Clients walk into my office in a panic. They want to know how to overcome their barriers to success. They want to know why things aren’t happening big enough, fast enough, successful enough. But, when I ask them what success looks like to them, they stare at me blankly.

I’m continually amazed at how little thought people give to one of the main things running their lives. We’ve all been told from an early age that we need to become successful. We’re striving, struggling, juggling to get there. But few of us have any idea where we want to be. So we accept society’s default definition of money and recognition. And, while that’s all well and good, it’s someone else’s story.

Here are five surprising reasons why you’re not successful… yet.

1. You’re going after somebody else’s goal.

You’ll never be happy when you get there, if it wasn’t what you wanted in the first place. Success doesn’t feel like success when we’re going after somebody else’s goal. Get clear on what you want out of life and not what you think you want. Maybe the white picket fence and three-car garage isn’t really your scene. Or maybe you’ll trade in a little cash to travel less. No judgments — you just need to figure out what it is you want. Then you can start working towards your definition of success.

2. You don’t play to your own strengths.

Instead of focusing on improving what you don’t do well, start paying attention to what you do better than anyone. People will hire or work with you because you’re the best at something. So keep honing your expertise. In today’s world of global business and service on-demand, people can find an expert on all of the other stuff. They want to know what you’re better than anyone else at doing.

3. You attach to outcomes, not values.

If you’re obsessed with the results of your actions, then you’ll be nervous to try anything bold or new. However, if you are more concerned with staying true to your own values, then you’ll do whatever it is that feels right. Sticking to your values and letting the chips fall where they may will keep you satisfied with your work and will produce success every single time. Because you’re doing what you love. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that love ends up translating into successful outcomes anyway.

4. You don’t let yourself fail.

You’ll never reach true success if you don’t risk failure. The bigger the gamble, the bigger the reward. So put yourself in situations where you can fail. Try new things. Expand beyond your comfort zone. Success is more about an internal mindset than an outward experience — and those who are continually growing are continually reaching new levels of success.

5. You confuse the process with the end-result.

On the journey of working towards your dreams, it’s easy to get lost in the woods of stress and frustration. When you’re able to remind yourself of the big picture you’re working toward, not the tiny steps, that minor customer issue probably isn’t a big deal. You’re able to put things back into perspective. People don’t wake up successful; there’s a process to get there. So remind yourself today is not the end. And you’ve got to keep moving.

Success is a fake-out, a sideshow, a total Mr. Miyagi move. It’s not a destination at all; it’s a journey–a journey to bring us to happiness. When we’re clear on what success means to us and how we’re going to get there, then we’ve already created our own roadmap to fulfillment. All we have to do is put on our helmet, stay on our path, and charge forward. If we do that, the end-result doesn’t matter. Because the journey is already a success.

There are many roads of success that bring us to happiness. How are you going to get there?

Featured photo credit: Photopin via flickr.com

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