Success means something different to each of us.

For some, it might be a big house and fast cars.

Others might look at success in the form of great relationships.

Whatever success means to you, you're likely to experience setbacks.

Some people give up on success at the first sign of an obstacle in their paths and regret forever that they didn't keep trying.

No road to success is paved with smooth stepping stones - but you can get over the uneven stones that get in your way.

Cultivating success in spite of your setbacks takes perseverance and determination.

It all begins with deciding what success means to you ñ and then going after it full force.

Are You Looking for an Obstacle-Free Path to Success?

If you are, you should know that an obstacle-free path to success simply doesn't exist.

Whether it's negative self-talk or procrastination, no one gets away without having a certain amount of obstacles on their path to success.

People who complete the path to success in spite of the obstacles are those who develop powerful habits and forge on no matter what failures they may experience.

They learn from their mistakes and correct what went wrong.

Those who fail to reach their success goals tend to repeat their mistakes without determining what it is that keeps them from the finish line.

They repeat mistakes of the past, so it's like swimming against the tide.

Business icon, Walt Disney, realized phenomenal success in his lifetime.

At the beginning of his career, he was fired because (according to his employers) he lacked imagination and the ability to come up with new ideas.

Many of the businesses he started failed.

Disney went on to produce the legendary Snow White and put an indelible stamp on the childhood of Americans and beyond.

When Thomas Edison was in school, he was told by his teachers that he was too dumb to amount to anything.

Edison's future inventions - such as the phonograph and electric light - made him famous.

He's now considered one of the most important and successful inventors throughout the world.

It's all in the way you look at the obstacles in your path.

When you look at them as only stepping stones to the future, you're likely to succeed ñ but when you see them as an obstruction to your continued march to success, you won't move any farther.

One obstacle you might encounter is lack of vision.

If you want to be successful, you must have a vision of what you want to accomplish.

It may be that you want a lavish lifestyle or a high-paying job.

Having a vision of what you want to accomplish and how you will get to that ultimate goal can motivate you to achieving incredible things.

Without that vision, you may work hard at first, but you'll eventually crash and burn.

When that happens, there just wasn't enough of a vision on your part to make things happen ñ to make you work toward getting rid of those obstacles in your path and forging on to success.

A vision of the future is the foundation of future success.

Another obstacle on your path to success could be lack of focus for tasks you must complete.

Focusing on the task at hand requires discipline and willpower.

Jumping from one project to another will never remove the focus obstacle from your path.

You might be one of those people who have a multitude of unfinished projects because you simply lost focus when challenged by a complication you didn't want to deal with.

You'd be much closer to your goals if you stuck with the project and plow through the difficult issues.

One way to promote focus and concentration is to prioritize your tasks.

Keep your mind focused on a particular task that must be completed before you can continue and don't let distractions keep you from it.

Are you a people-pleaser? Trying to please everyone in your life can severely limit your ability to succeed at cultivating the success you desire.

Many of us are pulled in so many different directions that it becomes impossible to devote time to our ultimate goals.

It's normal to want to be unselfish and spend your time helping others or accepting extra work that will take away from the time you should be devoting to your vision of success.

That urge to keep people happy and not disappoint them could be a major obstacle to your ultimate success.

Plain and simple fear could also stand in the way of your success.

It limits your progress and can prevent you from taking on challenges that must be overcome to get to the point you want to be.

You may not realize that you are afraid of success, but if you keep failing or refusing to accept opportunities that come your way, consider that fear is keeping you from carrying through with your vision.

Take the risks for creating a better life for yourself even if you're afraid you'll fail or be rejected.

Overcome that fear that others have managed to overcome and venture into the unknown.

You'll be surprised at what you find.

Determine What It Is You Want - And Then Go After It

Is the vision of your future success clear and precise ñ or do you simply think about wanting a better life ñ or more money? The vagueness in your vision might be the reason you don't succeed or can't take the next steps toward success.

The foundation of a vision of success must be paved with an exact roadmap that will get you there with certainty, not probability.

It's helpful to write down your goals.

Be exact with your words and try to predetermine the obstacles you'll come across.

Only then will you become a powerful force to meet your goals and won't let anything stand in the way.

When your exact goals are honed to perfection you'll become innovative and detailed in your pursuit of success.

When your goals are clear and exact through the words that define your vision, you'll be able to use the determination to overcome any obstacles and achieve your goals.

Many people are left in old age wishing they'd done more with their lives.

Perhaps they followed a dream that someone else had for them or simply did what was expected.

Unless you know what you want out of life, you're on a collision course with failure - or a life not lived to the fullest.

Living a life that's far below what you desired is tragic.

You only have one life - live it according to what makes you happy and fulfilled.

