People Who Succeed in Life Have This One Principle in Common (2023)

If you can’t easily answer what success means to you on your own terms, it’s time for some self-reflection.

All too often we adopt other people’s versions of success without really questioning our own version. This can lead us down a path of achieving things that look like success to others but don’t bring lasting satisfaction or fulfillment in our personal lives.

The first step is to ask yourself how you define success.

The definition of success

Merriam Webster defines success as any of the following:

  1. the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
  2. the correct or desired result of an attempt
  3. someone or something that is successful (ie., person or thing that succeeds)

American culture certainly relates success to financial stability, or achieving wealth, respect, or fame. For most of us, fame isn’t likely something we’ll achieve, respect can be earned and lost, and wealth, well, we all have different definitions of that, too.

Consider asking yourself if your own version of success is based on someone else’s example? Perhaps you can identify a person, like a parent or a best friend, or a group of people (real or fictional) you model your own success after. Consider this person your inspiration. Now ask yourself, are these the same ways you would measure success?

Align your definition with your inner truth

There are some signs your definition of success isn’t aligned with your inner truth, which you should watch out for.

  • A main focus in your life is achieving new personal records or breaking ever-moving glass ceilings
  • You’ve experienced sadness, grief, disappointment, or emotional numbness after achieving major life milestones like graduating school, getting married, purchasing a home, winning a certain award, etc.
  • You regularly wonder and/or question if you’re in the “right” career field, relationship, marriage, school program, apprenticeship, contract, etc.
  • You have difficulties making decisions and feeling good about them
  • You don’t see yourself as having a positive impact on others

Your own definition of the word success

Coming up with a definition of success that really reflects your personal values can be an exercise in unlearning! Here are some questions that can help you uncover your existing beliefs about success and whether or not they sit right with you.

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When you’re able to identify originating thoughts around success – and if you feel that way right now – you can better focus on the things that matter to you. This is the way toward a truly successful life.

Personal questions to ask yourself

Taking a moment to answer these personal questions can save you a lot of stress and prevent missed opportunities to feel satisfied with your life.

  1. Who can you think of (real or fictional) that you consider successful?
  2. Write down 1-3 reasons why you consider this person successful.
  3. Circle any words from your reasons that stand out to you.
  4. Ask yourself what these words reflect, mean, or bring up emotionally for you. For example, if you circled something like married, rich, or thin, sit with the word for a few moments. How does it feel?
  5. Are these the things you want for your life moving forward?

Another way you can create your own definition of success is to take five minutes to write down or draw as many words or images that represent success.

If you really want to dive deep into your feelings on this, do this same exercise for the word failure. Understanding how you view failure can also give you greater insight into what your own version of having a successful life looks like.

Be careful when chasing great success

Goals are healthy ways to make progress in life, but if you find yourself obsessing over being better, no matter how much work you put in, consider taking a step back.

Michael Norton, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied the connections between happiness and wealth, says research has shown people ask themselves two questions when determining if they’re satisfied with something in their life:

  • Am I doing better than I was before?
  • Am I doing better than other people?

Since many things that really matter in life, like being a spouse or parent, are hard to measure, Norton says people tend to look for other, more quantifiable ways of measuring success.

Money and business deals, zip codes, weight, grades, and more can begin taking priority because we can measure their success more easily than in other areas of our lives.

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These numerical ways of instantly evaluating ourselves can lead us away from the deeper and more meaningful personal successes we truly desire.

A successful life starts with having a plan

Successful living requires successful planning.

Do you want to know how to be successful? First, understand this: achieving your version of success isn’t going to happen overnight. Consider this a long distance run rather than a sprint.

Start by considering how your current life is either contributing to or detracting from seeing success. Ask yourself this question for the different areas of your life including your health, romantic relationship, friendships, and business partnerships.

Then, ask yourself what steps you can take to:

  • Remove anything and everything that is actively taking away from, limiting, or preventing your success. This may include toxic work environments where your potential is not being realized and fostered, or abusive relationships that are destroying your self-esteem.
  • Make certain changes that support your version of success (even if it doesn’t make sense to others).
  • Add some deadlines or benchmarks to keep yourself accountable and to give structure to your plans. The more specific you are about what you want, when you want it, and what you’re willing to do to achieve it, the better you’re able to go the course and stay the course!

Success is about staying in motion

What goes into motion stays in motion.

It can be challenging to maintain motivation, even with the help of motivational quotes for success at your fingertips. After all, enthusiasm isn’t something you simply pick up or put down. Doing something small every single day, however, helps move things more in alignment with your goals, which can lead you toward success.

