24 Feb Our Idea of Success is Wrong
We live in a time where we have resources available to us to do whatever we please. The world has become so small that we can go anywhere and we can learn whatever we want. We even have new ways of earning a living that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
We all have the opportunity to achieve so much more in life, but only a small percentage of us set big goals and have the drive to see them through. Why is that?
A lot of us don’t even give ourselves a chance to see how far we can really go. We limit ourselves not by setting big goals and missing, but setting small goals and hitting. It’s far easier to set small realistic goals that we know we can achieve but don’t stretch us.
I’ve found that the main reason so many people don’t attempt to set the big ambitious goals and settle for the small realistic goals instead, is because they immediately focus on how far away a big goal is and how much work is required to achieve it.
When we focus on how much work there is to do, our mind already starts to come up with excuses as to why we can’t do it. Allowing yourself to focus on the amount of work left is only going to stop you from taking action – so many people get caught in this trap.
A lot of people are scared to give their full effort in the pursuit of something because if they do and fail, they don’t have any excuses left.
Naturally we are conditioned to define the success of a goal by the end result: pass/fail, achieved/not achieved. To be honest, it’s hard not to in this day and age. We only get recognition and validation when we achieve things that are deemed to be successful in the eyes of society.
But just because you didn’t get to your desired result, does that make you a failure? There’s a difference between failing and being a failure. How we feel about anything in life depends on the lens that we allow ourselves to view it through.
If you can condition yourself to accept that failing is something you have to go through to get where you want to go, it can make a radical difference when trying to achieve your goals and pursuing your potential.
So many of us have this idea that success is a future destination, a moment in our life where we will finally be able to celebrate all the hard work we’ve put in. We tell ourselves that only once we get that promotion or start making a specific amount of money, will we then be happy.
We even allow ourselves to live miserably along the way, hoping that at some point in the future, it will all be worth it. But why do we allow ourselves to live an unhappy life? It’s a dangerous way to live.
What happens when you put in all the work, the blood, sweat and tears, waiting for that moment when you finally arrive at your idea of success, but it never actually comes?
How do we view all of that work we put in? The hours, days, weeks, months, even years? It becomes a negative experience, in some cases a waste of time – we even hate the thought of it.
If you’re not experiencing any reward throughout the process, of course it’s going to be a long, hard unenjoyable road. What happens when the motivation wears off and distractions start to pop up, what’s going to encourage you to keep going when the end seems so far away?
Why would anyone want to live an unhappy life hoping that it will all get better at some point in the future? Wouldn’t you rather be happy along the way and experience success throughout the journey? It just requires a shift in thinking when it comes to your idea of success.
When I stopped associating success as the future moment, the end result, and started associating the idea that success comes as soon as you begin making progress towards your goal – it had a radical effect on my life. This can help turn any goal into an enjoyable experience regardless of what it is.
How can we make something an enjoyable experience, even when the very nature of the task couldn’t be further from it? It’s all about finding ways that show you’re making progress.
Whether it’s hours worked on a project, accomplishing small tasks, small milestones, crossing things off the list – it can be anything.
One exercise you can do when faced with a big goal, project or task, is to break it down into smaller, more manageable sized pieces. You break it down until you have something ready to attack that’s so small you know you can do it within an hour, a couple hours or even a day. All you have to do is focus on finishing that one step, getting to the end of that hour or getting to the end of that day.
When you start to do this quite frequently, it becomes a habit. You can apply it to anything in your life. When something seems too big, just break it down. Sometimes you might have to get a bit creative, but you can always find a way.
Imagine for a minute that you set out a big goal to accomplish; you focus on taking it one step/day/task at a time and celebrated all of the progress, breakthroughs, accomplishments and milestones along the way.
Now imagine you set out that exact same goal, but you only focus on getting to the end result and only celebrate when you get to the end goal.
What would you rather? When you look at it like that isn’t it obvious? Why do we allow ourselves to live this way?
When I talk about celebrating progress, I don’t mean have a party. Just take a moment to embrace the fact that you are making progress towards your goal and what you’re doing is already success.
You can reward yourself with something you wouldn’t normally have and tell yourself that you are only having this because of the progress you have made towards your goal.
The best thing about this change in thinking is that when we feel like we’re making progress towards something, we’re happy and fulfilled. Guess what kind of effect this will have on you? It only encourages you and will help you along the way.
Naturally when we experience these feelings of progress, success and accomplishment, our mind wants to experience them again – it’s addictive. It only encourages us to continue to working towards our goal so we can get those feelings again.
Your mind literally releases a chemical called dopamine, which amongst other things, gives you the feeling of satisfaction when you’ve accomplished something.
When we exercise this new idea of success in our lives, we can turn a whole journey into a positive experience no matter what happens. The best thing about it is that even if we don’t get to the final destination and it doesn’t work out or we fail, we can still view this as a success.
Success isn’t determined by the final outcome. We can look at what we’ve learnt, what we’ve accomplished and what we can take from those experiences. It all comes down to how we perceive it in our mind. It can always be a positive experience if you want it to be.
It’s a small change in thinking but it can have such a profound effect on your life. The day you wake up and take consistent action towards something you want to achieve, that is success. Enjoy the process, celebrate progress along the way, you might just find that you enjoy life a little bit better.