After having great success in corporate America, I knew that my success was short-lived. A simple realization dawned on me: As long as I worked for someone else, I would never find true freedom. I felt like I was living the quote, “If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.” In 2011, I was inspired to take the ultimate career leap of faith and become an entrepreneur.
Life was good … or so I thought. I always measured my level of success based on the amount of money I made. However, I soon realized that this is definitely the wrong way to define success. I had spent five years dedicating myself to building my multi-million dollar online business, yet still felt fundamentally unfulfilled.
My epiphany came when I realized that I ran my business solely to make money, as opposed to making a difference. I soon realized that in order to be truly happy and fulfilled, I needed to create a heart-centered business so I could actually make an impact in the world. This is now my passion, as well as the driving mission of my life.
I can personally attest that success in life and business is possible, you just need to know where to start. If you’re reluctant to make a huge leap, remind yourself that even small steps count as forward motion.
Read on for six key insights about success in life and business that I’ve learned through my journey.
1. Choose a Heart-Centered Business Model
If you’ve never heard the phrase before, you may wonder what a “heart-centered business” is. A heart-centered business supports what the entrepreneur finds important and meaningful.
A heart-centered business does good, gives back, and allows business owners to channel their own gifts and passions into their work. The myriad ways heart-centered businesses can help others and the world around them are limited only by each entrepreneur’s creative vision.
“Doing good” is a unique construct for each person. For some entrepreneurs, contributing value to others could mean life coaching to help people overcome significant challenges. Maybe you’ve got killer social media or internet marketing know-how that can help your clients reach new heights. For others, a heart-centered business could mean addressing social injustice, working with at-risk children, fostering homeless animals, or protecting the environment. It’s all about what makes your heart sing and makes you feel like you’re living on purpose.
Of course, money is a factor in any business. We all need money to live and thrive. The bottom line though is this: Money alone will not generate long-lasting happiness without a larger sense of purpose.
If you find that you can create a life or business doing work which is important to you, then you’ll add value to your life. If you’re not inspired by your work in some way, then even huge amounts of money won’t compensate for this underlying lack of passion and purpose.
Ask yourself one key question: What business could you create that could improve peoples’ lives or the world around you? Life is too short not to do something you love and add value to the world. Fortunately, these two ideas are not mutually exclusive—it’s possible to do both!
2. Harness Your Unique Gifts and Purpose
In the words of best-selling author Gretchen Rubin, “I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.” You owe it to yourself to discover your own nature, and use it to make your life all that it can be.
All heart-centered businesses start with one fundamental component: A founder who understands their nature and who harnesses their unique gifts, purpose, and passion by turning these into a viable business concept.
What are your own gifts? What drives you to become a better version of you? Maybe you instantly know what your unique gifts are. Perhaps your purpose has been clear to you since childhood. It could be a passion for art, a talent for connecting with other people, or a witty writing style.
But what if you can’t immediately articulate what your gifts are? As adults, so many of us become weighed down with the hum-drum comfortable pattern of our daily lives. The shackles of adult responsibilities may cloud our ability to recognize and articulate the innate gifts our younger selves connected with.
Rediscovering your own innate gifts may be a process. Reassure yourself that even if it takes some self-discovery, we all have unique skills, passions, or perspectives which can bring us success in life.
3. Find Your Tribe
When seeking success in life and business, surround yourself with like-minded people to help you focus on achieving your goals. Spending time with people who are on the same upward trajectory will reinforce your values, help you stay on track, and infuse you with positive energy. Likewise, it’s vital to your long-term happiness and success to jettison those relationships or commitments that drag you down.
Huffington Post Blogger Kristen Noel advises readers to “get rid of the energy vampires in your life, the people who drain you or fill you with negativity and self-doubt. Collect a new tribe that will hold you accountable and become your dream-keepers.”
4. Be Mindful of Your Daily Habits
If I told you that making your bed has been linked to long-term success, you’d probably think I was joking (or that your mom weighed in on this article). The truth is your daily habits have an enormous impact on your overall long-term financial and personal success.
Author and socio-economist Randall Bell surveyed 5,000 people about their personal habits, income levels, and overall happiness. According to Bell, “There are a number of habits which correlate with wealth, and one is making your bed. It puts your mind into a productive mindset and gets you going first thing in the morning.”
Other habits Bell correlated with becoming a millionaire? Waving to your neighbor in the morning. We all connect easier with friendly people, making it more likely others will want to do business with. Bell also says successful people take pride in their work and no job is beneath them.
Just as certain habits boost success potential, other habits undermine both happiness and future success. According to Bell, yelling at drivers on the road indicates a lack of emotional regulation. Perhaps the most significant deterrent to future wealth is a regular cigarette habit. Bell found that “if you don’t smoke, you are 258% more likely to become a millionaire.” In Bell’s words, those who have a mindset for wealth-building are focused, and they are focused on “good, positive productive things.”
5. Set Goals and Reward Yourself
No matter what type of business you’re in, setting goals helps keep you on track. The basics of psychology indicate that setting goals creates motivation to keep yourself moving forward. Without concrete goals, you risk business-killing procrastination.
While there’s no harm in aiming for greatness, when it comes to actually completing tasks, setting realistic goals is the best course of action. Unlike pie-in-the-sky goals, realistic goals make it easier for you to stop spinning your wheels and take that first step.
When you accomplish a significant goal, treat yourself with a reward for doing so. Your reward can be anything which makes your heart happy. Rewards are important, but don’t feel like you need to wait until you’ve finished a Herculean project to treat yourself. In fact, experts actually say that rewarding yourself along the way can make meeting your goals that much easier.
“By combining long term achievements with something that provides an immediate reward, our work becomes more appealing,” says Alexander Rozental. The best way to make work appealing is to combine it with something pleasurable. Sip a cappuccino at your favorite outdoor cafe while you study or FaceTime with a friend when you need a break during a late night at the office.
6. Forgive Yourself for Mistakes
Remember when you were six and you tried to ride a bike for the very first time? You likely endured a dozen skinned knees before you were triumphantly cruising around the neighborhood.
Whether you’re trying to grow your business or trying to master this crazy thing called life, any brand-new skill is going to result in some proverbial skinned knees. It’s a mathematical certainty that you are going to make mistakes in business and in life.
Allow yourself to fall—more than once, if you need to. Then, brush yourself off and get back up. With each mistake and the learning and knowledge you acquire as a result, you’re that much closer to mastery.