Success makes you feel like you have power to control your life. And when you don’t feel that power, you’ll do unreasonable and self-destructive things that give you a sense of it. (Tinder, anyone?)

Powerlessness is why normal people become alcoholics and abusers and addicts. It’s why poor cities have the highest rates of crime and drug use. And it’s why you absolutely need to succeed—in your health, in your relationships, in your career.

There really isn’t another option. You either make progress as a human being, or you fall behind and sabotage yourself.

Before I found success as a writer and coach, I manipulated people in relationships—I stole—I did drugs—I abused people emotionally. I did unspeakable things that destroyed my confidence and made me feel ashamed. But I wasn’t a bad person…

I was just a confused kid looking for power in all the wrong spots.

I was addicted to relationships because they gave me control over my pleasure; it’s just that I never got anything out of them except for heartache and insanity. I even almost lost my mind after the last one…I stopped working, and just wasted away on my mom’s couch.

But when I couldn’t stand living on my mom’s sofa anymore—well, when I couldn’t stand have constant panic attacks because I didn’t know what I was born for—success wasn’t an option for me anymore, either. I had to find real power over my life or check myself into a nuthouse.

I ended up finding my personal power and success through these 5 habits

1-Find one thing and stick to it.

You’re more likely to stick with something positive if you’re passionate about it. So, no matter how unrealistic it may seem, pick that one thing and stick to it like your life depends on it. It does.

You need so see and feel progress towards the thing that matters most to you. Otherwise, you’ll wonder what the heck you’re here for, and you’ll do a bunch of stupid stuff to try to compensate for your lack of purpose. (Like, say, get involved in a relationship with someone you barely know!)

I chose writing because I couldn’t imagine going to my deathbed without giving it a go. But you may want to be a lawyer. Or an architect. Or a graphic designer. Or a teacher. Or a carpenter. Or a caregiver. Everyone has a dream that perfectly compliments their God-given talents, and everyone has a chance. But you have to pick that one thing and stick with it. (Tip #3 comes in handy with this!)

2-Learn everything you can.

Knowledge is power. So the more you learn, and especially the more you learn about your one thing, the better you’ll be able to control your life and generate a sense of power.

Go to the library tomorrow and borrow five books on the topics you’re most passionate about, on self-improvement, and also things that just randomly spark your interest. (One time I rented a weird book about nose breathing and ended up making about $5,000 in articles I sold after it!)

Make it a goal to read for at least one hour a day—preferably two!

Speaking of goals….

3-Make daily goals for everything.

The only thing separating you from success is a series of completed goals. And to achieve such a streak, you have to make goal setting a habit.

I started goal setting with simple things: like making my bed, brushing my teeth, exercising, reading, and writing. Once I mastered the simple things and grew my confidence, I took on bigger challenges. I started asking more of myself, and demanding more effort.

After one month of making and completing a daily list of goals, goal-setting will have become your most valuable habit. Start it today. Include anything that will boost your confidence and advance your knowledge, confidence, skill, and health.

I shoot for 10-20 goals a day, and make sure to always complete my top 5.

But in order to accomplish your goals, you have to defenestrate the low-value habits that suck up your time.

4-Ditch your low-value habits.

Many people give success a shot, but they’re sabotaged by a litany of bad habits that steal their time. If you want to succeed, if you want to grow your power, you’ve gotta let go of the things that steal your time and energy.

I cut out TV, videogames, surfing the internet, pornography, dead-end relationships, and feeling sorry for myself. All this new free time enabled me to learn as much about writing as I could, and to practice, and to pitch my work to paying clients.

I practically made a career by eliminating my distractions. You can too—just make a list of your top 5 distractions (social media, tv, etc.) and cut them out for a month*.

*You can bring them back in small doses once you’ve quit the habit of perpetual distraction.

5-Start your success rituals

There are things that make you feel low—toxic relationships, porn, wasting your day—and there are things that build your power. Do less of the former and more of the latter.

Journaling helped me identify the negative habits and thoughts that held me back. Affirmations flooded my brain with positivity and confidence to tackle my goals. Daily exercise routines gave me energy and clarity to focus on my work and education.

Whatever those things are for you, start them today. Journaling, meditation, and exercising are three fail-safe rituals that will automatically give you more power and control over your life. I can’t recommend them enough, and I fully attribute my $1-dollar-and-up per word writing career to them!

If you’ve tried to get your power back for too long but haven’t been successful, it might also be time to hire a coach.

Originally published at


  • Daniel Dowling

    Performance Coach, Writer for Greatist,, Mindbodygreen, and FastCompany.

    Dan Dowling, here. I was the poster child for lost millennials - couldn’t keep a job…addicted to relationships…constantly checking social media and email. But when I got hungry enough for success as a writer, I gave up my distracted lifestyle and adopted one daily goal that changed my life forever: Do. Your. Best. Today, five years later, I’m a productivity coach who’s published on the world’s biggest sites (including Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Mindbodygreen), and I’m transforming lives through the best-effort, zero-distraction lifestyle that worked so well for me. Come and and learn how to always give your best at Millennial Success!