“Be careful of the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful of the friends you choose for you will become like them.”
—W. Clement Stone (1902-2002) Author/Businessman
It is a fact of life: success is hard; failure is easy. If you want to succeed in life, you must do what needs to be done, work hard every day and never give up. If you wish to fail, you need to do whatever you feel like doing: sit on your butt and never start so you do not have to give up.
For those who are seeking the easy way in life, I have seven simple reasons that you stay right where you are. Each of the seven habits require you to do very little, and can be done by anyone and they are guaranteed to work when followed.Advertising
1. You are lazy.
There is a difference between being lazy and getting rest. Rest requires you to do something to rest from and as French Dramatist, Jules Renard said, “Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.”
When we are lazy we take little notice that life is passing us by. To the lazy person, there is always tomorrow. To the success-minded person, there is only today. Since you cannot relive yesterday, and tomorrow never really gets here, all you have to work with is today. This dilemma is always ignored by the lazy person.
2. You are negative.
Many people develop the habit of negative thinking more out of convenience than out of experience. They think that somehow, if you believe everything will fail, then you just don’t have to try.
Success-minded people understand that positive thinking is not pretending that everything is find and happy. In fact, positive people see life as it really is. What success-minded people know is that for every problem there is a solution and for every challenge is a greater benefit.Advertising
3. You make excuses.
Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “He who is good at making excuses is good at very little else.” One of the keys to success is that of personal responsibility. Excuse making robs us of the ability to take control and make changes in our own lives. It is always easier to blame someone or something for the fact that we just are not willing to put forth the effort to win.
Success-minded people are responsible people. Rather than spending their time thinking up excuses, they use their energy to think of answers. If you do not have excuses you have nothing you can do but succeed.
4. You hang out with defeated people.
It really is amazing that we become like the people we spend time with. If you are with people who are lazy, defeated and empty, you will become the same way. Then again, I believe that is the purpose for the company we choose. If our friends are not achieving anything, then we do not have to feel guilty for not achieving either.
You will find that successful and productive people spend their time with other successful and productive people. Those who can perform better than we can and are better skilled than we are help to pull us up and make us better. Another fact of life: It takes no effort for a dead fish to float downstream.Advertising
5. You settle for the way things are.
“Sure I would like to succeed in life,” someone says, “but this is just the way it is and I cannot do anything about it.” This is what many really believe. Our Creator, in His great wisdom, gave us control over only one thing in the entire universe that is ourselves. Not only can you control your life, you are the only one that can.
One reason that some folks succeed and some just float downstream, is that those who succeed refuse to settle for the way things are. It is as former President John F. Kennedy said, “Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.”
6. You expect nothing.
It is simple to figure out, if you expect nothing you will never be disappointed. Of course you will never get anything either. After all, we get what we expect to get. If you expect nothing or if you expect bad things, you get them. If you expect success or good things, you get those too.
Success-minded people expect to succeed, so they do. They expect to face challenges, so they face them willingly. They expect to win, so they win. It is as the great Zig Ziglar said, “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”Advertising
7. You read nothing.
People who are successful read. People who are not successful do not read. Therefore, I really don’t think that many of those who I talk of in this piece are reading this at all. So why write it? To remind you, success-minded people, that your success and ability to achieve are not just by chance. It happened because you happened.
If you are still on that road to the achievement of your goals, keep going. Remember these lessons and do what it takes to win in life. It will take hard work, commitment, determination and desire to succeed, but these are the very things that make up the success-minded person. The fact that you read things that help you develop and learn is proof of that fact.
Featured photo credit: Sleepy bulldog by sabianmaggy via Flickr via flickr.com
Last Updated on July 17, 2019
The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)
What happens in our heads when we set goals?
Apparently a lot more than you’d think.
Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.
According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.
Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.
Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.
Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams
The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.
Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.
So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.
Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.
One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.
Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.
Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.
The Neurology of Ownership
Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.
In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs!
But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.
This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).
Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.
The Upshot for Goal-Setters
So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?
On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.
It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.
On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!
But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!
More About Goals Setting
- How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully
- How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life
- How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever
Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com
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