I have been watching recently the increase in popularity of my post about the 5 steps to accomplish your goals with some interest. When I first wrote the article, I was hoping to articulate a simple framework for anyone to follow. Keeping it simple was important, because in our times of need, simple things can help to keep us motivated and get back on track.

In the months since writing that article, I have expanded on the 5 steps and have come up with a useful framework to apply to personal growth and development in general. Though it is slightly more ambitious in what it aims to cover, it is still easy to understand and follow. Note, the intent is to communicate a high-level framework — one that guides our thinking and actions. It won’t get you from zero to hero on its own, but if you follow it’s principles and philosophy, it may just guide you when you need it the most.

To help you remember it, the framework is simply called 10 R’s to Success.

13 Rs to Apply to Ensure Success

There are essentially 10 elements to the framework. In the description to follow, I’ll use the word “problem” but you may substitute it with “goal”, “challenge” or “objective” . These are all interchangeable and equally applicable in this context.

Here is how it works:

1. Realistic

If you’re anything like me and have read self-help books before, you’d find that sometimes when you finish one of these books, you’d feel like you can walk through fire and conquer the world. Whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it can be a little dangerous. Unrealistic goals and expectations can lead to failure and disappointment.

This is why I’ve set being Realistic the most important element of the framework. It wraps the other elements and serves as a reminder that throughout the process, we have to be brutally honest with ourselves about what we are trying to do, whether it is attainable or not and what’s really involved.

2. Realise

The precursor to any change is Realising a change is required. For me, this is typically personified by the “Ah ha” moment. That is, the moment when something inside just clicks by magic and I realise there’s a problem and something needs to be done.

Based on my experience, this is really the first step in the whole process. If we don’t know whether a change is required or not, either nothing would change or something would change but not by choice or conscious effort. The net result of this is we’re left letting the Universe dictate our happiness.

3. Recognise

The Recognise step comes immediately after Realise. It is about identifying what the problem is truly about and whether there are any parallels we can draw from based on our past experiences and circumstances. I find problems are seldom completely unique. If I were to break a problem down, there are always similarities with other things I’ve done before. Recognise is the step in which we try to figure out what the problem is about and whether we’ve solved similar things before.

4. Reframe

Sometimes, our initial assessment of a problem can be incorrect. Often, I find this is because the problem is poorly defined. Reframing is the feedback step which allows us to restate the problem in a different way and in doing so perhaps Realise and Recognise the problem as something else entirely. This can sometimes cast a problem in a different light and present a solution which may otherwise not be obvious.

5. Respond

Although Respond is depicted as the next step which comes after Recognise, it doesn’t really occur until the problem is fully Realised, Recognised and Reframed (if necessary).

Respond is an action step. It is about taking the problem we have identified and working at the action items until the problem is resolved. I find using solutions I have applied to similar issues, keeping things positive and other great problem solving nuggets to be useful here.

6. Review

Have we actually resolved the issue? That’s a question we should always ask, even though it may seem obvious for simple problems. Review is the time we do this and it’s important because without it, we may never learn from our mistakes or know if our solution has done the job or not. If we aren’t satisfied for whatever reason, we will need to Repeat a few things.

7. Repeat

Repeat is the step which we follow if for whatever reason the solutions we have put in place does not meet all the requirements we have identified.

I find as I work on a problem, my initial assumptions can be incorrect. For these cases, I repeat the Recognise step to redefine and potentially reframe the problem. Sometimes also, I may need to re-execute and re-implement for no other reason than me making mistakes the first time through. For these cases, I simple Respond again.

8. Reflect

Reflection is similar to Review in the sense that we are comparing what we’ve done against what we have set out to do. Whilst Review is focused mainly on the problem itself, Reflect is about matching what we’ve done against our overall mission statement and goals in life.

I’ve always believed that life is too short to be doing things that are not congruent to our life’s goals. Reflection is the step in which we pause for a second to ask if we’re doing the right thing. If we aren’t perhaps we need to reassess our position and change.

While this isn’t a step we need to do all the time, I find it pays to do it occasionally simply because sometimes we can work in auto-pilot, get bogged down with the realities of life and forget what’s really important to us.

9. Reward

I described this step in the original post about the 5 steps to accomplishing your goals and I’ll briefly reiterate it here. If you have met all the requirements of the problem and are measuring well against your overall goals, then reward yourself. This is an important step because it helps to keep us motivated. As with the other steps, ensure your Rewards are Realistic!

10. Renew

The final element in the framework is Renew. Renew is essentially using the results of the work you have just done and the things you have just achieved as a motivator for new and more ambitious goals. Use it as a launching platform to set your sights to new things which may not have seem possible or Realistic before.

In conclusion

Life is a continuous process of discovery and learning. We only stop doing either of these when we die. At this very moment, you are discovering new things, experiencing interesting events, learning and growing constantly. For any given problem, challenge or goal, pause for a moment and identify which step you’re at. The great thing is you don’t have to start at the beginning of the flow. Just start applying the 10 R’s to Success based on where you’re at right now, irrespective of the problem.

