How to increase your chances of success

How to increase your chances of success

As the days start to lengthen and signs of spring begin to appear, I’ve been reflecting on New Year resolutions. Why is it that only 8%* of us manage to achieve them? What can you do to increase your chances of success and make the most of your year?

Maybe, in the lull between Christmas and New Year, you took a few moments to think about what you want for the year ahead. But, since packing away the Christmas decorations and returning to work, you’ve hardly come up for air. You hit the ground running in January and those well-intentioned resolutions have now bitten the dust, if you can even remember what they were! And, you have more than enough on your plate as it is, without trying to squeeze any more onto your ‘To Do’ list.

Or, perhaps, you were very clear that you wanted things to be different this year. 2019 was going to be the year you’d make some much-needed changes. But now you’re starting to wonder whether they are totally unrealistic, too difficult, maybe even impossible to achieve?

There’s a reason why only 8% of us manage to achieve our resolutions. Which is that very few of us know how to create the best conditions for success.

It starts with getting really clear about what you want.

What do you really, really want? 

The greater your clarity about what you want, the more likely you are to achieve it. Knowing what you want is a skill that few of us develop. It’s well worth mastering, if you want to create success that has meaning for you.

Take some time to explore what you want. You may think you want a promotion. However, when you think it through, you could realise that what matters more is greater fulfilment in your work. Which might well lead you to a promotion, but could also lead you somewhere different, which would give you the opportunity to grow, to use your talents and have you feeling more fulfilled.

Many of us are often very good at knowing what we don’t want. However, when our focus is on what we want to avoid, that’s what we typically end up creating. The question I frequently ask my clients is: “So, if you don’t want that, what do you want instead?”

And, watch out for what you think you ‘should’ want because others expect it of us. In the early days of my business, cash flow was sometimes an issue. My father, a former bank manager, had seen many businesses flounder and thought I should give up the business and do something else. His want, not mine!

You also increase your chances of success by writing down what you want. Research by psychology professor, Gail Mathews**, found that committing your goals to paper on a regular basis makes you 42% more likely to achieve them. Apparently, it’s because thinking about them uses just the right hemisphere of your brain (where your imagination lives). Write them down and you also engage your logic-based left hemisphere. Then, you get to leverage the full powerhouse of your subconscious mind and access another level of consciousness, ideas and productivity.

Why do you want what you want?

Knowing what you want is key but, on it’s own, isn’t necessary enough to create results. Especially if you have ambitious goals. Increase your chances of success by digging into why your goals matter to you. It’s a critical step but one that often gets missed in traditional goal-setting approaches.

Take some time to think about all the positive reasons why you want what you want. “I want this because….”. Write them down, fill the page, breathe into them, allow yourself to engage with them. Expand the list by asking: ‘Why else do I want this?’ Deepen your intentions with the question: ‘Why do all these reasons matter to me?’ and write some more. This is the motivational fuel which will galvanise you into action, keep you going when the going gets tough and keep you on track with your dreams.

I’ll be back next week with further tips for enhancing your success at making things happen. I hope you’ve found this helpful so far. And, do let me know how you get on.

If you would like to know more about  how to build your own or your team’s attitudes to success, email

* John Norcross, Professor of Psychology, University of Scranton

** Gail Matthews, Clinical Psychologist, Dominican University of California