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If You Want To Succeed But Do Things in the Same Old Way, You’re Waiting for Failure

If You Want To Succeed But Do Things in the Same Old Way, You’re Waiting for Failure

Having goals and dreams is what makes our lives meaningful but how we go about achieving these goals, both in mindset and physical action, can be the difference between success and failure.

If you’re feeling frustrated because your goals seem out of your reach, and no matter how hard you seem to try, you just don’t feel like you’re getting any nearer, then you’re not alone. Many people work hard to get to where they want to be but unless you change your thinking and your habits towards getting to that goal then it may take much longer than you want.

Why Is It So Hard to Succeed Sometimes?

When our goals mean a lot to us, it can start to put pressure on how we perceive our abilities. We can start to doubt if we’re capable enough – if it’s really possible.

The strategy we put in place may not work effectively or work around our changing lifestyles or life plans. Distractions are a big problem with internet, TV and our phones taking away our focus so easily.

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And, of course, underlying fear can also play a big part in stopping ourselves from truly moving forward to that place of success. What would it really mean if you finally achieved this? Would your life have to change? Would it ultimately mean sacrificing other things that are important to you? Mindset and habits, as well as the actions we take or don’t, can all lead us to what we interpret as failure.

Why Being Successful Is Important

Success doesn’t have to be confined to career. Personal goals and dreams are equally important because, ultimately, success brings confidence, well-being, hope, the sense that you’re contributing to either your own personal growth or to the world around you – it’s the essence of living a fulfilling life.

We are born to succeed as a species. We need to be successful in looking after our offspring both with protection and providing for them. Therefore, the want for success is ingrained in us and is the basis of what makes life meaningful. So, whatever success means to you – whether it’s in your career or if it’s learning to read, write or run a marathon – it’s the idea of fulfilling and achieving a desire that keeps us content and gratified.

What Is the Secret to Success?

It can be soul-destroying when you see people around you succeeding and you feel you’re trying your best but just can’t seem to do the same. It can hit our confidence and make us believe we just aren’t capable of succeeding. It can lead us to get in to this never-ending cycle of giving up, trying, not getting anywhere and giving up again. But have you wondered what you could do differently? Perhaps the habits you adopt are what’s keeping you from the life of your dreams?

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Check out the habits you need to do differently in order to get the success you deserve.

1. Mindset: Stop Seeing The Problems

Many of us have a mindset that seeks out the negative. It’s something we’ve been trained to do because, well, it’s easier to dwell on the negative than the positive especially if things aren’t going exactly as we want them to.

Instead you need to see these obstacles as challenges and opportunities rather than a reason to feel like you’re failing. It’s really about building up a positive mindset – no matter the problem you can always find a positive aspect to it. Problems are opportunities to grow and if you keep this in mind you are less likely to give up on your goal.

2. Strategy Is Good But So Is Flexibility

Having a plan and a strategy in place creates a good framework but when we are too rigid with this framework we don’t allow for potential changes. Life isn’t linear and we can’t always predict what’s going to come up. Disruption can throw our plans out of the window and if we’re too dependent on sticking to a particular framework then we can lose motivation.

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Try less planning and more doing. Have a general framework but make sure it can be flexible. It’s more important that you start the first steps (which can often be the hardest) than spending too much time planning.

3. Make Short Term Goals Rather Than Long Term Ones

“You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” – Martin Luther King

This quote speaks volumes when it comes to success. Motivation is the number one key to achieving goals and many of us lose motivation when we focus too much on the long-term. Break your goal down into smaller, short-term chunks because that way your motivation won’t take a hit and you’ll feel like you’re achieving so much more.

Give yourself a reward when you reach each small milestone and celebrate all the little achievements along the way.

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4. Distraction Is a Success Killer

Entertainment is big business. We’re living in a time when our minds are craving to be entertained to the point where learning and education is easily given the backseat. Ask yourself how much time you spend watching TV, surfing the internet, playing with your phone?

While it’s good to have down-time, we often don’t realise how much time we waste idly distracted instead of focusing on more important things. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day but it’s how you use these hours that makes or breaks success. Be honest with yourself and try to be conscious of how you spend your time.

Success doesn’t have to be a struggle. Having the right mindset, creating a flexible but instilled strategy and making sure you keep motivated with good focus will go a long way in helping you gain confidence towards achieving the life you want.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

1. Know Thyself

One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

An unexamined life is not worth living.

I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

2. Figure out What Matters to You

What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

3. Play to Your Strengths

Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

4. Listen to Yourself

It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

“If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

6. Make Time for Reflection

It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

  • What went well today
  • Something you’re grateful for
  • What would make tomorrow even better

Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Arguably the most important step of all:

Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

“I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

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