We all want a successful and fulfilling life, but what’s the secret to actually achieving it? The idea of success is different depending on the person, so it’s important to remember that each of us needs to decide what we value most. Ray Dalio, author of PRINCIPLES, shares the formula that is guaranteed to help steer you toward the path of success.
People who achieve success and drive progress deeply understand the cause-effect relationships that govern reality and have principles for using them to get what they want. The converse is also true: Idealists who are not well grounded in reality create problems, not progress.
What does a successful life look like? We all have our own deep-seated needs, so we each have to decide for ourselves what success is. I don’t care whether you want to be a master of the universe, a couch potato, or anything else—I really don’t. Some people want to change the world and others want to operate in simple harmony with it and savor life. Neither is better. Each of us needs to decide what we value most and choose the paths we take to achieve it.
Take a moment to reflect on where you are on the following scale, which illustrates an overly simplified choice you should think about. Where would you put yourself on it?
The question isn’t just how much of each to go after, but how hard to work to get as much as possible. I wanted crazy amounts of each, was thrilled to work hard to get as much of them as possible, and found that they could largely be one and the same and mutually reinforcing. Over time I learned that getting more out of life wasn’t just a matter of working harder at it. It was much more a matter of working effectively, because working effectively could increase my capacity by hundreds of times. I don’t care what you want or how hard you want to work for it. That’s for you to decide. I’m just trying to pass along to you what has helped me get the most out of each hour of time and each unit of effort.
Celebrate the small successes.