Success Will Not Come Overnight

You may have heard the saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” While this idea can be applied to many aspects of our lives, it holds significant meaning when applied to business success.

We’d all like to become a so-called overnight success. Imagine waking up one day and having it all figured out. Your career has magically come together exactly as you’ve always wanted. You’re happy with your salary, and your work is meaningful. People around you notice how well you’re doing. You didn’t even have to do any hard work to achieve this success.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. There’s no need to feel discouraged, however!

Success doesn’t happen overnight, but the feeling of becoming successful through hard work and careful planning can’t be beaten.

4 Steps to Help You Plan for Success

Sure, “plan for success” sounds like great advice, but what does this really mean? It’s important to remember that success can look very different from person to person. We all have our own goals, so the results and the benchmarks along the way will be unique to each of us.

Still, there are steps any person can take to help plan for their version of success. It’s all about breaking down a big goal into smaller, achievable goals.

If you follow these common-sense steps, you are sure to develop an actionable plan that will help you move your dreams forward, no matter how big or small.

1. Clearly define your first central goal. 

Vague ideas about success might be a good place to start, but when you’re ready to take real steps toward success, you need to have a concise, measurable result in mind.

For example, if your main goal is to become a respected businessperson in your community, it will help to quantify what that kind of success means to you. Narrowing a big goal to a specific goal will naturally lead to more effective planning.

Try a brainstorming session to help you arrive at a well-defined end goal. Identify a goal, and then ask yourself questions that help you decide how to get there:

  • Goal
    – To become a respected businessperson in my community
  • What does “respected” mean?
    – Others recognize my contributions to the community
    – People come to me for advice and assistance
    – I have credentials that prove I’m educated in my area of focus

This train of thought has led to a quantifiable, actionable, narrow potential goal: completing more education that is focused on your speciality. Someone who wishes to become more respected as a businessperson might start looking at MBA programs or certifications related to their field, for example.

2. Develop a list of the first steps to take

You’ll need to take a few first steps to achieve this narrow goal. Once you’ve figured out one clear objective you’d like to work toward, this step will come naturally.

For example, if you’ve decided that earning an MBA is the narrow goal that will help you achieve your overarching goals, your initial plan might include these steps:

  1. Research MBA programs so you are informed about requirements, anticipated costs, time commitment, and which programs are highly rated.
  2. Take care of any necessary prerequisites that you are lacking.
  3. Take the GMAT or GRE.
  4. Apply for scholarships and financial aid.

3. Create an action plan

Now that you’ve landed on a few steps that must be taken to achieve your first goal, it’s time to figure out how to make them happen.

You’ll need to construct a timeline that takes deadlines into account. It’s a good idea to work backwards from a specific date.

For the MBA example, you can figure out when you want to start the program. This will help determine when you should take entrance exams and when the program application is due. Get these dates on your calendar and prepare to complete all the associated tasks, like gathering reference letters, taking a test prep course, or locating the financial records you’ll need to apply for financial aid.

Stay very organized. Create a folder on your computer for each of these steps and save correspondence and related files there. Give yourself internal deadlines to complete all the required subtasks, and take them seriously.

4. Get moving

Now that you have determined which steps need to happen first, it’s time to take the leap. It might feel overwhelming when you look at your list of tasks, but remember that you’ve put in the time to figure out manageable, common-sense steps that will help you reach your final goal.

Fully focus on each step. As you begin meeting deadlines and completing requirements, you’ll gain more confidence, and hopefully, you’ll become even more motivated to achieve your dreams. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way.


Planning for success is the only way to ensure that you will be able to achieve the goals required to get you there. Many people have big dreams, but only those who put in real work and create an actionable plan will achieve measurable success.

You may encounter setbacks and stumbles as you put in this challenging work, but if you keep your end goals in mind, you’ll be able to get right back on track. In the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

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