That whimsical word we all love… success. How do you define success? Based on how wealthy you are? Or the fact that you’re courageous enough to take a chance in life to make it, no matter what, no matter the odds — professionally and personally — to set an example for the rest of the world to see, even when it’s that same “world’ at times that has you down? I know my answer.

Are you one of those people working towards your passion, dream, or goals around the clock, feeling like a hamster on a wheel — exerting all your energy fast, but not really getting anywhere? Well, you’re not alone. You feel like millions of other Americans trying to live “the American dream” — working your butt off to strive for whatever it is that you want, but not receiving the validation, or paycheck that you deserve.

But, have you considered that you’re already ahead of the game if you are one of those people? First of all, you have the courage to pursue your dream, even if it isn’t playing it safe or paying the bills (as of yet). You’re already a very small percentage of the population. Think about all those people sitting in rush hour traffic, every morning and afternoon, in a cubicle, taking orders from bosses they can’t stand, who feel stuck! They won’t get out of their situation because it is safe, and they’ve got to put food on the table to support themselves or their families.

Well, I hate to say it, but those people are the ones going nowhere fast! Most importantly, they’ll never reach their dream, and will always feel that void — that something significant is missing from their lives. And truth be told, there is something missing… Their passion. Their purpose. Their dream. Also, most of these individuals are afraid of failure and/or rejection. But one cannot know the real meaning of success, until they know failure. And to meet with success, it requires taking a risk. You don’t necessarily know where that next paycheck will come from after you quit your boring job that sucks or you hate, but you do it anyways, because you’ll never get a step closer to your dream, if you don’t. I know it’s easier said than done, but that’s the true meaning of taking a leap of faith, My Friends.

As a culture of instant gratification, and one that focuses on celebrity status, or material possessions, we see how much money people have or what they possess, but we rarely hear about the journey it took for them to get there. It doesn’t just happen overnight. There is no such thing as overnight success without the hard work, challenges, setbacks, dedication, etc… it took to get there. Obviously, there are the rare exceptions… for example, people born into money, fame, or royalty. Yes, they have the platform already set up for them, but even sometimes those individuals self-sabotage it for themselves. We’ve seen it time and time again! That’s because in order for anything to be successful — your career, family-life, love-life, and even friendships — it does require putting in the work, or I like to call it, “paying your dues.” But, it’s those people who don’t stop working towards their goals — the ones putting in the long, extra hours at the office when no one is looking — who attain it. It’s the people who’ve been knocked down and rejected time and time again who keep getting back up, dusting themselves off, and still give it another try. It’s the ones who won’t take “no” for an answer, or ever let anyone else tell them that what they want is unachievable, or that their idea is no good.

So, if you’re one of these individuals — the hamster on the wheel that keeps running circles, the one putting in the extra hours, and the one with your eye on the target — keep reaching; keep striving! Because from what I’ve learned… yeah, talent and brains play a large role, but it’s the perseverance that pays off every time. And that, it is just a matter of time — divine time. You keep throwing the darts, eventually you’ll hit the bulls-eye. You will reap the benefits. You’ll start to see your dreams become a reality, and the paychecks will start rolling in. The long, hard unimaginable amount of hours will eventually pay-off. And somebody out there will start to take notice. And all of it, is not for nothing, you are getting somewhere. It’s called experience. The universe is only preparing you for the success that’s yet to come. It’s seeing if you’re ready for it, or can even handle it when it does enter in.

And this is coming from someone who knows this business of rejection all too well, as a writer. You wouldn’t believe the amount of years I’ve had of criticism, critiques, and rejection. But, I keep plugging away, and I won’t stop until I achieve my dream! Because I know, eventually, I will, and that I’m already a success story. I’ve stuck to my dream, and already accomplished the goals I’ve set out to achieve. So, if it doesn’t work out, at least I gave it my all, and I’ll never have any regrets.

My personal opinion on success is that it takes just three golden rules. First step is believing it for yourself. Second step, having the dream and pursuing it head-on. And third, but most important step is, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up!”