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The Effort of Success

Finding out what you want, this article will guide you with a step by step list to help you get into gear.

Figuring life out is what it’s all about, it’s a life-long journey.

There really aren’t steps to success, if only it was that simple. The truth is everyone is trying to figure life out and having steps seems easier and much less intimidating. Having a plan and putting in the effort is what will get you there. Many people want to see their dreams come true but they are not willing to put in the effort in achieving this. In this article, I want to guide you through a list you can make to catapult you towards your ultimate goals.

The fact is that we get out what we put in. There is, unfortunately, no magical power that can turn your low to minimum input into something extraordinary. That is what many people hope for, that somehow their dreams will come true someday. The reality is that you have control over what happens, it’s not up to fate. You can and must decide where you want to go and what you want to be and then take the steps in getting there. This list is your first step to take control of your future by getting clarity about what you want and how to get that.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
– C.S. Lewis

1. Define what you want

Make a list of the things that you consider the most important to you. Write the most important one at the top and descend to the lesser important at the bottom of the list. Your list can be however long you want it to be.

Your list can be about making that trip that you always wanted to, improving your financial situation or to become the best at something.

You can think about the following questions to help you build your list:
What do you value most?
What makes you happy?
What do you need most?
What makes you feel that you are contributing and playing an important part?
What makes you feel excited and alive?
Think of someone that you cannot live without.
What are the things that you always wanted to do and keep putting off?
What dreams and aspirations do you have?
What can you do to make a difference?

My List
What I want/value most

1 - My partner
2 - Personal growth
3 - Travel

2. Exploring your Ultimate Goals

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
– Christopher Reeve

An ultimate goal would refer to the highest point that you would like to reach. The ultimate success that you want to achieve. This will be different for everyone because people have very different perspectives of success, so don’t put yourself in a box of what would be ‘expected’ or ‘reasonable’ or even ‘achievable’. Your ultimate goals can be whatever you want it to be. This list is for you and your future, it is about dreaming impossibly big and not limiting yourself. Be brave!

You will notice that as time passes and you develop and change as a person, your dreams and goals might also change. Sometimes something that seemed of utmost importance to you at one stage in your life may seem irrelevant to you now. And so your list may also change as you start working towards your goals.

Now, look at your list of the things that are most important to you and write next to each item on the list, what your ultimate goal for that particular item would be.

My List
What I want/value most    |   My Ultimate Goals

1. - My partner               -> Have a blissful relationship into old age.
2. - Personal growth     -> Being a worthy mentor and helping others succeed.
3. - Travel                        -> Seeing as much of the world as possible.

3. Define your Goals

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
– Arthur Ashe

Now that you have put pen to paper and wrote your list, it’s time to define each ultimate goal in order to see how it can be accomplished. This next step will help you break down your goals into much smaller and manageable steps.

Start with the first item on your list, write it down and write next to it all the steps that you can possibly take to achieve that ultimate goal.

My List

1.  My partner -> Have a blissful relationship into old age.

  • Spend more time together
  • Stay well-groomed
  • Pay attention
  • Less screen time
  • Plan a trip together
  • Improve my communication skills

2. Personal growth -> Being a worthy mentor and helping others succeed.

  • Enrol for courses
  • Read more books
  • Challenge myself
  • Try new things
  • Listen to others

3.  Travel -> Seeing as much of the world as possible.

  • Start saving
  • Do extra work
  • Research places where we want to go
  • Make a list of places
  • Set a date/ timeframe for the next trip


Now you should have a much clearer view of what you want and the steps you can take to get there.

4. Setting Current Goals

“If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavours to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
– Henry David Thoreau

A Current Goal refers to a smaller goal that you are actively pursuing at this moment in your life to reach your Ultimate goals. Take some time to look at the list and the possible steps you wrote down for each item, now pick one or two doable steps from each item to set as Current Goals. Pick something you can start doing right away. Say you pick ‘Spending more time together’ at number 1, you can always couple this goal with ‘Improve my communication skills’ and actively focus on how you communicate with your partner. Are you listening? Do you show interest and empathy? What can you work on when spending time together? So now you are actively pursuing these two smaller goals.

Stick it out! For your personal growth goal, you might set a goal to read at least one book per month. If you don’t reach the goal in that timeframe, just try again. If you fail again, maybe reassess the timeframe you decided upon. Maybe it’s a very busy time of the year for you and you don’t get that much time to read. That’s okay, adjust as needed so you will be able to reach your small goals. Don’t try to do too much at once, that will only leave you feeling unmotivated, stressed or depressed if you did not reach a small goal the way you planned. You want to feel the excitement of little successes every so often, this will encourage and inspire you.

5. Be Proactive

“Never leave till tomorrow what you can do today.”

Put your chosen goals into action immediately, don’t put it off, this will lead to procrastination. Take the necessary actions to get started as soon as possible and keep yourself to it. Buy the book you want to read next so you have it ready, plan your time with your partner and set a date and time for a date and open a Pinterest travel board or buy a Travel notebook where you can keep the research you are doing and plans you are making to save up for your next trip.

When you reach your chosen goals, pick new ones and keep going. As you move forward, things will fall into place, doors will open and others will close and this will help you navigate. Keep notes of where you are and what you think should be next. Writing your thoughts down is a must. This can be scribbles, a vision board, or even keeping a journal or starting a bullet journal, whatever you find works best for you. As long as you are writing things down and making it visual. This helps to remind us about where we want to be and what we want to do, especially on those down days where we lose sight of the bigger picture.

6. Bounce Back

Change your perception of failure. Failures teach us, it makes us stronger and shows us what to avoid or what we can do differently. Failures are your friend and ally in being successful. Don’t throw everything overboard because you did not finish your book within the set-out time frame or because you didn’t stick to the schedule you planned with your partner or even if you did not get great feedback on an assignment you handed in for a short course. Don’t entertain negative feelings of disappointment and resentment toward yourself. Stare your failures in the eye, take what you can learn from it and move on. Make the necessary adjustments for you to reach your goals and don’t stop moving forward.

Equally important as not having a pity party is celebrating your victories. However small they may be, celebrate them. Reward yourself for your victories, don’t take them for granted. Every small step you take is bringing you closer to what you want and who you want to be, that is definitely worth celebrating. We need to stay motivated, and the feeling of victory and accomplishment will keep you positive and moving forward.

In Closing

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

Never sit still and wait for things to happen, it won’t. You create your own opportunities. You make it happen.


Madelein Wolfaardt Author

Article by
Madelein Wolfaardt

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