How to Plan for Success

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An often repeated adage attributed to self-help writer Alan Lakein says that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Although success is synonymous with notions of money and prosperity, it takes on different meanings for different people. Unless you first identify what success means to you, you could inadvertently adopt someone else's definition of success and find yourself disappointed once you achieve the objective. Planning your goals and outcomes based on ideals that are important to you ensures that you know where you're headed and gives you tools to help you measure your success.

List areas of your life that are the most important to you. Possibilities include family, health, finances, downtime, education and career. You can also prioritize your list in order of significance. However, each category or area affects the other, making it imperative to consider each category in light of the others.

Write down your definition of success in each category. Brainstorm first if you find this hard initially. For example, under “family,” you might emphasize the importance of a family date night, sit-down dinners and an environment that encourages open discussion. As you identify your priorities in each area, consider how your categories intersect and whether compromise in one area is necessary to more fully meet your expectations and desired outcomes across the board.

Outline the steps you need to take to achieve your desired outcomes in each category. For example, if one of your financial priorities is to put back enough money to cover an annual vacation – a crossover with downtime goals – determine how much money you need to put back weekly to achieve your goal. Depending on your income, this may also mean that you need to limit your debts to allow for more financial freedom.

Revisit your plans and goals every six months. You may find that your priorities are shifting. Or you may need a reminder that the choices you're making are helping you live the life you want for yourself and your family.


  • Although planning for success helps ensure that you achieve the goals that matter most to you, success is an ongoing process for most people, rather than a pinnacle moment. Of course, landing your dream job or paying cash for your family vehicle are pinnacle moments, but continuing to work toward desired outcomes in other areas of your life is equally important and fulfilling. Focus on the process, whether it's performing well at your job or spending quality time with your family on a daily basis.


About the Author

Pam Murphy is a writer specializing in fitness, childcare and business-related topics. She is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and contributes to various websites. Murphy is a licensed childcare professional and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Georgia.

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