Many of us go through life thinking that success is for the other guy, someone else that has more talent, more intelligence and better "connections." We keep convincing ourselves that we can't do things that would be special, meaningful or profitable. We end up on the outside looking in, and staying in the "tried and true" rut of working for someone else in a job that often only just meets our financial needs.

Oddly enough, we're the one holding ourselves back, and many of us just can't see it. Stop applying your own brakes, and let yourself achieve in ways that you never thought possible.

Here are four basic steps to get you on your way to cutting the chains that have been keeping you from being the success story that you deserve.

  1. Success requires that you believe in yourself. It really doesn't matter if everyone believes in you or no one believes in you. If you don't believe in you, then you'll go nowhere fast.

    My fifth grade teacher told my parents that I'd be better working with my hands than I would with my mind. My mother related that story to me long after I had been successful in my own business. I thanked my mother for never telling me what my teacher had said back when I was young and impressionable.

    It occurs to me that my mother knew very well that success depends on a "can do" attitude, which means you have to believe in yourself and your skills, knowledge, experience, interests and aptitude. Believe in yourself because you'll need to be your own best cheerleader if you're going to be successful at anything.

  2. Have a plan with specific goals, or at least generally know where you're headed. Drifting has never been a good way to chart a course to anywhere. Success requires focus, and a plan helps achieve proper focus so you can attain your goals.
  3. Find a good mentor so you can learn from the best. My first three supervisors were good communicators. They were good speakers and excellent writers. I studied every change they made to my writing, and I learned more from them than I could possibly have learned from many years in school.

    Hang around smart people, because they help make you smarter. It isn't as simple as osmosis, but it works in very much the same way. If your mind is permeable to new ideas and new ways of doing things, then you'll find it much easier to learn once you get yourself associated with someone who sets a good example.

  4. Get into the conversation. You can't expect opportunity to magically drop into your lap. It just doesn't happen that way. In order to discover where you fit, you'll have to get into the mix and explore different possibilities.

    If you let people know of your availability, interests, experience and skills, then you're helping others to find you with their opportunities. And, if you have a plan, then worthwhile opportunities will be much easier to recognize once you see them.

    A key to finding your path to success is to be deliberate about it. Believe in yourself. Have reasonable expectations about where you want to go and what you want to do. Get some of the "shine" from other successful people to rub off on you, and stay in the game. The combination of these simple steps is important to finding success in any endeavor. Without them, you're largely just drifting about, hoping to wash up on the shores of success, and that's not likely to happen.

Author's Bio: 

Clair Schwan is an entrepreneur who encourages others to use their strengths to start their own enterprises. He has run his own consulting business for more than 10 years and is self-retired because of his success. See profiles of small and home based business successes at

Mr. Schwan lives on the prairie outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming with his sweetheart Ellen where they raise and grow their own food and live a life focused on self-sufficiency and personal achievement. See some of his adventures in a self-directed life at, and learn more about how he grows vegetables and raises small animals at