The Hit List: 13 Things Crucial For Your Success [In Any Field]

Success is each to his or her own, but let’s call it like we see it: when you survey the landscape of your creative world, your industry, your career or hobby–whatever field you’re in– there are several fundamentals to achieving success, regardless of the measure. There are commonalities that are undeniable. So here’s a list of thirteen such things that you should be doing right now – let’s call it your hit list:

1. Get shit done.
Over-thinking, pontificating, and wondering are tools for the slacker. People don’t care what almost happened, or what your problems are or why something wasn’t. They care about what is, and what will be. That requires actually making stuff happen. Pros do, make, ship, send, publish, post and deliver; amateurs sit around and wonder, or worse, scratch their arse.

2. Educate yourself.
Think someone else is responsible for your education? Think again. And don’t fool yourself that being in school, in class, or in the seminar actually equals education. Education is incredibly active and it should be self directed in some capacity. Seek information. Knock down walls to get it.

3. Make your own rules.
There are a million paths to get to any single destination. And while it helps to know the rules that others have played by in the past–those you admire who have come there before you–don’t let those rules alone define your rules or your actions. Be respectful as you make your own rules, don’t be rude. But be prepared to chop your own path through the weeds and fend off the naysayers, because if you’re doing something worthwhile there will likely be resistance to your way.

4. Want to be a legend? Affect change.

5. Want to affect change? Get to work. See #1

6. Iterate.
Nothing–and I’ll say it again, but louder–NOTHING will spring from your creative self fully formed. Genius, clarity, vision–whatever you want to call it–will come in fragments at inopportune moments over days, weeks, months, years. Be ready to catch each one of the iterations and push it out of you. The summary of those iterations will aggregate into something special.

7. Look inside.
Understand that the best way to make something new and fresh is to look inside you. The answers are in here, not out there.

8. Don’t underestimate the fundamentals. Know your craft.
Vision and big-picture-thinking are important, but not at the expense of the fundamentals. You’ve got know the nuts and bolts of what your doing. Skip this item at your own risk.

9. Take a deep breath.
Life, work, art can be hard. Anxiety – not to be confused with the positive stress of deadlines and forced production schedules – is counter productive. So when shit is getting hairy, take a breath. Everything is going to be okay. When you re-center, see #1.

10. Take delight.
Your work should be fun. Not always fun like a birthday party fun, but fun like you’re doing the right thing sort of fun. Stimulating. Positive. Energizing. Take delight in what you do, and for that matter, what others do too. Celebrate successes, pop champagne or Diet Coke when you break through tough challenges. Stay up all night when the ideas are flowing, because you can. Enjoy the process, because from moment to moment, the process is reason for the season – it’s all you’ve got. If you don’t take delight, your career will be short, either by choice or by fate.

11. Seek out good people.
Think you’re on a solo journey? On the contrary. Making your work, your career, your life, will involve others taking to you and what you do. Therefore, make effort to know, connect, collaborate with, mentor under, the best people you can find. Screw that, the best people you can FATHOM. And once you identify them, seek them. Make an effort to cultivate those relationships and take those good people with you – figuratively and literally – on your journey. Good people tend to attract other good people. And so for similar reasons, it should go without saying, avoid jerks, d-bags, and haters. It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you run around with turkeys. Negative energy is like a black hole for creativity and inspiration. And remember, you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

12. Find some quiet.
Noise, stimulation, and adventure are good for creating the raw building blocks of creativity, but they suck for the most important part of creativity — the synthesis. Synthesis–the gluing together of your ideas–requires some sort of quiet, be it just a moment or bunch of moments. So carve out this time.

13. Help others.
When chasing success too many people play the ‘me’ game. It’s all about ‘me’. Well, contrary to what it might seem, success ain’t just about me. Most people who achieve success are concerned with helping others. Helping others cultivates understanding, humility, compassion, and your network – not to mention, a better world. So don’t just reach up and pull yourself there. Be sure to reach sideways and down too, as often as you can muster.

Thanks. Spread the word.

Hello, after reading this awesome post i am also delighted to share my know-how here with friends.

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Sprawdź sam says:

Great post. I am facing a couple of these problems.

