When you think of the word “success”, what comes to mind? Is it expensive items that scream “I’ve made it!”, having a mantle full of awards & accolades, having a widely successful business, being able to take family vacations anywhere in the world, not needing to incur debt to get a post-secondary education, or simply having enough money to pay bills, set aside some savings and be able to have some fun with loved ones each month?

Success means something different to us all. In fact, when you look it up on Dictionary.com, there are four separate definitions. The one that resonates the most to me (based on where I am in life) is this one: “The favourable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavours; the accomplishment of one’s goals.”

Using this definition, lets look at 10 ways you can set yourself up for success (and achieve those goals of yours!) while you are young.

1: Clearly define what success means to you.

  • Make a list of what you value in life and what you think success looks like for you across a few area, such as career, personal relationships, and finances.
  • These need to be all about you. Not your friends, parents, or your friendly neighbourhood blogger, you. You’re the one who has to live your life.

2: Set out SMART goals for yourself.

  • Plans are what turn your goals into actions and actions into reality.
  • SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. A personal example for me was: I want to finish all 8 of the Canadian Armed Forces Junior Officer Development Modules by the time my 1 year anniversary at RCSU Central arrives in October 2018. I will accomplish this by registering for two Modules at a time to achieve my goal and devote 1 weekend day a week to working on them. 
  • Success, when carefully planned out, is a long process. Be patient and work hard towards achieving your goals. The time will pass anyways.

3: Always be in self-improvement mode.

  • Learning and bettering yourself is like air. You can never get enough. You can never learn to much, as there is always something more to know.
  • Your chosen field is likely always changing, be it because of news laws, best practices, or new technologies.
  • If you see an opportunity to get that one up, either through reading, going to a presentation, attending a workshop, or taking a course – do it!

4: Volunteer or help someone out.

  • If you have a passion for something, but for some reason or another can’t make a career out of it, volunteer.
  • Love animals? Volunteer at a shelter or become the neighbourhood dog-walker. Want to work with the next generation of leaders? Volunteer or work with a local Cadet unit, the local youth centre, or a Scout Troop. Want to help someone better themselves? Volunteer your services at a local homeless shelter.

5: Spend your money on experiences and education, not material things. 

  • The possessions will wear out or break, but you can never spend enough on experiences and education.
  • Those memories and knowledge stay with you for a lifetime.

6: Invest in Yourself.

  • Live a healthy lifestyle, which means taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and (if you so choose) spiritual health. Exercise regularly, make healthier choices, establish close familial and peer relationships, and take some downtime when you need it.
  • Start making money to help yourself with essentials, fun stuff, and some savings to invest. If you’re not interested in working for someone else, start building a business (see 5 First-Time Business Ideas for Teens for inspo) or work freelance offering your services to a company.

7: Get a Mentor and be a Mentor.

  • Having a great mentor at any stage of the game, regardless of if you decide to go the entrepreneurship route or be an intrapreneur within a company, is absolutely crucial.
  • They’ve been where you are now, so they can pass along some tips and tricks that they used to help them when they needed to make a decision or clear a hurdle.
  • Once you are have more experience and knowledge, consider mentoring someone coming up behind you as a way of giving back. One can never have enough positive support in their life!

8: Start Building Your Personal Brand. 

  • Start distinguishing yourself from the rest of the group and don’t be afraid to highlight what makes you who you are. Always have an elevator pitch in your back pocket!
  • Build a personal website and professional social media accounts so that if people want to know more about you, they can find it easily.
  • On your website should be basic contact info, a brief bio and background, resume, key highlights (i.e. volunteering, any awards, testimonials, etc.). If you are on social media, keep it appropriate. No one wants to see pics of you at a party when they are contemplating hiring you as a freelancer or looking to purchase your product!

9: Every day I’m Hustling…except when I’m on necessary downtime.

  • Work hard, play hard, we’ve all heard this adage many times before. I’m a big believer in the newer adaptation “Work smarter, not harder”. Work efficiently and productively so that you don’t feel overwhelmed or feel the pressure to always be working on something.
  • Reward yourself and your more likely to be able to sustain yourself for longer periods of time. If you’re in the middle of a project or studying, this can be as simple as taking a brain break to connect with loved ones, watch a movie, or have a decent meal. If you’re not in a time crunch, try to take a day (or two) off a week to recharge and do other things that you enjoy. Again, if this isn’t possible for whatever reason, try to take an hour at the end of each day just to yourself to reflect on the day, do some relaxation, prep for the next day, get ready for bed, and rest up.

10: Give yourself some flexibility, and cut yourself some slack.

  • You will make mistakes. There’s no way around that fact because we are humans, not robots.
  • Be flexible with your goals. Maybe you need to scale it back become it became too unrealistic or too costly. Maybe expand the timeline for accomplishing your goal so you don’t get too bogged down or burnt out, which can lead to you giving up on it all together.
  • What often sets successful people from unsuccessful people is how they make use of their mistakes and setbacks. Successful people see them as a learning opportunity about what not to do, look objectively at what happened, rework the plan, and come out stronger.


What does success mean to you? What does it look like? 


P.S. If you’re reading this from the Bay of Quinte Region and now a hardworking, dedicated, butt-kicking young person in your community who deserves recognition, consider nominating them as a Top Leader Under 30: Bay of Quinte! Nominations close soon! Don’t delay and nominate today!