For example, if your goal (or SMART goal) is to write a book because you see success as being a published author, but you only ever sit down to type when the mood strikes, you’re not going to get far.

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How much success is too much success?

When great success becomes greatly disappointing, you’ve had enough.

So, going back to our original example, say you finally get the inspiration to write, publish, market, and bestsell that book. You’ve never been so successful by your own definition.

However, instead of celebrating, embracing the achievement, or reflecting on all your hard work, you find a problem with the printer’s proof copy and convince yourself you’re a complete failure. This is another sign it’s to reassess what success means to you (yes, this can change with life experience!).

What was successful to your younger self and what is successful to you today may look entirely different, and that’s entirely okay.

How to answer the ‘define success question’ in a job interview

This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer in any job interview. You may think how you define success may not be what the interviewers want to hear.

Here’s what to do: Answer honestly anyway.

Just be sure to slant your answer about defining success toward the job in some relevant way. To use the same example from above, if you want to be an author and are interviewing at a publishing house, be sure to mention how this goal can benefit them, too.

In other words, sell your interviewer on the idea that your version of success means success for the whole company (and you have a plan in place to achieve it!).

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Success is about emotional freedom

Fear is the enemy of success.

Those that think about success eventually experience the progressive realization that fear can actually be good, in the sense that it challenges you to explore new emotional places and push past your comfort zone to grow.

But when fear starts clouding your judgement, making your decisions, and dictating your path in life, it’s become the enemy of success. Gaining emotional freedom from fear steers you toward succeeding.

The best way to do this will differ for everyone, but you can try a simple activity that involves naming your fears.

  • Give yourself 20 minutes or so each week (or better yet, a few minutes each day) to acknowledge your fears. Write them or draw them.
  • Do you notice a theme? Examples include: losing money, being abandoned, hurting others. Write it all down: every last fear.

For some, writing this list in a structured timeframe and in regular frequency will release the pent up fears they’ve been carrying with them. If you’re not a list person, you can also meditate on the meaning of fear in your life while considering the following questions:

  • Is fear motivating you or stopping you?
  • Are your fears realistic attached to failure?
  • Can you release whatever fears are no longer serving you?
  • In what ways can you work toward preventing your fears from becoming reality?

Success is in the eye of the beholder

Success is easier accomplished when you have help and support from others. This is why you may find others trying to pull you away from your path toward success to join theirs.

While this can be a thrilling offer at times (who doesn’t want to help others achieve their goals?), you must be careful not to spend more time on someone else’s definition of success than your own. For more tips on how to be happy, check out our article on the subject!


What is the principle that leads to success in life? ›

Success does not happen overnight, and it does not happen easily. With following five principles, you can improve our life and create success: Dream Big, Work Hard, Learn Every Day,Enjoy Life, and Be True to Yourself.

What are the 7 principles of success? ›

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®
  • Habit 1: Be Proactive® ...
  • Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind® ...
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First® ...
  • Habit 4: Think Win-Win® ...
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood® ...
  • Habit 6: Synergize® ...
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw®

What are good life principles? ›

Seven Principles of a Happy Life
  • Live in the moment. ...
  • Keeping positive and “oiling” coping mechanisms for when life goes wrong. ...
  • Nurture family and friends. ...
  • Stay fit and healthy. ...
  • Do what you enjoy (mostly) and have a passion for. ...
  • Be there for others. ...
  • Always keep developing.

What are the 3 principles of life? ›

The three principles are defined as:
  • Mind. The energy and intelligence of all life, whether in the form, or formless. The Universal Mind, the impersonal mind, or “wisdom” is constant and unchangeable. ...
  • Consciousness. Consciousness is the gift of awareness. ...
  • Thought. The power of Thought is not self-created.

What is the principle goal of life? ›

While some goals may be more relevant at one stage of one's life, they may lose relevance at another time and place. It's universally acknowledged nowadays, given the sweep of positive psychology sensitizations, that one of the most, if not the most, important goal of life is happiness.

What are the 5 keys to success? ›

Not being afraid to make mistakes or to try something new.
  • attempting hard work independently.
  • sharing a new idea with the class.
  • taking a risk.

What are the 4 key principles? ›

The 4 main ethical principles, that is beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice, are defined and explained. Informed consent, truth-telling, and confidentiality spring from the principle of autonomy, and each of them is discussed.