I hope what I’ve written makes sense. I don’t think I’ve fleshed it out as well as I could have in this article. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. If you can, please provide me with some input on what works and what doesn’t based on your own experiences, so I can incorporate your suggestions and improve the overall effectiveness of the framework for one and all.

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33 Responses to “10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed”

  1. Maurice says:

    I have a question, and might just sound nuts. But I have come to a point where I have to make a decision. And I have made lists of pro’s and con’s, talk with friends, family, and all that… and really haven’t come up with a choise. The problem is that time is almost over and I still haven’t made up my mind!…help!

  2. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi Maurice,

    I guess it depends a bit on the question.

    The best you can do is make a decision based on the information you have right now. It may turn out to be the wrong decision, but you don’t have to feel bad in that case if you know that you have made the best decision possible at the time.

    If the decision is life changing, then yeah, think a bit more about it. I guess with many important things in life, things aren’t blank and white and there’s no clear right and wrong. If that’s the case, go with your gut. What does it say? Is it something you want to do? Is it congruent to your life’s goal? Is it hurting or otherwise affecting someone else?

    If the decision is still not clear. I suggest stepping back a bit further and think about what it is you want out of life and prioritise the things which are important to you. Hopefully, once you work these out, the decision becomes a bit more obvious.

    Sometimes too I find I’ve already made the decision but can’t admit it to myself. 99% of the time, the cause of this is FEAR. As in I’m too afraid that I’ll fail or people might laugh at me. I don’t know if that’s true in your case, if it is, you need to overcome the fear and face it head on.

    Hope it helps an let me know how you get on.


  3. Making responsible resolutions | Healthy Simplicity says:

    [...] Dave Cheong has a great article called 10 R’s to Apply if You Want to Succeed. This article thoroughly breaks down all of the steps you will need to take in order to accomplish your goals. I think it’s a pretty accurate to-do list complete with flow chart and explanations. [...]

  4. Big Bang New Year’s Resolution is Bad says:

    [...] Secondly, it is really important to be realistic when making new year’s resolutions and goal setting in general. Being Realistic is the umbrella element in the 10 R’s to Success as I’ve previously written about. [...]

  5. Blog Mirrors » The ten R’s of success says:

    [...] 10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed [DaveCheong.com] [...]

  6. 10 R’s to Success at TQuizzle.com says:

    [...] To help you remember it, the framework is simply called 10 R’s to Success.Dave Cheong via Lifehacker [...]

  7. 化工网 says:

    […] Dave Cheong has a great article called 10 R’s to Apply if You Want to Succeed. This article thoroughly breaks down all of the steps you will need to take in order to accomplish your goals. I think it’s a pretty accurate to-do list complete with flow chart and explanations. […]

  8. 10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed « IMMORTALIZATION says:

    [...] 10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed 18Feb07 [...]

  9. webmistress ming » Ten Rs to Succeed says:

    [...] Ten Rs To Succeed [...]

  10. d g says:

    I suppose it sounds nice to have 10 R’s but this is all so vague, it’s not useful and 10 R’s all sound alike and are therefore difficult to remember. You could probably edit down to a three-step process and eliminate all the others. 10 whole steps to tackle a problem in a common sense way? That’s just busy work.

  11. Tech blog » Blog Archive » Monday Morning Links Serving : The January 19th Edition says:

    [...] -10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed The intent is to communicate a high-level framework — one that guides our thinking and actions. It won’t get you from zero to hero on its own, but if you follow it’s principles and philosophy, it may just guide you when you need it the most. [...]

  12. 10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed - lifehack.org says:

    [...] Looking it closely, it is actually a step by step problem solving framework. The framework reminds you what you need to do on a particular moment. No matter if you want to set goals, or want to overcome a challenge, this 10 R’s framework could help you to effectively attain or resolve them. 10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed – [Dave Cheong] Author: Leon Ho Posted: Monday, February 19th, 2007 at 8:44 am Tags: problemsolving, productivity, success Bookmark/Share This! Leave a Reply [...]

  13. Drainedge Link Tank · Today’s Links says:

    [...] 10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed – Davecheong.com [...]

  14. Greg Balanko-Dickson says:

    I can see what d g means and I also see the value. This is not busy work in the context of a major life decision or the need to solve a big problem.

    However, Maurice illustrates the churn that can happen when it comes time to making an important decision.

    Sometimes you just have to take a risk.

  15. Dave Cheong says:

    Yeah, totally agree. Sometimes you just need to take a risk. There is no way to predict the outcome with absolute certainty. There’s just no such thing.

    The best you can do is weigh up the positives and negatives as you know them at this point in time, and then make the best decision you can.


  16. Cleaven Chia’s Edublog » Blog Archive » How I’ve been doing so far. says:

    [...] With that, I leave this picture for everyone to ponder over – Dave Cheong’s “10 R’s to apply if you want to succeed”.  [...]

  17. AjiNIMC says:

    Another important R, Reject.

    Reject Bad people – Famous “No A**Hole Rule”.
    Reject few ideas to work on the ones which needs you more.
    and so on ..

  18. Digmann.com » Blog Archive » The 10 R’s of Success and Relationship is not One of Them says:

    [...] Ever since I was a little boy I have loved flow charts.  They work quite nicely in fact.  Based on some criteria something moves from one part of the chart to the next.  Typically there is a point where you get back to the beginning, but this time everything has changed and the criteria is all different.  This is somewhat like life a guess. This is why I like Dave Cheong explanation on the 10 R’s to become successful (complete with flow chart).  So I say to you, get out there and Realistic, Realize, Recognize, Reframe, Respond, Review, Repeat, Reflect, Reward, and Review.  I figure you probably want to Repeat that again but with the next to-be-successful-task.  Happy succeeding. « A Few Sure Fire Ways to Get Free Drinks at Your Local Pub [...]

  19. Neat stuff from March 1 « Pursuing Excellence says:

    [...] Dave Cheong, a software engineer determined to make it as an entrepreneur, shares his 10 R’s for Success. Check out his simple but neat framework, something you can mentally (or maybe with a sheet of paper) run through when you are tackling a problem or have a goal (like my mission to go to Stanford!). [...]

  20. Michael's Thoughts says:

    Daily Report, Mar 5…

    Team Collaboration Open-Xchange and 1…

  21. Vick says:

    I am totally depressed right now. I was dragging myself in a project with no help, no appreciation and project lead trying to shoo me out showing me as a failure. I beg for help, work, some moral support, empathy but nothing is coming my way except do or die unclear tasks. In a situation where it is hard to find alternatives. How can you work with people who keep you under constant pressure and on notice ? Any help!


  22. This title is more credible than one with 0 numerals | ana ulin .org says:

    [...] This might explain the numbers-in-titles phenomenon: the “10″ in the 10 R’s to Apply if you Want to Succeed makes the title/article so credible that 668 people found fit to bookmark it. Scary stuff. [...]

  23. Dave Cheong says:


    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I just finished reading the No “A**hole Rule”. It’s short and sweet, but he makes some very interesting points.

    If anyone feels so inclined, I recommend dropping by your closest bookstore and picking a copy up. It’ll take literally 15 mins to read.


  24. Dave Cheong says:


    I don’t think there is an easy answer for this. I think though sometimes one has to find the courage to say “No”. It isn’t an admission of failure or inability to copy with pressure, it is actually more of a sign that you understand what you’re capable of doing and not doing given the current circumstances.

    Being able to say “No” tells me that someone understands their current commitments and their ability to deliver. If you can’t say so, at some point all your other commitments can be jeopardised as a result of you working too hard and trying to do too much.

    So, set aside some time with your boss and co-workers. Discuss openly your concerns. If you can’t cope, just say so. If you don’t people might assume you can cope and keep asking for more.

    Good luck. I wish you all the best.


  25. Waking Up Early - 15 Tips That Work says:

    [...] I’ve written about the 10 R’s to success before. If you haven’t read that post, take a moment to do so. One of the more important R’s is Review which describes the importance of looking back on how successful you have been with your goals and what you’ve managed to accomplish. If things aren’t working out or the results weren’t as expected, then adjust your approach. Looking back at all the things you’ve managed to get done in the early mornings is a great motivator to keep you going. [...]

  26. Phil says:

    Interesting article, I am having problems being successful – it’s all in my mindset I think. I am going to re-read this later and try and get a grip on it.

  27. alfred says:

    Dear Dave,

    Thanks for the wonderful posts,i have enjoyed all.However i would like to share the same with young people who are in secondary and primary school students who have not started reading motivational books.Any contribution to simplify this will be appreciated. I write from Kenya,Africa.Many Thanks

  28. Laptop says:

    The best you can do is weigh up the positives and negatives as you know them at this point in time, and then make the best decision you can.

  29. Con Spiratos says:

    Hi Dave, I like your 10 steps, but you misspelled “realize” and “recognize” and it is driving me crazy. I would not be able to succeed if I let it pass.

  30. steven says:

    i am always very impressed with write up like this one. and telling you the fact it moltivates me always to want to make it in life. and please keep it up to also moltivate other youth like me and God will help us all. Amen

  31. 100 Killer Blog Posts to Help You Achieve Your Dreams | Online Universities.com says:

    [...] 10 R’s to Apply if You Want to Succeed: Apply these tips in order to achieve your dreams. [...]

  32. Leroy says:

    This is a blessing for those who are in the pursuit of Excellance at an level including the things of God. Be Blessed.

  33. Waheed says:

    Very nice article, Actually I found my self doing them subconsciously, but I have a point on the Rewards part “ensure your Rewards are Realistic!” how could you decide what realistic Reward is? I believe this varies, sometimes Rewards would be Unrealistic for others, but from your point of view, it is Realistic, you are aiming a huge goal maybe?! am I right?

    Many thanks for this great article, by the way I’ve just saw that you were a Java Software Engineer, and I’m a Ruby Software Engineer :) , and you are entrepreneur and my goal is there :) , world is small man.

    Merry Christmas,

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