The Six Steps to Success
When people are asked what is it they want out of their 70-80 years on this planet, the answer is a combination of money, happiness, property, and a good spouse. All of these things are a means to an end. That end, in my opinion, is simply peace. The question is how do you get ahead in life to acquire eventual peace? Is there a secret combination of steps or a self-help book out there that can answer this query for you?
My answer is yes. I have read dozens of self-help books and the solution to this conundrum is found sitting in the self-improvement section of Barnes & Noble. Sure, the self-improvement industry may be filled with charlatans and so-called gurus but the vast majority of literature on the topic of success is profound and effective. Based on my personal life experiences and the knowledge I have acquired from reading these books, I want to demonstrate how to get ahead in life as easily as possible.
There are six things you need to do to get ahead in life with low resistance:
- Wake up early
- Get the right education
- Pick a secondary niche
- Take care of your body
- Know how to talk to people
- Save your money effectively
Waking Up Early
This step is simple. Just wake up early. There is a huge difference of what you can accomplish if you train yourself to wake up at 4:30am vs. waking up at 10:00am.
Practically speaking, if you wake up at 4:30am and get yourself together which takes half an hour, the time will be 5:00am.If you do something productive for the next five hours, that means you’ve already accomplished a ton by the time you hit 10:00am. By contrast, if you wake up at 10:00am and do your necessary daily tasks for five hours, it will be 2:00pm. The day is pretty much over by then.
Aside from simply getting more done while it is still morning time, can you imagine how good you will feel about yourself knowing you’ve put in five hours of work with two hours to spare before lunch. This is a total confidence booster.
The question is this – how do you wake up so early? Sleep is crucial. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night is ideal. If you head to bed at 9:00pm, you will get enough rest to hit that eight-hour mark. I use to be that guy who would stay up all night bingeing on YouTube videos. The earliest I would go to bed was midnight. Usually, my internet browsing would go well into 2:00am.
The best way to train yourself to head to bed by 9:00pm is by eliminating caffeine after lunch time and forcing yourself out of bed at 4:00am. When getting up that that time, that would mean you’ve been awake for well over fifteen hours by the time you hit 10:00pm. You will be exhausted at that point. Heading to bed at a reasonable hour at that point will be a breeze. Just do this for three days and you will easily get into the habit of going to bed early.
Tip #1 On How To Get Ahead In Life: Go to sleep early and wake up early. You get in several hours of productivity while others are still adjusting to their start of the day. This will boost your confidence and help you get more done.
Getting The Right Education
When you have the right degree, you are almost guaranteed a decent income the rest of your life. Money brings you cars, watches, nice clothing, but more than anything else, it gives you peace. In addition to that, a good spouse will usually come along if you are financially self-sufficient. Getting the right education is crucial.
There are two things you have to do in order to acquire the full benefits of this step. The first is going to an inexpensive school. Some degrees out there require you to get into a top-notch school since networking is imperative within certain fields. If you want to study finance for example, you are way better off going to Stanford than a city college. But accounting, nursing, and other practical areas of education can be attained for an affordable price with good job prospects if you simply go to a city or local college. The curriculum will be easier within these schools compared to a top tier college. Also, the amount of loans you will come out with will be very manageable.
Your passion should not be your career. That does not mean you ignore your passion as I will discuss in the next step. What would I consider a good education? Anything that has both private and public sector job opportunities such as education, accounting, engineering, programming, and nursing. You can also go towards the trade route and learn mechanics and construction-contracting. Stay away from the arts. Avoid history, art studies, music, and anything else where your job prospects are limited.
I personally hold three different positions in my career right now. I have been in the accounting field for seven years in the public sector job. This is my safety net. Last year, I became a licensed real estate agent. This is simply a side hustle. Lastly, I own and manage a vegan blog (theveganmindset.com). None of these accomplishments happened over night. I had to either get a degree for what I do, acquire a license, or spend dozens of hours learning how to run a blog. Everything takes time. What matters most is creating a map of your future and sticking to it.
Tip #2 On How To Get Ahead In Life: Get a good degree in an inexpensive school. Make sure your degree has opportunities in the public and private sector. Stick to something practical.