What are the 4 habits of success? ›

The 4 Habits You Need to Be Successful
  • Focus your energy. Learning how to direct your energy towards your most rewarding tasks is crucial for achieving high levels of success. ...
  • Ability to prioritize. Think of what is your most important goal right this moment. ...
  • Can project and complete tasks. ...
  • Having a PMA.
Sep 22, 2014

What are principles examples? ›

Examples of principles are, entropy in a number of fields, least action in physics, those in descriptive comprehensive and fundamental law: doctrines or assumptions forming normative rules of conduct, separation of church and state in statecraft, the central dogma of molecular biology, fairness in ethics, etc.

What are your values and principles? ›

They're what you view as the ideal standards of behavior, like patience and honesty. You probably have some guiding principles in your life that inform your decision making, goal setting, and overall disposition. These are probably your core values.

How do you set principles for yourself? ›

Define Your Guiding Principles
  1. Work smart AND hard.
  2. Always ask for feedback.
  3. Continuously set S. ...
  4. Earn everything.
  5. Be open and honest with everyone, especially yourself.
  6. Don't think you're better than anyone else but know no one is better than you.
  7. Confidence overcomes most shortcomings except an ego.

How many basic principles of life are there? ›

There are five basic principles of biology: cell theory, gene theory, homeostasis, evolutionary theory, and the laws of thermodynamics. Cell theory is one of the basic principles of biology which implies that all living things are composed of cells the basic unit of life.

What life principle means? ›

Definitions of life principle. a hypothetical force to which the functions and qualities peculiar to living things are sometimes ascribed. synonyms: vital principle. types: spirit. the vital principle or animating force within living things.

What does it mean to live a life of principle? ›

What do I mean by a principled life? Principled is defined as: a person or their behavior acting in accordance with morality and showing of right and wrong. Morality is defined as: principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.

What is the best principle in life you believe in? ›

18 Life Principles For Greater Living
  1. Love More. Not just people or things, but yourself. ...
  2. Be Vigilant With Your Thoughts. ...
  3. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  4. Regular Personal Development. ...
  5. Attitude Is Everything. ...
  6. Be Of Service To Others. ...
  7. Character Is More Important Than Reputation. ...
  8. Let Go Of Worry, Fear, And Anxiety.

What is the biggest key to success? ›

With these simple and some of the most important essentials, I believe everyone can achieve their goals and be successful.
  • 1.Goals Clarity. ...
  • 2.Self Belief. ...
  • 3.Passion. ...
  • 4.Knowing your Skill Set. ...
  • 5.Values and Principles. ...
  • 6.Persistency. ...
  • 7.Positive Attitude. ...
  • 8.Commitment and Hard Work.
May 21, 2020

What is the first key to success? ›

Make a Plan. Making a plan is the first key to success. This entails having a clear vision of what a successful life looks like for you and creating a well-defined set of goals to get you there.

What is the key secret to success? ›

The “secret of success,” if there is one, is that success is brought about by a combination of smart habits, a tenacious spirit, and a whole lot of luck. Making a few conscious changes to your behavior and attitude could prove to quite rewarding.

What are the six important keys to success to follow? ›

The 6 Keys to Success as an Adult are:
  • Effectively Manage your Time.
  • Effectively Manage your Money.
  • Understand the Context of your situation.
  • Always have a Backup Plan.
  • Keep a Healthy Network of Friends.
  • Know when it's appropriate to say “No”
Dec 21, 2020

What are the 6 principles of success? ›

6 Principles for Personal and Business Success
  • Define your personal goals and purpose early. ...
  • Focus on strengths rather than fixing weaknesses. ...
  • Create some short-term milestones on the path to your dream. ...
  • Be honest with yourself about practicing what you preach. ...
  • Don't stop believing, learning, and growing as a person.
Jun 17, 2016

What are your key principles? ›

Here are 20 examples of guiding principles to help you establish fundamental values for your company:
  • Emphasizing quality. ...
  • Striving for efficiency. ...
  • Encouraging resourcefulness. ...
  • Fostering success. ...
  • Setting industry standards. ...
  • Celebrating diversity. ...
  • Leading supportively. ...
  • Always learning.
Aug 18, 2021

What aspects of principles influence you? ›

The six principles of influence and how to make them work for you
  • Reciprocity. While there are always exceptions, most people tend to return favours given or pay debts, and try to treat others as they are treated. ...
  • Commitment (and Consistency) ...
  • Social proof. ...
  • Liking. ...
  • Authority. ...
  • Scarcity.
Sep 19, 2015

Why are the 4 ethical principles important? ›

These principles are autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. Each of these principles has a unique objective, but the four come together to empower you as a health care professional and ensure that patients are receiving high quality and ethical health care.

