Brian Tracy’s Top 11 Essential Tips for Living a Successful Life

“The great breakthrough in your life comes when you realize that you can learn anything you need to learn to accomplish any goal that you set for yourself.”

”Spend eighty percent of your time focusing on the opportunities of tomorrow rather than the problems of yesterday.”

“Success comes when you do what you love to do, and commit to being the best in your field.”

One of my absolute favourite personal development people is Brian Tracy. He has written many, many books about success, effectiveness and leadership.

What do I like about him?

  • He gets to the point quickly. Brian Tracy is one of the most concise writers I have found in the personal development niche so far.
  • His products are often jampacked with practical value. You get stuff you can use when you buy one of his products rather than just a few tips and a lot of motivational padding.

Here are just 11 of my favourite tips from Brain Tracy at the moment.

If you want to learn much more I highly recommend checking out books – either in paper or audio form – like Time Power and The Psychology of Achievement. Also, check out the Focus & Concentration Paraliminal, it’s my favourite to sharpen my focus and boost effectiveness.

1. Change your self image.

“The person we believe ourselves to be will always act in a manner consistent with our self-image.”

“We will always tend to fulfill our own expectation of ourselves.”

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

You will often stop yourself from doing stuff that “just isn’t you”. But when that stuff is the new normal, the stuff you just do because you are you then it becomes a lot easier.

How can you change your own self image?

Here’s what I used to see myself as a fit and healthy person rather than a person who dabbles in such stuff occasionally:

  • A ton of proof. Your mind needs proof that you are this new person. The proof is the experiences you have had. So if you really dive in and immerse yourself in something like fitness and work out every other/every day, read a lot about it all and are eating healthy stuff in a conscious way you change a lot about your day to day living environment. Expanding your comfort zone like this will quickly give you a lot of experiences and so the change can come about quicker than if you dabble a bit with it for a few years.
  • Let go of your old self image. In my experience you can shift back and forth between two self images. I think at some point you have to make a shift and let your old identity go if you want to grow. It may be your identity when it comes to health. Or money. Or socially. The problem is that the old image is so familiar and reassuring that your mind may not want to let go. I recommend checking out Let Go! to learn how to better let go of your past self image and other things in your life.

2. Create helpful habits.

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”

Pretty simple. Our habits are what we tend to do consistently in our day to day life and so they control our success – or lack of it – very much.

What are successful habits? Some you can find in this article. A few others are:

  • Do the most productive thing right now.
  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Do things even when you don’t feel like it.

How do you install them in your life? Two tips:

  • The 30 day challenge. You have probably read about this old personal development concept before. Basically, you make a deal with yourself to do one thing for just 30 days (one example: exercise every day) and no more than that. But after those 30 days you may discover that your mind will have become so accustomed to this new behaviour that it will be easier to continue doing it than stop doing it.
  • Just focus on the process. While doing something for those 30 days you focus on the process rather than the results. I for instance use this when I workout. I don’t take responsibility for the results in my mind. I take responsibility for showing up – even the days when I don’t feel like it – and doing my workout. The results come anyway from that consistent action. And this makes it easier for me to take this action and establish the new habit when I know that is all I need to focus on. Instead of using half of the energy and focus I have available on hoping that I “reach my goal real, real soon”. Focus on the process and you will be a lot more relaxed and prone to continue than if you stare yourself blind on the potential results that never come as quickly as you want to and puts you on an emotional rollercoaster from day to day.

3. Focus on what is useful.

“Whatever you dwell on in the conscious grows in your experience.”

“The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.”

This is very important and something I think many people don’t grasp the full extent of. I certainly didn’t before. When your focus is split, when you fill your mind just the “normal amount” of negativity or dwell on for example mistakes you are using up valuable time, energy and available focus to pull yourself backwards and to make mountains out of molehills.

Problems seem to become bigger in your mind than they actually are when you dwell on them. But so does, for example, opportunities and gratitude. Your surrounding reality is huge. And the room for interpretations of that reality is wide. What you focus is what you will see in your reality (opportunities vs. more reasons why things suck). What you dwell on becomes bigger and bigger in your mind. And what you think about is what you will act upon.

