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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.

Reference

More by this author

Jenn Beach

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

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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