The Road to Success - Idioms in Context

Here is a short essay on how to succeed in today's difficult economic environment. Try reading the selection one time to understand the gist without using the idiom definitions. On your second reading, use the definitions to help you understand the text while learning new idioms. Finally, a short quiz on some of the expressions at the end of the story.

The Road to Success

The road to success is paved with failures.

That's a hard truth, but one that needs to be faced when considering how you are going to make a go of it in life. It's really quite simple, to come out ahead we need to find careers that we can do with all our heart and soul, but that also allow us to come out ahead at the end of the day. Unfortunately, we can't live off the fat of the land although indigenous people did so for thousands of years. We now live in an era that is highly structured and requires us all to make sacrifices as we jockey for position in life. 

Let's call a spade a spade: It's dog eat dog out there in the real world! There are so many stumbling blocks for young adults these days. From high unemployment to the high price of higher education - not to mention all the red tape we have to deal with - it's hard to succeed! However, with dedication it's possible to succeed in the long run. In fact, with dedication we can find something that really appeals to us.

Once we find our special talent, we can carry the torch of the tradition we have chosen. This might be in education, health care, having your own business, or even in politics! Each of us is capable of doing something that takes everyone's breath away if only for a moment. Getting there might mean that we have to fly by the seat of our pants from time to time, but, as they say necessity is the mother of invention.

Along the way, we'll need to figure out how to foot the bill, but on the horizon we'll have the hope of doing something more purposeful with our time. 

Idioms Used in the Selection

by the seat of one's pants = improvising, handling something as it happens
call a spade a spade = to tell the truth about something, even if it is difficult to accept
carry the torch = continue a tradition
come out ahead = be profitable or advantageous in the end
dog eat dog = extremely competitive
fit in = do something that helps your belong to something
foot the bill = pay for something
in nothing flat = very quickly
in the long run = over a long period of time
jockey for position = try to get into an advantageous position
live off the fat of the land = survive based on what nature provides
make a go of it = succeed
on the horizon = coming in the not too distant future
red tape = official forms that you need to take care of to do something
stumbling block = a problem or obstacle that blocks your way
take someone's breath away = surprise someone with beauty
with all one's heart and soul = with complete commitment and dedication

Expressions Quiz

We'll _____________ for all your expenses.
We see many changes coming ____________.


There's a lot of ____________ during the application process.
She _______ his __________. He'd never seen such a beautiful woman.
We've had a lot of costs on this project, but we'll ______________ in the end.
The weekend will be over ____________. Time goes so quickly!
Big cities are often _________________, at least as far as business goes.
Let's move to the country and ___________________.

Quiz Answers

foot the bill
on the horizon
ret tape
took his breath away
come out ahead
in nothing flat
dog eat dog
live off the fat of the land

More Idioms and Expressions in Context Stories

Learn more expressions using stories with one or more of these further idioms in context stories with quizzes.

There are also these idiom and expression resources that can help with definitions, but reading them in short stories can also provide context that make them come more alive.