Mary says:

My favourite is #13 Help Others
There have been so many photographers that have paid it forward and help me along my way that when I meet someone new in the field I can’t help but help. It’s what others have done for me, and set the example.

Thanks to everyone out there that gave me a boost along the way and especially Chase for these great articles

pam says:

i’ve been looking for many guides and motivations everytime, but i feel i got it now ^_^

As someone who has worked as a writer/editor/artist for over 30 years, this is some of the best advice I’ve yet come across and I want to give it to every young artist I know. Thank you.

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Great post, thanks!

Royd Tauro says:

Great post! So very helpful!

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jeanie tomanek says:

So Eloquent and true. Thanks so much for this wonderful posting. I’ve just discovered your blog but I’ll keep up with you going forward

GrammarNerd says:

Please note the difference between AFFECT and EFFECT. You mean that one should EFFECT change, as in cause it to happen. To AFFECT change makes very little sense. AFFECT as a verb is either the expression of a feeling “She affected a dramatic tone.” or a transitive verb “Paralysis affected his limbs”, which here would mean that you have an impact on the change itself, not cause it to happen.

Grammar may be for nerds but makes a big difference in a list of advice like this.

ALoN says:

This is some great info, I have learned so much from you.

Brian Carey says:

These re great. None of it is possible without #8. Know your craft!

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Fred Dunn says:

In the words of Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, “Ideas are shit, action is everything.” True then, true today. You gotta do to get stuff done. Thanks for the motivating post.

Patrick says:

Thanks Chase – I needed that today. Have a good one. P

Anne-Marie says:

Thanks Chase! These are wise words – I’ll print the list, frame it and hang it on my wall to remind me :)

Mark says:

Chase, this is so refreshing. thank you for this post. You speak in such real terms, it makes me gravitate to the reality of what we deal with- and how simple it is to just make up our minds to go out there and do! Thanks for the inspiration, you’re one RAD dude!

Mode tøj says:

i absolutely love what you’re writing, it just makes sense all of it, and this post i will reread in a month just to remember myself about the things you point out!

Aisha says:

that’s some really nice advice!! :))

Sam says:

Thanks for the reminder Chase..
Awesome list.. Simple yet so many us misses out.

Al B. says:

Thanks for putting in a very clear way many of the rules I’ve used to live my career, such as it’s been, both in photography and outside of it. This should be the starting point for any teaching program, and build from there.

I am not a religious man, but my first reaction to reading it was: “Amen brother”.

Julien says:

Thanks for sharing your experience Chase.

In my opinion this is deep stuff and very crticial aspects for success.

Thank you for your helpful and articulate reminder of what the journey is REALLY all about!

billy cullen says:

Sorry Chase, you seem a vey fine human being and a fantastic world class photographer but I do and it’s only a personal comment (from a traditional Scottish background) feel your 13 points are somewhat quite pretentious.
I DO however admire greatly your work and more so your concern to share knowledge but perhaps you need a few more years of living under your belt in order to share in the your take on such matters.

In this particular 13 point case I am reminded of Oscar Wilde’s quote ” I am not young enough to know everything ”

With very best wishes and great admiration Chase!


Jan says:

Well said across the board. Good stuff. The only issue I have is with “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you run around with turkeys”. Sounds way too much like a cliché from a bad self-help book!

photofairy says:

Thank you, I needed this <3

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Frederique says:

On #3 and #4, you mean ‘effect’ change, not ‘affect’.
Great post, that I am forwarding to a young artist friend.

Truer words could not be spoken. I will be sharing this Hit List with my coaching clients. Thanks for the reminder.

Heidi harman says:

Could not have written this better myself!

Jocke says:

Great post, especially #1

Alex Cortez says:

Thank you very much Chase. For sharing your success and everything. :-)

amri says:

awesome advice Mr. Chase Jarvis..always admires your style of works…great person u are

Tom Callos says:


I’m a martial arts teacher, so there’s no reason under the sun I should so religiously follow your work / writing / video…except that you make more sense and write more poignantly about the things that matter (to me, anyway) than any martial arts master teacher I know. I forwarded this article to 100 of my school owner clients / students and suggested they dump the outdated, tired, canned “philosophy” they teach in their schools –and use this as their outline.

