Young people should define their own version of success and then develop the habits to achieve their dreams
By Jonathan Friedman
What does success mean for young people? Is it early wealth? A fulfilling career? A relationship that is spontaneous, nourishing and durable in the face of turbulence? The truth is that all these things could be defined as success, but not all of us want to experience the same kind of milestones and achievements as others.
Unfortunately, when we don’t stop to define success for ourselves, we start moving toward things that feel wrong — maybe we buy a fancy car instead of a beautiful home, or maybe we put our time and energy into our career instead of a budding relationship. Put simply: how can we chase what we want if we don’t know what it is we’re chasing?
Fortunately, while success itself is nebulous, there are some universal things you can do that will help you prepare for the kind of success you want. We’ll call these “The Six Keys To Real Success As A Young Person.”
Once you start embracing them, you’ll find that your definition of success will start to become infinitely clearer. Here are the six keys:
1. Financially and spiritually, invest more than you spend
This first key involves a bit of life hygiene: put more into your investments than you take out. Many people are aware they should invest in financial assets in disproportion to their expenses, but this goes for all things in life, not just money.
For instance, if you are in a loving and wonderful relationship, giving your partner support freely and frequently is the best way to receive it back in equal measure. This goes for your work, too: putting ample energy and effort into your career will pay dividends, whereas coasting and failing to make connections in your industry will not set you up for success in the long run.
2. Develop a journaling habit and maintain itIt may sound trite, but this may be the most crucial “key” on this list. Keeping a journal is absolutely central to understanding and processing your emotions, achievements and — most importantly — your definition of success.
Why? Simply put, journaling helps us process life in a radically different way. Instead of the rumination, over-analyzation and self-interrogation that comes with constantly thinking about your goals and dreams, journaling is a slow, thoughtful medium that gives you space to consider what you need and how to get it.
There are countless ways and spaces to journal. It’s up to you to find what works best for you. If you want help navigating the best platforms for journal keeping, the service I recommend to everyone is the one I helped found: The Journal That Talks Back™.
More than a journal, this is a personal wellness tool where you can track your thoughts, feelings, sleep, mood and more, all while receiving support from certified coach responders. No matter what barriers are preventing you from finding success, a well-maintained journal will help you unlock and move past your challenges toward the kind of life you want to live.
3. Understand the importance of coaches and mentors
Everyone needs a mentor. Young people especially need mentors. None of us know what we’re doing alone — everything we’ve ever learned, gained and grown from has been because of a guiding force that pushed us toward our best versions of ourselves.
Coaches are professionally trained mentors with certified experience in helping people move through their problems. Instead of infrequent advice from a peer or one-off lessons from a therapist, a life coach acts as a targeted, potent influencer who can put you on the fast track toward understanding your definition of success and grasping it. Once again, if you feel like a life coach could help you succeed in the ways you want, check out The Journal That Talks Back™ for professional help.
4. Seize once-in-a-young-lifetime opportunities
Nobody wants to hear that some opportunities don’t happen twice. Unfortunately, this is occasionally true in our young lives: the people we meet, jobs we are offered, trips we take and connections we develop may only happen once.
This isn’t to say that you’re not going to have new opportunities to pursue going forward. Just remember that, as a young person, you have a lot of agency and freedom to pursue major opportunities and make big decisions that you may not be able to make later on. This is a great advantage, so be sure to capitalize on what you want and do not make sacrifices for it!
5. Accept your failures and mistakes, but learn from themBy now, you’ve probably read enough motivational blogs and seen enough success posters to know that failure doesn’t matter — it’s how you come back from the failure that really counts. That’s all well and good, but you didn’t come here to hear the same things over and over again.
My advice is this: you should definitely accept those failures and mistakes, but don’t let them sit and fester. In order for failure to be valuable, you have to learn from it. If a relationship ended because you weren’t able to be emotionally available for someone else, try to grow and move on from that behavior as you explore your next romantic endeavor. Or, if a business venture tanked because of bad spending habits, do some legwork to understand where your investments went wrong, and do your best to create safeguards against poor investments in the future.
Put another way: never berate yourself for a mistake, but always be sure to improve as a person after you do fail.
6. Get a great support network and hang onto it
“No one is a failure who has friends.” Whether you’re turning to a partner, a friend group, a journal, a coach or a family member, your support network is critical to your long-term success. Everyone should be their own personal “cheerleader,” but it never hurts to have others on the sidelines to cheer you on as well.
This way, no matter what you choose to pursue in your pursuit of success — wealth, fame, love, connection, community, family — you’ll have a reputable group of people to guide you on your path, time after time. After all, lone wolves and self-made millionaires might look impressive in movies, but real life is all about bonding, networking and finding connections that help you keep your goals front and center.
Define your success, then grasp it — and never let go
All of these keys to success have something in common: they are universal. That means no matter what kind of success you want to pursue, these lessons will help you work toward your goals and dreams.
I wish you the best of luck in crushing those goals.
About the Author
Jonathan Friedman is the President of The Journal That Talks Back™, an accessible, unlimited journaling and coaching app that connects young professionals and post-secondary students with a certified coach so they can manage their mental health, relationships, career aspirations, personal and professional challenges and more. After 8 years as a Child and Youth Counselor, he has seen firsthand how important it is for young adults to have access to support and guidance.