After years of dating, I learned that one's success is influenced heavily by 5 key factors:

Self Awareness + Self Improvement + Time + Opportunity + Luck = Dating Success

The more you:

- are aware of who you are, and what you want and don’t want in a relationship (self awareness), 
- improve your life (self improvement),
- increase the amount of time you spend dating quality people (time), and
- increase the pool of eligible singles in your life (opportunity).

…the more ‘luck’ that will appear to come your way in dating.

“Every Battle is Won Before It is Fought”

The great Chinese General Sun Tzu said in his influential work, the Art of War, “every battle is won before it is fought” to emphasize the importance of preparation.  In dating, if you’re prepared, you’ve already won half the battle before you even meet anyone.  And being prepared means growing in self awareness and self improvement.

Self Awareness

Know who you are, and what you want and don’t want in a relationship.  Some questions to ponder:
• What kind of lifestyle makes you happy?  Are you more of a homebody or a social butterfly?
• Do you want to have children someday?  If so, when?
• How often do you exercise, eat healthy, and drink?
• How do you spend and save money?     
• Are you just interested in playing the field, hooking up, or looking for a relationship?
• How religious are you, and is that something you need in a partner?
• What are the things that you ‘must have’ in a person?  It’s good to have standards, but be realistic too.
• What are your dealbreakers?

Note: You don’t have to put yourself in house arrest and forgo dating until you figured out everything about your life.  If you do, you’ll be in your 90s!  Go out, meet people, have fun, and you’ll figure yourself out and what you want and don’t want with each person you date. 

Keep a Dating Journal

If it helps to ask a trusted friend or relative what they think, do it.  If it helps to write it all down somewhere, do it.  I kept a dating journal in my last year of dating, and it helped me to see that I was falling into a pattern of dating people who were just interested in playing the field while I was playing for keeps.  When I met Alena, she said she was looking for a relationship in our first conversation, and I knew I was looking for the same and asked her out confidently.  She told me years later that it really impressed her that I was bold and it made me stand out.  The more you know who you are and what you clearly want and don’t want in a partner, the easier and quicker it will be to recognize if someone is a match, and also quickly filter out someone who isn’t a fit.

Self Improvement
A month before meeting my wife, Alena.