Be realistic and have clear goals.
Being realistic is the key to success whether that is in your career or your personal life, reckons Australian-based Rowdy McLean, author and motivational speaker.
"Be real about the skills you do have," says McLean. "I often say there are people who go on Australian or American Idol who should never have been there; the trouble is they don't realise that they can't sing and they end up devastated."
If they had taken the time to work out where they were lacking skills, they could have avoided the public humiliation.
The same goes for jobs, he says. "Don't put yourself up for a CEO position if you don't have the skills."
McLean's how-to book, Play A Bigger Game, promises readers they will "smash their goals" if they follow his "simple hard-hitting, no-excuse guide to motivation".
But why does he think his book can work where so many others have failed? He even says in his introduction that 60 per cent of people who buy a self-help book never finish it.
His strengths, he says, are that he is down-to-earth, approachable and has walked the talk - running his own company, being a CEO, a successful sportsman.
"I'm practical, I'm grounded and I make people believe they can do it, too. Often people hear from somebody who has won an Olympic gold medal and they think it is a great story but they could never do it."
This pragmatic Australian thinks people aim for too much, too soon.
"There are motivational speakers who say you have to make massive change. I reckon that's absolute rubbish. The reason people fail is the change they want is just too huge. So when it doesn't work out, they say 'I knew I wouldn't be able to get that job'.
"If you do things one step at a time, you start to build confidence. Make gradual changes rather than making a massive change. If one of those little steps doesn't work, you go back and have another go; whereas if it's massive, you say, 'It's just too hard, it's just too big'."
And don't be put off by the recession. He says for careers people, tough economic times can work to motivated people's advantages rather than hindering them.
"If you have the confidence and the skills in a tough market where people are hiring the best people they can, you can find yourself a job anywhere. It's only the people who are reacting to their job roles who are being made redundant.
"I challenge thinking. I get people to think if they are in a comfortable zone, are they reacting to life rather than being proactive? 'Do I wait until I have a heart attack to decide that my health is not right?' 'Do I wait until the boss calls me into his office to give me a redundancy package until I realise I need to put more effort into my job?' Rather than experiencing the pain, now is the time to fix it."
It doesn't matter what area of expertise you work in - sales, management, HR - the basics to achieving success stay the same.
"I often talk to people about what is the next best thing for you. Like a marketing manager. The next best thing for you might not be to become the 2IC but to stay the marketing manager and also take hold of another portfolio."
"By doing that, the people above you in the organisation can see that you are expanding your skills, looking for opportunities; and, in the process, you are taking on more work but you are also getting more knowledge.
"So when the time comes for you to apply for 2IC they see you have the skills."
He believes there are four elements to life: relationships, finances, health and career. "If all those four key things are all in good shape, you are living a good life."
Some people come to his seminars because they are looking for motivation to make a change in their life, others attend company-based sessions.
"People come to me to get out of a rut. Their relationship is no good or they want a better job. People reach that point where they want change but they don't know how to create it.
"People want more. It's just human nature where we have to strive to grow and improve and the world we live in today sometimes shuts that down. We're watching reality TV and becoming a nation that watches rather than doing."
If you want a better job, take the time to work out where your passions lie, what your interests are. Your ideal job may not have been "invented" yet, especially with the shift in dynamics of business operations and the rapid changes and opportunities technology advances present.
"Like who would have thought you would hire a social media manager? But we have that specific role now.
"If someone is looking to find a new role, the first thing I ask them is where their skills lie. In time they can come up with a role that meets their skills. If you are interested in Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter you could have been the first person in your company to create that new role of social media manager."
McLean runs workshops in New Zealand, Portugal, China and the US but his work is mainly in Australia. He talks highly of the Kiwis he has met, in business in Australia and on his visits to New Zealand for snowboarding, one of his passions.
"I find New Zealanders in Australia, the ones that I know are go-getters, they want to get ahead. New Zealanders are pretty positive. They have a good outlook on life."