Look in any bookstore and you can find hundreds of books claiming to contain the secrets of success. And each has some valuable insights to pass on. But I see too many people who are using other people’s standards to quantify their success. Anyone using other people’s definitions of success is in danger of either being unable to attain the heights set for them by others, or else being left unsatisfied by a specific achievement because it really doesn’t fit with their own deep seated (and possibly unexplored) wants and needs.

Everyone has a different vision of what success is. The ingredients and the recipe simply cannot be found in other people’s experiences. Having said that, there are skills we can learn which will help us determine what our true ambitions in life are, and how we can best achieve them.

Studying the life story of one of our heroes might inspire us. Being exposed to a high-achiever’s “go-getter” attitude can make us realize that we are capable of having, being and doing more than we previously thought possible.

It is so important to give yourself time to read. Not just work-oriented “information” material, or, heaven forbid, a newspaper (you’ll rarely find anything very inspirational there). Allow yourself the time to read a self-help book that appeals to you. Just don’t become a self-help book addict! You see, the answers to your life questions are inside you – maybe deep inside, buried in your subconscious. A good self-help book just helps you realize which questions you need to ask yourself, and then how to work out the answers.

It’s the unasked questions which are responsible for making you feel uncomfortable or incomplete, or restless. Once you have your question (where am I aiming to go?), you are in a position to work on the answer (the destination).

Any self-help book should be seen as a guide, not an action plan. One way to view a guide is as a map with all the roads, rivers, mountains and points of interest clearly marked. You can choose where to travel, and how. Lets say you choose to go in your car. Along the way, you might have to take a detour or follow a dirt track for a while – but you are making progress, albeit in a round about way. Your guide (the map), shows you alternative routes. You just refer to it as and when you need it. An action plan can be seen more like a train journey. There is a list of possible destinations, but these are limited, since not everywhere has a railway station. Once you get on the train, the journey is out of your hands. You are simply taken along according to the timetable. You are subject to whatever delays the train may encounter – and you are no longer in control of how you get to your destination. Your only option in this “action plan” analogy is – you can get off the train. You then have to try a different method to get where you want to go. But now, this action plan is redundant. By taking the view that a self help book is nothing more than a guide – not an action plan – ensures you create your own definition of success – and that you achieve it on your own terms!

Brendan McKeogh believes that success is as individual as each one of us. Although different for everyone, it involves enjoying the best of the situation we find ourselves in today, while striving for better tomorrow. He offers free success resources (including a report and a complimentary chapter from his latest book based on Orison Swett Marden’s work) at http://www.mardenskeystosuccess.com

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