Ten-Point-Five Tips for Success: An Exclusive Guest Post from Mateo Askaripour, Author of Black Buck

A razor-sharp and highly intelligent debut, Black Buck brings the idea of the “American Dream” into a new century. This darkly comic novel about a young Black man named Darren moves from trying workplace drama to a rollercoaster journey of self-actualization. Here, Mateo Askaripour offers up some honest, universal tips — no matter your definition of success. 

Success is in the eye of the beholder. For some, it means a nice car, tons of money, and the best of the best. Others may want pure, unadulterated happiness, like an extended-release drug that lasts a lifetime. And a few are brave enough to admit they aren’t sure what it means to them.

Despite the fact that I’m writing one, I don’t like listicles with tips for success — they’re too cookie-cutter, and success, like a knock-you-on-your-ass cocktail of sedatives an anesthesiologist gives you, is a custom-tailored experience. Still, there are some universal nuggets of information that can help almost anyone, no matter their definition of success, and below are ten-point-five that I’ve found to be true more often than not.

1.Never neglect your loved ones. Whether this means family or friends, your loved ones were with you before you began your journey to success, and they’ll be there no matter the heights you reach or depths you fall to. Allowing them to be a part of the ride will make it that more enjoyable. They may also save you thousands of dollars in therapy fees.

2.Figure out whether a routine or spontaneity works best for you. One is not better than the other. Routines are helpful if you want to only think about your task at hand and not worry about what you’re going to eat, how you’ll dress, or when to poop, but they’re not for everyone. Sometimes routines create stagnancy, and you need to break them in order to make progress.

3.Define what success means to you. There is no single narrative for success — the path that worked for someone else may not work for you. You’re not a robot, you’re a human! Unless we’re in a simulation, then you are a robot. Still, write your definition down, allow it to guide you, and understand that it may change as you change, and that’s okay.

4.Commit to your purpose and don’t look back. Commitment means you’re all in. No ifs, ands, or buts. This doesn’t mean that things won’t change, but it’s important for you to pursue your definition of success with all you have so that no matter what happens, you know you gave it your best effort.

5.Build in rest and play. F*** Steve Job’s ninety-hour work week. Physical, mental and emotional health are key. When you rest, you’re giving your ideas time to take shape, leading to greater clarity. And play — allowing yourself to find joy in the moment — only results in more ideas, the freedom to explore, and energy to take into your work.

6.Analyze your losses and know when to cut them. The path to success is studded with failures big and small. Don’t ignore them. Routinely take stock of losses, understand why they occurred, then adjust your approach. Sometimes this also means tearing down everything you’ve done and starting from scratch.

7.Find your community. Like a pair of pants that fits just right, makes you feel good, and gives you the confidence to go out and do the damn thing, your community — especially when it includes people pursuing similar definitions of success, and those who are where you want to be — is like a cheat code that will help you reach goals faster with your dignity intact.

8.Gain clarity on the steps you need to take in order to get to where you want to be. Shooting in the dark is dangerous. You turn the light on when you define what success means to you, and the goals you set, as well as the steps you lay out in order to reach them, are the targets you’re looking to hit. Give yourself the best chance to succeed and don’t be afraid of aiming too high.

9.Listen when others are speaking, unless they’re full of shit. There’s an overabundance of information out there now, which can be more harmful than helpful. Only listen to advice that resonates with you. If you hear something and it doesn’t feel right, ignore it. It’s too easy to be led miles down the wrong path — your gut is your most reliable teacher.

10.Believe that you are worthy of chasing your dreams. Seeds of success will only grow in fertile, love-rich soil. All of your efforts will be for nothing if you don’t love yourself and that which makes you different. Truly internalize that success is not for a privileged few and that you have the same right as everyone else to chase it.

10.5.Help others succeed. When you lift others up, your arms get stronger. Whether it’s just the feeling that you did something good or other tangible results, your return on investment will always be high. It also proves to yourself that you’re in a place to help others achieve their dreams, which is one definition of success in itself.

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