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Why Winning It All Doesn’t Guarantee Success

Why Winning It All Doesn’t Guarantee Success

When do we truly become successful? Success is ultimately achieved when you feel that you’ve reached your goals and feel content with yourself. But in today’s “shame culture” we are made to feel that we are never doing enough, or we’re not doing it well enough.

We live in a culture where the opinion of society weighs heavily on how we view ourselves. If we feel relished and praised by our peers, then we must be doing well; and if our efforts are overlooked, then we must be failing. This incessant need to win eventually takes a very negative toll on our self esteem.[1]

We are living in a generation where the shame culture is harsh.

Like it or not, some way or another we have all succumbed to shame culture.[2] Where we live in a state of constant need for acceptance from our peers. Here are some characteristics of shame culture, and the way that it affects our everyday lives:

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  • People carefully choose their words, afraid that they may violate a social norm.
  • Those who think “incorrectly” become targets for verbal flogging.
  • In light of a moral uproar, you must post and state your opinion; or you may become a target of ridicule for “not caring.”
  • Social media– the desire to be embraced and praised by the community is overwhelming.
  • Members of a group, clique, or “squad” may praise other members of the group, in order to receive praise themselves. For example: on social media, you need to comment and compliment the right people in order to get recognized and gain a following.
  • Natural leaders will rise within these groups; policing members of the groups in term of moral code, build their own power and reputation, and ostracize anyone who dares to deviate from the code set forth.
  • Social media is extremely unforgiving to those who do not “fit in.”
  • People demand instant respect from others for their squad, group, or clique. They will react very negatively or even violently if they feel that their group or sub-culture is being threatened in any way.

Winning it all could mean losing yourself.

Winning isn’t everything- that sentimental blast from the past still rings true, if not even more so these days. In a world where our daily activities are on constant display, it’s nearly impossible not to compare ourselves to others and their achievements.

When you get on the one way track to ultimate success, you tend to get tunnel vision. Your goals are all that matter to you, and failure is not an option. In fact, it’s the absolute worst thing that could happen, and life would no longer be worth living.

Well, what about the other aspects of life that do make it worth living? Relationships, experiences, adventures, friendship, or love. These are just the few of many factors that make a life full. When your only ambition is to succeed, you will end up neglecting these other areas of your life. Relationships will suffer. Those who love you will feel insignificant, as if you can’t be bothered to waste any of your precious time with them. Just remember that it’s awfully lonely at the top. And it will be even more lonely when you go to celebrate your successes, raising a glass to yourself; party of one.

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You have to ask yourself, is it worth sacrificing everything you love and hold dear in order to hold some level of prestige in the eyes of society?

How to Win at Winning

Don’t get me wrong, it’s imperative that you feed your passion and nurture your ambition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But when your self esteem has completely deteriorated due to unrealistic expectations, perhaps it’s time for some reflection and prioritizing.[3]

Don’t force things. It just makes more opportunities for mistakes.

You need to consider outstanding circumstances. Yes, your friend from high school may have started their own businesses, but their parents might have given them a loan to get them started. Another one of your peers managed to score a stellar job in a reputable company. But what you didn’t know is that they sacrificed their entire adolescence studying and completing internships in order to get there.

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We are all on our own journey. Everyone’s path is different, and we will all get to where we need to be when we are meant to get there. All you need to do is keep it moving, and keep your goal in mind.

Be very good at something, but not everything.

You can’t be good at everything, and what made one person successful isn’t necessarily going to work for you. Sure, many people are killing it in the IT field, and it sounds incredibly attractive. But if you struggle just to find the reset button on your computer, then this field probably isn’t for you. Focusing on your existing strengths and flex them.

For example: I wanted the freedom to be able to work remotely. I looked into Computer Programming and even took a few classes. It just wasn’t clicking. I felt like a failure. I considered what I’m already good at and decided to pursue those outlets instead. I decided to look into content writing; and here you have it. I am currently working from the comfort of a lovely neighborhood café.

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Keep the big picture in mind, but focus on small goals.

It’s important to keep the big picture in mind, but understand that you’re not going to rise to the top without putting any work in. Focus on small goals instead. Consider these the stepping stones that will ultimately pave the way to your success.

Push your own limits.

Again, I cannot stress this enough. Do not compare yourselves to others. Set your own realistic goals and strive for them. Once you start to make some leeway and find that things are falling into place, set the bar a bit higher to challenge yourself. But do this in increments. Don’t set unrealistic standards and then kick yourself for not being able to reach them.

Make more mistakes, and learn from them.

When you’re striving for success, you’re going to hit some dead ends. Don’t get too frustrated and let it discourage you. Mistakes are actually a good thing. Take this as an opportunity to learn from these obstacles, overcome, and grow from them. You’ll discover what you’re truly made of, and reach your goals at the pace that you were meant to reach them.

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

1. Figure out What You Need to Change

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

3. List the Benefits of This Change

In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

  • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Having more time for your family.
  • Getting a promotion
  • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
  • Being part of the success of the company.

One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

People can change using SMART goals

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

    These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

    You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

    5. Create a Plan of Attack

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

    Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

    For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    6. Commit to Action

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

    For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

    If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    7. Find a Support System

    When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

    If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

    8. Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

    If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    9. Stick to the Plan

    When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

    You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Engage in Self-Reflection

    Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

    If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

    Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Define Your Commitment

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

    Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

    Final Thoughts

    Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

    Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

    More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

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