Just thought I’d send you a note, again, to let you know your work is crossing the borders of subject and “industry” –and that you are, of course, tapping into “The Way” in a way that effects me (and many other, obviously) viscerally. Tom

André says:

So true the whole lot, thank you Chase! Time speaks softly but carries a big stick, so get cracking people.
What a man can be, he must be! A. Maslow
Once you made the first step in what you passionate about don’t worry about the rest, because it fall in place in due time. Me

Gary Parker says:

Words of wisdom, that’s for sure! I will post this by my Studio main worktable! Thank you!

Gary Parker, Artist & Writer
Parker Art Studios
PO BOX 1101

Hi Chase,

‘Thank you’ for sharing your list of 13. Sorry to bother you with this, but I tried to print it out for my own use and was unable to get it to print. Any secrets to doing this?



“3. Make your own rules.”

This had to be my favorite piece in your list. I strongly believe innovation is the key to creativity and the longevity of success. It’s important to create our own set of standards and push forwards with what we truly believe in. Thank you for the list Chase, I feel more motivated to go out there and start doing.

Anne says:

Loved..”You can’t fly like an eagle when you run around with turkeys!”

I’m nevertheless learning from you, as I’m trying to achieve my goals. I actually liked reading everything thats written on your website.Keep the stories coming. I enjoyed it!

Douglala says:

Great list! I especially like #12. Find Quite Time. My best ideas come during my looooong commutes to work in my car. I turn off the radio and just reflect and brainstorm. Then before you know it I’m home!

Rajendra says:

Thanks chase it’s’s quite similar to the principle of life written on bhagwat Gita.

Ivan says:

This is great advice! Thank you so much Chase, you truly are an inspiration!

A PERFECT list. Thanks for spending your quiet time and creative energy making this list Chase!

Emma Godfrey says:

Awesome post. Has to be bookmarked for low moments when #1 is seriously in order!

Kimmi Sparks says:

Right on!

RobyFabro says:

Definitely 13 points that once, put into practice, would improve your life, no matter what business you’re into!

Ethan says:

Right on. Agree completely. Very motivating. Good to see it on paper. I have a tough time with relaxing, taking time off. Thanks a bunch. Greetings all the way from Zürich, Switzerland.

Rich Schaub says:

Awesome! Favz 11-13 thanks Chase!

#1 all day. Thank you for this great post.

PrimoLED says:

Great list , especially like ” get shit done” you hear it all the time, but i think sitting quitely at the pc, in a moment when your looking for some inspiration, reading it sinks in a bit more then someone telling you.

Barbara says:

oops posted reply in wrong spot. Slightly brain dead….

Reese says:

Chase, thank you for sharing. I’ve been reading your blog for months now, but this my first time commenting :P This post came at a perfect time for me in my freelance career, and has already spoken to me in so many ways. #7 and #10 especially hit home for me. I will bookmark this page, print it out, and post it above my computer so I will always see it. Always a pleasure to hear your insights! Thanks again!

Barbara says:

What a great read – wisdom & insight too.. For my first ever read at your blog, I consider it a helluva introduction!


These are good tips. I like the idea of taking responsibility for your own success rather than sitting around waiting for things to happen for you.

antony says:

Damn you are right, Im at the first point right now about one year i already have more 10projects in my head everything and i am always searching for a thing that can avoid to do it. like *not the better camera* i dont have tripod* etc GET IT DONE and dont think about it. I have been 1year without taking photos just learning and reading. and i m so ashamed of that. I will have my tripod next week and get to work.

Maccam says:

I love this Post!

NOW I will…
– Bookmark it.
– Put it on my desktop
– Set it as a wallpaper
– Put it my phone and set it to remind me everyday
– Print it and hang it up on the wall

I’m focused and ready purse my goals and dreams.

This will be a good reference and reminder to me.

Thank You!


Spot on. Great list. #1 is King. Steven Pressfield’s “Do the Work”, Hugh MacLeod’s “Evil Plans” and your post have a common thread and a much needed reminder to go, go, GO!