Pick a Secondary Niche
Do you like art history, music, or literature? Make that your secondary niche. You do not need to ignore your passion to get ahead in life. Your passion can be utilized on many fronts. Start a blog talking about your favorite topic. I prefer blogs because the cost of entry is low, learning SEO (search engine optimization) to drive traffic to your blog is simple, and all you need is a word processing program to create your content.
Lately, online-gurus are telling people to start a YouTube channel. If being on camera is your thing, go for it. Personally, I am camera shy, I am too cheap to buy expensive equipment, and I have found creating video content is really tedious. With a blog post, you simply write it, edit it three times, and you are basically done.
If you do something for a long enough period of time, you will see financial results. I find it hard to believe that if you put out 100 blog posts about a historical period in the world of art, you won’t see any search engine traffic.
Why is this necessary to get ahead in life? First, you have a unique interest that you can talk to people about. This will attract a possible spouse, make you the life of the party, or make you an authority among your friends. Secondly, you can monetize this passion of yours and make a secondary income.
How much time should you put into your passion? This is a hobby. 5-10 hours a week should be more than enough to turn your love for music into something substantial that results in material gain. Be mindful that to have your niche materialize into additional revenue, it does take time. Give yourself 24 months to really develop your brand and put out the necessary content.
Personally, I wish when I was in college I minored in writing. Writing has become my secondary niche. I use it for my real estate website and for this blog. If you can write well, you can talk about anything. While in college, if you have the luxury of getting a minor or even a double major, go ahead and allow that second area of study to be related to your niche.
Tip #3 On How To Get Ahead In Life: Find a secondary niche to focus on during your free time and turn your hobby into a revenue stream. Not only are you adding another dimension to your personality but you’re positioning yourself to make more money in the long term by discussing that in which you love.
Taking Care of Your Body
If you are not in shape, have an ugly body, and always feel sluggish, you will never hit your ceiling. Getting into shape and eating right is so important. I personally subscribe to a vegan lifestyle. Aside from the ethical and moral reasons of going plant-based, this is the perfect diet for ambitious people looking to get ahead in life. You have more energy, you sleep better, your skin looks better, your thinking is always clear and never clouded, and you keep excess pounds off with ease. I wrote a whole guide on this topic.
Exercise is also a big deal. As long as you do something everyday, you will see \ compound effects especially on a vegan diet. I have no doubt that if you have a clean plant-based regiment and you do moderate exercise three days a week whether it’s lifting, performing a light jog, or just walking an hour every day, you will look way better than if you had a regular carnivore diet while doing the same amount of exercise.
Also, buy yourself a Nutribullet. Get into the habit of drinking your salad. I learned this from the world famous triathlete Rich Roll. Every morning when you wake up, make yourself a massive smoothie that contains a lot of dark leafy greens like kale since it’s practically the a whole-food multivitamin, grounded flaxseed for your omega-3 needs, a ton of blueberries for their antioxidant and fiber profile, and almond milk for your vitamin D. Add in whatever else you want as long as it is a whole-food plant-based source. This is the best way to start your day. I generally avoid salads because I simply hate them. Chopping up tomatoes and spinach is brutal for me. I rather blend it all up and chug it.
Tip #4 On How To Get Ahead In Life: Have a really clean diet. I recommend a plant-based diet. It is a miracle regiment that has so many benefits. Also, start making big healthy smoothies every morning that is entirely plant-based filled with berries and dark leafy greens. You will look good and feel good. It is hard to get ahead in life if you look and feel like crap all the time.
Knowing How to Talk to People
I’m going to need to outsource this section to the world famous self-help book by Dale Carnegie titled “How to win friends and influence people”. This is a book that you must have in your library. Just buy it and read it a minimum of three times. You will become more likable afterwards, I promise.
Knowing how to talk to people is highly strategic and unnatural. What I mean by this is if I had to respond to people during a conversation with the first thought that popped into my head, I would probably be fired, friendless, and single at this point in my life. The way to talk to people is to give serious thought to your response before opening up your mouth.
I will give you an example of a good and bad response for when talking to someone. Suppose your friend Jeff says “Hey Sue, I just got back from the Caribbean, how was your weekend?”
Here is a bad response – “Ugh, I need a vacation. My weekend was terrible. I got sick and had to drive my mother to the airport”.
