How to Achieve Unexpected Success

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” ~Henry David Thoreau


A word defined by you and me.

Do not be manipulated by the definitions applied to that word by others. Choose your own definition.

Though I believe we all have the potential to succeed in reaching our dreams, I have found that success reaches to a far greater depth in our lives.

Whenever I hug my wife of 28 years and tell her that I love her, and she responds in the same manner—there is my success.

Whenever I receive a random text or email from one of my children saying that they love me—there is my success.

When I write something I feel passionate and excited about— even before anyone else has read it—there is my success.

When I present a product or a service to a potential customer in the most professional manner I can possibly muster—there is success.

But as my dear old friend Henry David Thoreau writes, there are four elements that assist us in pursuing the lives we dream about.

1. Have a dream.

To discover your dream, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • Who do I wish to meet?
  • What is the legacy that I wish to leave the next generation?
  • What do I wish to contribute?
  • Where would I like to travel?
  • How would I like to live?
  • What don’t I want in my life?
  • When do I want these things, people, or events to come into my life’s experience?
  • How do I want to spend my days?

Answer these questions and you will start to identify your dream.

2. Advance confidently in the direction of your dream.

When you have a sense of purpose, your focus helps refresh your confidence.

It has taken me decades to clearly define and redefine this for myself. In school, I constantly fought with the nagging desire to become a published author. But no matter how hard I would try to ignore this, or talk myself out of it—due to a lack of self-confidence—I could never shake it.

I finally succumbed to this desire and wrote three books. As if confirming my fears, nearly every literary agent and publisher in my country rejected it.

At that point confidence, or courage, rather, kicked in and I decided to self-publish. I’ve now published three books, and I am embarking on my next project. Confidence came as a result of doing.

Now, your destination—the direction you’re heading in—may change along the way. The important thing is that you keep going on your journey, and keep learning about yourself through the process.

I’ve taken many paths on my journey as a creator—I’ve created lyrics, music, musicals, and businesses in as diverse industries as cleaning, publishing, web design, and hairdressing. Through all those detours (if you wish to call them that) I have continually nurtured my sense of purpose: to create through written words.

It is those who meander aimlessly through life with no plans, no focus, no goal, and no reason who lack confidence.

When you know what you’d like to do, and actively choose to keep moving forward, you will feel strong and capable, even as the winds of change blow against your life.

3. Endeavour to live the life you have imagined.

The use of the word “endeavor” implies that there will be times throughout the journey when you may not necessarily spend all your time in the frame that is defined by “the life you have imagined.”

I’ve chosen many of my “detours” because I needed to make a living, but good things often came from the choices I made out of necessity.

During the seven years when I owned and operated a web design company, I provided a wonderful training ground for my two eldest children who now own and operate their own successful online businesses using the skills they developed while working with me.

I may not have been writing then, but good things happened as a result.

Even on a detour—when we’re in the “endeavoring” process—we can reap rewards that will not only benefit us, but also those who accompany us on this wonderful journey called life.

This doesn’t mean we stop endeavoring to create what we imagine. It just means we accept that things don’t always go to plan, and stay committed to our dreams even as we’re diverted from them.

Bumps in the road shall be our teacher, and unexpected travels will be our tutors all the way to success.

4. Meet with success unexpected in common hours.

We’ll face a lot of common hours while striving for our dreams, so make them magnificent. In this way, you’ll experience success at every point along the way—long before you achieve whatever it is you’ve dreamed about.

When you do, because you’ve already celebrated successes in your everyday life, you’ve moved confidently throughout the years, and you’ve stayed committed to your purpose, you’ll know this “arrival” is simply one of many personal successes.

So what unexpected successes have you experienced lately?

Photo by Nono Fara

About Peter Sinclair

Peter G. James Sinclair is in the ‘heart to heart’ resuscitation business and inspires, motivates and equips others to be all that they’ve been created to become. Receive your free copy of his latest eBook Personal Success Blueprint at and add him on Twitter @PeterGJSinclair – today!

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  • se

    nice…………. thank u………….

  • Yesh0987

    This article has moved me .. wanna say thank you , love & hugs …. Please keep posting this sort of articles which can benefit readers 🙂

  • Awesome article, I really enjoyed itI think one of my little unexpected successes was in a recent article I wrote. I’ve been working diligently on my site each day to go traffic and produce great content. So when I had an article get 50+ comments (the first time it’s happened for me) I was really excited. It’s like my blogging dreams are coming true.

    I think it’s especially important to maintain your dream inside your head. The dream forms the foundation for what you want to create in reality. Without that, we’re really just doing a bunch of random stuff. We need those specific goals!

  • It becomes much easier when you can define it. It seems everything else falls into place.

    I find it a lot more easy and motivating to work out if I have a reason for it (a jiujitsu match, basketball, Crossfit games).

  • Pingback: How to Achieve Unexpected Success | Tiny Buddha: Wisdom Quotes, Letting Go, Letting Happiness In | Kevin's Blog()

  • Hi Peter,
    Such a timely find for me, your post! I only this week announced the publication of my first book. I, too, self-published. I just skipped the rejection part 😮 I can relate to your description of success. My children, my legacy. Until I read this article, I had missed that if nothing else, I have left a legacy; a book that is out there!
    Funny how though the publishing seems like the ending, it’s really only the beginning! LOL
    Thanks for this!

  • Great post James. That quote is one of my favourite ever, and it’s currently the “background” of my iPhone so I see it everyday. 

    I enjoyed the contemporary twist you put on it. Cheers!

  • So true Braden – it is the clarity of definition that one’s purpose is unveiled and miracles occur.

  • So pleased that my writing has moved you. I write for that purpose – to move my readers closer to their own dreams and goals.

  • Thank you Phil. Great to hear that you keep these great words in front of you. Watch the vision come to pass as belief rises each time you meditate on that great statement.

  • Fantastic Lori. Glad to hear you skipped the rejection part….and may you to have a great beginning!

  • No thank YOU!

  • Thanks Fred. Great to hear of your success. May your goals continue to come true.

  • the challenge for me is to keep believing in myself and direction even tho tit seems nothing is happening. one baby step a time. and patience

  • Vinayak Anivase

    Thank you very much for sharing this great post! I love that quote.