Before you can accurately determine what you want from life, there are a few tips you should follow before giving up.

One tip for getting what you want of life is to be selfish with your time and efforts.

It may mean that you give up things that please others ñ such as taking on too many projects or having memberships in too many organizations.

Determine what you would be doing if you didn't have time constraints that tie you down.

You must begin putting yourself first and following your own dreams before loaning out your time and energy to others.

If you don't put yourself and your quest for success first - no one else will.

Take a close look at your life and determine what makes you happy.

Do you love to travel, but feel guilty spending the time and money?

Maybe you can think of a way to make money as you travel.

Start a writing blog or work online from another country.

As long as you have internet connection, there are many things you can do online ñ including running a business.

Also, determine what zaps your happiness.

What you don't want is sometimes more telling about your future than what you do want.

Is your present job meaningless and boring?

What is it - specifically ñ that you don't like about your life? The only way you can be happy and meet your lifetime goals is to push back against it.

If you hate your job, determine what you'd really like to do ñ and then, pursue goals that get you there.

Never regret your feelings or your need to devote most of your time to dreams and visions.

Regret won't let you move forward if you dwell on the past.

Go forward with your goals and map out your future.

Let others know your feelings and what you're striving for.

Those who love and support you will help along the way and even provide some great ideas.

Talking about your dreams for success can help give you clarity on how to accomplish your goals.

When and if you come to a crossroads that you have to choose a path, take some time to reevaluate where you're headed.

Not everyone knows specifically what they want to do in life.

It's difficult for graduating high school students to choose a career path because their likes and dislikes may change.

It can also happen to adults who have been in a certain career path for years.

Life is full of interesting and enlightening pathways that will lead you to your ultimate passion.

Keep pursuing what you love and use the knowledge and experience you gain to take you down another path if desired.

Don't give up.

It's hard to stay determined and positive when life doesn't work out as you hoped.

Rather than throwing up your hands and quitting, look at the setback as a small detour and keep a positive attitude about your future.

Expect Obstacles But Don't Fear Them

Just because you know there will be obstacles in your path to success doesn't mean that you have to fear them.

That could cause you to be overly cautious, slow down your progress and make you think when you should be doing.

Fear kept the early human inhabitants of our planet alive.

Fear motivated them to build safe shelters and defense weapons, to plant gardens and band together for manpower.

Survival of the fittest meant you had to be prepared.

Fear can also be a big motivator in your life.

When you need money to pay the bills and feed a hungry family, you're likely motivated to get a job.

Those people who have conquered their fears are the ones who have achieved true success.

Those human acts of courage and overcoming the urge to be cautious have created many heroes and have set the bar for greatness.

Fear can jerk us out of our comfort zones and make us fly higher, study more and try again until we get it right.

Looking over your shoulder out of fear becomes an obstacle that prevents you from thinking about the current task or of wanting to shake things up in your life to become happy.

Even if you fail to overcome an obstacle or stall at its base because of fear, you are learning ñ and that knowledge will help you eventually find another way or help you pole vault over the top of whatever that fear is.

The greatest entrepreneurs of our time have overcome fear by using it as motivation for achieving success.

When you let fear win, you face a life of complacency and become ordinary.

Your true desires and your unfulfilled dreams because you let fear take over your mind will be left for someone else to accomplish.

It's hard to be motivated without that fear factor and you eventually lose the commitment to your dreams.

The human species is the most intelligent on the planet.

We alone have the ability to adapt to uninhabitable circumstances, using that intelligence to overcome fear of the unknown and conquer the obstacles that stand in our path to success.

Fear is bound to make you uncomfortable at times.

You may need to put off that dream of becoming a doctor until you spend some years in school and as an intern.

That's often enough to turn would-be doctors from the profession.

But those who ride it out and overcome their fears of not succeeding are destined to become the successes they were determined to be.

Life is uncertain and always will be, but if you continue to persevere and overcome unfounded fears, you'll ride out the storm.

The price you pay for indulging in a fearful mind is the price of success.

Unless you turn that fear into a powerful motivation tool, you'll find it almost impossible to mobilize yourself into taking action and realizing your dreams and goals.

Think of the fear that keeps you from success as a self-fulfilling prophesy that dooms you to mediocrity.

You'll cultivate failure because you fear it and spend too much of your time giving it a voice.

When transformed into courage and determination, fear becomes a power force that can't be stopped.

So, fear can yield success as well as destroy it.

You have to choose which path you'll take.

Learn How to Take Criticism Well

Criticism can be uncomfortable when it's aimed at you, but if you can get past the embarrassment, you may be able to use it as good feedback and let it help you change or adjust your strategy on your path to success.

