What is it that sends people searching for ways to create success in their lives?

They grasp at the latest fads and the newest techniques, all with the hope of capturing the magic they see in others who are highly successful. They emulate strong role models, study, strive--all to find the secret to success.

Ultimately, scientific studies reveal this secret is not necessarily a matter of talent, intelligence, creativity or strategy. As the winds of change continue to stir, the question of what it takes to achieve success remains as important today as ever. Interestingly, the answer to that question is also the same as it was 100 years ago.

Success on any level requires the ability to follow through, to execute a plan, to persevere ... to stick with it.

In fact, sticking with it may be the very best gauge of success. In a series of studies by University of Pennsylvania, researchers found those who persevere are more likely to achieve success than those who cannot or do not. Martin E. P. Seligman, a noted researcher in personal attributes, asserts, "Unless you're a genius, I don't think you can ever out-achieve your competitors without a quality like perseverance."

A good plan might get you into the game, but sticking with it catapults you into the winner's circle.

In my very first book, Sticking to It: The Art of Adherence, I introduced the Adherence Equation and have field tested this equation 12 years since: Focus x Competence x Passion = Adherence. It is based on research and real-life experiences of the absolute highest-achieving people and teams.

In this equation, there are three success factors that high achievers practice. They continually:

  • Sharpen their Focus
  • Build their Competence
  • Ignite their Passion

Below are 10 tips to help you stick with it.

Sharpen your focus.

1. Keep your goal visible at all times ... literally! Keep your goal on your desk, in your wallet or purse, on your bathroom mirror, on your refrigerator. This plants the seeds of success in your mind and focuses your attention on things that will help you achieve your goal.

2. Worry wrecks your focus. Everyone worries ... the trick is to minimize the time between your first worried thought and your first action to attack it. Remember, much of your worry is based on concerns in your mind, not reality. Mark Twain once said, "I've suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened."

3. Tame your technology ... or it will become your master. In today's highly connected world, you have to define boundaries around your time. Just because your cell phone notifies you of a new message doesn't mean you have to shift your focus to attend to it. Constant accessibility can blur your focus. Block out time to respond to voice and email messages.

Build your competence.

4. Prepare for two steps ahead. Balance your focus on the task at hand with preparation for the next step. This prevents complacency. Ask yourself, "What knowledge, skills, relationships, experiences do I need to develop to be prepared to succeed?"

5. Create it once, use it many times. If you know you will perform a task more than once, create a checklist, form, or template to save time and improve your consistency over the long haul. No need to reinvent the wheel every time you conduct or coordinate an off-site meeting, prepare a proposal, send out a mailing, plan a new project timeline, etc.

6. Ask the right questions. The fastest way to change the answers you receive--from yourself and others--is to change the questions you ask. Asking the right questions will get you better answers whether you are asking it of yourself or of others. The questions you ask will either limit or expand the possible responses.

Ignite your Passion

7. You gravitate to your dominant thought and you move toward that which you believe to be true. Use these natural forces to pick a goal that ignites your passion (you should feel the tingle up your spine!). Next, select an image (i.e., relaxing on the beach, the smiling face of a friend, a hand reaching out for help), word (e.g., victory, abundance, legacy) or physical item (e.g., ring, coin, sticker). Then, use the image, word or item you select as a constant reminder of your goal. It will trigger an emotional response, ingrain your goal into your mind and more quickly start moving you toward your goal.

8. Ask yourself before leaving the office each day, "Did I do something today that leaves a positive, lasting impact?" If the answer is no, stay until you do.

9. Listen to Yoda. In the immortal words of the Star Wars Jedi Master, "Do or do not. There is no 'try.'" If you are nervous that your plan won't work, you might find yourself saying, "OK, I'll try to do it." You are laying the foundation for being unsuccessful from the beginning, giving yourself a way out. Yoda's adage is a passionate reminder that life rewards those who let their actions rise above their excuses.

10. You get what you expect. Expect the very best of yourself and of others. Great success is always rooted in great expectations.

Best of luck sticking with it!