These 19 quotes explain how to become successful

If you pay close attention, you’ll see themes and patterns within this curation of quotes.

These quotes detail:

  • How to decide what you should want
  • How to train yourself to want it enough to have it
  • How to transform your identity, brain, and environment to ensure you get the results you want
  • How to continually increase your success and well-being
  • How to become laser focused in life

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Let’s start:

“And so it is, that both the Devil and the angelic Spirit present us with objects of desire to awaken our power of choice.” — Rumi

Without options, you can’t make choices. Without choices, everything you do would be meaningless. You do have choice. Therefore, what you choose to do has inherent meaning and consequence.

“What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become.” — Neal Maxwell

You get in life what you desire. Even now, you have what you want. If you want something different, you’ll create something different. If you want wealth, you’ll have it. If you want poverty, you’ll have it. If you want joy, you’ll have it. If you want sadness, you’ll have it.

“The discipline of desire is the background of character.” — John Locke

Given that you become the product of your desires, your first order of business is to decide what you could or should desire. You need to train your desires. If currently, you desire wasting time on Facebook and eating junk food, then you need to train those desires — if you truly want different results. True success comes in changing what you desire, rather than constantly battling lower-level desires through willpower. Put simply, there are things which you likely believe you could or should value, but that you don’t currently value, as reflected in your behavior, goals, and environment. Example: a lot of people believe “health” is something worth valuing, but they don’t actually value health. Thus, you want to think of the values worth having and train yourself to desire those values. You also want to desire specific outcomes.

“Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” — Napoleon Hill

In order to truly succeed at something, you have to really want it. You need to want it more and more every day. You increase that desire by engaging in activities and behaviors that clearly and directly relate to what you want. Your behavior shapes your identity. When you begin acting toward your desire, you begin to become your desire.

“Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.” — William Blake

If you don’t achieve your goals, it is because you didn’t fuel your desire to achieve that goal every day. Your brain and belief system are incredibly malleable and fluid. With proper behavior, emotion, and environmental signaling, you can reshape your brain to match your goals. Thus, quite literally, you will be mentally and physically what your desires are.

“Your eyes can only see and your ears can only hear what your brain is looking for.” — Dan Sullivan

Your brain is always looking for something. Psychologists call this selective attention. Here’s a fascinating question: what are you currently paying attention to? What you pay attention to reflects what you think about and desire. Your job is to train your attention. You do this by setting specific and intentional goals and then fueling the desire of those goals through congruent and courageous action, routinized visualization, and environment design, including key relationships.

“A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.” — William Hazlitt

Your desires and goals are what determine your process. When you set a huge goal, ask yourself this question: “What would need to occur in order for this to be true?” For example, if you want to make one million dollars, or 10 million dollars, in the next 12 months, what would need to occur in order for this to be true? Stephen Covey clearly stated, “Begin with the end in mind.” You must start at the end-point and then reverse-engineer HOW you’ll get that. The goal determines the process.

“Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction.” — Melody Beattie

Your goal and desire gives your life direction. It also shapes who you become. When you decide on a goal and deepen your desire to achieve that goal, it will change who you are at both the conscious and subconscious levels. Your subconscious is what truly determines who you become. Thus, you need to fuel your desire and beliefs every single day. You do this through committed and bold action, and by shaping your environment to match your goals.

“Your input determines your outlook. Your outlook determines your output, and your output determines your future.” — Zig Ziglar

When you decide you really want something, you must begin eliminating stuff from your life that conflicts with that goal. You need to create an environment that matches your goal. Over time, you become the product of your environment. Your environment reflects your desires and values, even if those weren’t chosen, but just accepted based on your circumstances. Thus, in order to truly achieve your desires, you need an environment that continually fuels, supports, and sustains those desires over time. This includes the people you surround yourself with, places you go, and media you consume.

“Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.” — Jim Rohn

If you don’t have urgency in your life, then your desire won’t have power. You need to continually create urgency for the desires you have. Hence, the most successful people in the world have schedules and deadlines, etc. even though they have plenty of money. You need to have a vision and mission that is worth getting up early for. You need to have an intense urgency to get stuff done. This deepens your desire and makes it more powerful.

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” — Ayn Rand

Running your own race is essential to success. Who cares what other people are doing? Interestingly, most people are looking at their competition. Don’t do that. Look to the people who inspire you. Learn from them, but don’t overly emulate them. Ultimately, your desire could be simply to see how far you can go. When you begin to set your own path, then you are no longer limited by other people’s imagination.

“If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.” — William James

The more intense your desire becomes, the more willing you become to do whatever it takes. When you become clear on the outcomes you want, you reverse engineer how to get those results. You continuously fail and pivot and learn until you get what you want. You don’t lower your goals or expectations. You don’t avoid goals because failure is too painful to deal with. You set a path and continue forward until you succeed.

“There are two types of people: those who get results and those who have reasons for not getting results.” — Dan Sullivan

If you’re not getting the results you want, then you continually learn and shift and upgrade your processes. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So, look at your results. Are they what you want? Do they reflect the goals you’re striving for? Are you moving forward at the rate you could be? If not, then change it up.

“Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.” — Michelangelo

The purpose of goals is to open yourself up to continually pursuing bigger goals. In other words, goals are means, not ends. They are endpoints or checkpoints to open your confidence and opportunities. But the mistake people make is becoming overly attached to a certain outcome. If they don’t hit their goal, they feel crushed. If they do hit their goal, they feel let down or underwhelmed. This is because they don’t understand that goals are merely something to focus on in order to transform yourself for the next thing. In the end, growth is the purpose of life — Growth, and helping other people grow. Goals are a means to that end. They help you continually expand your ability to grow and contribute and learn.

“The thrill is to keep envisioning what can be.” — Oprah Winfrey

Creating a vision for the future is one of the most exhilarating and exciting things you can do. Psychologically, the anticipation of an event is always more powerful than the event itself. Visualizing and deciding and planning are all powerful motivational tools. Never stop dreaming. However, in order to transform that dream into a pulsating desire and ultimately into results, you must transform your brain and environment to match that result. You need to act and be the result. You need to transform yourself into the vision, and that involves letting go of who you previously were.

“The fewer our wants the more we resemble the gods.” — Socrates

The more clarity you gain on what you want, the more you must accept that every choice has an opportunity cost. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously close the door on basically everything else. This is essential to success, but something very few people are willing to do. People desire the freedom of choice, and as a result, they never truly make a choice.

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” — Henry David Thoreau

You become rich by ignoring almost everyone and everything. You stop spending your money on frivolous crap. Wealthy and successful people actually spend more time “relaxing” and they spend more money on entertainment. But they are also more strategic about it. They have higher standards. Rather than wasting half their day on Facebook, they’d rather have 3 focused hours at work and spend the rest of their day on the beach. Or they’d rather spend 3–4 weeks completely unplugged in a different country. It’s a matter of priority and focus.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” — Warren Buffet

The more you desire specific things, the more you have to say “no” to nearly everything else. True decisions mean you cut off all alternative options. Decision is the opposite of willpower, because willpower means you never actually decided and you never shaped an environment to facilitate that choice. Willpower means you never trained your desires and you never reshaped your brain and identity to match those desires. In other words, if you have willpower in your life, it means you’re still battling your old self, and you haven’t made a true decision about what you are and what you’re about. It becomes much easier to say “no” when you’ve made a real decision.

“Focusing is about saying no.” — Steve Jobs

In order to be focused, you must say no more. Confidence is built by saying no. This allows you to go big on the things you really want to crush. Going big on a few things is how you build a life worth living and how you truly make an impact in this world. It’s also how you build mastery, wealth, and happiness.

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This article originally appeared on Medium.