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Matt James Ph.D.

Setting Your Success Drive on Fire

4 Secrets to Lighting it up

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“Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” - Arnold H. Glasow

We’ve all heard it. One of the keys to success is having the drive to succeed. And if we observe highly successful people, one of the qualities they invariably have is unwavering drive, ferocious passion, “fire in the belly,” incredible desire. These people seem to spring from the womb all charged up and ready to conquer the world!

But most of us?

We go to a weekend seminar or training and get inspired to become “all that we can be!” We’re excited! We’re on fire! We’re going for it!

But by Tuesday, life happens. We find ourselves back to just getting by, surviving, subordinating our dreams and goals to make sure we can cover the rent and cable bill. What happened to that excitement and motivation we felt? It’s like a good movie where you can’t quite remember the plot but you vaguely recall how great it made you feel at the time.

That kind of weekend euphoria drive is not the stuff of successful people. French footballer Arséne Wenger noted:

“When you look at people who are successful, you will find that they aren't the people who are motivated, but have consistency in their motivation.”

The drive to be successful isn’t something that some of us are born with and some of us aren’t. It’s a quality that we all have access to. But some of us tap it on a consistent basis —and some of us don’t.

Here’s how to get that consistent access to your drive toward success:

1. Identify your authentic purpose and create powerful goals.

As Tony Robbins observed, “People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals - that is, goals that do not inspire them.” If you haven’t discovered a purpose for your life that inspires you, odds are good that you won’t wake up each morning feeling invigorated and jazzed. If your purpose is just “getting by” or “surviving until the weekend,” I’m guessing your snooze button is more attractive than leaping out of bed to tackle a brand new day!

We all need a purpose to keep our lives vibrant and on-track. But keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be some huge, highly significant, universal purpose. It just needs to be a purpose that has meaning for you at this particular point in time. Maybe it’s “I want to be a great dad to my kids, to provide a safe, supportive and loving home for them.” Or maybe, “I want to learn as much as I can about what it takes to be an exceptional manager and to get great results from my team.”

Your purpose is unique to you, not someone else’s idea of how you should be living your life! It will evolve over time but it will always feel right to you, whether anyone else understands it or not. To bring that inspiration and motivation into your life, spend some time discovering your own, true purpose. Write it down and keep it in front of you.

Next, create specific goals that stretch you and support that purpose. What specific things can you do to become that “great dad” or “exceptional manager?” Write those specific goals down and keep them with you.

2. Connect your purpose and your goals to your To- Do list.

I’m fortunate because at this point in my life, my To-Do list is designed to fulfill on my purpose, which is “to empower others to transform the world.” Every time I see “Pack for LA training” or “Finish Psychology Today article,” I know that it relates directly to the purpose I feel passionate about.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself: “Oh, yeah. If I really want to empower others and transform the world, I need to get that chapter on higher conscious mind to my editor.” Or, “Yep, I need to exercise tonight so I have the stamina I need to run my trainings and empower my students.” But as soon as I make that connection? The energy shows up to do what needs doing.

Most of us let the “necessities” of life dictate our To-Do lists. Instead, begin your To-Do’s by asking, “What can I do today to support my purpose and goals?” With all other tasks of your day, ask, “How does this activity support my purpose?” Focusing on your goals and purpose may be an odd shift for you. But by doing so, you’ll find yourself enthusiastic and eager to do your To-Do’s, rather than feeling burdened by them.

3. Set yourself on fire!

Of course, I don’t mean that literally! But don’t just wait for inspiration or focused desire to show up. Find and practice natural ways to access it whenever you need it.

Reading inspirational quotes or visualizing your goals might light you up. Some of my students work-out at the gym to get juices flowing. Playing your favorite music or getting out in nature might inspire you. Discover what works for you and practice it daily. You’ll be amazed how much more alive and enthusiastic you feel—and how much more energy you have to get done what needs doing.

4. Create your own “hot” button!

In my Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) trainings, I teach a technique called “Anchoring.” The purpose of anchoring is to activate a positive, resourceful state within you whenever you want it. For example, if you’re feeling blah, you can use an anchor to feel instantly energized, alert and alive. Use these steps to create an anchor for yourself:

Decide on a movement or touch to act as your “trigger.” You could touch your left eyebrow or pinch an ear lobe, any kind of activity that’s unusual for you —but not so weird that you’d embarrass yourself if you decide to use it in the grocery line!

Now think of a specific time when you felt totally charged up, excited and enthusiastic. Keep thinking about that time until you actually feel that feeling in your emotions and throughout your body.

As this feeling gets stronger, “activate” your trigger (touch the eyebrow or pinch your ear lobe).Release your trigger as soon as you feel the sense of excitement start to fade.

Repeat steps #2 and #3 thinking about another specific time when you felt totally charged up and passionate about something.

After a few repetitions to get your anchor in place, clear your mind. Think about something that normally brings on the blahs then activate your trigger. Notice the new feeling that surges up in your emotions and body.

You can access that fire in your belly in a number of ways. The key is to access it on a consistent basis so it supports your goals and dreams.

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” - ​Napoleon Hill

To your TOTAL empowerment!


Dr. Matt.


Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students to be totally empowered using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy, and Empowerment Fit, a program that incorporates total body practices to create optimal physical fitness and health. Sign up here for his e-course. Keep connected and visit his blog at


About the Author

Matthew B. James, Ph.D., is the president of The Empowerment Partnership in Hawaii and the author of The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times.