Jeremy says:

1. Creativity isn’t synthesis.
2. Commercial fotography is one of the tools of marketing. It’s science – chemistry of impact. CREATIVITY has nothing to do with synthesis or interpretation.
3. “Get Shit Done” – why to do, create shit to succeed ?

think different, think again

kelly weech says:

Great post, I will revisit this every time I feel a bit sorry for myself to give me a reality check :)

Jenika says:

Loved and shared. #6 rings especially true – good to remember at times when you feel like things aren’t moving fast enough – this stuff takes time and work, and that’s ok.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Moritz says:

love point 13… think helping others is a great thing. you never know where that help might lead you.


Thank you. I needed that.

Bruce Buck says:

See, this is why engineers like myself can be such lousy creatives. Because with an attitude of “Get !@#$ done!”, it usually means, that sooner or later, “!@#$ hits the fan”. As long as it’s “good enough”, right? Yeah, good enough, until someone gets injured or killed. Then the poo hits the fan and people are scrambling to CYA and point the finger and blame others because someone isn’t doing a thorough enough job. In the design world over-thinking, pontificating, and wondering are tools for making sure people don’t die.

Going into a more creative role, it’s hard to let go of that mentality, especially on projects that you’re really passionate about or where the client seems really important. The reality is that even on the design/engineering side, you have to make tough decisions and do the best you can with the time, resources, and deadlines given. It should be much easier to do this in a creative field where the consequences aren’t always as critical, but old habits die hard, I guess.

Rajesh says:

Thankyou Chase.

ok, ya got me on #1.
this week, my main lesson is: listen more.
i tend to pontificate (out of my enthusiasm and love of my work/life).
thank you for the reminder (again, for, like, the 5th time in 5 days already)
message getting through.
still practicing.
therapy session – time’s up.

damara says:

Chase…this is awesome and I love the directness and truth of what you say. Get shit done…just do it and take joy in it all. Awesome to bring back to the front of the mind this time of year.

Jeff Wilson says:

You forgot to mention the importance of proofreading and the proper use of contractions. #8 Then again, maybe understanding the difference between your and you’re is what’s holding me back.

Mike Tittel says:

Another great post Chase!

Kevin Seagrave says:

Hi Chase,
Excellent post, I think Everyone is guilty of slacking off a bit in our lives and success is there for everyone if they just believe in themselves and what they are doing. If your in a job that you dislike or even hate you need to change what your doing so you feel happy.
This will lead to positive energy which will get you up off your arse doing stuff you enjoy! It won’t feel like a chore and you are on the way to great things already.
Kind Regards,

Andrew says:

I heard a great term the other day called “fuckarounditis”, which a syndrome that prevents people from “getting shit done”. I think it was originally used to describe people who spend lots of time in the gym, but never seem to see any results, and it has definitely affected my business and personal life over the years. Recovering from fuckarounditis can be tough, especially when there are so many great websites like this to post comments on. Time to get back to work!

Christa says:

My new favourite blog post :)

Leon says:

Re: 1 -13 – Word.

fredericPierre says:

Hej ! SO ARE YOU A SUCCESSFUL ARTIST? i GUEss YoU aRE NOT since you give lessons. ThankS ,fP

Great points. You certainly have a way with words too haha!

” amateurs sit around and wonder, or worse, scratch their arse.”
” So when shit is getting hairy, take a breath.”
” It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you run around with turkeys.”

Ben I says:

Awesome list! Just got printed and hung up on my wall!!
Thanks for your constant inspiration.

Nataliya says:

Chase, I read this post twice, I even bookmarked it. Thanks for your really truthful advice in hit #1

Get Shit Done.
I have to start somehow , do things.

Dana says:

Thank-you! You’ve nailed it! Time to get productive!

stacy says:

Just needed to read this to get me started on work again. #1 hit me the hardest. Thanks for the kick!

TCP says:

Same here I felt the same way.when I heard it the first time

Mick Buston says:

Just read your post prior to watching this short video that reinforces no. 1

Now to get shit done.

LUV it Chase! Thank u for the reminder & needed Pick Up! :)

mark says:

very inspiring chase , thanks for sharing

Nate Perkes says:

I love it. This is so perfect. Thank you.

John says:

Thanks for the teaching and knowledge sharing.

