9 Things to Remember About Success

As you set out to try to achieve your goals, here are some useful attitudes and mindsets to help you keep things in perspective, keep you on course and ensure you don’t quit.

9 things to remember while pursuing your goals

  1. The value is not the goal but the person you become in the process. If all you care about is the end result, you’ve missed the point. When you set worthwhile, positive goals you’re forced to become a stronger, more capable, better person and this carries into all areas of your life. You become a person of value. You have to repeatedly recognise and celebrate the small triumphs.
  2. Success is never a straight line. Change your expectations: you’re going to experience wrong-turns, setbacks and failures more than success and that’s natural. It’s similar to flying a plane. A plane is off-course for about 90% of the time. It’s the pilot making continuous adjustments based on the feedback from the cockpit instruments that allows it to arrive at the final destination. If you want to succeed faster, fail faster.
  3. It’s not time to quit. How many days have you been trying to reach your goal? Try to put a figure on it. Let’s say 90 days (and that’s being generous for most people). Let’s say you’re 30 years old. That means you’ve been trying for a whopping 0.08% of your time on Earth. (And again, that’s generous – you don’t work 24 hours a day). Are you ready to quit your dream after working on it for 0.08% of your life?
  4. It won’t change your life as much as you think. This goes back to the first point, the value of striving for a goal lies in the process, not the outcome. Whatever you achieve becomes the new “normal”. Think back to when you attained an important goal (or even just bought something you’d been saving a long time for). Was your life permanently changed? Sure, there was elation but after a few days, perhaps a few weeks, your life returned to much the same as before. You could win the lottery and your external world will be changed radically but you’re still you – with the same thoughts and feelings and hangups. Don’t make your happiness or self-worth dependent on an external event.
  5. There are as many definitions of success as there are people. Some people want to make a lot of money; some want to raise a family; some want to rise to the pinnacle of their profession and others want to turn their back on civilisation and live in the wild. The key is to choose a goal that is meaningful to you – not your parents, your family, your partner or society but you. In the words of Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Here is a good definition of success:

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do. ~ Bob Dylan

  1. You need a purpose. It’s easy to confuse busyness with productivity, effort with effectiveness. Before you embark on your journey, know why you’re doing it. The goal is just a surface. You need to look at why the goal is important. If it’s to get external validation, respect or admiration, be careful. Those aren’t good reasons to do something because, frankly, most people don’t care. Your motivation has to be internal. It has to be something that speaks to a deeper, emotional part of you.
  2. Success is an accumulation of actions. Success is not one pivotal moment. It’s not signing that one big client; coming up with that winning business idea or landing a particular role. It’s an accumulation of typically unglamorous, routine tasks done over time and without recognition. The path to success can be boring, thankless and anonymous.
  3. Success breeds complacency. One of the recurring themes of people who were successful but then lost everything is complacency. When times are good you can take your eye off the ball. You stop doing the things that made you successful. You stop learning, trying new things, taking action. The world around you moves on and when you notice, it’s often too late. You don’t have to be on an eternal treadmill – just be aware of this phenomenon. Perhaps attaining your goal is sufficient and you’d be happy to ride off into the sunset – that’s good – but if you plan to build on your success and go to the next level, stay hungry.
  4. Success is about how well you serve people. Success is not a solo endeavour. Whilst you may travel faster alone, you’ll travel further with others. It’s more enjoyable too. Success comes down to how well we can interact with others – whether it’s friends, partners, colleagues or customers. Think “how can I serve people?” Even if you are not motivated by altruistic reasons, it’s a good rule of thumb. As the late Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want“.

Takeaway points

  1. It’s about the journey  – the person you become in the process – not the destination.
  2. If you need to achieve your goal in order to be happy, you won’t be happy even when you achieve it.
  3. How successful you are is determined by how much value you produce for others.

Action steps

  1. What does success look like to you? List a goal for each area of your life: relationships, financial, career, fun/adventure and health. What would success in each area look like?
  2. What value can you give others? Helping other people is the fastest way to success. How can you help others get what they want? If you’re not where you want to be in life, look at ways to increase your value.
  3. List five things you can take from the journey, not the destination. Remember, the true reward of achieving any goal is the person you’ve had to become to achieve it. Don’t miss the journey because you’re too fixated on the outcome – you’ll be missing out on the real prize.

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