When the Going Gets Tough, Follow the Secrets of Success

by karen on January 25, 2019

In the 30-plus years of my nutrition career, there have been two major upsets that were outside of my control. Both of which were the impetus that caused me to go forward in pursuit of larger dreams. The first one occurred six years ago, when the hospital I’d worked at for 17 years got rid of my position and provided me with a one week termination notice. The second upset was recent, when the building I rented my offices from sold, and I received 30 days notice to find another office space.

The abrupt loss of my hospital job that I loved was very upsetting to me, to say the least: I had been surrounded by friends I looked forward to seeing every day, and worked in a comfortable and safe environment in a system that I understood well. But I had always wanted, from the time I was in college, to be a dietitian in private practice. I dabbled in a few different positions early on, but the jobs were in the hospitals, and that is exactly where I found my place. I had few complaints and would not have left of my own accord.

My private practice came out of that hardship, and I am forever grateful. Six years later, and three months after my eviction notice, I am now working in a building I am co-owner of, and will never be at the mercy of a landlord again. Both of these business ventures were dreams I’d had but may never have explored had my hand not been forced.

In the face of large challenges, and when dealing with those that test us on a daily basis, there are a few personal traits that will ensure we achieve our goals. Whether you possess these traits naturally or have to spend some time learning them and taking them to heart, read on for a list of the primary traits I personally have found to bring about success.


Some of us never give ourselves the go-ahead to dream. We get so caught up in the daily to-dos that time passes and we haven’t thought about the “what-could-be’s.” Whether the dreams are lofty or address day-to-day happiness, nothing is going to happen if there is no end point to strive toward. So, once you’ve come up with a dream or two you’d like to pursue, implement the next trait; a planner’s mentality.

A Planner’s Mentality

Having a plan is key to achieving success. It’s the difference between having a dream and seeing that dream manifest into reality. There are many sayings that address the importance of this trait, two of which are “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and “We don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan.”

You’ll need a strategy that breaks down your ultimate goal into manageable steps. Make time to make lists, using this guideline to ensure your lists are efficient and effective. This is important, as we’ve all had lists before that get written, updated, and rewritten, but never implemented.  They suck up our time without any outcomes.

Worthwhile To-Do Lists (click here for an example of my Weekend Planner)

  1. Start out making a list of everything that needs to be done.
  2. Get your calendar out and map out the days you’ll work on your to do list. If you’re writing on paper, use pencil to easily make changes to your plan as you go.
  3. Next, categorize like-minded tasks; separate those that you’ll do on the computer, at home, at work, or with the help of others, etc.
  4. Estimate the time required for each of your categorized tasks
  5. Prioritize your to-dos, particularly if you are getting an overwhelming list
  6. Put the tasks in your calendar on the corresponding days and times you’ll do them.

Now you have an efficient plan for best utilizing your time and energy. You’ll be able to cross your to-dos off your list, and what’s more rewarding and motivating than that? A planner’s mentality will help you accomplish all the little things that will allow you to realize your dreams.


The feeling of commitment is a gratifying one, knowing you’ve made the vow to see your plan through. Faced with other options, many will have more immediate gratification than your to-do list, like meeting friends for drinks versus staying at the office and getting the billing done. Your sense of commitment to yourself, to your plan, and to your dreams, will help you make the hard choices to follow through with your to-do list. It will also help you sleep at night with a clean conscience and less worry about tomorrow morning. However, it is important to make time for yourself. So if you do alter your plan to go out with friends, opting to do the billing another time, make sure you can commit to your billing within a short time of moving it; otherwise, it’s a slippery slope that can undermine your success.


The definition of discipline is “training to act in accordance with rules.”  You can set your own rules, but discipline is having the wherewithal to abide by your rules.  Discipline is not always fun—in fact, it can be downright grueling—but, staying the course and being consistent day after day with your rules is essential to your success. Think of successful people such as  professional athletes, performers, and actors. All of these experts in their field prosper on discipline. Think of the hours of training, day after day, year after year (AKA, the discipline), that these pros endure to get where they are. Your dreams are important, so pick up the discipline trait and be consistent with it.


You can see that having some common and consistent traits are key to success, but consistency involves both firmness and flexibility, along with organization but pliability. Don’t let consistency become a stressful, inflexible trait that undermines your success. Build into your plans the ability to modify as you go, and you can find the middle road that will keep you dreaming, planning, committed and disciplined to realize your dreams. Dream big and build and maintain your success traits!


Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website at www.NutritionConnectionNV.com

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: