I get it. You’ve read what seems to be an encyclopedia worth of articles about some form of self improvement. No matter how many your read, you keep feeling like there’s more. You keep trying to unearth a secret you haven’t gotten to yet, a special strategy that will catapult you into the right direction or you keep living for that one enlightening moment that will make you realise what you need to do. Look, I love practical advice that I can implement right away but other than that, all of this is up to you and no motivational article is going to save you. I’m here to tell you that nailing down a vision of success, clearly and concisely within your mind, is what you need to push up to the very top of that to do list you’ve got. It’s a matter of urgency that exceeds that of a full bladder while stuck in traffic (we’ve all been there). Knowing in yourself that this is what success is, that this is what you’re working for, why you wake up and why you even bother, is what will eventually bring you an immeasurable amount of satisfaction, but more importantly, fulfillment.
You might be thinking that this is obvious right? Common sense. Of course I should have a goal! We naturally work towards that goal, that’s how life works, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that common sense is less common than we think and when I say that, I’m not pointing towards the ‘them’ I’m pointing to the mirror, to ‘us’. Especially when these goals and visions of success we have, don’t actually reflect what we truly see our success being. A lot of the time, our vision of success is fueled by ego, social pressures, culture and an unfortunate natural attraction to being accepted. We never sit down and ask ourselves why we see that as our vision for success. Sitting down and spending the mental energy to dig through your life and priorities, to question yourself and your actions, to potentially flip your world upside down is daunting/difficult/bothersome/[Insert More Bad Feelings]. However, it will be the best thing you do this year, and come next year when you’re on your way to that destination, you’ll thank yourself but more importantly you’ll thank me (I need the ego more than you, don’t judge).
Conversely, if you don’t do this, you’re in for a rude awakening 20 years from now. Especially in the world we live in today, if you don’t define what success means to you, it automatically becomes more money and status. Which I think we can all agree, is a bit shit. However, as a side note, having money or status as your true definition for success is fine, as long as it’s not your default definition because you’ve willfully neglected being honest with yourself.
So now that you’ve decided to define what success means to you, how do you do it? How do you find your true north? It may come easy to you but for all the people like myself, consider this — what’s important to you? It’s in that question that you will find what you consider success. Ask yourself that question everyday, every waking hour and every time you feel doubt. What is important to you?
Let’s take an aspiring writer. Mr Writer, do you really want to write a bestseller? Why do you want to write a bestseller? So you can say that you’ve written a bestseller? Is it the accomplishment you feel in writing something that the market has agreed is worthy of a readership? Or is that all empty validation? This is all up for debate and dependent on what’s important to you. If writing a bestseller is important to you, you need to figure out why, because I think you’re bullshitting yourself and it’s really not all that important. Who is any one person, community, organisation, to tell you what success looks like for you. I think Mr Writer’s definition of success is entirely dependent on him. If his definition of success is bringing joy to at least 1 person through his writing, he’s successful and fulfilled. If his definition is making enough through his writing to feed himself, he’s successful and fulfilled. It’s as simple as that.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this goes for anything. Starting a business, writing music, filming, brewing beer, drinking beer, drinking vodka, drinking. Define what success looks like to you. Write it down and keep it somewhere you’ll see everyday. The definition should be specific, not general, difficult but achievable, it should be important, it should be enforced by yourself, it should hold some weight to it and it should be why you do what you do. If you don’t know what success looks like to you, even after spending time evaluating what’s important to you, you have a separate problem…
So many people want to be successful but don’t even know what they want to do, this may even be you. You might have 99 interests and have no idea which one to pursue, this may frustrate you, this may give you anxiety as you feel like you’re wasting your time twiddling your thumbs. I’m here to let you know that it’s OK. Everyone’s been there, especially if you’re a thinker. You just can’t get out of your own head and try to get it right the first time. The greatest failure you can have is not giving yourself permission to fail. It takes time to find what’s important to you and what you want to do. To those people who don’t know, I’d say this: forget about inefficiency, forget about the opportunity cost of pursuing something you may dump later because it wasn’t the right thing. Pursue it anyway. Time is all you have. Don’t be alarmed. You have plenty of life to pursue the 20 other things you want to purse, but you can’t do it if you don’t start.
To the lucky people who do know what they want to do, and want to be successful in that endeavor — you can’t be successful if you don’t know what that means to you. Find that meaning, write it down and fiercely pursue it.
If you enjoyed this article or found it useful, I’d really appreciate that lovely digital clap that seems to be the writers equivalent of crack cocaine on here.
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Here’s a recent article that I think you’ll like — It’s 4 Practical Strategies for Dealing With Procrastination.
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