We all want to feel like we’re succeeding in life. But how we define success depends on our own experiences and social conditioning. That said, those who have not yet started down the path of self-discovery, or are only just dabbling in it, will often go on to discover that the success they’ve been eagerly working towards, actually isn’t success for them at all. Unfortunately, the point at which this is finally discovered, is usually upon arrival at their destination.
Let me give you an example. My client Rebecca has a great career. She earns 6 figures a year, has a great home, a very sexy company car, beautiful clothes, and plenty of spare cash. Sounds great right? Well, depending on your perspective, perhaps. But once you dig a little deeper, you start to see the cracks.
Actually, Rebecca doesn’t like what she does for a living. She doesn’t enjoy the job itself, nor does she enjoy the amount of hours she’s having to put in to keep on top of her caseload. She’s been working her way up the ladder, because that’s what she believes success is, and everyone around her certainly believes that she is successful. But, the demands of her work means she has little time to spend with friends and family. As a result, her relationships have suffered and she’s found herself becoming pretty isolated. She feels sluggish, rarely exercises, never cooks, believes she drinks too much, and says that her big empty house is a reflection of how empty her life has become. So, whose definition of success has Rebecca been fulfilling? Her parents? Her educators? Her peers? Society?
My point is this. We all are conditioned, by those around us (including the media), to believe that success has a certain generic definition, when time and time again my clients discover that it is something very different, and very personal. And often, it is only when you achieve what you’ve been striving for, that you realise that what you thought you wanted, isn’t what you want at all!
So, what are those three mistakes you’re making as you strive for success, and how can you correct course?
1. You’re Doing What’s Expected
If you take a look around at your life and realise that you are living exactly the way that everyone expects of you, then chances are you’ve never had a really good delve into what is important for you. And so, you may well get many years and miles down the road before you realise that you aren’t doing what makes you happy.
Now, while it can be scary to consider doing something different, which might upset or alienate people from you, the biggest mistake you can make is to not check in with yourself and your own values and passions. Because, if your main motivation is recognition, being better than everyone else, or keeping other people happy, then chances are you’ll be the one that ends up disappointed. The number one regret of dying people is that they lived a life of expectation instead of doing what they really wanted, and who wants to end up like that? So, take some time to assess whether the life you are striving towards is truly what you want and whether you are prepared to live with the sacrifices required to achieve it. Or, whether you are just doing what is expected of you, or even what you expect of yourself.
2. You’re Letting Fear Control You
Coming straight off the back of point 1, once you know what your definition of success really is, it is critical that you learn to stand up and be counted, so that you can create the life you want. Because it is counterintuitive to know what you want, on a fundamental level, and yet not do what it takes to achieve it. And, if you think there’s going to be some discomfort, en-route to getting what you want; you are probably correct. But it’s nothing compared to that regret of living the “wrong” life. So you have to push yourself to step outside of the norm as often as possible, and at least once each day. So that the uncomfortable and challenging is given the opportunity to flourish into the new norm.
If you’re worried you’re going to upset people, or that they’ll think badly of you, then you have to dig really deep and recognise whose life it is that you are living. And the fact that you have a long time of living it ahead of you. So, can you deal with upsetting a few people? Will they get over it? Does it really matter if Jenny from accounts thinks you’re crazy? And, so on. Learn to be realistic. Learn to live your life for you.
3. You Don’t Believe You Need Support
Ok, so I’m a coach, and I would say that. But let me explain for a moment. If you find yourself ready to make a change, you may sit on it for a while. You might read self-help books and articles, watch videos, and so on. Eventually, you may even find the courage to go and make that change on your own. And that is wonderful. I honestly applaud it. And I have done as many things without the support of a coach as I have with one. So here are the differences. First off, it typically takes a lot longer to get there on your own. But, and perhaps more importantly, there are many days when it will seem too much like hard work. Your motivation and confidence will wane. And you will not feel so optimistic. You’ll see some good results, but not enough, and the knock backs will become too hard to deal with. You’ll lose that get-up-and-go mindset. The oomph to keep pushing ahead when it gets uncomfortable. Friends and family will start to question why you’re bothering, and you’ll start to question yourself, and allow fear to take back control of your life? And then, with faltering steps, your attempts will probably stall. You’ll lose sight of what was important to you, and start to grasp at straws or settle into old ways. Or you’ll find that you’ve pushed so hard for one thing, that you failed to notice the impact on other areas of your life. So while coaching is expensive, you really have to ask yourself, what is it costing you, each and every day, to not get the support you need?
So, what do you think? Are you making these mistakes in your life? Are you hiding from what you really want because you’re too afraid to go and get it? What would you do, if you knew you couldn’t fail?