How to become successful in life: 5 best advice for young people

Now that we have entered 2024, we bet you have asked yourself how to become successful in life.

It all comes down to how you define success.

According to The Britannica Dictionary, the definition of success is “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.”

Even with this definition, the interpretation of what makes a successful life depends on your perception. 

For some, being a famous movie star is more successful than being a famous race car driver. 

For others, the wealth of Elon Musk is the mark of success. 

Some of us think of social rights leaders who have made great strides in making our world better, like Martin Luther King Jr., Women’s Rights Activist Dolores Huerta, and Greta Thunberg.

So, how do you become successful in life?

It is clear that how you view success would be dependent on your personal circumstances. A good start would be to define what success means for you.

Is it more about wealth, fame, respect or your impact on the world?

You must remember, though, that once you become successful, it does not mean that everything is smooth sailing. 

 how to become successful in life

Successful and famous people like Will Smith are more scrutinised for the mistakes they make.

How to become successful in life: Is success a double-edged sword?

Think of your favourite celebrities: Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Serena Williams, and Will Smith, for instance. 

They have all climbed great heights in fame, wealth and respect. 

However, they have all also been hounded by paparazzi and had their private lives become part of public debate. 

Their actions are examined under a microscope, with less room for mistakes.

Remember when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in a fit of anger at the 94th Academy Awards? 

Netizens heavily scrutinised the lead actor of the films “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness,” and there was a massive debate on whether his act of violence was warranted. 

“Now I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse,” he says in a later acceptance speech for the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’s dad Richard Williams in King Richard.

 “You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you have to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you gotta smile and pretend that’s OK.”

With all his success, Smith still has to face the court of public opinion, which can make or break the future of his career and life. 

Success can be a double-edged sword. 

This is also applicable to technological advancements. The growth of AI means that so much more automation can happen. 

This tool was created to help us with tedious tasks to free us up for more creative and fun pursuits. 

However, there is an impending worry that AI will take over creative jobs and put people out of work. 

It goes to show that while you are looking at how to become successful in life, it does not mean that life will be easy and breezy after. 

5 tips on how to become successful in life

Forget the tired mantras about grinding relentlessly and hustling till you drop.

In 2024, unlock your success with a toolbox of uncommon strategies that spark joy, nurture resilience, and propel you towards a fulfilling life, not just frantic.

1. Find your north star – Define your “Why”

Imagine a ship without a rudder tossed about by every wave. That’s what life can feel like without a clear purpose. 

Before you set sail, take time to define your “why.” 

For Albert Einstein, it was cracking the secrets of the universe. For Malala Yousafzai, it was championing education for girls. 

What does success look like for you? Is it the corner office, the six-figure salary, the viral video fame? Or perhaps it’s quiet moments of fulfilment, the joy of creating, the deep connections with loved ones?

Success is not a one-size-fits-all dish. It’s a bespoke recipe crafted with unique ingredients and seasoned with your values. 

Forget chasing societal expectations, celebrity trends, or outdated definitions. Instead, ignite your inner flame this year and ask yourself:

  • What brings me meaning and purpose?
  • What makes me feel alive and engaged?
  • What legacy do I want to leave behind?

Once you define your success on your terms, the “how” becomes a personalised roadmap, not a rigid blueprint.

how to become successful in life

For Malala Yousafzai, how to become successful in life was more about finding one’s purpose. Source: AFP

2. Embrace the power of “Small, consistent steps”

Once you know your “why,” start doing. 

You can’t achieve success if you haven’t done anything. There’s no big financial reward just for showing up. It would help if you put the time and energy into building something.

In his book “The Compound Effect,” author Darren Hardy echoes this sentiment: “You only need to take a series of tiny steps, consistently, over time, to improve your life radically.”

Instead of overwhelming yourself with grand goals, break them into bite-sized, achievable chunks. 

Schedule daily or weekly micro-actions that inch you towards your dream. Read a chapter of your book, practise your instrument for 15 minutes, or network with one new person each week. 

These seemingly insignificant steps, strung together with discipline, will form a ladder to your ultimate success.

On a side note, to make your goals tangible, grasp the reins of SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

This isn’t about rigid constraints; it’s about giving your aspirations a roadmap, a GPS to guide you.

For example, instead of wishing to “be a writer,” you can set a SMART goal: “Write and submit one short story to a literary magazine by March 1.”

Now, you have a clear destination and a deadline to fuel your journey.

 how to become successful in life

When thinking about how to become successful in life, think of Nelson Mandela’s words. Source: AFP

3. Befriend “failure”

Think of failure as a bumpy road on your journey to success, not a dead end.

Every misstep and rejection is a valuable lesson waiting to be learned. Embrace failure as a chance to pivot, refine, and return stronger.

Example: J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter series, faced countless rejections before her manuscript found a home.

But she used each rejection as fuel, refining her story and resilience. The rest, as they say, is magical history.

Nelson Mandela once said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” 

Grit is the fuel that propels you through setbacks, the resilience that keeps you chasing your dreams even when the sun dips below the horizon.

Reframe your failures as “learning experiences.” When you face a setback, ask yourself: “What can I learn from this? How can I improve next time?” 

Embrace the growth mindset, and watch failures become stepping stones to triumph.

 how to become successful in life

How to become successful in life? Get rid of distractions. Source: AFP

4. Get rid of distractions

Increased productivity is not guaranteed by working more hours.

Parkinson’s law says that “work tends to expand to fill the time we have available for its completion.”  

Any remaining time is typically filled with distractions, as our minds are wired to conserve energy. 

When not obligated to do something, there’s a high likelihood that we’ll fall to distractions like watching YouTube videos or playing games on our phones.

Conversely, we often experience a heightened, laser-like focus when facing a deadline and actively avoid distractions.

The awareness of needing to accomplish a task compels us to find ways to complete it efficiently.

To eliminate distractions and regain control of your time, consider the following examples for eliminating distractions:

  • Shut off your phone for a few hours
  • Give yourself a shorter time frame to finish your work
  • Put your phone in a different room while you work

Take Philippe Wilson, founder of, for an example. He turns his mobile phone off for two-hour blocks in a bid for focus. 

“I work well to deadlines, so I give myself less time to do things and take fewer but longer breaks, such as playing tennis, going to the gym or cooking food.” 

Wilson also plans ahead, so he knows precisely how his focused work blocks will be used.

“Every Sunday evening, I write down my goals for the year,” he says.

Goals give direction to blocks of time and create a compelling reason to stick to them.

how to become successful in life

Billionaire entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban’s answer to how to become successful in life? It’s about the people you spend time with. Source: AFP

5. Invest in relationships

Success isn’t a solo act. It’s built on the foundation of solid and supportive relationships — personal and professional. 

In 2024, surround yourself with people who cheer you on, challenge you to grow, and believe in you even when you doubt yourself.

Find mentors who have walked similar paths and can offer guidance. Build a network of peers who inspire and challenge you to be your best. 

Join online communities, attend workshops, and connect with people in your field. 

Billionaire entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban once said, “In business, you’re the sum total of the people you spend the most time with.” 

This means when you surround yourself with people who inspire and challenge you, you’ll develop a similar mindset, ultimately leading to your success in the professional world.

By investing in personal relationships, you’ll develop the key skills for effective business collaboration, communication, and problem-solving in a business setting  — all of which can lead to long-lasting partnerships, a robust professional network, and a thriving career.