The secret to success could start with these 10 steps

Whether you define success by your achievements, your fortune, your fitness or your headspace, there’s no denying that success rarely comes about by chance. If you want to craft your ideal life, then you have to put smart practices in place to help you get there. 

With the help of positive psychologist Sarah-Jayne Whiston from Bright Ideas Psychology and some of Australia’s most successful businesswomen, we’ve compiled a list of the ultimate tips to help you improve your productivity at home, in the gym and at work to get the most out of each day.

1. Start your day the healthy way

Your morning can set the tone for your day, so take heed of these successful women’s habits with some AM exercise and healthy food. 

Bianca Cheah, founder of, loves to start her day with an hour of yoga, while Diana Williams, founder of Fernwood Fitness, likes a brisk walk. 

2. Forget perfect

When you’ve got lofty ambitions, it’s easy to become a perfectionist. “When we are highly productive, we can fall into the trap of trying to be the perfect mum, employee, wife or boss,” Whiston points out. “Listen to the voices in your head and note if you catch yourself thinking, ‘I’ve got to be perfect’.”

This is particularly important for mothers. “There is a massive myth that if you are a mum, you have to constantly be focused on your children,” she adds. But if you don’t take some time out for yourself, then Whiston says you’re probably not giving your best self to your kids. “You can’t fill up somebody else if you are half empty,” she points out.

3. Take breaks

When you’ve got a long to-do list, it’s easy to fly through the day without a pause, but successful women credit 10 or 15 minutes time out for improving their concentration and productivity. 

“I like to take 10 minutes in the middle of each day to do some meditation and breathing exercises to help me stay focused and in the present,” Deanne Friedl, ENVY Jewellery national business development manager explains. 

In the same vein, Williams can occasionally be found in Fernwood HQ’s relaxation room. “There are candles, soft music and a great massage chair,” she says. “A quick 15-minute relaxation break can do wonders for productivity and clear thinking.”

4. Become a queen of meal prep

Forget leaving meals to chance; planning in advance makes healthy eating easy, especially when you’ve got a lot going on. 

Cheah does a weekly shop to ensure she’s always got healthy produce on hand. “I stock my pantry and fridge with plenty of fresh, clean foods and proteins,” she says. “At work, I stash containers of pistachios, almonds and macadamias and have a never-ending supply of herbal tea on hand.” 

5. Love what you do

If there’s one thing that most happy, balanced and successful women have in common, it’s not settling for things that make them unhappy. Williams is a case in point: “The only advice I have regarding work-life balance is to only work at something you really enjoy,” she says. “No one should spend a large chunk of every day doing something they don’t enjoy.”

6. Build your resilience

We’re all going to be hit by curveballs, but Williams says the way we frame negative experiences makes all the difference to how we cope. “Relax, take a deep breath and be positive,” she says. “It’s amazing how good life can be when you only look on the positive side of things.”

7. Schedule everything

We’re often excellent at cramming appointments into every minute of our work day, but scheduling your time off can be just as important. Friedl always maps out her week in advance, factoring in family and alone time, and Marie Cocciolone, CEO of Inskin Cosmetics always refers to her to-do list on work days. 

“It helps me stay on top of my priorities and reminds me of my achievements along the way,” she explains.

8. Keep upskilling

If there’s one thing that most successful women have in common, it’s approaching the world with curiosity. Whether it’s questioning how to do a better job or taking on a new skill, they’re always learning. “Ask yourself, ‘What skills am I missing?’” suggests Whiston. “Do I need to be more assertive or manage stress better? Spending some time on self-development is really important.”

9. Let things go

“Develop the skill of letting go,” suggests Whiston. “There will always be things that you cannot do anything about, so develop an ability to put some space between you and your problems.” 

A good way to do that is to hand-write a journal about what you’re struggling to let go. “You could even write a final goodbye to the problem itself, which will help your brain process the letting go,” says Whiston.

10. Take a moment to breathe

The body’s automatic response to stress is to speed up our breathing and make it shallower so one of the easiest ways to reverse stress is to focus on breathing deeply and slowly. 

“You’ll always find me doing breathing exercises at my computer,” says Cheah. “I find that deep breathing always calms my mind and body and gives me more clarity.”

Words by Kimberly Gillan

Fernwood Fitness