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8 Hard Truths About Success That You Don’t Want To Hear

8 Hard Truths About Success That You Don’t Want To Hear

When people think of success, they think of all the good outcomes. They think of the cars, the money, the houses, the fame and they often forget to look at what it actually takes to be successful. Successful people will tell you their struggle if you ask them. There are many that have been broke, homeless, and heartbroken before anything actually happened. Success takes drive, dedication and persistence. Here are some harsh truths about success from eight people who had a vision and did what they could to make it a reality.

1. Success doesn’t always mean being rich

Dr. Martin Luther King’s goal in life was to make sure everyone has equal rights. For anyone, of any color, be able to sit in front of the bus and drink from the same water fountain. It took a lot of protests, preaching and faith for him to work at his goal. He said, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” America has made many strides in the civil rights movement, largely because of Dr. King’s work. His vision of success was not to gain any profit but to gain civil rights.

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2. If you get caught up in the failure, you will fail all together

Henry Ford believes that “obstacles are those frightful things that you see when you take your eyes off the goal”. The road to success is lined with thorns that are designed to get you caught up. If you focus on pain or hardships instead of the end result, it’s going to be one tough journey.

3. You will work harder than your peers and in return, you will lose some friends

“The average person puts only 25% of his energy into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%,” is something Andrew Carnegie once said. You will have to work harder than most of your peers if you are truly set on being successful. You will start to lose some friends, whether from greed, or losing touch because their goals are not the same as yours. Don’t worry, the ones that stay are in it for the long run.

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4. If it is not your passion, you will have a tough time reaching your goal

J.P. Morgan believed that “a man always has two reasons to do anything: a good reason and the real reason.” Make sure what you do is your passion. In the business world, sometimes money is enough and other times, it is not. You will often find yourself bankrupt, scammed and let down. This is where you can find out if that coffee shop is really something you want with all your heart and soul or if you were just trying to find a way to get rich.

5. You will make some enemies climbing the ladder, and you will need to be okay with it.

You are bound to step on some toes on your way up. Cornelius Vanderbilt made it clear to anyone that he would ruin them if they wronged him in anyway. He once said, “If you have undertaken to cheat me, I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you.” In order to be successful you need to take what you want and protect what you have worked hard for and if that means making some enemies, then it’s a step you must take.

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6. You will need to make tough decisions

“Don’t be afraid to give up on the good to go for the great,” was said by John D. Rockefeller, and he was right. Sometimes, you will become complacent and be satisfied with where you are at. Though it may not be the end result you wanted, it is comfortable. In order to be successful, you need to have the drive to trade what is easy and good for what you really want.

7. You can never plan for everything, sometimes you need to just jump in and wing it

Planning does not always help you. There are so many different variables that could change your plan of action and you only planned up to back up plan C. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing,” is some advice from Walt Disney. There cannot be enough planning in the world to make you successful with every little thing life throws at you so just jump on in! You need to be brave and take action instead of wasting time on planning solutions for what ifs.

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8. There will always be someone doing better than you

Some words of wisdom from Angela Merkel, the #1 Woman on the Forbes list of 100 Most successful woman: “The question is not whether we are able to change, but whether we are changing fast enough.” There will always be someone doing better than you and in order to reach your goal, you need to be the best. You need to constantly reassess yourself and make sure you are on track because no one else will.

Featured photo credit: Romedalstinden- Johan Kistrand via flickr.com

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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