What are success behaviors? ›

Successful people show respect to others by listening and responding to ideas and criticism, and finding solutions that work for (almost) everyone. They don't get too caught up in life or work drama that can bog them down, and they don't take things too personally.

What are the 8 principles of success? ›

Principle 1: Focus on outcomes, Principle 2: Plan realistically, Principle 3: Prioritise people and behaviour, Principle 4: Tell it like it is, Principle 5: Control scope, Principle 6: Manage complexity and risk, Principle 7: Be an intelligent client, Principle 8: Learn from experience.

What are the 10 best habits of successful people? ›

Top 10 Habits of Successful People
  1. Create Your Own Luck. Successful people don't wait for their future to unfold. ...
  2. Don't Be Afraid to Take Risks (or Fail!) ...
  3. Practice Self-Care. ...
  4. Pay Attention to Details. ...
  5. Love Lists. ...
  6. Set Lofty Goals. ...
  7. Visualize Success. ...
  8. Learn from Others.

What are the two keys to success? ›

Living your purpose (where your talents & passion align to contribute) Loving yourself (where you let go of comparisons & embrace your uniqueness)

How to be successful in life? ›

8 Simple Ways to Be Successful—from 8 Inspiring Leaders.
  1. Be Passionate. And do what you for love. ...
  2. Work Hard. Don't ever fool yourself—success comes from really hard work. ...
  3. Be Good. And by that, I mean damn good. ...
  4. Focus. ...
  5. Push the Limits. ...
  6. Serve. ...
  7. Create Ideas. ...
  8. Be Persistent.
May 10, 2017

What are the 10 principles of success? ›

  • Have Realistic Goals and Expectations. ...
  • Take Massive and Consistent Action. ...
  • Have an Open Mind and Be Willing to Learn. ...
  • Learn from Failures, but Don't Dwell on Them. ...
  • Change Your Approach, but Don't Give Up. ...
  • Have Patience. ...
  • Be Honest, Help Others and Maintain Integrity. ...
  • Take Responsibility for Your Success.
Jun 22, 2019

What are important values in life? ›

What Are Some Common Values?
  • Loyalty.
  • Spirituality.
  • Humility.
  • Compassion.
  • Honesty.
  • Kindness.
  • Integrity.
  • Selflessness.

What is simple principle? ›

That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.

When your life is true principles and values? ›

Peace of mind come when you life is in harmony to true principle and values and in no other way. However, the grammatically correct sentence is: Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.

What does it mean to have strong principles? ›

strong principles (=that someone believes in very strongly)a man of strong principleshigh principles (=strong beliefs about right and wrong)Dunn's high principles and pleasant manner won him the real affection of his colleagues.

What are the 5 basic principles of life? ›

Five Great Principles for Life, The: Focus, Strength, Success, Wisdom, Responsibility.

What are 4 things that lead to success in life? ›

There are 8 very simple rules that you can follow to become truly successful.
  • Be Passionate. And do what you for love. ...
  • Work Hard. Don't ever fool yourself—success comes from really hard work. ...
  • Be Good. And by that, I mean damn good. ...
  • Focus. ...
  • Push the Limits. ...
  • Serve. ...
  • Create Ideas. ...
  • Be Persistent.
May 10, 2017

What are personal principles? ›

They're what you view as the ideal standards of behavior, like patience and honesty. You probably have some guiding principles in your life that inform your decision making, goal setting, and overall disposition. These are probably your core values.

What are the 5 key success factors? ›

The five critical success factors are strategic focus, people, operations, marketing, and finances. How to find success factors? The first step in finding and identifying success factors is understanding the overall objective of a project and the processes required to achieve it.

What are the five ingredients of success? ›

The 5 Ingredients of Success
  • Confidence. It'll take you a long time to appreciate just how important self-confidence is to realizing your potential. ...
  • Hard Work. ...
  • Ambition. ...
  • Multi-Dimensionality. ...
  • Polish.
Mar 12, 2015

What is the most important element for success? ›

Below are 5 of the most important elements of success.
  1. Believe that you can do it. Having an absolute belief that you can accomplish your goal is the corner stone of success. ...
  2. Having strong reasons for accomplishing that goal. ...
  3. Massive actions. ...
  4. Learn and readjust. ...
  5. Double down.
Dec 28, 2020


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