Everyone is working towards a goal in some way. Unfortunately the thing about having (big) goals is that, more often than not, they take a hot minute to be accomplished. Even when working hard and diligently on them everyday. Not seeing any results immediately or after “sufficient” time can work demotivating and demoralizing. The way to solve this is to take a second, third or even fourth look at what success actually means to you. It’s time to redefine success.
I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even said “I want to be successful”. That’s great but what does “being successful” actually mean? If we just take a look at our society and people that have been deemed a “universal” success we see that they have a few things in common which are wealth, social status and fame.
If we take a look at what the dictionary* says we come up with the following
Success is defined as:
- the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
- the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status.
- a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains fame, wealth, etc.
Judging by the definitions of success we see that our “universal” definition aligns with one of the official definitions of success. Now I ask you; are the three mentioned, wealth, social status and fame, things that you want?
When looking at the other definition of success, namely the first one “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” you can see that your aim or purpose then is the third definition of attaining fame, wealth, etc.
It’s fine if those are the things you want but have you actually asked yourself whether they are the things that you want? Or have you just been believing the globally assumed definition of success that you can only be deemed successful once you have achieved incredible wealth, social status and fame?
If that is the case it can only be normal that you feel demotivated and demoralized as you might be working on things that don’t lead to those outcomes. Yes, I said that. Have you ever asked yourself whether the goals you work on so diligently everyday lead to the definition of success that you uphold?
The truth of the matter is that lots of goals simply don’t lead to the second definition of success. This doesn’t mean that they are not worthy of pursuing. They very much are, however how you determine yourself successful in your endeavors has to be redefined. Not only will it help with feeling demotivated and demoralized but also help you get clear on what exactly you want your efforts’ outcome to be.
The desired outcome of your set goal should be where your barometer for success is. This seems to be a known but not applied theory. When the two, your outcome and your definition of success, don’t align you’ll find yourself in trouble basically forever.
To get yourself out of that trouble you have to ask yourself what truly you are trying to accomplish with working on your goal everyday. Will it lead you to what you deem a success? Also what is your definition of a success? Is it the first, in that case you need to get very clear on the first question or is it one of the other two? Then you’ll have to ask yourself whether your goal will lead you there.
Being successful vs. a Successful life
Another, unrelated but related, topic of success is: being successful and having a successful life. Those two are not not the same. Even better, each one has their own definition. The first ties into everything we discussed above and the second looks at your life as a whole. Then you should have two definitions of success. One for success in terms of what you’re after so tied to your goals and one for a successful life.
In a perfect situation, where you have your life well aligned, everything that you do should answer to the definition of a successful life in some way. All the definitions of a success for a specific goal should be an extension of the one of a successful life. The realization that needs to be made here is that the accomplishment of one goal, for example the one that you’re currently working on, does not make for a successful life. The accumulation of your successes does.
So again how is your goal aligning with creating a successful life for yourself? This doesn’t have to be a 1:1 alignment at all but there needs to be some alignment.
What success means isn’t such a global affair as we’ve made it out to be.
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