Success is something that everybody desires. Even though we all it perceive differently, most people would agree that it includes: financial wealth, good health, harmonious relationships and a feeling of fulfillment.
I know that your definition of success may be slightly or totally different. And that is perfectly normal. It’s up to you to decide how you want to live your life. And even though I do not know what success looks like to you, I know that you want it. And I’m pretty sure that you think you will be successful.
Well, this is the part where I disagree with you. I’m here to tell you that you will not be wildly successful. You will not have the dream life you see in movies or on Instagram. Please, keep reading. I am here telling you this for you. I do not want to bring you down. I simply want to tell you the truth – there is a 90% chance that you will not live your dream life. BUT – you do have a chance. And if you are absolutely sure that you really want to be successful, you must be willing to put in all the hard work. And if you do that – without giving up – you WILL be incredibly wildly happily successful.
In order for you and me to achieve what we want in life, we must first understand why we haven’t achieved it yet. After all, when you’re going to fight, you need to know who or what you’re going to fight. How else are you going to prepare and win?
Yes, that’s true. Even though I am sure you are an amazing person, you need to fight yourself. And that’s because in all the years you have lived, your mind and body developed in a way that would ensure your survival – but not your success. As a result, you are alive, but not wildly successful. Otherwise, you would not be here reading this article.
So…how do you fight yourself? I will focus on a few battles I have fought and what I learned from them. I am sure that everybody’s life is different and the challenges we deal with can vary greatly. But I will share my experience because this is what I know best. And some of my struggles might be yours too. If not, you can use these as examples. Then focus on your own battles using the same weapons or crafting the ones that work for you.
Fight #1: Know yourself
Let’s say that you decide to bake a cake for yourself. What do you do? You make a list of the ingredients you need, right? Some of the basic ingredients are flour, eggs, sugar and butter. You already know this. You think you may have some ingredients at home so you check. You find some eggs in the fridge and some flour in the kitchen cupboard. And then you realize you need to buy the rest of the ingredients. You go and get them, come home and bake a delicious cake.
Well, I think that achieving success is similar to baking a cake. First, you decide what you want to achieve – money, fame, freedom, wisdom and so on. But for that you will need some ingredients: a purpose, perseverance, self-awareness, drive and hope to name a few. You may already have a purpose and hope. But maybe you lack perseverance because you always want to give up. And maybe you have not started putting in the hard work yet. So these are some of the ingredients you will need to go and get.
In other words, you already have some of the traits that you need for success. But there are some characteristics and habits that you will need to develop to be successful. In order to do that, you first need to know yourself. You have to know who you are, what your strengths are and what your shortcomings are. Here are some things you can do to get to know yourself better:
Think about how you usually think, feel and act. Observe your attitude for a few days. Make a list of the traits you notice and review it from time to time to see if it is accurate. Write down the traits you love most about you and the traits you want to work on.
Ask the people close to you to describe you
The people you spend a lot of time with probably know you quite well. And they could correctly identify some of your strong and weak points. Ask them to share their opinion of you. This might help you learn a lot. However, take this with a pinch of salt. All other people can give you is their opinion of you, not an objective truth. Use their opinion just as a point of reference, not as the ultimate truth.
Take a personality quizz
There are some really great personality quizzes that can provide great information and insight. One that I like is the 16 personality test. You can take it for free here. It can provide you with information about your strengths, weaknesses and recommended careers. Again, this can be a great tool to help you learn about yourself, but this may not be 100% accurate and true in your case. However, it can be very informative and interesting.
Think about the people you admire the most
It often happens that we look up to certain role models for a reason. Maybe we admire the people that have the same potential we do. They could be more successful because they have used their resources more than we did. Or maybe we look up to the people that seem to have the traits that we lack. If this is the case, we may have mixed feelings of admiration and envy because they seem to have all the good traits we want without the flaws we want to hide.
