This is one question that I believe gets over-asked. Why? Because it’s naïve to think there is a “secret” or a silver bullet to achieving success. In fact the route to success is usually painful and arduous. It involves taking risks and working bloody hard. If you’re prepared to do that (for a long time) then you’ve got a chance. Having a good business idea or opportunity is important too. However, with hard work the chances of success skyrocket. That’s the reality of achieving success.

In my experience, the people that achieve success are typically not the smartest or most talented person around. But they are hugely determined. At every stage they have forced themselves to do things that were uncomfortable and scary. They had to learn new things and overcome their own weaknesses. They stepped into the unknown, sucked up their fear and focused on making the best possible decisions, every time. Along the way they learnt new skills and expanded their capabilities. They also had any complacency knocked out of them.

But how do you get started? The first step is to look for new challenges that stimulate you and that you’re passionate about. Without passion it will be hard to start and even harder to keep going, especially when the times get tough (and they will). You can’t do that unless you’re 100% committed and engaged. And if you don’t love what you’re doing then it will be no fun and any passion you have will dissipate quickly.

Secondly, you need to audit your progress. Every year or so stop and reflect on your life. This allows you to measure your forward progress and your satisfaction levels. I do this because I don’t want to perpetuate things that make me unhappy or disillusioned. I also do it to avoid missing opportunities or heading down the wrong road. It’s highly cathartic and it has kept my life on track. It also forces me to ask these two hard questions – Am I happy? Am I living the life I want? While sometimes difficult, I always try to answer them honestly. Then I tune things up and move forward again.

Maybe Mark Twain summed it up when he said – “twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Just don’t forget that working (bloody) hard is important too…