That’s basically why it’s absolutely crucial to keep your focus and your thoughts in right place and on the positive and useful things in your life as consistently as you can. If you focus on the negative and irrelevant stuff it is quite likely that you never get all those most important things done.

4. Set clear goals. And write them down.

“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”

To be able to focus consistently on what you want you can use goals. If you use them, write down so they transform from thoughts into something physical and real. You can use that piece of paper as a reminder – posted on a wall for example – later on to keep your focus in the right place each and every day.

5. Ask yourself helpful questions.

“After every difficulty, ask yourself two questions: “What did I do right?” and “What would I do differently?”

The questions you ask yourself in life determine much of your outlook and success. If you ask disempowering questions like “what sucks about this?” in any situation then you are creating a lot of unhappiness and victim thinking. If you on the other hand keep it on a useful and empowering level with questions like the ones from Tracy then your chances of succeeding goes up.

You can find more empowering questions in his post.

6. Luck is predictable.

“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.”

People who take the action and more chances in life tend to get the luck. If you never take chances or action you don’t get the opportunity to get lucky. You might just sit around doing nothing and rationalize it as “being unlucky”.

Also, if someone focuses on what s/he wants s/he tend to find more opportunities and other useful things that someone with a negative focus will simply not “be lucky enough” to see.

7. Focus on the activities that brings you results.

“Most people engage in activities that are tension-relieving rather than goal-achieving.”

This is very true. People love to just take it easy or relieve tension – and create more of it – by procrastinating and complaining instead of doing. It seems easier on the surface but in the long haul it tends to cause you more pain.

Of course, you must take time to relax too. But find a good and helpful balance for the two aspects of life and the best ways and most positive ways to relieve tension. Three suggestions could be regular exercise, meditation in some form or just watching a good movie.

8. Realize that you have to pay the price.

“The price of success must be paid in full, in advance.”

Nothing you really want in life is free. You have to put in hard work to get it. And usually over a long time period. You have to make hard choices and sacrifices.

Now, doing so can produce a lot of happiness along the way and when you reach your destination. But when you take the step from comfortable dreams about success and happiness to actually start doing things then there is always a price to pay. So be prepared for that.

9. Keep going.

“Every great success is an accumulation of thousands of ordinary efforts that no one else sees or appreciates.”

That’s what people like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Bruce Springsteen did. They practiced a lot.

How do you put in all that time and effort if no will reward you right now? Well, you find things you love doing, things you do for yourself – rather than to get someone else’s attention and appreciation – and when things feel rough you just do what you know is the right thing to do anyway. You keep going with persistence but also simple the joy of doing what you love as two supporting friends.

10. Make a decision. Any decision. Just do something.

“Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.”

I harp on about this a lot on the blog from time to time. That’s because it’s one of the most fundamental things that hold people back. Sitting on you hands and hoping that someone else will do something for you usually results in a lot of waiting.

Just make a decision. Try something. The sky will most likely not fall if you fail. You will just feel bad for a short while and learn a few things from asking the question in tip # 5. Then you make new decision based on what you learned and take action again.

11. Take responsibility for your life.

“The happiest people in the world are those who feel absolutely terrific about themselves, and this is the natural outgrowth of accepting total responsibility for every part of their life.”

“The more you like yourself, the better you perform in everything that you do.”

“Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the high road to pride, self-esteem and personal satisfaction.”

A lot of the tips in this article are based in taking full responsibility for your own life. When you do that you will start doing many of these things naturally like making decisions, putting in hard work and really trying to keep your focus in the right place.

When you decide to take responsibility for your life and doing what you know deep down is right – for example, going to gym instead of lying on the couch eating potato chips – you increase your esteem of yourself. You like yourself more and more as your self esteem goes up.

When your self esteem goes up you feel more worthy of any success and you are less likely to self sabotage in subtle and not so subtle ways. This is crucial and ties back to tip # 1. You tend to behave in alignment with your own self image.

Taking responsibility for your own life and doing the right thing are not the only things you can do to increase your self esteem and success. Another powerful tip is to like/love other people. Why? Because how you view, judge and think about people is usually how you view, judge and think about yourself.

