We set goals, strive for them and only consider ourselves successful if we attain them and attain them well. Reaching milestones is important BUT when we equate those milestones with “success”, we get ourselves in trouble. Sometimes reaching certain goals just doesn’t happen because there are circumstances that are completely out of our control or there are other factors that prevent our accomplishment. That being the case, we can’t “succeed” if success only means getting to our goal.
What is the opposite of success? Failure.—a huge, stress-filled word in our vocabulary. If success is reaching our desired outcome, failure is not reaching it. Try changing how you think:
1. What exactly is your definition of success?
I would be a success if….. Example: I would be a success if I could get my weight down 20 pounds by New Year’s Eve. Example: I would be a success if my boss likes my ideas.
2. Is there anything that could happen that would prevent you from achieving your definition of success?
Example: Oh yes, I could cheat on my diet and end of only losing 5 pounds....or gaining 5 pounds.
Example: My ideas may not be what my boss is looking for.
3. What is your definition of failure? (it’s going to be the opposite of success)
I would fail if….
Example: I would fail if I don’t lose the 20 lbs by New Year’s. I don’t lose them so I conclude: I am a failure.
Example: I would fail if my boss doesn’t like my ideas. He doesn’t so I conclude I am a failure.
4. How would it change your life if you knew it was nearly impossible to fail and that you would succeed almost 98% of the time?
Make your definition of success as easy to achieve as possible.
Example: My definition of success is to always learn something from any given situation.
Example: It would be great to lose 20 pounds by New Year’s. That would be my desired outcome, true, but I’m going to stop a minute and ask myself a few questions.
What makes it important to me to lose 20 pounds? Who would I be losing it for? How did I gain this extra weight in the first place?
(Here, we might discover some obstacles that become clues to emotional eating or other factors that contribute to excess weight that aren’t related to food choices.)
Example: It would be great if my boss liked my ideas. But, if he doesn’t what could I learn from that?
What does it say about me that I was even willing to put my ideas out there?
What do these feelings of rejection tell me about myself and where my security lies?
Do I want to be dependent on the approval of my boss to feel good about my ideas?
Do I understand the guiding principles behind the company that I work for and do my ideas fall in line with that?
Understanding and learning about yourself BECOMES YOUR SUCCESS because it turns you back to your own character. Your most excellent life is not based on actions but on your character – the core of who you are.
These kinds of questions teach you more than all the self-imposed discipline you can muster.
(Regarding our weight loss example, this approach to weight loss is far superior than the temporary fix that most diets are.)
So: If success is learning all I can from every situation, then my definition of failure is to sit down and refuse to ever learn again. This might be a temptation at times but is actually very difficult to do.
Success becomes easy.
Failure becomes hard.
It will take time but practice this in every situation that comes up. Over the next few weeks take time to develop your definition of success and failure. This changed way of thinking is worth the work!