01/22/2015 12:57 pm ET Updated Mar 24, 2015

The Gatsby Effect: How to Think Yourself Into Success


On the surface, The Great Gatsby appears to be a fatal love story in which a man spends his life acquiring riches to win the girl of his dreams. I recently watched The Great Gatsby for the first time without having read the book. I know it's crazy -- how have I not read this American classic?! Truth be told, I'm actually glad that I had no prior knowledge of the story before seeing the movie. That allowed me to watch it without tainted eyes or themes forced on me by high school professors.

Needless to say, I thought the movie was great. I really admired Gatsby's character. What I found most fascinating about Gatsby was his ability to accomplish what he set his sights on. Through sheer determination and motivation for the love of a woman, he was able to completely change his life, gain riches, and become a well spoken gentleman. He literally dreamed himself into massive wealth. Gatsby didn't have much, but he had two things:

1. The desire to be rich
2. Unwavering focus

Those are both abilities that no human being is born with but can develop if they so choose. I know what you're thinking... this is a fictional story and should not be applied to real life. Well, Gatsby's story is not a unique case. The story of individuals who paired determination with hard work to accomplish astonishing feats is a frequent occurrence. For instance, take the popular book Think and Grow Rich. As you may have gathered from the title, the book covers the possibility of thinking yourself into riches. It notes that an individual with desire, faith, and persistence can reach great heights by eliminating negative energy, disparaging thoughts,and by focusing on the greater goals in hand.

Are you still questioning whether it is possible to literally hope, want, and wish yourself into success like Gatsby? Can simply wanting something bad enough lead you to achieving it? The answer is yes, and I call it The Gatsby Effect.

The premise of The Gatsby Effect is that individuals can significantly outperform his or her counterparts no matter what their circumstance, if he or she simply decides to do so. Taking the following actions will allow yourself to successfully achieve The Gatsby Effect:

1. Discover what motivates you
Find out what will push you to work a little harder, wake up a little earlier, or dream a little bigger. We are all different, and each of us has a unique definition of success.

Here's a free guide I wrote about how to hack success.

Perhaps money is not a big motivator for you, and that's fine. Maybe it's love or recognition. What do you really want out of life that you will work nonstop to get?

Gatsby's motivation was winning the affection of the girl of his dreams. All his efforts were calculated to push him towards his ultimate goal of being the perfect man for her.

2. Fix your mind on what you want to achieve
Now that you know what motivates you, the second step is to focus on what you want to accomplish. Success starts with making the conscious decision that you will never settle for anything less. If you fix your mind on your goal, there is nothing distracting you from going after it. All excuses and insecurities get removed and you fiercely go after the goals you set for yourself.

Once your mind is fixed, come up with a plan to achieve your goal. Bear in mind that thoughts without actions leads to a dream never birthed, or a dream that gets tucked away in the fabrics of your mind.

Knowing your passion will help you fix your mind on what you want to achieve.Here's how to discover your passion.

In Gatsby's case, he had his mind fixed on getting the girl, and made a plan to do so. His plan was to completely reinvent himself into a wealthy aristocrat. Be like Gatsby -- fix your mind on what you want to achieve and then go create a plan to get it!

3. Visualize yourself already in possession of what you want.
Imagination is a powerful thing. That's the catalyst of what took Gatsby from a young penniless boy, to a rich eloquent man. He imagined himself being greater and knew he was not condemned to a life of peasantry. The issue with most people today is that they don't have imagination. People are almost scared to dream and envision a better life for themselves, in fear that society or family members will ridicule them.

The theory of motor imagery indicates that the same neurological networks are used both to imagine movement, and to actually move. That means that imagining a movement over and over can have the same effect on our brains as practicing it physically.

For instance, if you imagine yourself bending your arm, that has the same effect on your brain as practicing it physically. That demonstrates the power of imagination and visualization. We can literally trick our brains into thinking we are doing something we are not. The power of imagination should be channeled towards pursuing your goals and achieving extraordinary feats.

4. Don't stop until you get it
At the end of the day, what separates successful people from non successful people is that they don't stop pursuing their dream.

Everyone's point of success comes at different times. Mark Zuckerberg's came at age 23, while Colonel Sanders' came at 65. What do these two have in common, other than creating addicting products? Focus and a vision. Use the power of your imagination as fuel to relentlessly pursue your goals.

The Great Gatsby should be seen as a testament of what someone can accomplish just by having the sheer will to attain it. Gatsby literally dreamed and affirmed himself into success. Everyone is capable of doing the same thing, but most are fearful or lack vision. Now, it's ok to have a healthy fear of failure -- it can even be a great motivator. However, fear shouldn't inhibit you from working towards your dreams on a daily basis.

Alicia T. Glenn shares her experiences and advice on how to accomplish cool things, and live a more fulfilled life by discovering and pursuing your passion on her blog. Join her free newsletter to get business ideas, life hacks and strategies on how to live a more fulfilled life.