Make Your Winning Move

Discovering your inner strengths makes it easier for you to succeed – here are 10 tips from experts which can help you checkmate in life

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Discovering your inner strengths makes it easier for you to succeed – here are 10 tips from experts which can help you checkmate in life


If something isn’t working out for you, it’s tempting to assume you should stop wasting time trying. But persistence is a valuable trait many successful people share. There are various messages that tell us to give up: You don’t have time at the moment; you can try it another time; you’ve already done enough… Be ready for those close-to-quitting moments and seek support from friends and family members to encourage you to keep going. Think about whether it’s learning skills or helping others. When you come up against failure or disappointment, remind yourself that it’s an important part of succeeding, and see what you can learn from it.


In our fast-faced world, there’s a temptation to respond quickly to events and make on-the-spot decisions, whether it’s about hosting your mother-in- law’s 80th birthday party or agreeing that your teenage son’s girlfriend can join you on a family holiday. But that can mean you act before a situation has completely unfolded in your mind. To do what works best for you, you need to get in touch with your intuition – and that requires a bit of time and some quiet space to do it in. If you have to make a decision, whether big or small, let it settle for a while. Don’t actively think about it – just go about your day as usual and let your mind quietly turn it over. Take the old advice to “sleep on it” too. You’ll wake up with an answer that you intuitively have confidence in, even if it doesn’t please everyone.


We all have desires that make us unique, yet they often get buried. But a first step to feeling fulfilled is identifying these ambitions – you’ll begin to recognise that some of the desires you might initially have thought strange may give you a more interesting and satisfying life. It may also help you recognise that another person’s life, even if it looks attractive, may not be right for you. List your ambitions, then divide them into those you live by and those you keep hidden. Perhaps you find birdwatching relaxing but don’t do it because your friends aren’t into it. Or maybe you were good at ballet as a child and would like to try it again but it’s too late. Go through the list and unearth one ambition you can try today.


Have you shied away from joining a choir even though you’ve always wanted to sing, or you find it hard to stand up for what you want in your relationship? Fear could be holding you back from being happy as you could be. But analysing your worries and trying to vanquish them could be counterproductive – that would put more focus on them, making them seem even more important.

TRY THIS: When that internal voice crops up, telling you that you can’t do something or that you’ll fail if you try, make a point of thanking it, but carry on regardless. What you’re doing is acknowledging your fear but not letting it take control. Doing this automatically minimises your anxieties. You may find yourself thanking your fears many times a day at first, which may sound a little strange, but with practice, they will get less and less intrusive.


Look at your closest friends and analyse their key qualities – everything from diligence to kindness. If you spend time around people with qualities you admire the most, the more they’ll start to rub off on you. For example, if you want to have more balance in your life and have a friend who does marathons, look at how she organises her life to fit in workouts. You also need to be honest and acknowledge any friendships that bring you down. If anyone belittles you, acts selfishly or has views that make you uncomfortable, it’s time to pull away from that relationship.


Having ambition is a good thing, but sometimes when we look only at the end goal, we fail to see the smaller achievements we have made en route. Setting smaller goals will help you believe in your potential and strengths more. It can even filter into smaller aspects of your life. For example, if you have been playing a certain sport, start by trying out a new one, and work towards getting better at it. Then, slowly build up the courage to do more. This will help uncover some talents you didn’t know you had, while distracting you from the undue stress of your bigger goals. It may give you perspective.


It’s hard to live a successful life if you don’t fully understand your own personality – including the not-so-lovely bits. Think about how you act when you’re under pressure at work, stuck in a traffic jam or having an argument with your partner – stressful situations tend to reveal your weaknesses. We can all be over-sensitive or negative at times, so don’t be overly self-critical. The point is simply to understand some of the traits that might undermine you, so you know when to make a special effort to speak less and listen more. Or, conversely, know your strengths and speak out.


Concentrate on developing something until you get good at it. Consider training to build on your professional abilities, sharpening your life skills such as finance management, building your personal traits like empathy, or acquiring new skills like learning a musical instrument. By becoming an expert, you’ll increase your self-esteem and become more open and optimistic. Developing expertise takes time, so it’s a good way to develop patience with yourself too. A great way to master something is also to teach it to someone else; help a friend learn how to budget or talk to your teenage children about listening skills.


Whether a fleeting thought or a daily assault, escaping envy is not easy. It may be about someone’s career, perfect marriage, effortless poise or optimism – comparing ourselves is part of being human. But it can shut down our ability to be inspired by what we see. Instead of helping us be our best possible selves, “compare and despair” only tells us we’re falling short. Envy leaves us feeling empty and inadequate.

TRY THIS: Envy can be contagious, so don’t surround yourself with people who obsess over the salaries, houses and holidays of others, or value possessions and qualities that you really don’t. Spend quality time with grateful people who have a zest for enjoying life as it is. When it comes to social media, think carefully about who to give space.


Beginning your day in a stressed rush sets the tone for the next few hours. Instead, try getting up at least 30 minutes earlier than necessary so you have some quiet time to yourself. Do some stretches or meditate, or just sit with a cuppa and reflect on the day ahead. Making a good start is a form of momentum; it gives you the energy and control you need to have a good day.