Here is the truth. No one really cares about you. When people talk, they simply speak in order to have attention put on themselves. We are our most favorite stars. In the conversation above, Jeff mentioned he was in the Caribbean but he was courteous enough to ask about Sue as well. Sue took to the extreme and simply talked about her miserable life. Not only that, but she only mentioned how negative her weekend was. Sue is a real Debbie-downer. No one will want to be friends with Sue if that’s how she always talks to people.
Here is a good response: “Caribbean? Wow nice. Who did you go with Jeff? Did you enjoy your trip? I see you got a nice tan going. ”
In this response, the focus is on your friend. You are giving them all the attention, you used their name which is the most appealing sound to a person’s ears, and you sacrificed speaking about yourself because more likely than not they wanted to talk about their Caribbean trip instead. If Jeff really is curious about you, he will ask you later again on how you are doing.
To be considered friendly does not necessarily mean to act with an absence of meanness. What it means is to let the other person you are conversing with to talk your ear off, give them the microphone, and let them be comfortable. This sounds fake on your part but trust me, people will like you a lot more. Remember, this guide isn’t about us trying to make friends, it’s about getting ahead in life. By strategically choosing your words wisely, avoiding negative verbiage, and letting your subject talk their heart out, you will become more likeable and see more opportunities arise over time.
Tip #5 On How To Get Ahead In Life: Think before you speak with people. Make the focus on them and use only positive language when addressing other people. Avoid steering the conversation to focus on you only.
Saving Your Money Effectively
When a person is able to save their money effectively, they are able to see light at the end of the tunnel. If you are caught in the rat race and every single penny you make simply goes to living expenses or your debts, you are in your own prison. You will never get ahead in life if you are trapped by your bills. The biggest expense in my life that haunted me every month were my credit cards. I imagine this is a similar predicament most people are in. When you are paying $1,000 a month in credit cards, that’s $1,000 less going into your savings or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
There is nothing worse than debt. Some debts are unavoidable such as a mortgage. If anything, a mortgage is a sign of triupmh. I am way happier now paying my mortgage than I was paying rent.
Other debts, like credit cards, have to be purged away from your life immediately. To save your money effectively, chop up all your credit cards and make a plan to be credit card debt free. If this takes three years, so be it. I only recently got out of the credit card debt I was in and let me tell you, it feels amazing. It was a weight over my shoulders for the longest time.
How to spend your money
Imagine what you can do with an extra $1,000 that used to go to your credit cards. Here is what I would do:
If you do not own your own home, then you absolutely have to start saving to make that purchase. I live in NYC so buying a home here get’s really expensive but the rest of America is surprisingly affordable. Own a home so you aren’t dependent on the whims of a landlord. You can always resell the home and expand. When you rent, you aren’t building equity. You are just making someone else rich.
Let’s now assume you own a home and you have an extra $1,000 floating around.
- Start putting your money into an IRA, Roth IRA, or 401(k). Investing $500 a month should be more than enough. Roth and traditional IRAs have a yearly contribution cap. The money in these accounts will compound and appreciate. Here is an example of what to expect when you start contributing to a Traditional IRA.
- Suppose you put in $500 a month into your IRA starting at age 30. By the time you hit age 65, your IRA’s worth after federal taxes is $638,632 (state and local taxes still apply). Your total lifetime contributions were $175,000. That means your money nearly quadrupled. Suppose you will be passing away at age 85, your IRA alone will provide you $31,931 in income each year. That’s about $2,660.97 in income a month. This is before taking into account your savings, pension, social security, or other retirement accounts. That is a massive safety net you just built for yourself.
- With the other $500 that you have remaining, your best put is to put it into savings. An emergency fund is always needed. Try having an amount equivalent to six months of bills saved up in cash. The last thing you want to do is depend on credit cards. You never know when your boiler will break or your over will stop working. These reserves are crucial.
Tip #6 On How To Get Ahead In Life: Pay off all of your credit cards, own your own home, and make sure to invest into an IRA or 401(k) account. You can’t focus on improving the quality of your life if you are living with financial uncertainty and have credit card debt weighing you down.
And there you have it. Those are my 6 steps on how to get ahead in life. If you do take some of my advice into account, please reach out to me so I can hear all about it. I am a byproduct of what I have outlined above. It took about four years but from following these simple steps, I have gotten healthier, wealthier, and happier. Achieving happiness in life is doable. All it takes is careful planning and self-awareness. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.