To celebrate the release of my latest novel, Secrets of Successful People, I compiled these 10 success secrets from dialog in the book. In the novel, Kelly Ryan is a working mom who craves success and will do just about anything to get it–only she’s not quite sure what to do next. She enlists two mentors, Earnest and Zora, to guide her. Here is their advice, plus a key piece of advice from Kelly’s friend Jasmine.

Without further ado, here are 10 Secrets of Successful People:

1. Drop the excuses, and do what you know you should.
Many of us know what we should do, but our time seems out of our control. That’s because we have our excuses all lined up. Most people work way too hard at defending their excuses, while successful people lose the excuses and get to work.

“It’s easy to let excuses rule the day. We mostly know what we should do in life. It’s getting down to the doing that’s the hard part.” -Zora

2. Live with an open heart.
Many of us spend a tremendous amount of time and energy avoiding our feelings. Why? Because we’re afraid of the pain of unpleasant emotions–or we’re afraid of what frightening life changes negative feelings might encourage us to make. But we can never feel truly happy (or successful) when we avoid ourselves and our feelings.

“Feel your way through life. That’s your navigation system. But to do that, you gotta quiet your mind and open up your heart.” -Zora

3. Use every situation to your advantage.
When something goes wrong, it’s natural to give up or freak out or to stop doing what you know you should. Successful people are persistent and determined, even in the face of difficulties. Instead of feeling discouraged, look for what’s going right, and take it from there.

“Take advantage of this situation. The Universe always provides an upside. Remember that the next time you think something went wrong.” -Earnest

4. Prioritize what matters; do the most important thing first.
Many of us wish we had more time to ourselves in order to take care of things that are personally important to us, whether it’s a hobby or a passion, or prayer or exercise. But we let less important things chip away at our time, and then we don’t have time left to do what really matters. Successful people prioritize what matters, and they do the most important thing first each day.

“Work on [what matters] first thing in the morning. Then use the time that remains to work [on everything else].” -Zora

5. Enjoy what you have.
Too many people spend their whole lives striving and working towards the next big thing, without ever stopping to appreciate what they already have. They toil and grumble, wondering when they’re going to get to relax and when life will be worth enjoying–and then they die miserable and unfulfilled. Life will never be perfect. Successful people have learned to settle into their current reality and to enjoy life every day, in all its messy, imperfect glory.

“These might be the best years of your life, and you’re wishing them away. [Do what you love] because you love it, not because you’re trying to get somewhere else.” -Zora

pull-strength6. Shed other peoples’ expectations for you.
Many people fail in life because they waste so much time worrying about what other people think. Successful people put their own agendas first. If you’re ever going to live a fulfilled life, you need to live your own life without sacrificing your chances of success. The world needs your gifts, joy, and enthusiasm more than your martyrdom.

“You must pull strength from deep within yourself, and you must see for yourself who you are…And once you know, you must stop ignoring yourself.” -Earnest

7. Share yourself and be authentic.
Many people die never having been truly known. It takes courage to speak your truth. But the alternative is to keep yourself a painful, closed secret your whole life. Successful people stretch their wings into the fullness of who they really are.

“It matters that you speak your truth…The last key to your cage is your openness, your authenticity, your full self-expression.” -Earnest

8. Eliminate distractions and addictions.
With smartphones and digital media always waiting to steal our attention, one of the biggest challenges today lies in learning to focus. It’s tempting to avoid difficult emotions and numb out–whether it’s with substances like food or alcohol, or with information overload. Successful people learn to kick distractions and addictions to the curb and stay fully present in life.

“To be happy, stop grasping for [distractions] outside yourself…Be grateful for your life exactly as it is.” -Earnest

9. Take joy in your work.
If you don’t enjoy your work, you’re not going to perform well over the long haul. Successful people understand that their only real job in this life is to steal moments to do what they love–because that’s the key to freedom and growth.

“You can make your life into something joyful as long as you make time every day to do what brings you joy…That’s why you’re here.” -Zora

10. Love yourself, no matter what.
Many of us, especially women, have been taught that the package we come in–our bodies–determines how much acceptance and joy we’re entitled to. We’ve been trained from a young age to believe that attractiveness is equivalent to our worth as human beings. And lo and behold, we are often treated this way in real life by grown adults!–which reinforces these ugly lies.
Successful people know they’re inherently worthy of respect, peace, joy, love, and happiness–no matter what they look like. They get out there and live fully, regardless of how others may view them.

“Your worth has nothing to do with how your body looks to other people…You’re allowed to be happy and satisfied…you’ve been denying yourself enjoyment and happiness for so long. You’re allowed to love yourself.” -Jasmine

I hope these 10 Secrets of Successful People resonated with you…and if they did, buy the book today!

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