Without further ado, here’s the formula for achieving success in anything:
Success = Effort x Tools x Consistency x Talent x Mindset.
Ok, that looks vague. How do you actually use it in your life?
How do you improve each of those points to increase your chances of success tenfold or even much more?
Let’s take a closer look at each of the points in the formula and talk about some important conditions to use it efficiently.
How does the formula for success work?
When we multiply the elements of the formula – Consistency, Effort, Talent, Tools, and Mindset – we get the degree and the probability of success.
As you tweak the elements of the formula, you get different outcomes.
The outcomes can’t be compared between two people. The only comparison could be made between the current and former versions of yourself and your situation.
1. Talent. A constant in the formula for success
Talent is mostly used in an artistic or academic context, but it’s any kind of natural, inborn ability or aptitude.
If we compare talent to physical flexibility, someone who’s “talented” will reach their toes effortlessly, without any preparation. Someone else could do it after a short struggle, after a long warm-up, or after months of stretching practice.
Does everyone have talents? How do I know what my talents are?
Yes. Everyone has a natural aptitude toward one thing or another – usually multiple things. They manifest themselves to a different extent, depending on the circumstances.
A few indicators that your talents lie within a certain domain:
- An activity brings you joy even if you do it for a while and get physically tired.
- Something people gave positive remarks about.
- Skill-based activities you were at ease with shortly after being introduced to them.
- You couldn’t help but feel baffled that other people have issues with certain things that seem straightforward to you.
Can talent be learned or taught?
By definition, talent is the ability you were born with. It’s that hand you were dealt when you came into this world, the baseline that can’t be changed.
In the formula for success, talents are constants.
However, as you practice something and repeat it in various forms through exercises and examples, it does become more and more natural.
With time and practice, you develop an intuitive understanding, so the ideas, answers, and actions come much easier.
Related: How to develop intuition with learning and self-awareness.
There are people who started doing yoga in their forties and developed flexibility over time. They might not get to the level of someone who did gymnastics since their childhood, but they’re way more flexible than their former selves – and even some people much younger than them.
And then there are people who were very flexible as young adults but, with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of practice, became stiff and hunched.
Talent gives people a head start, making it relatively easier to achieve certain results. But in the long run, the result depends on other factors at play.
2. Effort. How strong is your push toward the goal?
Effort is how much determination you put into what you’re doing. The strength you push forward with. The energy and other resources you invest.
The more you push, the better the results, right?
Not exactly. The dependency between the effort and the outcome is not linear.
While it’s true that putting in no effort will bring zero results, putting in maximum effort only takes you so far.
The amount of effort you could put in is not infinite – eventually, you’ll reach your full capacity. And if you always go at maximum capacity, you’ll burn out soon enough.
Effort needs modifiers.
Working hard or working smart?
“Hard work” could mean being diligent with what you’re doing and putting effort into improving your ways of working and skills to get the best results.
But if working hard evokes the images of a long day of physical labor or sweating over the desk, then it’s not just hard work, it’s a grind.
A stern, teeth-gritting grind.
Some symptoms that could indicate the “grind mentality”:
- Just don’t give up, keep going, and you’ll make it. (Without stipulating that assessment and improvements have to be made with each small iteration).
- Not feeling like you did a great job unless you’re exhausted.
- “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Sticking to familiar and well-practiced routines.
- Feeling like an impostor if the result comes without a substantial effort.
- A related sentiment is that everything, including love and appreciation, needs to be “earned”.
Working smart is increasing efficiency, so the same effort brings more results.
Improving the coefficient of performance, the input-to-output ratio, and removing the impediments that bring the ratio down.
The way it is done is by improving your toolkit.
3. Tools. Where the boost in success comes from
Here are a few examples:
- You could learn the rules of a language by reading a lot of books and picking up patterns, but it’ll be much more efficient to read a grammar book.
- When using an advanced piece of software, you’ll save time if you learn keyboard shortcuts. Might just be a few minutes per session, but the time will add up.
Upgrading your tools will give you a huge boost. With the same amount of time and energy spent, the outputs – and outcomes – will be much greater.
I define “tools” in a broad sense here. They are skills or anything you could measure, and develop with learning. Tools are framed as nouns:
- How to learn efficient task delegation
- Getting better with prioritization
- Learning a programming language
- Most important video editing techniques
- Improving my proactivity
Can’t you just say “how to be more proactive” or “how to delegate efficiently”? Why take an extra step to define those skills as nouns?
