Not where you want to be yet?

You're probably hearing a lot of advice to "fake it till you make it." Not only does it not work, though, it's a fast track to failure.

The essence of being successful is not faking it but the opposite--being authentic.

If you want to become someone or achieve something, it has to come from your authentic self. You must be it to achieve it.

When you fake it, you lose a part of who you are. How can that be success? Instead, here are six paths to success that allow you to remain your authentic self.

1. Be the real you. It's self-evident on one level, but it's still a truth that needs to be said: Be your genuine self, trustworthy, reliable and truthful. Don't compare yourself to others but focus on becoming your best self, that is how success is produced.

2. Identify your strengths. If you're lacking in confidence, the path ahead should include identifying your strengths so you can begin building on them. If you aren't sure, ask a mentor or trusted friend or colleague to work with you. Don't dwell on your weaknesses; focus instead on your unique strengths and work with them until you succeed.

3. Start small. Pace yourself on the path to success. Start with small efforts that lead to small wins. Once you see results and begin to gain confidence, you can gain more and more small wins--you'll be able to take pride in how far you've come and have the will to keep going. A series that eventually adds up to a big achievement.

4. Keep stretching. Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. When you stretch yourself you go beyond what you think possible--but you have to do it from your authentic self. Set a goal so big that you think you can never achieve it and then do whatever you have to do to meet it.

5. Learn to be a positive thinker. Negativity is the most destructive force you can allow inside your head. Monitor your self-talk for negativity, and train yourself to replace it with positive messages. Once positivity becomes a habit, you're unstoppable.

The last thing you want to do is fake it. Concentrate on being your authentic self, reaching to be the best you can be in everything that you say and do.