Success is deciding what you want and then going for it, according to your own definition. Meaghan Essel, 2016 full-time Alumni, talks about 10 things you can do to define your goals to ultimately reach success.



To you, success might mean becoming a CEO or owning your own business. But all of us, as complex and intricate as we are, have a different definition. If you’re like me, success is open-ended. Success is a house. One that you’re always renovating. One day you want these types of windows, the next day you’re repainting. You are always improving. Always setting new goals. Changing it up.


For me, and so many others, it started at Red & Yellow. Starting college was a huge success. Being passionate about my projects. The partners I was working with. The class I was with. Connecting with my lecturers. Getting inspired by industry guest speakers That was success.

The first part about success is deciding what you want. Your definition. Your achievable goals. Finding something that makes you get up in the morning. When you have that, the rest comes easy.


Without giving it too much thought, think of something you’d really like to achieve. Now think about when you’d like to achieve it by. Consider what you’ll need to get there. It can be hard to define your goals to reach success (whatever that looks like for you) but it’s important. Why? Because goals act as the milestones on you journey to success.

Here are 10 things you have to do to achieve success and enjoy the journey of getting there:

  1. Write it down: visualise what it is you want to achieve and where you want to endland up, and then write it down. This is not a ritual, it’s the first step to committing to something. Be specific about what you write down, who it will involve and how long it will take.
  2. Stop procrastinating: you’vre heard that there is no time like the present, and it remains true regardless of your goals. Stop saying “I’ll start tomorrow” and commit to something small today. Make a list of what you need to plan, spend time being creative about how you’ll tackle each thing, and then do it.
  3. Be realistic: you know what you’re capable of. If you set unrealistic goals you’ll just land up disappointed which will discourage you from achieving your goals. Look at the future and plan realistically – what can you achieve in a certain period?
  4. Talk about it: ask people close to you for their advice – family and friends that you trust. Spend time nurturing your own self belief. While outside insight is useful and can add great value, if you don’t trust yourself no one can convince you that you’re good enough or capable of achieving your goals.
  5. Get a coach: find a mentor that you can bounce ideas off, or a business coach that has “been there and done that” and can offer you valuable information and advice that they’ve gathered through their own experience.
  6. Put in extra hours: while “10 000 hours to become an expert” has been debunked, the sentiment still rings true. The people who go the farthest are often the people who go the extra mile whenever they can. That means working late when necessary. It means doing research. It means failing until you find a better way to do things.
  7. Be brave: it’s necessary to be realistic (see point 3) so you feel like you can actually tackle your goals. That said, even if your goals seem really big – or really small – you’re going to need to be brave. Encourage yourself, be kind to yourself, and learn all you can from people who have the t-shirt so to speak.
  8. Prepare to fail: it was Thomas Edison who said “I have not failed. I have just found 10 000 ways that won’t work.” If you accept that there will be times when you fail, you will have the courage to press on and try again when you do.
  9. Review your progress: every once in a while, it’s good to take stock of your progress – see how far you’ve come, and how far you still have to go. Acknowledge your strides forward and identify areas that need attention. Make notes about your experience along the way and how you envision the future and compare it to your original planning.
  10. Reward yourself: for each goal you achieve, reward yourself. Your brain needs positive affirmation and you need to feel like the hard work you’ve put in is worth it. For some people that might mean going out to a really great restaurant, or buying something special. Whatever it is, treat yourself – and use that as a motivator to achieve your goals.

Click here to download a printable PDF


After each milestone in life (like graduating), you might hit a little wobble. Because you’ve just achieved a kind of success. You’ve graduated. You ask yourself, will I ever be successful again? Is this it? The answer is no. This isn’t it. You just laid the paving in your house of success. And there’s a whole Disney-length-scroll of things you’ve still got time to do.

In this talk from Alain de Botton, he tackles our ideas of success and failure and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He believes that we need a kinder, gentler approach to our philosophy of success. Watch it and be encouraged:



After I graduated, I was hired at M&C Saatchi Abel. It was the biggest success of my life at the time. Back at my ‘house of success’ I installed a super rad pool. One I really wanted.

When I delivered my first campaign, I’d never felt more successful. When I wrote my first radio ad, it was a success. When I wrote my 50th radio ad, that was a success too. Because I decided it was. I wanted to achieve those things. And it was possible.

It might look different for you. Becoming an illustrator. A freelancer. Starting your own business. Changing your career path. Deciding to keep on learning Each of us own our definitions of success in everything that we do. Whether we graduated ten years or two years ago.


To be successful is to grow. To learn. And to change your definition of success.
The more you find yourself successful, the more likely you are to find success in the future. If you start with those 10 things, you’ll keep bumping into it long after that.

Meaghan Essel,
2016 Alumni

Copywriter at M&C Saatchi Abel,
Diamond mind. Animal cuddler.