Remember that nobody is perfect. You don’t have to be either. The purpose of this introspection is not to put you down, but to put you in charge. Once you are honest with yourself and accept the good and the bad, nobody can bring you down anymore. Once you know who you are, you are in control. So believe me, it pays to really look yourself in the mirror and look for the real you!
Fight #2: Identify and change your self-limiting beliefs and behaviours
Alright! Now that you know more about who you are, let’s focus on what you think and what you do. You may have heard that thoughts, feelings and actions are all connected. Here’s how this goes.
You can think to yourself “I want to start making YouTube videos”. This can make you feel inspired and motivated. And then you may move right into action: turning on your camera or your phone and starting to record yourself. Then you edit the video and upload it to YouTube. If you keep doing this over and over, you will develop a habit.
This is a simplified explanation of how thoughts, feelings and actions work together. This is a great mechanism that can help you achieve anything you want. If you can keep thinking positive thoughts that make you feel good and you into action. If you keep doing this long enough, you build successful habits which are guaranteed to bring you the results you want.
However, the same mechanism can also work against you. For example, you may say to yourself “I wish I could take great photos and post them on Instagram…but I do not know how to take amazing pictures. I can’t do it!”. If you are thinking this, you will probably feel insecure, not good enough and unmotivated. As a result, you will probably not do anything about it. Your negative thoughts will cause negative emotions that will keep you down. And you will not act on your desire.
Honestly, this is something that I do myself as well. So believe me, I know how hard it is to do something if you keep bringing yourself down.
All these negative thoughts are actually self-limiting beliefs that we create in our heads. Whenever you say to yourself “You cannot do it. You are not good enough! You will never achieve that!”, you are limiting yourself. You are actually betting against you. Are you surprised that you are not winning and achieving what you want? Don’t be! A limiting belief that you repeat day in and day out will do that to yourself. However, if you notice that you do that, I’m here to help you overcome this. What can you do?
Learn how to think positively
Start thinking about you in a way that supports, encourages and empowers you. Start saying to yourself “You can do it! Think about all the things you already achieved! Go do it!” Whenever you can, say something nice to yourself. You are the only person you are with 24/7, so you should treat yourself the best you can!
Make a list of achievements
If you are having a hard time believing that you can achieve your objectives think about what you already achieved. Sit down and make a list of your accomplishments. I am sure that you had some successes in life. Maybe you recently graduated, passed an exam with flying colors, goat a scholarship or a promotion. Maybe you made a post that went viral and helped people feel better. Maybe you made a great painting. Maybe you helped a friend in need or stood up to a bully. Honestly, you define your success. So please remember what you have already done and use that to fuel your ambition, motivation and self-confidence. Put the list on your desk or your wall if you have to. Read it every day or when you need some encouragement.
This is probably the hardest tip to put into practice, but the most useful. As I said before, your thoughts lead to feelings which lead to action (or lack of action). But what can you do if you cannot think and feel great? Well, you can either wait for inspiration and motivation to come down from Heaven and pick you up like God’s hand…but this does not really happen. (Believe, I’ve tried waiting for it!)
So…the other option would be to ignore what you think and how you feel and just eat the frog! If you truly want to become a chef/a blogger/ a writer/ (insert your dream here), you have to learn how to do what you have to.
And yes, you have to do it even when you don’t really feel like it! I know that this sounds really harsh and almost impossible to do. I know that you do not want to walk over your feelings and get to work. But you CAN do this.
And once you do it, you will feel better! I promise. Just try it once or twice. And you will realize the power you have when you control yourself. You will know that you are in control of your life. And this is what every role model our there does. Do you think that Barack Obama, Oprah or Elon Musk take days off just because “they do not feel like it”? No, they don’ Why should you? Why should you do this to yourself and sabotage yourself on the way to success?
Fight #3: Stop the blame game
Let me be honest with you: this is another tough battle you have to fight. That’s because you and me are human. And when we fail, we cannot accept our failure. So what we often do is place the blame on someone else or on something else.
