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Last Updated on August 3, 2020

What the Road to Success Actually Looks Like in Reality

What the Road to Success Actually Looks Like in Reality

I’ve been chewing on this question in my mind for a while as I analyze my journey through life thus far as a 28 year old man. “What does the road to success really look like?”

It is a tough question to answer because evaluating your own trajectory in life is difficult to do and there is no “one size fits all” sort of method that can conclusively tell you when you’ve made it in life. I’d venture to guess that most of us if not all of us, want to experience success in life.

The dictionary definition for success is:[1]

“a degree or measure of succeeding” as well as a “favorable or desired outcome.” Seems simple enough, right?

However, I think the majority of folks who contemplate this question often are not prepared for the challenge that they will face in seeking to find a proper answer.

Perhaps you have achieved some success in your own life this far in your career, or some of your personal goals and dreams. For me, I think my biggest success so far has been to graduate college and earn my Bachelor’s degree.

Where Is the Ceiling on Success?

The interesting thing about a “road to success” is that, there is always another bend up ahead for you to travel on. Consider someone like Bill Gates.

Bill Gates founded Microsoft and is one of the most-wealthy individuals on the planet. By all means and measure, Bill Gates is the idea of success fully realized and more. He has conquered every mountain that he has wanted to climb in his life.

Bill Gates had a vision that few are able to realize back when he founded Microsoft Corp in 1975:[2]

“Ultimately, the PC will be a window to everything people are interested in- and everything we need to know.” – Bill Gates

His work in computing has shifted the entire dynamic of our culture and is reflected in the rise to prominence that we’ve seen in the tech industry at large. Microsoft and Bill Gates paved the way for Apple, Google, Amazon, and more!

Has he stopped working now that he has reached what anyone could point to as success? No, if anything now he works even harder to achieve meaningful change in the world!

Failure Is Part of the Recipe to Success

In considering the road to success, one has to first come to understand that failure is a part of the equation. It is through our failures and miscues that we learn lessons about life and the pursuit of betterment within that life.

Each time we are knocked down by the circumstances of life, we have an important decision to make. You can choose to get up and keep trying, or to give up and stay down and out.

I believe it is monumentally important that you become comfortable with failure if you ever decide that you want to seek out “real” success. Why?

Because not even professional MLB players have a perfect record when it comes to taking big swings. You can’t hit a home-run each time you go to bat. But if you keep swinging, then the home-runs will materialize over time!

Each failure then becomes something valuable for the individual who is looking to walk down the road towards success. It isn’t a setback, but an effective lesson. Each time you miss the target, you’ve learned something important that will contribute towards your next success.

Appreciate the Grind

The next important aspect to consider when contemplating the road to success, is to not just focus on your end goal throughout that process of pursuit. You also must take the time and energy to enjoy the journey.

The “getting there” is more than half the battle and if you are miserable or unwilling to appreciate the pursuit, then you will find a hollow joy in finally reaching your destination.

Take the time to soak in the moments in your life as they happen; there are no guarantees in this world. Achieving success isn’t so much about a singular point in your life, but the grand, collective whole of your pursuit as you accumulate victories and your success begets future success.

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Whether you want to work until your 45 or 75, you can’t take this life for granted as it is happening. I think the biggest mistake people make is to either live too beyond their means early on in their life which disallows them from having a healthy and enjoyable retirement, or vice versa in that they spend too much time looking ahead and not enough time enjoying the moments in life as they pass them by.

Success Is a Moving Target

It’s important to understand that your idea of what success is will shift as time passes. When I got out of college, just getting any sort of salaried position with decent benefits was my idea of success. Now that I’ve been on a career path for 4 or 5 years, my idea of success has changed with time.

Now I dream to become a more senior contributor within my role so that I can increase my cash flow, decrease my expenses, and continue to grow my net worth over time.

As you move forward in life, your dreams and ideas of success are bound to shift, ebb, and flow with the motions of your momentum through life.

Balancing Your Approach to Success

There is a great balance to have where you can save and plan for the future, while also enjoying the time you have in the present and utilizing it effectively to live a more full life.