This may sound a bit weird. But try it out for a week or two and see how it affects your view of yourself and your life. You may be surprised.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hi Henrik,

    This is great, I’ve bookmarked it to refer to later. And it’s not the typical success clichés either; it’s real specific, meaningful stuff.

    “Most people engage in activities that are tension-relieving rather than goal-achieving.”

    This was a major breakthrough for me. I was stuck in a cycle of maintaining my moment-to-moment comfort, rather than building a life that I was comfortable with.

    • Thanks, David! I’m very glad to hear that Brian and the article provided a breakthrough for you. Good luck with building a more comfortable and enjoyable life!

  • I have become a huge fan of Brian Tracy’s work in the last few months. I’ve never got so much practical advice for the business world. Thanks to the Luck Factor I’ve began volunteering for professional organizations in my industry and I will continue to do so throughout my career. Great post.

    • Thanks! Yeah, he really packs in a lot of practical advice in all of his products. I haven’t had a look at the Luck Factor yet though, thanks for the tip.

  • Hi Henrik,

    I believe you have covered most of the traits that we need to be successful. This article is inspiring and the next step we should do is to take action and just start implementing what we had learned from this article.


    • Thanks! True, if you don’t apply it it doesn’t have much value.

  • Nice post :)

  • Great post! I love the three quotes at the top — so great and, as you said, right to the point. I also love what you’ve written here. Really great insights.

    • Thanks a lot for all your kind words, glad you liked the article!

  • Sun-shine

    ALL GOOD as usual,henrik.
    Your posts keep me IN THE GAME!
    I always feel like going back to when I was 20 ,so that I could start all over again.
    So to all the young people who read your posts -you are blessed!
    Let us all get better and bigger in our life!
    Happy Living!!

    • Thank you, Sun-shine. Yes, I think like that sometimes too. But not for long, it’s better to keep your focus here and today. :)

  • Narayanan

    Hi Henrick!
    The post is certainly enlightening and a consistent application of these tips would greatly enhance quality of our lives. Superb!


    • Hi and thanks! Good point, one needs to apply advice like this consistently to really get the maximum value.

  • Sharry

    One great article. Specific. Great insights. :)

  • HT

    This is great. I struggle, however, with such clearly defined steps. For me, my greatest hurdles are more abstract. Having grown up in a family where my opinions were discounted and dismissed, it’s taken me a long time to give myself permission to:
    a) Get to know my true self.
    b) Give myself permission to explore MY interests, whether or not they are “practical.”

    For me, action steps come down to using a checklist to determine what my motives are. Am I paying attention to my instincts? I’ve learned they serve me better than “logic.”
    Am I listening to my body’s stress signals? For too long, I was taught to ignore them, until I’d run myself into sheer exhaustion, for reasons that were not rewarding to me at all.

    So, yes, it’s nice to have written goals and plans, but make room for abstract thinking and inner wisdom, too.

    • Thank you for sharing! I agree, one should listen to intuition and signals from within too.

  • Great post, Henrik; I really enjoyed reading it and learning from it.

    For me, “taking responsibility for your life” is the most important. It was that break-through point when I really realized that it’s up to me to make up my life and no one else’s. And if I do leave it up to someone else, then I live the life they want me to live, not the one I want.

    • Thank you, Laurie! Yeah, I agree, it’s probably the most important one for me too and it is a real break-through point when one finally gets that.

  • Great stuff, especially about the mind needing proof. Surrounding yourself with things that say you are who you want to become is a great tool for overcoming doubt.

  • This is great advice! The 30-day challenge absolutely works. The first couple of weeks are the hardest, but then it becomes a habit!

  • Hello,

    It’s a great article! Though I think it will be so difficult to execute :(
    Thanks for sharing it.
    I’m new here, but definitely will play around to your blog.


  • I like the view of simple fine tuning. Many a life is like finding a radio station. You can just about pick up their unique sound or output but there is interference blocking it. So reads people’s lives; interference from other sources and people preventing singing our own songs clearly. Fine tune the signal and hey presto you can make sweet music all life long!!