the almost eight billion people inhabiting this planet if they would like to have more money, you would struggle to find a single subject who responds in the negative. More money is a universal desire, for some because it provides certainty, for others, status, and still others who are driven by some other desire. Money isn’t everything, and you could easily swap out the desire for more money for the desire for better health and wellness, something else we say we want without making it a priority.
The fact that something is universal should make it a priority, but it doesn’t. You have to decide for yourself what is most important.
Your Execution is the Variable
There is research that suggests that something like eighty-three percent of people have no goals, let alone written goals. This is what it means to “drift,” living without what Hill would call a “definite chief aim,” a direction, some purpose. Without goals and priorities, you do not need plans, as you have nothing to execute, all but ensuring you struggle.
What priorities provide is the ability to make a plan to achieve the results you want to make up your life. You can’t execute a goal or an outcome. You can only execute your plan to achieve it. Execution is the variable, accounting for much of the difference between those who make their goals and those who struggle. One person executes their plan, maintaining the disciplines required to obtain some result, while another person fails to execute, derailed by distractions, and making excuses why they “couldn’t” do what was necessary.
Saying yes to what’s most important means saying no to things that are not a priority. When you say yes to the small stuff, you are saying no to bigger things. Those who create their version of success say no to small things, limiting distractions so they can execute their plans.
In the End
In the end, there are only priorities and execution. If you want your version of success, you must decide what is good and right and true for you, establishing your priorities. Then you have to make a plan to produce those results and execute against your plan.
A year from now, you will have defined a goal worthy of your time and energy, or you will not have. You will have executed, or you will have failed to execute. It’s binary. There is nothing here that isn’t also going to be true about your next decade.