Practice Words for Success  

Think about some words for success and for achieving goals. (They can be personal, financial, familial, or even goals for the whole community.)

What are some of the factors that affect success? Certainly a person’s mental and physical capability and energy matter. Even more important are motivation and appropriate attitudes.

dictionary open to definitions for 'succeed' & 'success."

Which attitudes enable success? I would say determination, patience, a willingness to work hard and to sacrifice what's less important. 

If you have these, you will be likely to eventually reach at least some of your goals. (Of course, success is never inevitable, and often requires some luck, and the support of others.)

Can you think of other factors that enable a person or an organization to be successful?  Which do you think are most the most important?

(Take a minute to write them down. It’s good English practice, as well as a help to focus on things that can make a difference.)  I'd love to read what you think! You can add your thoughts at the bottom of the page.

Practice these Words for Success

These very short stories are about a few people who turned failure into success. Use the words below (also in the drop down menu) to fill in the blanks for the stories. (If you would rather print this and work on it offline, here's a pdf version.)

attitude, benefits, emphasized, energy, eventually, foundation,  
            inevitably, location, reject, security,  succeeded, successful             

After hundreds of unsuccessful attempts (with materials he had to for a variety of reasons), Thomas Edison finally in making an electric light bulb that worked.

Henry Ford had a great idea for the of a new automobile business. He wanted to produce vehicles that were cheap enough that ordinary people could afford them. He the of mass production for saving money. He founded several companies that failed. But he had lots of and a “never-give-up” , and he found success with the Ford Motor Company.

Walt Disney already had a film studio when he decided to produce the first full-length animated film. Both his family and film industry experts tried to discourage Disney from making Snow White. It would be so expensive they were sure it would ruin his company. Why risk his company’s financial for such a project? It turned out to be a huge success. It enabled Disney to find a new for his studio, and was the beginning of a long run of similarly successful full-length animated cartoons.

Here’s a very short video talking about some famous people who failed before they succeeded. (Many of them were told they would always be failures!)

What Can Prevent Success?

We have several words for blocking (completely stopping) or delaying (slowing down) progress toward your goals. They are synonyms (words with similar meanings), but they have different connotations. Here's a brief explanation.

Roadblocks, obstacles, hindrances, setbacks, and challenges all make reaching a goal more difficult. A roadblock completely stops progress until it is removed. An obstacle can also stop or at least slow efforts to succeed. A hindrance is probably less difficult, but it also delays (hinders) progress.

A setback moves the project temporarily backward, but it is not usually too serious. A challenge can also make progress harder, but it has some positive connotations. It implies that the person will finish stronger for having made the effort.

Here’s a very quick practice exercise. Fill in each blank with one of these words: A. obstacle; B. setback. (Answers are below the illustration.)

1. As Roy was finishing his thesis, a two-day power outage was a last-minute __________, but he was still able to complete it in time.

2. A long-term water shortage is a major __________ to the development of the Sahel region in Africa.

a log blocking a road through the woods


1. B setback

2, A. obstacle

For more practice with words for success (& their synonyms) see Vocabulary for Achievement. To practice both sets of words, right click on this Success Vocabulary Quiz pdf.

Home> TOEFL & IELTS Vocabulary> English Words for Success.

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