Letting outside influences affect you in a negative way can cause confusion and lack of motivation.

Before you get carried away with the negatives, stop and figure out what can be learned from the criticism you received.

Them more successful you are, the more criticism you're likely to get.

To keep the criticism from wreaking havoc on your plans, it's a good move to keep things balanced.

You can do that by evaluating the criticism for accuracy and then using it to your advantage.

Rather than keeping your hurt from the criticism internally, acknowledge that it hurts and that others before you have been criticized, but not considered weak or ineffective.

You should let some time go by before reacting to the criticism.

It's best if you let it go overnight.

When you awake, you'll be less emotional and can view the situation more clearly.

Sending retaliatory emails or other actions can make the situation worse.

Think about the person(s) who criticized you ñ do you trust their opinions and advice or do you think the criticism was given out of anger, jealousy or some other reason.

If you suspect that the criticism was coming from a questionable place, try to gain some perspective on why the person criticized in a negative manner.

When criticism is designed and delivered to hurt you, you've been subjected to destructive criticism.

When the criticism is meant to encourage you to do better, it is deemed constructive criticism.

You should know the difference between destructive and constructive criticism and evaluate the negative things said about you or your performance by those guidelines.

If the criticism is constructive, you may be able to learn from it.

If your evaluation of the criticism is only meant to hurt you and has no validity, consider it destructive criticism and dismiss it.

Whichever type of criticism you receive, try not to take it personally.

Many promising careers have been abandoned because of criticism.

When you don't take it personally and, instead, try to look at the guidance it may contain, you could eventually see it as a valuable piece of information.

There may be some truth in the critical feedback that will make you a better person ñ or a more productive person.

Consider the criticism carefully to see if you can glean some information out of it that you need to spur you on to success.

The main action to take when warding off unwarranted criticism is to maintain confidence in your self-worth.

You know you're not perfect, but letting naysayers get you down can ruin your self-esteem and could make you give up on your goals and dreams.

Be sure that you surround yourself with people who make you happy and boost your confidence rather than those who constantly bring you down.

Also, ask yourself if you're being too sensitive about the criticism you're receiving.

Rather than focusing on the criticism, itself, think about the message you're getting from it.

It may have been meant to help you and you should take steps to improve.

You don't want to make people afraid to say things to you for fear you'll cry or express anger.

Try to understand the message and learn from it.

Most of all, be compassionate with yourself.

Rather than lashing out at someone, acknowledge the hurt feelings.

Then, try to find the gift within the criticism and move on.

Identify Your Hardship And Create A Plan To Deal With It

When hardships stand in the way of your progress to realize success, it's tempting to give up rather than taking actions to deal with the problems.

That's the wrong action to take and unless you evaluate what you're up against, your dreams could fall in mid-flight.

It's normal to become flustered when faced with obstacles like time constraints, financial situations, lack of skills needed for your path to success or lacking the knowledge needed to forge on.

Feeling like you're not smart enough to realize the success you dream of is one of the most common reasons for frustration in life.

When you first begin to feel inadequate to meet the challenges you're faced with, it's time to sit down, analyze the situation and create a plan.

There's usually a viable way that you can turn things around and even turn a real hardship into a learning experience.

For example, if you're starting a new job or business you may be well into the process when you realize you're out of your league.

To add to the discomfort of thinking you lack the needed skills to be a success, you also know that you're the new kid in the office ñ or in the business.

Others have already found their places within the system and it may take some time for you to find yours.

When you begin to doubt yourself and believe you can't be a success, it's time to sit down and map out a way to get over that obstacle.

Perhaps you need more training ñ or you could be making a task more complicated than it really is.

Assess the situation and then take action to eliminate the problem.

This is also true if you're facing financial hardships.

Maybe medical problems caused you to go deep into debt ñ or the new business could require more startup costs than you planned for.

Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

You could seek professional financial help or ask someone you trust for guidance.

Financial hardships may delay your progress to success, but it needn't cancel it out altogether.

One of the most critical obstacles on your path to success can be time.

There never seems to be enough of it.

Time management skills can be learned and there are multitudes of online or written help available to get you on track.

There are ways to divide your time and still accomplish everything you set out to do.

Determination is a big factor ñ and your willingness to give up some things so you can make a success of others is necessary.

As with every other hardship you face, creating a plan is the first step in alleviating the problem.

If you don't have a plan, you'll become even more frustrated in the future and be unable to see your way clear to the other side of the obstacle.

Never consider a hardship or obstacle a failure in your life.

When you avoid failure by not taking any action at all, you're actually giving up on your dreams of success.

Think of how you can prevent future obstacles ñ rather than avoiding failure.

Successful people face hardships as obstacles to deal with.

