Danijela Jokic Vaislay


Achieving success in anything we want to accomplish in life is directly correlated to our mindset (our beliefs and thinking patterns), as our beliefs about ourselves and our deservings set-point will determine our level of success. 

These two examples from sport demonstrate the power of beliefs in achieving success:

  • Before 1945, there was a common belief that a man could not run a mile under four minutes and that breaking this record was impossible (“beyond human capabilities”), because no one had broken it until then. In 1945, athlete Roger Bannister ran the mile in 3 minutes, 49 seconds and 4 milliseconds and broke this record. The following year, 37 other runners ran a mile under 4 minutes!
  • The famous Russian weightlifter, Vasily Alexeev, could not deadlift 500 pounds (=226.7 kg), although he lifted 495 pounds (=224.5 kg) with no problem, until his coach performed a ‘trick’ in 1974 to proved to him that he could do it – he put 500-pound weights on the deadlift bar and told Vasily there were 495-pound weights on it. Thinking he was only lifting 495 pounds, Vasily lifted the 500 pound barbell with ease.


Similarly, each of us has a personal ‘limit’ or ‘ceiling’ that we have set for ourselves and beliefs about what is (not) possible for us. Regardless of what we want to achieve, it is important to ask ourselves if we really believe that something is possible for us and how much time, money and effort we assume we need to achieve it. It is also important to ask ourselves if we really believe that we deserve the success we want to achieve.


Scientific research shows interesting findings about the factors that influence our level of success. These factors are:


Such as, that the very process of setting goals is a very important factor for successful goal achievement. Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor at the Dominican University of California (USA), in her study on goal setting, found that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. Goal setting is associated with greater motivation, self-confidence, and autonomy (Locke & Latham, 2006). The very act of setting a goal stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which motivates us to take productive action to achieve that goal.

In a study published in the publication ‘Nature’, it was noted that the level of dopamine increases not only when we set a goal, but also when we are close to achieving our goal, and the greater the reward we will receive from achieving our goal, the greater the level of dopamine that is secreted. Another study showed that subjects who had very ambitious goals had better performance and better results at work than respondents who did not have goals, or who had goals that were easier to achieve (Locke, 1996). So, in order to increase your chances of being more successful, set yourself ambitious and exciting goals, but at the same time, make sure that you have a deadline for their fulfillment, and that your goals are realistic.


A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that if set goals are associated with strong emotions (i.e., for example, if the subject is highly motivated to succeed) this causes subjects to perceive obstacles and challenges in the process of achieving the goal easier to overcome. In order to facilitate the process of achieving your goals and persevere in them when the first obstacles appear, take some time for self-reflection on why those goals are important to you and how achieving those goals will improve the quality of your life.


Emily Van Sonnenberg, a psychologist specializing in positive psychology and a happiness coach, in her 2011 study on the importance of having goals in life, found that individuals who kept a detailed record of their daily goals and planned their tasks accordingly were more productive, less bored, and showed signs of greater self-satisfaction than others, and also that asking daily questions to self, such as: “What are you going to do today?” and “What do you want to achieve in life?”, can strengthen motivation and help in setting and achieving goals more effectively. 

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Research from Ohio State University found that people tend to be more committed to their goals after sharing them with someone they see as a “higher status person,” or whose opinion they respect. “If you don’t care about the opinion of the person you’re talking about, it doesn’t affect your desire to persist — which is what commitment to a cause is all about,” said Howard Klein, lead author of the study and professor of management and human resources at The Fisher College of Business. Ohio University. You want to be committed, and you don’t want to give up on your goal, which is more likely when you share that goal with someone you look up to.” Researchers say that sharing your goal with a higher-status person does more than keep you accountable — it also makes you more motivated, because you care what that person thinks about you. For example, if you share your goal with your coach, mentor, professor, or manager, it will motivate you more to achieve that goal, than if you shared it with your peer, colleague, or friend.


After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck in her book ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’, outlined the differences between a fixed and growth mindset—showing how success in almost every area of life can be influenced by how we think regardless of our inborn talents and abilities. A ‘fixed mindset’ person assumes that our intelligence, character traits, and creative ability are static, and cannot be improved. A person with ‘growth mindset’ assumes the idea that everyone can change, learn, and grow through experience and practice, and even failures (failing is seen as a natural part of the learning process). “Once we harness the power of a growth mentality, studies show that it can be essential for career success”. (Forbes*)


You’re probably familiar with the axiom ‘you attract what you focus on’. Part of our brain, the RAS (Reticular Activating System) is responsible for filtering sensory information from our environment. It is estimated that we subconsciously receive 11 million bits of information every second through our five senses, but our conscious mind can process up to 126 bits per second. The RAS filters the information it considers relevant to us, and the relevance of the received information is determined based on what we consciously choose to focus on, our belief system, and our previous experiences. Consciously focusing on our goals (setting goals, writing an action plan for their fulfillment, creating a vision board, visualizing what we want to achieve…) helps us to start noticing (‘filtering’ corresponding information from our environment) potential opportunities, resources, information, etc. Our environment (the people we spend time with, the content and information we consume, the space we are living and working…) subconsciously affects us and our mindset 24/7. If you want to develop a mindset for success, spend time with people who are successful in the area of life you want to be in, and consciously consume a lot of information on the topic of success (books, magazines, articles, blogs, podcasts…). 

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The study conducted by American Society for Training and Development showed that the probability of achieving a goal increases from 50% to 95% when a person has a coach or mentor who will encourage him and help him turn his goal/idea into reality, and the results of a psychological study was conducted by dr. Anthony Grant, director of the Coaching Psychology Unit at the School of Psychology at Sydney University, showed that working with a life coach can help a person not only achieve goals, but also increase overall well-being, and reduce stress and anxiety.”

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) found in their research that “professional coaching brings […] fresh perspectives on personal challenges, improved decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness and increased self-confidence, and that people who work with life couch can expect and significant improvement in productivity, satisfaction with life and work, and achievement of relevant goals.” To (significantly) increase your chances of success, look for a mentor, expert or coach who can help you achieve your goals faster.


One of my mentors once said that if you read a self-help book and put it on the shelf, without applying the advice in it, it becomes a ‘shelf-help’ – it can motivate you, inspire you, provide you with powerful insights, but if you do not take action and put that advice into practice, your life not significantly change. Although the advice in this blog post is helpful, and proven by science, in order to change your life you need to take action and apply it. If you are truly committed to achieving success, there are three ACTION steps you can TAKE right NOW:

  1. Pick (minimum) three above mentioned action steps that are scientifically proven to help in increasing success, and start implementing them (f.e. set your goals, share your goals with the ‘person of higher status’, keep a daily journal, hire a life coach or a mentor…). 
  2. DOWNLOAD FREE ‘SUCCESS MINDSET’ WORKBOOK and subscribe to my newsletter, so that you can receive similar blog posts in the future, on the topic of success and self development – reading the information about success on a regular basis will help you in building the ‘success mindset’.
  3. If you want to achieve your next level of SUCCESS FASTer, click on this link to read about life coaching services that I offer

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