For example, if you are not getting a promotion at your job, you may think that it’s because your boss does not appreciate you enough. If you want to lose fat and you fail, you will say that it is because your body work differently, you have bigger bones or you simply cannot lose weight. You get my point – whatever it is, it is never your fault, right?
We tend to shift the blame from us onto other people or circumstance to protect ourselves. We want to protect our opinion of ourselves by projecting our failures on something or someone outside of us. This is just a coping mechanism we all have. However, just because we have the tendency to do this it does not mean that it is helpful in all situations. And it will definitely not help you become successful.
Earl Nightingale said that “We are all self-made, but only the successful will admit it.” And that is true for most people. When things go wrong, we love blaming others. When we succeed, we love taking credit for it. The truth is that, in both cases, other people, events and circumstances can have an impact on us. However, we have to take the responsibility.
This is a lesson that I am still struggling to learn. And that’s because I feel like I started with a setback. Even though I grew up in a normal, modest family, I always felt that I did not get the encouragement and affection I needed. My parents were good to me and they did the best they could, I am sure of that.
But even now, at 26 years, I still feel a bit handicapped because my parents did not instill in me the confidence, hope and optimism that I see in other people. I am not sure if they did not encourage me enough or if I simply needed more support than I got. But I have been blaming my parents for this. And there is nothing I can do to change my past. What I can do it take responsibility for who I am now and who want to be. And that’s the only thing you can do.
And here’s why you should do this challenging, painful and possibly soul-crushing thing: it will help. As long as you blame other people for your life, you will never have power over it. If your mother, father, boyfriend, boss, friend is responsible for your happiness and success, it means that you have no control over that. It means that if they want to, they will make you happy. If not, you will be a miserable loser who complains about other people and life.
But the moment you shift the responsibility back onto you, YOU are in control. You are in charge and you decide what happens to you and what you do. The only way for you to be successful is to take control of what you think, feel and do. If you fuck it up, own it, accept it and move on. If you make it big, own it, be grateful and humble and move on. That’s it. It’s your power – why give it up to random people?
Fight #4: Accept that your life will never be perfect
This is another tough lesson to learn and accept. But I wanted to mention it because I think many people are still waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect situation or the perfect person. And I’m sorry to tell you this, but things will never be perfect. How do I know? Well, I’m a perfectionist. I’ve been looking for perfection all my life and I never found it. And by the way, do you know anyone that ever said they have the perfect life? I bet not. Or if they did, they were lying.
People, lives, the world are all imperfect. I have no idea if we have an “imperfection gene” encoded in our DNA or if our concept of perfection is fundamentally flawed (oh, the irony!). Whatever the case, things will never be perfect. So do not waste your precious life waiting for it.
Why is this important? Well, it’s because I do not want you to fall into this trap. Too may people are waiting for the perfect opportunity to come around so they would start working on their dreams. Too many people are not doing what they love because things are not “right”. Too many people are postpone living their dreams and keep living their nightmares.
So I am here to tell you this: there is no perfect moment. You will never be perfect. Your life will never be perfect. If hearing this hurts, let me add something else. You deserve more a life spent chasing the ghost of perfection. You deserve a life with failed plans, stupid mistakes, countless attempts and setbacks and a lot of struggle. Do you know why? Because this is real life! Life is meant to be flawed, but lived. Life is meant to be enjoyed, challenged and rewritten as often as it takes. And this is perhaps the greatest blessing in disguise – the gift of an imperfect life.
If you realize that you have stopped chasing your dreams because the stars, the planets and the entire Universe did not align, wake up! They never will. And you are already incredibly lucky to be human, to be alive, to be here now. Your life is incredibly precious and it is ticking away every second. You deserve to live every second of it.
So please tell me: what have you been postponing? What dream are you keeping in a cage in your mind? What makes you heart beat faster and your mind race? And one more question: why the hell are you here reading this when you could be out there living your wildest dream and being successful?