01/15/2014 01:40 pm ET Updated Mar 17, 2014

Make 2014 Your Year!

Let's make 2014 the year of you. The year you make the things happen that you've always wanted to but somehow they've eluded you. What does it take to make this year more successful than the past?

There are many reasons why one person seems to be more successful than another. I have found that it is often not your intelligence, circumstances, or education but rather your ability to recognize and seize opportunities. In the bestselling book "The Prayer of Jabez", the author (Bruce Wilkinson) sets forth the notion that everyone is sent opportunities throughout their life but so many of those opportunities go unrealized. I agree with him that opportunities are abundant in everyone's life, but I believe these opportunities are often missed because of the absence of the right mindset. So, here are my three keys to turn your 2014 dreams into a reality.

First, it's important to crystallize in your mind what it is that you really want. I emphasize "really" because if you would simply "like" something to happen, i.e., you would like to be an actress, to be rich, to travel the world etc., but it's not really that important to you, it's not a burning desire, then the next two qualities will ipso facto be unobtainable.

Being in a state of "readiness" is the key. If you don't keep your "dream" fairly front and center you won't be able to recognize when a potential stepping-stone is placed before you. If you "float" rather than "focus", your ability to perceive something as a strategic opportunity is obfuscated. Most successful people are laser-focused. They don't miss a trick. Their goal is top-of-mind. They recognize and are "ready" to seize whatever potential opportunity comes their way. I remember when our company was really firing on all cylinders; my father said that my mother, who had passed away, had sent the opportunities my way. My sister then said, "Well, why hasn't she sent any my way?" My father said she had, but she just didn't notice. At the time, we all just laughed and thought it was funny, but with hindsight we realize he was probably right. In any case, it resonated with my sister. She took it to heart and it changed the course of her life.

The final key to turning 2014 into the year of you is to react, to take action once you see an opportunity unfold before you. How many times have you seen someone you recognize but don't know well, know it might behoove you to say something, but you avoid it. How many times have you avoided a social situation, an opportunity to do something... to take a class, to relocate, to speak before a group of people... even friends, but you have shied away because it made you uncomfortable. If you believe that the opportunity before you could (even in the slightest way) change your life, force yourself to do it.

When I met London hairstylist John Frieda, I already knew that I wanted to start my own business. At the time, I was seriously contemplating opening an advertising agency with a long-time friend of mine, Ann Bell. Over the period of a few months, the three of us worked together on a project. During that time, John was developing his original hair product line and asked us to consult. The idea started percolating in my mind that perhaps working with John on his product line was more in my wheelhouse than opening an ad agency. John was also beginning to think that maybe he should get really serious about the product side of the business and perhaps, bring on a partner. Both of us were ready to try to make our "dreams" a reality. That meant Ann and I moving to the UK. It meant leaving our husbands temporarily behind. And, for me it meant packing up my three-year old twins too! It was a difficult decision but we forged ahead. Twelve years later, we sold John Frieda Professional Hair Care to Kao Corporation for a sum, I venture to say, that was a lot more than we would have made in the advertising business.

When you are presented with an opportunity, it's critical to react. Don't let it slip through your fingers. The worst-case scenario is that it doesn't work. The best case... you get closer to your goal. The potential upside is far greater than the downside... keep that in mind. Resist the temptation to rationalize in order to avoid being proactive. Yes, it might be a long shot in your mind, but you may be wrong. "Nothing ventured nothing gained." Experience is the origin of these proverbs. They are generally considered to be basic truths. Here's another one for you "God helps those who help themselves".

So, remember "Three R's" and make 2014 the YEAR OF YOU!