The Psychology of Success

11/25/2013 08:34 am ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." -- Maya Angelou

In life, we are each dealt a different hand of hardships and blessings. It would appear that life is not fair in her dealings, but I believe we are each given the exact hand we need to learn the lessons of our unique, psycho-spiritual journey.

In my practice, I see that many people move through life by simply going along with the current, letting outside forces determine their direction. Furthermore, we all unconsciously recreate what is familiar until we choose something better.

If we are open to the process of learning, suffering bears great wisdom that guides us towards enlightenment. One of the greatest gifts I have reaped from being a psychotherapist is the collective wisdom of my clients. It's a high honor to intimately accompany them as they overcome life challenges, embrace their gifts and strengths, and move towards self-actualization.

Being successful requires us to wake up and be present in our own lives, aligning ourselves our greatest destiny and mapping out the way. We must consciously select a path that facilitates the awakening of our awareness, both individually and collectively.

Everything in life is interconnected. As we evolve, our relationships, work and lives blossom. And, conversely, as we are impacted by our relationships and our work, we evolve.

As a therapist for nearly 20 years and an entrepreneur for 15, I've found that my psychological health and career success are really two sides of the same coin. We can only be prosperous in love, health, time and money if we are conscious, well and balanced.

To master the psychology of success, I recommend the following:

Become conscious of why you do what you do. We all come into our careers or life situations for a reason. We learn our roles in our families-of-origin and often recreate patterns until we work through them. Give yourself permission to let go of old behaviors that are no longer working for you.

Open yourself up to prosperity. Cognitive psychology suggests that our thoughts precede our feelings and behaviors. Be mindful not to constrain yourself with self-limiting beliefs. As Dr. Joyce Brothers said, "Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success." Trust in the abundance theory, and welcome all that is good into your life.

Bring your attention to the present. Honor the past, learn from it, and let it go. Don't obsess or worry about the future. Discover the power of mindfulness practices such as deep breathing and meditation, which keep you firmly grounded in the present moment.

Discover the power of intention. Wayne Dyer says, "Our intentions create our reality." Identify the primary intentions of your life, write them out, and live by them.

Develop your vision. As in sports psychology, positive visualization increases the likelihood of success. Ask yourself, if you had a magic wand, what would you want? Aim high. Look for how your strengths and gifts can benefit others, creating the type of "win-win" scenario that the universe will gladly support. Consider creating a vision board.

Silence your inner critic. Pay attention to your self-talk and notice if you have negative thoughts that are likely rooted in the past. Separate from negative beliefs by "zooming out" and looking at situations from an objective and neutral place.

Practice positive thinking.Understand that positivity attracts positivity through the laws of attraction. Keep a gratitude journal. Choose to be your best cheerleader rather than your worst critic.

Practice acceptance. Don't expend energy fighting or resisting what you cannot change (other people, their feelings, their behaviors, etc.). Instead, empower yourself to change what you can (your thinking, your behaviors, your boundaries, etc.). If for no other reason than to free yourself, forgive and let go of resentments.

Appreciate that personal and professional progress is not linear. We all go through setbacks. It's how we respond to those setbacks that determines if we are going to endlessly cycle or stagnate or grow and develop. Cut yourself some slack and recognize we are all human and are works in progress. Learn from mistakes, be resilient and forge ahead.

Love yourself. Practice self-compassion and self-care. Establish work/life balance and a positive support network for yourself. Demonstrate this self-love by making a commitment to achieving your greatest successes in life.

Success is to live your life openly, honestly and courageously in a manner that is aligned with the highest good of self and others -- and to the greatest extent possible.