What you do today will determine your success tomorrow.

Many people misunderstand success. We often talk about people being “overnight successes.” Some view success as a destination. People often look for shortcuts to success. Many people believe that success doesn’t come from what you do but who you know. A lot of people are convinced that they can never be successful because of the circumstances of their birth or education. They feel trapped in mediocrity. The reality is that each of these common beliefs about success are not true.

We forget that the “overnight success” spent years practicing his or her craft. The rising music star probably spent years singing in small venues and dives before being recognized for his or her talent. Success is not a destination, but a journey. Connections might be important, but there are many people who had incredible connections who never became successful. Anybody remember Billy Carter? The library is full of books telling the stories of people who rose above their early years to become incredible successful people.

John Maxwell points out in his book Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success that “The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” He goes on to write, “Successful people make right decisions early and manage those decisions daily.” This is not merely following a to-do list nor is it managing your time with a calendar. It’s about deciding what is going to enable you to enjoy success and managing those behaviors and attitudes daily. Maxwell’s book addresses the twelve things he’s identified as important to his success. Your list may or may not be identical to his, but it’s important that you have such a list and that you take steps daily to manage the items on that list each day.

I am convinced this is difficult for many people. We don’t enjoy the discipline that such intentionality requires of us. Many prefer to drift through life and just deal with whatever comes up. Without a coach, a mentor, or someone to hold us accountable we will continue to do what’s easiest, the most pleasant, or what seems urgent rather than focusing on those things that will actually lead to success.

Change expert, John Kotter, has said “Most people don’t lead their own lives – they accept their lives.” Too often we begin each day without a plan, address whatever comes our way, and at the end of the day wonder why it seems little of significance was achieved. It’s because we were not intentional about what we were doing. We were not leading our lives but allowing others and circumstances to lead them.

What will you intentionally do today that will lead to your own personal growth? Do you have a personal growth plan? What are your goals for 2016, and how much time do you spend each day working on them? What are your plans for strengthening your relationships with your family and friends? What are you doing to nurture your spiritual growth? What are you committed to doing with your life? These are just a few of the questions we need to ask if we want to enjoy success in all endeavors of our lives, and once we answer those questions we need to begin to intentionally manage our lives in accordance to those answers.

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