The dictionary definition of success is ‘the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted’ and also includes ‘the gain of fame or prosperity’.
I take particular issue with the second definition. I feel that if your motivating factor is fame or wealth then you are destined to lead a frustrating and unfulfilling existence. However it is the reality of the world we live in that these two factors are likely the greatest motivation for a huge amount of people. Where social media and trashy TV can make overnight stars of people this captures the attention of those without a purpose, they see what the apparently ordinary people receive for their 10minutes of fame and they want it too. I tear my hair out at Saturday night programs where people sob at how much they want ‘it’, yet I doubt they have any idea what ‘it’ actually is. They want fame and they want fortune and for that reason they are very unlikely to achieve it. If you feel you fall into this category then recognising it is the most important step. Hopefully the rest of this post will point you in the direction of a more wholesome goal.
The first definition is where the real heart of success lies. Setting yourself a goal and achieving it. This is good old fashioned, gritty success, here lies people with purpose. On first thought this process sounds simple but on further examination it can quickly become overwhelming so let’s break it down. How do we go about being successful?
The first stage in my mind is to connect with something that you are passionate about. I have banged on about this on my social media feeds for ages now but I truly feel that it is the most important step. If we are passionate about something then we will be able to put up with all manner of hardships whilst chasing it. Think back to school days, if you were set a piece of coursework that was on a subject that meant nothing to you how did that piece of work usually look? My guess is that you hastily cobbled it together the night before the deadline. Now think back to your favourite subject and a piece of work for that. I would imagine that you had ideas for it fizzing through your mind before the lesson had even finished and upon getting home you got stuck into it with no delay. This is passion in action. When you love something your mind lights up to help you.
Hopefully most of us can immediately think of our passion. Mine is performance, how can I help myself and others to become the best versions of themselves. It doesn’t matter what this passion is all that matters is how you feel about it. Don’t take into account whether you can make a living from this passion, that is unimportant. If you chase your passion the rest will fall into place. Happiness and fulfilment will always trump money.
If you are reading this struggling to come up with anything that you are passionate about then this is no reason to panic. Instead it is an excuse to explore. In order to find your meaning you need to look under every stone; read, travel, meet new people, try new things. It should be an exciting process. So many people stick to the same routines, never venturing out of their comfort zone and sticking to the same, mind numbing, media. Passion is not found here, broaden your mind in every way you can think of. If you’re struggling then look at programs such as ‘Do Something Different’ which is a great way to try new things. Remember that if you feel uncomfortable doing something then you are growing!
So, passion identified, where do we go from here? Now we need to get specific, what will success look like to you? What is the overall goal? Having identified the eventual aim we can then break this down to identify smaller goals that need to be reached along the way. If you have any geek leanings then check out ‘Nerdfitness’ as they have some great content on this using the analogy of levels on a video game.
In my mind it doesn’t matter hugely if we don’t know our ultimate end goal, this process can be fluid and the goalposts can move. I personally don’t have my end goal defined, I’m not sure what identity I will take. However I do know my passion and am going to graft in these areas, towards smaller goals. I know that as I proceed the big goal will take shape and at that point I can properly define it and aim at it. Don’t be afraid of your goals changing as you proceed.
The way we write our goals down, and we really should write them down, is also important. I’d advise everyone read up on the NLP model of goal setting which has been shown to enhance outcomes. You can find out more here: http://www.neurosemantics.com/nlp/nlp-goal-setting-model
We have our passion, we have our goals and now, in my opinion, we have to fail. If you haven’t already read my post on failing then please do to gain some context here. Failing is where we learn and learn fastest. Failing can speed up success faster than any other factor. The key is to forget the word failure and replace it with feedback. Every time we are unsuccessful we gain valuable information that can catapult us forward towards our goals. The book ‘The Talent Code’ draws heavily on this theory in the discussion of deep practice, which is the process of working right on the edge of your capabilities, making mistakes, fixing them and advancing. The author looks at successful people from all walks of life and explodes the myth of raw ability being the main factor behind their success. Instead this deep practice can be observed in all these individuals, whether they know it or not. This is where the ’10,000 hour rule’ comes from.
This rule supports the notion that success doesn’t come overnight, it takes years of hard work. This fact shouldn’t dispirit us and have us dreaming of X Factor auditions. Fleeting success is much less fulfilling. The most satisfying thing in life is grafting and grinding, constantly falling over and picking yourself up, all in the pursuit of your passion. The time will pass whether you are working or not so make the most of it.
This process can be overwhelming, especially if your goals are great. My own way of dealing with this is to make a note each day of what I have done to become better. This way you are making yourself accountable for what you are doing and you are reinforcing the fact that you are constantly moving forwards. These things don’t have to be big, sometimes for me my thing to make me better is some foam rolling and 8hrs sleep. This is easily achieved and I know that it will enable me to achieve bigger things the following day. I encourage you all to take up this practice and I promise it will move you closer to success.
When we reach these goals, pause, reflect, be mindful. You are allowed to celebrate. Then move the goalposts and start the process again!
The process described above is, to my knowledge, the best formula to success and a life well lived. Everyone has their take so I’d be really keen to start a debate on this topic. What does success mean to you? How are you chasing it?
As I discussed at the start of this piece, normal is Saturday night TV, cheap success at any cost, overnight fame and a quick buck. Normal doesn’t understand hard work, it doesn’t understand the indescribable feeling you get when you are on the ragged edge of your ability, feeling like you can’t go on but knowing that you will regardless. Normal doesn’t understand success and for that reason it will never get there…