Chase this is fantastic advice, and I can absolutely apply it to myself. Too often I find myself thinking of things I want to do and never taking the risk or get myself motivated and do them. That needs to change, thanks for reminding me.

Excellent! You are speaking my language.

B says:


This is an outstanding post. You don’t run your mouth all the time like some people, because you’re busy doing #1. But when you do drop something on us it is strong, timely, and on point. I am spreading this post this far and wide. Thank you sir!

You were def on the Red Bull when you wrote this. The energy and passion just jumps out at when reading this. AWESOME post!!

Joe Clay says:

I really like that line about you being the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. That’s a great thing to think about.

Maryanne says:

I’ve never heard someone spell out #6 on the list! I know this number six.

Brad says:

I dig this very much. It’s like you’re a creative ninja slicing and dicing steel wisdom to other creatives.

Keep on rockin’ the free word!

Erik says:

#13 Help others, this gives you the best results.
Great article.

Oh, what procrastinators we artists are! I know I’m often guilty of analysis paralysis. Love your list. Hope to tattoo #1 on the inside of my eyelids so I see it and am reminded of it a gazillion times!

Just what I needed to hear… thank you Chase!

sweetandcoolval says:

Thanks again for being there to help people navigate their dreams through clarity and example.

Joe says:

Great post.
Minor edit: affect -> effect. I wouldn’t mention it, except it is in bold in two of the thirteen points.

Thank you!!! Just what I needed to read today!

Russ Bishop says:

Great post – all of it is so true especially educating yourself and having fun.

Erin says:

Love everything about this. Thanks!!!

Carl D says:

Hey Chase

Now THIS is more like what I look for on your work; in fact, this stuff is almost TOO good; the blogs are such a transient medium they fly by and are yesterday’s news all too soon.

Wonderful article. Thanks for this.



You nailed it!!!!

#1 I know too many people who have ideas, who have great plans, who say their minds are bubbling but never take them anywhere, never get their hands dirty. In the end is always about being on the move, doing things.

#8 I “love” people who bend technique, rules, color on composition for “artsy look” or “creative perspective”,

#11 Meeting lots of photography related people in the last couple of years has opened me some doors, gave me opportunities and allowed me to get some freebies, but most of all has made me evolve creatively MUCH more than the years before that.

Great stuff, love #1 need more #11.

DanielKphoto says:

Again, very inspiring and true. I’ll definitely keep this in mind. Thanks a whole lot for sharing Chase.

Ira says:

Spot on. Rule #1

Benny says:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” is genius; so true. Also, bonus points for the use of “d-bag” in a professional blog, haha.

Tyler Brain says:

#6 and #12 cover all others – get those right and the rest will follow.

Mike H says:

Very inspirational – this one if getting printed and hung up in front of my workstation. Thanks!

Im in the Market for a mentor :D, just saying.

Dave Block says:

Nice list. Like it a lot. Now I have to get back to work. Iteratively.

Christopher says:

So many people forget #’s 8 and 2, especially as they are getting started, that they can’t actually get stuff done. Great list!

Africashot says:

Great article! I can identify with a lot of what you listed here… now that I read what I just wrote it almost sounds like one of these spam comments I always get on my blog, this sort of text that seems to fit to everything… I guess I’ll have to be more precise: awesome post on motivation and the pursuit of happiness = success!

This list is fantastic. i am literally going to print it out and post it on my office wall. You inspire me!

ghislain says:

I hate you so much Chase!!! :) :) :) No seriously, you are so right here! Thanks for waking everybody up sometimes, I guess we all need it… Who pump you up?, Who brings you back where you need to be? Who inspire you the most?

Again, thank you for sharing with us lazy bastard :)

JC Ruiz says:

Another gem of knowledge dropped by Chase.

Jenn Stark says:

Always love your posts Chase but have not yet commented I don’t think. Could help but comment on this one – your words are so right on. Bookmarking this one for sure, thank you so much for sharing!

asdas says:


Anonymous says:

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jefgibbons says:

Awesome Chase, thanks for the reminders. Rapidly approaching the next precipice of work/ life, just making sure my flying gear is in order. This kind of stuff really helps!

Paul Roupas says:

Get Shit Done….so true.

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