The framework for “success” is one that could use some defining. If we’re going to throw a word around that’s as important as this word has become in our society, the least we could do is spend some time getting to know it and get clear on what it means to us.
Here's the principle I use to define success: Being dedicated to improving yourself and your life every day, WHILE ALSO being dedicated to accepting who you are and where you’re at each step of the journey...
Success isn’t just about accomplishing something amazing. People can easily fall into a trap where they drive themselves in a frenzy to accomplish their goals only to hold resentment for themselves and others when the dust settles. Achievement at the cost of enjoyment is a bitter endeavor many seemingly "successful" people end up regretting.
Look no further than doctors who complete suicide at almost double the rate of the general population, or the high depression rates among celebrities and CEOs who sacrifice personal relationships for consuming careers.
Conversely, how can you enjoy a life in which you aren’t accomplishing goals in the areas that are most important to you?
How do we set an internal boundary that might allow us to feel like a success every step of the journey toward success?
It’s a simple process, and one that requires consistent and continuous practice if you want any long-term benefits.
When we acknowledge our desire to score a goal, or seek to improve, we inherently see where we’re lacking, failing, etc., almost immediately.
Effectively, we place ourselves in “absence thinking.” We see the gaps in who we are NOT, what we DON’T have, and the negative space surrounding what’s important to us.
This is not bad. This is completely normal and okay. (Maybe read those last two sentences aloud to yourself so they really sink in).
Seeing the gaps in where we are in relation to our goals is essential to filling “the absence.” We assess a need and then put energy into changing our internal or external landscape so as to experience contentment within ourselves and our lives.
And sometimes, especially for those driven-to-an-early-grave types, the change may be as simple as re-framing what’s already there.
Let’s imagine wanting to take the first step toward a goal.
Predictably, here comes the stress, the questioning, the worries and the doubts about your own abilities.
- Someday, I'll be there… I’ll be ready/finally arrive.
- If only I had XYZ skills… there must be something wrong with me because I don't.
- I'm not doing enough… if only I could do more. I would finally prove XYZ.
That’s where part two comes in--this is the part people forget.
Accept where you’re at. Accept who you are, and as a bonus, acknowledge what you have.
Acceptance is taking “what is so,” or in other words the truth of our current reality or situation, and making it OKAY. This normalizes our experience in the moment and takes the pressure off, which effectively reduces those stressful driven behaviors. So, it’s okay that you’re not where you want to be as of yet. It’s totally normal and expected for their to be gaps.
Come back into the present moment and give yourself the gift of a neutral narrative to operate from rather than one focusing on what is lacking, deficient, or absent in your past or your future.
It’s a bit of a dance, isn’t it? Seeing the gaps so you can achieve success and grow, and then accepting where you’re at to shift away from those same gaps.
Success is certainly its own skill set one can be successful at.
This is such an important skill to master. Do you really care about what you accomplish if you hate yourself and your life while you’re doing it? Maybe... but what if it didn't have to be that way? Wouldn't that be great?!
The truth is, we can't always expect to get better at everything all the time and enjoy our life. We have to accept ourselves and where we're at along the way--inevitable highs and lows, both. Alternatively, we can't expect life to get better without putting in the effort to improve ourselves and grow.
By doing both, you create a little magic in the everyday that one might call being successful. So here’s that principle for success one more time that you can align with:
Success is being dedicated to improving yourself and your life every day, WHILE ALSO being dedicated to accepting who you are and where you’re at each step of the journey...