This helps make them more in-focus and concrete, creating a beacon to move towards.
Which skills should I develop for the strongest results?
This might get overwhelming. With so many things to potentially improve, what should I focus on? What will be the greatest modifier for my success at this point?
The specific, hands-on skills would depend on your situation.
But there are a couple of things that are true in any scenario:
- The following elements of the success formula, Consistency and Mindset, could also be viewed as tools. Working on them will bring up your overall score.
- The opposites of tools are ballasts. Even partially removing them will help.
Related: A strategy to learn new skills from the very beginning.
Ballasts: the impediments to success
The negative coefficients of the success formula are ballasts: bad habits and other negative factors that bring the whole equation down.
The first step to defeating a for is knowing their name. To tackle ballasts, you also define them as nouns.
- How to reduce procrastination
- Living a full life with a medical condition
- Ways to avoid burnout
- Steps to get rid of insecurity
Millions of people faced similar issues, and strategies were devised to counter them.
But there’s no magic pill. To successfully implement a strategy, you need the next element of the success formula.
4. Consistency. The basis of good things in life
Consistency is the rhythm, the willingness to put in the effort at regular intervals.
It’s more beneficial and sustainable to do a 30-minute workout session every day than to do 3.5 hours of non-stop workout once a week.
A few points related to consistency:
- In most cases, it’s not about repeating the same thing over and over.
- Consistency also means looking for improvements and not being easily deterred by roadblocks and failures.
- Since you’re in for a marathon, it’s important to pick a pace you could maintain.
- You need to have realistic expectations about the results.
Related: A full guide to staying consistent in life.
5. Mindset. Success or failure begins in your mind
Everything we see, hear, or touch is interpreted by our brain.
What happens in the outside world is just a sequence of signals – it’s our mind that decides how to perceive them and how to react to them.
It starts with the focus. The stream of signals around us is endless, and the brain is selective about what it picks.
Did this ever happen to you: you learned a new word, or you’re considering buying a new household item, and suddenly you notice this word or item mentioned all around you?
Whatever you focus on – you start seeing more and more of it. So better focus on possibilities and opportunities.
How to shape the mindset in your favor
Mindset is a set of beliefs and attitudes that shapes the lens you look at the world through.
It never shows an “objective reality”. Like a funhouse mirror, our mindset makes some things small and insignificant and enlarges others, making them overwhelming.
But our mirror is fluid. Changing its shape won’t break it, so we could mold the mirror so it reflects the world in a way that gives us more advantage.
Some types of mindset are better for personal and professional growth.
For example, an Agile mindset: it’s geared toward learning small lessons at every step and quickly implementing them to reach success incrementally.
Here’s the guide to developing an Agile mindset.
What does “success” mean to you?
We have discussed the means, but to what end?
What is the vector of your formula? What are you working toward? Which value are you trying to maximize?
Achieving measurable success goals.
Success is an accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
It’s much easier to tell if you reached a goal when it has a number attached to it.
Here are a few examples of measurable success goals:
- Reaching 100.000 subscribers on YouTube within 2 years of launching the channel.
- Losing 40 pounds.
- Growing the blog income from $300/month to $1000/month in a year.
- Learning to play a piano piece at the right tempo and without making mistakes.
With measurable goals, you know exactly when you reached one, and how much you have left to go.
Business goals are usually measurable. But what about “life” goals?
General life success: how do you know you hit the target?
In many cases, life success is defined after the fact, based on what you got. If the spot you hit seems good enough, it’s easier to draw a target around it.
Some examples of life accomplishments:
- An artistic or scientific legacy
- Raising children
- Being a top earner
- Helping people out and having community recognition
Usually “life success” is perceived as a mix of those and other accomplishments. When a certain type of accomplishment has more weight than others, an individual can’t be truly satisfied unless they achieve it, no matter what other markers of success they have.
Issues might arise when you’re pressured into achieving someone else’s desired goals. If you do get there, it doesn’t feel like victory. Or, worse, you might feel miserable about failing to hit someone else’s target.
It’s important to understand what fulfills you, what inspires you. When you look back at your life years from now, what would put a satisfied smile on your face?
“Formula for success” is not a shortcut. It’s an approach based on the mindset, fueled by effort, and driven by tools.
There are definitely tools you could learn or improve to greatly increase your chances of success. How do you know which ones to go for? Start with getting rid of the ballasts, try out different things, improve your consistency, and be honest with yourself.
If you could use some help to progress faster or need a responsibility coach, you could try my personal development coaching services.