Essential Keys to Success

Whether you want to become a better leader or bring greater balance into your life, there are three keys to achieving any type of goal: focus, strategy, and commitment.
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Many people fail to achieve their goals because they never learned the skills that produce success. No one ever taught them how to set clear goals, create effective action plans, or sustain their motivation.

Whether you want to become a better leader, create a more fulfilling career, or bring greater balance into your life, there are three keys to achieving any type of goal: focus, strategy, and commitment.

Focus. A teacher of mine once said, "Where you focus is where you go." Without a clear picture of what you want, you're at the mercy of whatever life brings your way -- and you might not like what you're getting. To find your focus, ask yourself, "What would I do, be, or experience if I knew I would not fail?" Notice the things you feel passionate about or that you wish you could change. Finding your focus doesn't have to involve taking a major leap out of your comfort zone. It might be shorter-term goals like eating fresh vegetables everyday, or bigger goals that require a longer time span, such as completing a graduate degree or starting your own business.

Strategy. Your strategy is the road map for bringing your goals to fruition. It involves identifying the steps needed to accomplish your goal, and the resources that can help you achieve it. Ask yourself, "What are the steps I need to take to achieve this goal?" Be careful not to overwhelm yourself by taking on too much at once. Start with three to six action steps for each goal. Once your initial action steps are completed, identify the next three to six action steps, continuing this process until your goal is achieved. It's also good to set a clear time line for each action step and put them into your daily or weekly calendar.


Commitment. Being committed to your goals means honoring your agreements to yourself. To be committed, you have to feel deserving of what you want to achieve, and you have to love yourself. After all, you're not going to feel compelled to invest your time and energy in someone you don't like very much. This is why so many people lose their motivation to follow through on their goals. Instead of extending patience and compassion toward themselves, they berate and judge themselves -- further eroding their sense of worthiness. If you have a hard time keeping your commitments to yourself due to low self-esteem, developing a more loving relationship with yourself is a great first goal on which to focus.

These three keys are important tools for "living deliberately" -- aligning your thoughts and actions with the results you want to have. As you start living more deliberately, recognize that you'll slip into old, self-defeating patterns from time to time. Being committed doesn't mean doing this process perfectly or following through on your action steps 100% of the time. It means acknowledging when you do slip up, being compassionate with yourself when you do, then gently moving yourself back on-course.

Lauren Mackler is the author of the international bestseller, Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life. She is a life, career, and relationship coach, psychotherapist, and host of the weekly Life Keys radio show on You can follow her on Twitter, watch her videos on YouTube, become a fan on Facebook, and read her Live Boldly blog You can contact her through her web site at