Success isn’t simply a dollar sign with a lot of zeros behind it. It can be defined in a multitude of ways and as an individual, you’ve got to decide what that definition looks like to you and then attack life in a positive way to generate your ideal reality.

My personal goal for life and how I define success will look unique and totally different from the other person. For me, I’d like to become “FIRE” at a relatively young age, perhaps in my early 50’s, so that I stop working in my career path and start working towards something that I truly enjoy.

For the uninitiated, FIRE means “Financially Independent, Retire Early.” It is a growing movement where individuals prioritize controlling costs, lifestyle inflation, and increasing savings rate in order to have the financial flexibility to do what they want in life.

Some people emphasize the “retire early” portion of the plan whilst other care more about the financial independence and flexibility that it provides to them.

According to the /r/FIRE sub-reddit:[3]

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“FIRE is a place for people who are or want to become Financially Independent.”

I don’t necessarily want to retire, but I want the flexibility to be able to choose to do so if at that point in time, I feel so inclined.

However, many would think this an extreme plan and wouldn’t consider this their path towards success. That is one of the best aspects about the definition of success is that, it is unique to the individual and the context of their life.

If you want more perspectives about how to balance your life, take a look at these articles:

Stay in Motion

One of the biggest issues that many have as they walk down the road in pursuit of success, is that they burn out over time. It can be so easy to start towards a goal with immense passion and energy, but life often steps in and leads to demotivation and distraction.

As someone in the pursuit of succeeding at a specific goal, you’ve got to keep that goal in mind and understand that as long as you are taking steps towards that success, even if they are baby steps, you are still making progress.

If you stop and allow yourself to stagnate, then you will quickly lose sight of that pursuit of success and may fall into patterns of behavior that don’t line up with your dream of achieving success.

This means that it is key that you always stay in motion in pursuit of those goals. If you aren’t moving forward, then you are surely moving backwards; and that is antithetical to accomplishing the success that you are seeking to achieve!

Find out here How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life.

Give Yourself Your Due

As you continue to strive and generate your own individual road to success in life, please take the time to also take stock of what you’ve done up until this point.

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Your accomplishments matter as the process unfolds and they are to be celebrated! If you don’t give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made during this journey, then you may lose heart to continue and pursue success.

It can be satisfying and validating to look back on where you’ve come from while also balancing that against what you still have left to accomplish. It is necessary to remember your wins and use that as fuel for your fire as you continue to move forward in your life.

The road to success is long and tiresome but by remembering the journey and what all you’ve overcome, you will continue to build up confidence and strength to go further than you ever dreamed possible!

Success is For You

At the end of the day, success and what it looks like is entirely unique to the individual who is contemplating such a topic. You define internally what success looks like for you and behave accordingly within that structure that you’ve decided on.

If you never consider what success looks like, then chances are that you will not fall into a place of success. Achieving success takes pre-mediation and thought. It takes risk, boldness, and at times the urgency to act in a moment to secure a more long term return on your work or energy expended.

It never comes easy and it never comes without sacrifice. With diligence, pride, hard work and a strong work ethic, it can be achieved by anyone and that is one of the most exciting elements of the idea of success! It is truly attainable for those who are willing to pour themselves into their desire to achieve it.

Draw Your Map

The best part about the pursuit of success? You get to draw your own map. The beautiful thing about success is that each and every day, someone builds a new road and reaches the same destination of success without ever walking in the footsteps of someone else.

Given the fact that there are near infinite ways to achieve success, it is on you to create your own personal roadmap for getting to that place in life.

This can be a freeing thing as it signifies that you don’t have to be raised in a certain class of society, or go to a specific school or get a specific job in order to achieve success. Your path can be entirely new and have never been tread on before, and still lead you to your final destination.

Success is on the horizon. Will you chase after it?

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More on Success

Featured photo credit: Matt Duncan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam Master: Success
[2] Entrepreneur: Bill Gates
[3] Reddit: Fire

More by this author

Colton Black

Motivational Coach, Self-Help Blogger, Recording Engineer, Professional Dad

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

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