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A 6-Point Plan to Achieve Professional and Personal Success

There are many ways to define and achieve professional success. Follow this simple plan to set, measure and reach your goals.

What makes a person a “success”? For some, success is embodied by a Donald Trump or a Kardashian; for others it’s Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi. But I submit that it’s a lot more than fortune and fame.

Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men on the planet, defines success not by his bank account but by “how many people love me.” Well, that’s certainly easy to say when your net worth is $88 billion, but it’s an interesting perspective for a man who’s decided to give his entire fortune to charity—most of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Personally, one of the most successful people I know never made more than $40,000 per year. He does, however, have a wife of more than 50 years and two amazing children. He brought up his kids on a factory-worker’s wage. One he put through dentist school and another has a master's degree in teaching. He accrued no debt and paid for his home in six years. He spends his retired days caring for his spouse, who has stage 4 cancer. To me, that’s accomplishment.

I don’t believe success should be measured by your bank account or how many “likes” or “friends” you have on social media. It’s achieving what you set out to do—being happy and living a life of love. Though each of us may have a different definition, let’s explore how success can be measured and applied to a career in self-storage or any other professional or personal aims you may have.

Set Objectives, Measure Results

The aims you wish to reach should align with your definition of success; but it’s difficult to know where you’re going if you don’t have a destination in mind. Setting goals is the best way to get where you want to be. State your objectives clearly so you know the plan. In fact, write them down.

Once you’ve set goals, you need a way to measure your progress. A good friend of mine, self-storage owner Adam Mikkelson, once told a group of fellow facility operators, “If it can't be measured, it can't be achieved.” It’s the credo by which he runs his business. He ensures he and his team have concrete, measurable, achievable goals.

For example, one of my desires is to be a scratch golfer. To get there, I’ve set a goal to shave two strokes off my handicap this year. I have a specific plan in place to do this, and I’ll consider it a “success” if I reduce my handicap by three or more strokes, which is better than my target.

Whatever method of assessment you choose, use it as a guide to tweak your plan. Any prolonged movement away from a goal should cause you to consider a course correction. Make sure any shift moves you toward your purpose, not farther from it.

One great tool to help you reach goals is accountability. Share your objectives, criteria and methods of assessment with someone who’s genuinely interested in your success. It’s equally important that you pay this forward, doing the same for someone in whom you have a vested interest.

Remove Obstacles

It isn’t always easy to reach your goals. There will be hindrances and interruptions along the way. The most important thing is to persevere. Don’t let excuses get in the way of accomplishments! With a plan for achievement, it’s easier to keep distractions at bay. Focus on the three Ps:

  • Preparation is the best way to ensure success.
  • Practice will help ease tasks along the journey.
  • Prioritization will keep you organized.

Sometimes, your obstacles are people. Though it can be difficult, it’s important to eliminate or minimize the negative impact of those who inhibit your success. Remember the words of Booker T. Washington who said, “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is easier to be alone than in bad company.” Or maybe you prefer “It’s hard to soar with eagles when you fly with turkeys!”

To achieve success, you have to surround yourself with people who love and support you, not those who enable or control you. Seek out those who add value to your life and contribute to your ability to reach your goals.

Create Good Habits

Achieving goals requires good habits. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” What we do regularly has much more of an impact than what we do occasionally. It’s easy to alter one immediate action, but far more difficult to change a habit. To create a good habit, take initial steps today and repeat them tomorrow! This is how you design your future.

That said, the common definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Whatever actions you engage in, make sure they’re getting you closer to your goals! If not, it’s time to break that habit and put a better one in its place.

Take One Step at a Time

In working toward your goals, there are really only two approaches: make progress or make excuses. Success is comprised of short- and long-term objectives. It’s also dependent on intent and action.

Like rungs on a ladder, each step should get you closer to where you want to be. Keep your ultimate destination at the back of your mind, but keep your focus on your next concrete step. Otherwise, you can start to feel overwhelmed.

For example, let’s say you have a general goal to dramatically increase physical and economic occupancy at your self-storage facility. You can’t get there overnight. You need to break it down into clear, achievable steps:

  • One-year goal: Achieve 92 percent occupancy, with 80 percent of rentals at the street rate.
  • One-month goal: Increase facility occupancy from 82 percent to 83 percent; sell at least half of new rentals at the street rate.
  • Today’s goal: Convert more than 75 percent of calls and Web to in-store visits; rent more than 66 percent at the street rate.

Try New Things

Achieving success is also about doing new things. For example, maybe you don’t normally call last week’s leads to see if those prospects are still looking to rent a self-storage unit. Set a goal to call at least five of them by noon tomorrow. Perhaps you don’t usually promote your self-storage business when you’re out running errands. Set a goal that the next time you go to the bank or post office, or out to purchase supplies, that you’ll hand the clerk a business card, compliment him on the job he’s doing and ask for a referral.

A Simple Yet Effective Approach

To achieve success, professionally or personally, as part of the self-storage industry or some other pursuit, follow this straightforward plan:

  • Set concrete, measurable, achievable goals. Write them down and share them with others to create accountability.
  • Choose a method of assessment and regularly measure your progress. If you find yourself moving away from your goals, correct your course to get back on track.
  • Remove obstacles, even if they’re people. Surround yourself with positive influences who will help you meet or exceed your aims.
  • Take positive steps toward your goals and repeat them until you’ve created good habits.
  • Always keep your end goal in mind, but focus immediately on the next step in the process.
  • Try new things to improve your results.

No matter how you define success, this simple approach will help you achieve it!

RK Kliebenstein is principal of Coast-to-Coast Realty Advisors LLC. He has more than 30 years of self-storage industry experience, from creating business strategies to disposing of mature assets and everything in between. He’s the author of several books, including publications on how to invest and make money in self-storage. He’s also a frequent speaker at industry events, For more information, call 561.797.2721; e-mail; visit

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