There is an old saying that those who do what is hard to do end up living an easy life, while those who take it easy are doomed to a hard life.

Of course, hard work and doing what is difficult is no guarantee for an easy life. At the same time, it is almost a certainty that if you only do what is easy, you will have a hard and difficult life.

Successful people do things that other people do not do. Their success is tied to their willingness to do things that other people are not willing to do. They commit the time, effort and energy to do what it takes to achieve their goals. When they encounter obstacles, they do not give up. They try harder. They look for new and better ways to do things. They search for new paths.

Ultimately success is less about talent and opportunity than it is about what you do with your talent and opportunity. Successful people are willing to pay the price to achieve their goals. They are not concerned about what is popular or loved by the masses. They understand that their success means that they will be different from many of the people they meet and interact with.

The hard things that successful people do can be placed in certain categories that relate to their success. Successful people set goals, and they are willing to do things that relate to the achievement of their goals. They understand that to reach their goals, they must work hard on the activities required to achieve those goals. They dedicate a significant amount of time to working on things that will result in the achieving their goals.

Success begins with having a clear vision of what success looks like for you. Your success vision should cover all areas of your life. These might include career, family, faith, and wealth. The first step to your success journey is to create a clear picture of what success looks like for you. In fact, taking the time to write out a word picture of what your success looks like will help bring your vision into clearer focus.

The next step is to use this vision as a basis to set specific goals that must be accomplished for you to achieve success. What are the steps you need to take to make your vision a reality? If your vision is long term, your goals may not yet directly relate to the ultimate vision you have. You may need to achieve some interim goals to get you on track to move you along toward your ultimate vision.

Your goals will need to include things related to personal development. Every successful person I have ever met is a reader. They read new books on a regular basis to get new ideas, to learn, and to be inspired. Reading about great people and reading the writings of great thinkers helps motivate and stimulate you to achieve what you want.

Start working on your goals. Review your schedule and open up specific times to begin to work toward your goals. This is a critical step. One of the greatest challenges to achieving your vision is making sure that the day-to-day events of your life do not consume all of your time. You cannot achieve success unless you intentionally spend less time on things that are easy in order to work on things that are hard.

Let me add a word of caution here: Although having goals and a vision are important, don’t become obsessed with achieving those. Make sure you maintain balance in your life. Many of your goals can have the potential to take away from time with your family and friends.

Don’t get caught in the trap of sacrificing relationships in order to spend an extravagant amount of your time working on financial and career goals. Trading family time for time to work on your wealth goals is the wrong decision. Giving up easy things means giving up the stuff that, although you may enjoy, is primarily for only you. For example, cut down on your golf playing, or the number of baseball games you watch, or the amount of time you spend on games or other apps on your phone, or how long you exercise each day.

Spend time in personal reflection. Think about your progress and your frustrations. When things are not going well, take time to analyze the reason. Learn from your mistakes. Make sure that you don’t repeat mistakes.

Consider writing in a journal on a regular basis to facilitate learning and reflection. With all due respect to technology, the physical act of writing is immensely therapeutic and can also inspire your creativity. When you journal, stay away from your computer and your cell phone. Don’t let interruptions and distractions cut in on your reflective and learning time.

Finally, take time to smell the flowers. Spend time with people you love. If you achieve success, and lose your life, you have not really succeeded.