There Are Only 3 Things You Absolutely Must Have

You’ve no doubt come across articles telling you there’s something you must do or need to do if you want to be successful. I’ve written a few myself. The truth is there’s very little in life you must do. There are plenty of things you could and maybe should do to help you achieve success, but must or need? Not so much.

Note: This post includes an audio version. If you don’t see the audio above, Click here to listen.

Here’s the entire list of things you absolutely need in life.

  • Oxygen
  • Food and water
  • Protection from the elements

Each of the above is a must. It won’t take long without oxygen for your life to come to an end. You must have oxygen, you must have food and water, and you must have protection from the elements to survive.

If you’re talking about the entire species you can throw in procreation and I suppose caring for our young until our young can care for themselves.

Tell me something you need beyond the above list and I’ll give you an example of someone who has managed just fine without it.

You Choose What’s Necessary

Each of us has a different road to success. Many of us will do similar things along our roads, but the specific roads are different. You aren’t going to become successful by copying exactly how another person achieved success.

This is true in design, in business, and life in general. We’re all different. We live in different environments and have different conditions thrown our way. Even the same person doing the same things at different points in time probably doesn’t achieve the same level of success.

There is more than one road to success. If you offer design services, having a marketing channel that sends clients your way is probably something good to have. Here are two potential ways to gain clients.

  • Pull search traffic to a website that convinces visitors to hire and recommend you
  • Without a website, network with as many people as possible offline to convince them to hire and recommend you

You might think as a web designer, it’s essential that you build a website with great content, show off a portfolio, share testimonials from happy clients, and so on. It’s certainly a good idea and one I would always recommend, but I can guarantee you there are successful web designers who take the second approach above and all their business comes through networking with people face-to-face.

It’s not likely you can succeed with every marketing channel. You probably wouldn’t have time to work them all and odds are you’ll simply be better working some that others. You have to choose the marketing channels that work best for your business.

Having chosen, there are certain things that follow and dare I say some things you must do. If you plan on attracting clients to a website, then having a site is necessary. It you plan to bring in clients through face-to-face networking, you need to get out there and meet with people.

Once you start walking down a specific path there are things that necessarily follow, but those things aren’t necessary in the sense that you can change directions and start walking down a different path anytime you want. You get to choose what’s necessary, by choosing which path to follow.

How Do You Find Your Best Path to Success?

If there are many paths to a successful outcome and different paths will work better for different people, how do you find the best path for you?

One way is to think about your strengths and weaknesses. Any given path will come with it’s own set of challenges and benefits. If one path requires greater use of your strengths and fewer uses of your weaknesses, it’s probably one you can walk and get to the end. Ultimately the best path to follow to success is the one that aligns best with you.

  • You can find the path that aligns best with your existing strengths
  • You can improve weaknesses and create strengths that align with a specific path.

Every road to success has its own set of pros and cons. There is no single right absolute path to a successful outcome. If one existed, we’d all follow it and not have these conversations. It’s up to you to find the best path for you.

I consider writing a strength. I write here on the blog. I write articles for other sites. I post to forums and interact with people through writing. I tend to spend less time meeting people face-to-face and more time getting to know them through email. It leads me to follow paths where writing plays a larger role.

I say paths, because there are many that include writing as part of a successful journey. However, writing is usually but one part of those paths. Looking deeper a successful journey along these roads is about content creation and so I look beyond writing toward things like audio and video.

Neither is a strength of mine at the moment and I could seek another path that doesn’t include them. However, facing the challenge is usually the better option. Choosing another road in the face of an obstacle means taking a few steps back. Working to overcome challenges leads to more ways to benefit from the current path. The better choice is to work to improve my audio and video skills.

A road similar to mine may or may not work well for you. It’s not something I can tell you. I can share with you how I’m walking down my path and I can offer observations I’ve made of the journey of others, but only you can decide which journey is the right one for you to take.

We’re all different. Learn from others, but find your own way. Don’t buy into thinking that you must do certain things. Many are probably worth doing, but you don’t necessarily have to do them. There are many ways to a successful outcome. Find the way that works for you.


Words like must and need get thrown around too casually. Outside of basic survival needs, there’s nothing you must do or need to do. Don’t let people tell you what you have to do. Just learn from them the possibilities of what you might do and then choose for yourself what’s necessary.

Don’t get down on yourself, if you aren’t good at something that someone else insists is necessary for your success. It isn’t necessary for everyone. Perhaps it was necessary for the specific road that person took, but there are always other roads. There’s more than one way to achieve what you want to achieve.

Find your own road to success by being honest with yourself about what you do and don’t do well. Find a path that plays to your strengths and work to improve your weaknesses to better walk down it. And know it’s ok to leave the road your on to find another at any time.

You’ll likely walk down many roads on your journey to success.

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  1. This is not the usual web language or oratory speech….your post simply shares the basic instinct of life.

    Out of the three basic needs, oxygen is out of it, because it has been provided for. So, I will simply add

    •Good health
    •Food and water
    •Protection from the elements

    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Nope, not the usual web post, but a topic that I think web designers should consider given all the advice we come across telling us what we absolutely must do to become designers.

      We’re all different and we each have our own unique road to success. Just a reminder for everyone to find their own path instead of blindly following others along their paths.

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