Don’t Skip These 5 Steps on Your Way to the Top

UPDATED: April 1, 2021
PUBLISHED: January 10, 2018

From a distance, success can seem like a target destination, a place like a corner office, a fine hotel or an impressive mansion. And once you finally get there, everything is perfect, right?

For those who’ve already arrived at what most people consider success, it’s something a bit more fluid and ephemeral. You can have all the accouterments of success and still not really feel it inside—you get the mansion or the corner office and realize it’s not all that you hoped. It’s also possible to feel success for a moment, and then, poof, it’s gone again.

Related: 10 Little Things Successful People Do Differently

Over the years as chairman and CEO of Rodale, I’ve learned that success is a continual process, not a final destination, and it requires a Zen-like openness and appreciation for life and everyone in it to truly feel the effects, both inside and out. (Although I’ll admit the freedom to travel and stay at nice hotels is my favorite tangible benefit of success.) Sometimes, success is simple. Today it was setting a timer for 15 minutes and making cleaning the kitchen a game with my 8-year-old, which saved me an hour of nagging to help with chores. Yes, it’s the little things.

True holistic achievement requires a sense of service, love and passion that come from deep inside of you. Here are five steps that can’t be skipped on your way to success—or ignored once you get there:

1. Find what your passion is and tap into it.

You can do this by meditating or going on a vision quest. You can seek counseling or hire a consultant. You can fall into it by accident. Whatever you do, you must find it and keep finding it over and over again. It’s not a one-time process—it’s like a fractal that keeps expanding and growing and evolving.

Your true passion is at the root of these four things.

2. Commit to serving others.

Truly, serving others—your customers, employees, fans, the needy—is one of the most important steps, because no matter what else happens, if you do this one thing you will find a peace within you that no jewel or yacht can compare. Success is service.

Step one: Be kind.

3. Have faith when you are most discouraged and keep everyone around you focused and motivated.

Not every day is a good day, and not every year is a good year. What can you learn from those setbacks, and how can you keep moving forward no matter what? Finding faith is key and goes right back to the first two steps: If you believe you are doing something important and know that it’s helping others, well then… keep going.

No matter what happens, these life rules still apply.

4. Take care of yourself.

Take Bruce Springsteen as an example of success. His shows take an incredible amount of energy—and spread joy and happiness throughout the world. But as an artist, he also needs to stop and breathe. At 63 years old, he keeps healthy and fit in order to gather the inspiration to write songs and the spirit to perform. It’s a cycle that should be respected. Take care of yourself, and allow yourself to rest and recover to make sure you have the strength and energy to do it all again, to be your own kind of rock star.

This is how to put your well-being first.

5. Celebrate your success and generously share it with others.

Every time you share your success and the results of it with others, you’re planting seeds for future success. Because success isn’t a one-and-done thing. It is like a garden—it has seasons of brilliance and dormancy and must be cared for and maintained. And shared.

True success begins the second you start giving back.

Related: 6 Qualities of Wildly Successful People

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Maria Rodale is the CEO and chairman of Rodale Inc., a global voice for health and wellness with a mission to inspire and enable people to improve their lives and the world around them. Reaching more than 100 million people worldwide, Rodale publishes some of the best-known health and wellness magazines, including Men’s Health, Prevention, Runner’s World, Women’s Health and Organic Gardening, which will re-launch as Rodale’s Organic Life this spring. The company is also one of the largest independent booksellers in the world, with a collection of best-selling titles that include An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore and The Honest Life by Jessica Alba. Rodale is an activist and a businesswoman who has made promoting the benefits of an organic lifestyle both her personal mission and her business. In 2013, she created and launched Rodale’s, an online shopping destination that offers healthy solutions for a happy life. She also started Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen, a blog that offers a digital experience of the contemporary kitchen table: a place to exchange recipes, entertain visits from friends and discuss timely issues. The author of several books, Rodale is perhaps best-known for her 2010 title, Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe