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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

What the Road to Success Actually Looks Like in Reality

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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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Published on October 14, 2021

How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

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How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

Do you ever worry about being exposed as a “fraud?” You’re not alone. It’s actually quite common for people to feel like imposters. In fact, approximately 70 percent of people admit to having experienced impostor syndrome[1] at some point in their lives — a Twitter poll found that 87 percent of people have experienced this.[2] Even successful and famous people like Tom Hanks, Howard Schultz, and Natalie Portman suffer from imposter syndrome.

But, what exactly is imposter syndrome. And, more importantly, how can you silence it?

Originally coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., ABPP, and Suzanne Imes, Ph.D., the term “impostor syndrome” describes symptoms that include being unable to internalize accomplishments and being afraid of being exposed as a fraud.

The individual may also be plagued by chronic self-doubt and believe that they’re unqualified for success despite evidence to the contrary. Inadequacies, fears of failure, and disbelief that success is a matter of luck or timing are also common.

If you don’t address this phenomenon, feeling like an impostor can prevent you from achieving ambitious goals. Moreover, those experiencing these feelings tend to over-prepare or procrastinate — which obviously hinders productivity and reaching goals. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, imposter syndrome prevents you from pursuing new challenges and opportunities.

Do you feel like you’re suffering from impostor syndrome? If so, don’t beat yourself up. After all, there are effective ways to overcome these feelings in a healthy and proactive way.

1. Don’t Hide It.

“Firstly, acknowledge it,” advises Claudine Robson,[3] the Intentional Coach. “You give strength to imposter syndrome by letting it continue to peck away at your confidence unchecked.” It can only be banished if you acknowledge it as soon as possible and break the silence.

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“Then you need to separate your feelings from facts,” Robson adds. “One thing imposter syndrome does very effectively is to mix up your perceptions of reality.”

If you can, take a step back and look at the situation objectively. “Recognize when you should — and when you should not — feel fraudulent,” she says. Appreciate and acknowledge the task, intellect, and insight that have led to your success.

You might even be able to take action by recognizing that the reason you feel fraudulent is that you’re new to a task. “That gives you a path forward; learning is growth, don’t deny yourself that.”

2. Implement the STOP Technique

In her book Cognitive Enlightenment, Melinda Fouts, Ph.D., outlines a technique to overcome imposter syndrome using what she calls the STOP technique.

“STOP is an acronym for ‘silence the oppressive player,” Fouts explains in Forbes.[4] “You need to eradicate this tape that is playing 24/7, whether you are conscious of it or not. It plays loudest when we are tired, hungry, or feeling defeated.”

Steps to implementing the STOP technique and rewiring your brain are as follows:

To replace the tape of not good enough, you need a “launch sentence.” “I’m more than good enough” would is an example of a solid launch statement.

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Put your launch sentence in prominent locations, such as your car’s dashboard or computer. How come? The reason is that as the tape plays, you won’t be able to remember your launch statement.

Continue to say “stop” until you recall your launch sentence, says Fouts.

Put your launch sentence into your own words and pontificate.

While going about your daily tasks, like while driving or exercising, practice your launch sentence so you can recall it when you need it in the future.

“I am told this sounds simple and it does,” she adds. However, this technique is challenging when your negative tape is playing. You will not want to replace the tape every day while your brain is rewiring itself. “It is these moments you can’t give up.”

3. Distinguish Humility and Fear

When it comes to hard work and accomplishments, there’s humility, and then there’s fear. In other words, having a high level of competence can lead one to discount its value occasionally. However, as Carl Richards wrote in an article for the New York Times,[5] “After spending a lot of time fine-tuning our ability, isn’t it sort of the point for our skill to look and feel natural?”

The problem is that we feel unworthy from time to time. But, as Seth Godin explained in a blog post,[6] “When you feel unworthy, any kind response, positive feedback or reward feels like a trick, a scam, the luck of the draw.”

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Feeling worthy without feeling entitled is possible. And, finding the right balance between them is critical for overcoming impostor syndrome. “Humility and worthiness have nothing at all to do with defending our territory,” Godin continues. “We don’t have to feel like a fraud to also be gracious, open, or humble.”

4. Keep a “Brag Sheet”

When you were sending out college applications, did you build yourself a “brag sheet?” If not, here’s a clean description from Shawna Newman,[7] “A brag sheet is very similar to a student resume – it highlights your accomplishments, key experiences, leadership skills, and employment throughout your secondary education.” In short, “it’s a quick reference guide with all the details and achievements for someone trying to get to know you better.”

While it may be awkward at first, you can apply the same concept when coping with imposter syndrome. Just compose a list of your accomplishments, activities, skills. That’s it. Just remember Godin’s advice and also be humble and gracious.

As an added perk, besides being an effective way to talk myself up, I’ve also found that this has helped me stop comparing myself to others. Instead of harping about other people’s milestones, I’m honing in on what I’ve done.

5. Celebrate Wins, Period

Speaking of accomplishments, they shouldn’t be categorized as small or big. After all, you feel as if you don’t belong when you have imposter syndrome. So, the more you celebrate your wins, the more confident you’ll become.

Furthermore, accept compliments without qualifying them and practice listening to praise every day. Finally, become kinder to yourself by saying at least one kind thing to yourself daily. And, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

6. Assemble a Legion of Superheroes

“You know how corporations have a board of directors to — in theory — make them stronger, maintain checks and balances, leverage resources, and help advance the organization’s vision?” asks inspirational speaker, speaking coach, and creative consultant Tania Katan.[8] “Why not assemble your own board of directors to leverage resources to help make your career stronger, keep you in check and balanced, and advance your vision?”

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“My friend Alison Wade, president of conferences, training, and consulting at Techwell, calls her personal board of directors her “front-row” — those are the people she invites to sit spitting distance from the stage, cheer her on, challenge her, and review her performance,” Katan writes.

As for Katan, she calls hers a “legion of superheroes.” The reason? “I dig the idea of joining forces to do good in the corporate galaxy.”

It’s important to have a diverse group of individuals who will defend you. Ideally, they should be varied in all dimensions, such as cultural background, way of thinking, and skills.

Katan recommends that you meet together frequently, whether if that’s once a week or every quarter. “Share your experiences, fears, creative ideas, aspirations,” she adds. “Celebrate each other’s accomplishments.” You also need to both support and challenge each other. “Discover what you are capable of doing when you combine your powers.”

7. Visualize Success

Follow the example of a professional athlete by imagining yourself crushing that presentation or project. You’ll enjoy the relief from performance-related stress. And, more importantly, it can help you avoid focusing on the worst-case scenario.

Final Words of Advice

While there’s no single formula to cure imposter syndrome, the tips listed above are a start. After all, your success depends on your ability to fight the negative effects of it. For example, feeling unworthy over time can lead to crippling anxiety and depression if left untreated.

If you’ve tried the above, then make sure that you speak to someone about what you’re experiencing, whether it’s a mentor, peer group, or licensed professional. And, above all else, there’s a place at the table for everyone — no matter what your inner voice is telling you.

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How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Laurenz Kleinheider via unsplash.com

Reference

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