They don't see them as failures.

Every hardship can be turned into a success story if you believe in yourself and what you can accomplish.

Like fear of failure, fear of hardships can hinder your progress ñ paralyzing you and preventing you from finding a solution to the problems.

Even though it's sometimes difficult to face obstacles to your success, it must be done before you can take action.

Change is inevitable and with those changes come hardships that may be difficult, but are very controllable when you face them with a positive attitude.

Life's always going to put challenges in our way, but that's how we grow and learn.

In the end, hardships are simply obstacles you must face by first identifying it, planning on how to get around it and then taking the appropriate action.

Become Relentless In Your Pursuit Of All Goals

Do you sometimes throw up your hands and give up when goals become too difficult or time-consuming -- or are you relentless in their pursuit and stop at nothing until you reach that finish line?

It's amazing the amount of excuses we can come up with when we aren't determined and committed.

It's also easy to become sidetracked when your self-esteem takes a dive or obstacles keep popping up and tearing you down.

Making excuses, letting criticism get you down or negative self-talk does not lead to success.

Unless you relentlessly pursue your dreams and goals by boldly meeting each challenge or obstacle, success will always elude you.

Managing the risk of abandoning your goals means that you plan ñ and plan some more.

Then, take actions to implement the plan.

You can always go back to the drawing board if something isn't working, but a plan keeps you on track.

You've also got to believe in yourself and your ability to succeed.

Sometimes that can be the most difficult thing to do.

Anyone who ever achieved success has harnessed belief in themselves and let it carry them over the finish line.

One way to be relentless in pursuit of your goals is to be passionate about what you're doing.

When you have passion for a project you believe in, you wake up in the morning can can't wait to get to it.

The satisfaction you feel from pursuing a goal you're passionate about can get you through the hard times or even doubtful times when you may question yourself or what you're working toward.

Keeping yourself motivated to pursue your dreams is easier when you have passion for what you do.

That doesn't mean you don't occasionally reevaluate how you're going to map your path to the finish line.

Things change and so do your wants and needs.

But, when you know ñ deep down ñ that you're being your authentic self and honoring your own dreams and goals rather than that of someone else, you'll be able to push on relentlessly until you get what you want of life.

Your decision to pursue any goal in life should be all about what matters most to you.

When you value something, you won't become frustrated in working toward it.

It's worth the sacrifices you may have to make in other areas of your life to know you're working toward a life dream.

If you're serious about pursuing your ultimate goals, you'll overcome everything that gets in your way.

You'll overcome distractions that keep you from working and sabotages your time.

You'll also stop procrastinating and dive headlong into the work that needs to be done before you can say that you've arrived.

And, it isn't over then.

One success will lead to another ñ and another.

Relentless pursuit of your goals means that you never give up.

Doubt-Proof Your Mind to Ward Off Future Failures

Doubt can sabotage even the most efficient and most determined person.

The good news is that you can doubt-proof your mind to ward off any doubts that you might fail in future endeavors.

Although doubting a decision is considered normal, self-doubt is all about you.

In the beginning of every pursuit, self-doubt sets in and questions everything about your decision.

You fear that you'll make a mistake and it will ruin your life and make you lose everything.

You may also experience self-doubt because of others criticisms or high expectations of you.

As you begin to reach your goals, get feedback and trust your decision making ability, you'll gain more confidence in yourself.

Those positives can spur you on to bigger and better things.

You can begin to doubt-proof your mind by first acknowledging that you have doubts and fears.

Don't allow the self-doubt to interfere with making a decision, but know that the doubt may have some roots that you need to address.

When you see the self-doubt for what it is ñ fear ñ you can cope with it by finding ways to put it in perspective.

Imagine the worst of your fears and play out in your mind how you would handle the failure.

The knowledge of where the self-doubt (fear) originates can help to dissipate the indecision and help you make the best decision possible.

Even if the worst case happens, you will have already planned how to approach it.

Most self-doubt comes from your imagination.

If you let your imagination take over your mind and hamper the decision-making process, you could miss out on some valuable opportunities that come your way.

That's true for personal pursuits as well as business ones.

If you have self-doubt you may have problems socializing with others.

A lack of self-confidence and shyness could keep you from the possibility of developing deep relationships.

It may seem strange, but when you get to know your fears and the roots of your insecurity rather than attempting to simply banish them from your life, you'll be wiser and better equipped to deal with the stigma of self-doubt.

It's important to know why you have fears and self-doubt.

When you have trouble making even the smallest of decisions, you're setting yourself up for failure and the negative and doubting talk might become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Strive to doubt-proof your mind so you can see a clear path to cultivate success even if you have some setbacks.

Alun Hill