Monday, June 24, 2013

What is Success?

What is success? Does it involve reaching a goal or an ideal, making a lot of money, gaining recognition or popularity? You can say that success has many different definitions depending on how you look at it. While success can have a lighter healthy side to it, it can also wear unhealthy disguises that feel oppressive, heavy, and full of unhelpful pressure. When the idea of success becomes larger than you as an individual, it may be time to take a step back and ask yourself what you're really seeking.

As a rigid idea, success can neglect the journey that you go through as an individual living life, overcoming challenges, and going for what you want. It can imply that unless you get approval and praise from the outside world, that what you're doing doesn't have real meaning and worth. When success takes on these forms, it actually discourages you from using your true potential and talents in favor of the single-minded pursuit of the final outcome.

Success can also lecture to you that you can't enjoy your journey or what you're doing until you've reached the final destination. Now that's a thinker, and a bit of a catch-22! If you have to wait until you reach the end to feel truly satisfied, when do you get a chance to relish and learn from the journey? Truth is, this type of thinking doesn't let you enjoy the achievements and challenges that you experience along the way toward reaching your goals.

Following the one-sided path of success can leave you feeling like you missed out on what's really important to you, whether you reach your goal or not. It can become an endless waiting game for something that you no longer feel a real connection with outside of the idea of success. You may end up sacrificing real experiences in favor of chasing success, success, success.

Sound familiar? It's a challenge that each of us uniquely faces to put success in perspective so that the idea of it doesn't consume us and leave us feeling burdened, tired, and perpetually dissatisfied. When the word S-U-C-C-E-S-S starts making you feel a lack of excitement and motivation about what you're doing, it can be helpful to put a creative spin on it. What does that mean?

Instead of forcing yourself to aim for success, it can help to give yourself more open-ended encouragement that sounds like:  Let's see what I can do!  When you ask yourself what you can do---instead of how you can guarantee success---your goals are allowed to live and breathe along with you. And you're free to live and breathe alongside your goals. This freedom can open up unexpected new doors and opportunities that you would have never encountered by just staying on the single-minded path of success.

It's also helpful to ask yourself, "If I were encouraging a kid or someone else to go for what they want, would I use the same tactics I'm using for myself?" Sometimes we push ourselves the hardest, using unrealistic expectations that we would never use to encourage someone else. By asking yourself this question, you can get some outside perspective on whether your approach to reaching your goals is helping you or hurting you.

Achievements feel most worthwhile when they're coming from you as a real person---not from the idea of success. Focusing on what you're really capable of (and what you WANT to do) lets you pay attention to health and learning lessons in a way that is not blocked by the rigid idea of success. Afraid that your goals will pass you by if you look at them through this lens? Don't worry, you'll be surprised by how your goals are infused by new life and energy with this approach.
Now, let's see what you can do!

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