The difference between achievement and success
Have you ever taken a moment to think about these two terms – achievement and success? There is a difference between achievement and success and the danger comes about when we see the two concepts as one and the same.
I see many clients who are perfectionists and for them, constant achievement equals success. The immense pressure this places upon them creates anxiety and does lead to depression in some cases. This occurs where clients fail to keep up their strenuous and unrealistic goals to achieve. Sadly, people too hung up and obsessed with achievement only see themselves as worthy and valuable when they are achieving – making money, closing business deals etc They completely miss the point when it comes to looking at their inner characteristics such as tolerance, kindness, being a good partner, father and so on…this gets lost in the obsessive need to achieve.
Achievement does not necessarily mean success. Success can mean different things to different people. Those that are rigid in their thinking and believe success is the act of achieving are more unhappy with themselves and their lives than those who see success in many other areas as well. For well balanced individuals – success is seen as a wider concept. Achievement is only a small element of success. Success can also involve carving out a life that works well for you – whether that’s living on a hut on a beach or just being true to yourself – this type of success will be longer lasting and more fulfilling than a life where success is narrowly defined as achieving. Achievement works on the premise that you must DO something but success doesn’t always involve doing or acting. For me, relaxing and taking time out from a busy schedule is success – working against how we are brainwashed to keep doing and achieving. Sometimes, resisting this is a good thing!
Be careful of your interpretation of achievement and success. Allow yourself to see success in many areas of life, that don’t necessarily have to include achievement.
Tips for creating goals
- Small decisions can have a great impact that help you work towards your goal. Remember that your goals are your road maps and your direction to success in life. Without them, you can lose your way. Although you can always retrace your steps, you might not have the time, opportunity, energy or resources you once had when you could have made your goals happen one by one.
- Listen to people who you respect and ask for their advice. Remember, you don’t have to like the person to respect them.
- Being active in life is most effective. Try visualizing the outcome at a time in the future. It will become apparent that to set definite time in the future is obtainable. That would be the “when”. The “How” comes with gathering information about resources and education. We often have to correct our course but at the same time keep a focus on our vision or dream. To began a journey starts with a step but it is just as important to know where you want to go as well as to have a specific plan about how you will get there. The more specific the steps, the better. Keep in mind that when you start the journey you will most likely encounter objections and self doubt. That is why developing the habit of the daily motivational pep talk can help you to stay focused.
- Make your goals SMART. S = specific, M = measurable, A = achievable, R = realistic, T = time bound
- Examples: Specific: lose weight
Measurable: 5 kilograms
Achievable = expecting to lose 10 kilos in one week is not achievable
R = realistic – lose 5 kilos over next month instead of losing 5 kilos in one week
T = time bound..lose 5 kilos over one month
As specific and with an easy way to see whether you have achieved the goal.
Goals, short term and long term help to give us purpose in life. Always have something to work towards, it can stave off depression and help you to feel more focused in life. Make sure the goals are personal to you and not goals that others wish you to achieve.
Focus on what you can control, forget the rest
Follow this “Serenity Prayer” – it’s full of wisdom:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s not events that upset you, it’s your beliefs about them
Most of the bad feelings you have are caused by irrational beliefs. Challenge your belief system regularly – there is always a rational alternative thought available.
Learn acceptance, stop resisting ‘what is’
The greatest source of misery comes from the gap between how life is and how expect it to be. Learning to accept how life is doesn’t mean being passive and/or giving up. It means we acknowledge the problem and work with it rather than against it.
Act ‘as if’
Think of someone you admire – a family member, friend or celebrity. Imagine how they would act in certain situations (especially those that cause you anxiety). Changing behaviour automatically shifts our thinking and often, acting confident can help us to feel confident as well.
Build structure into your life
A basic structure helps keep order in life. An underlying framework is always a good place from where to go forward and deal with the world. Have a morning and evening routine, make some things a fundamental activity that you do regularly – such as exercise, a healthy meal etc
Goals help to add meaning and purpose to life and we all ned to have some sort of direction in life. Create short and long term goals that are as specific and measurable as positive. Eg: I will lose 5 pounds/kilo by the end of the month.
It’s human default mode to look at all that is wrong in life – make an effort to look for what is good in your life and do this daily. when we focus on all the good, e automatically feel happier. Gratitude and appreciation are powerful emotions that can lift a mood instantly.
Do you have any other tips for happiness or contentment? Send a message and let us know!
10 Ways to navigate life successfully
Gossip is negative energy being spread about. Be impeccable with your word. You wil like and respect yourself more for it.
Don’t take things personally
May things that happen in life have very little to do with us even though we assume they do. Learn to give yourself the benefit of the doubt.
Reject conformity – be true to yourself
Follow what feels good for you, not what you think you are expected to do.
Maintain a sense of humour
Life can be tough and extremely challenging – a sense of humour can soften the edges.
Stop dreaming up worst case scenarios – put a lid on it. Catastrophising will lead you to feeling anxious and/or depressed and these situations may actually never arise. Deal with things as they present themselves rather than worrying about every possible future scenario – that’s just mental torture.
Be present as much as possible
Stop living in the past or the future. The present moment is where it’s at – happiness can only be felt now, not in the past or future.
Comparing is a one-way ticket to feeling deprived and you are comparing to ‘surface’ information rather than what is really going on in other people’s lives as you don;t know for sure what is REALLY happening. Focus on your own life instead – how far you have come and where you want to go. (then back to the present…)
Distinguish thoughts from facts
Thoughts come at us relentlessly and most of them are non-productive ‘useless’ thoughts. Stop paying attention to every single thought – accept, acknowledge and dismiss..another one will be along soon. Focus on the helpful thoughts not the negative ones. When negative thoughts persist, look for any evidence to support your thinking – often there won’t be any.
Develop a strong inner core/foundation
Live a life where you obtain your strength and value from inside. not from external sources. Speak to yourself in a positive manner and focus on your strengths regularly. When we give ourselves love and acceptance, this enhances our external world immensely. We act more confidently and attract different people and experiences into our lives.
Create goals/strive for meaning and purpose
In order to have a general direction, it is important to have short term and long term goals in place. When life gets tough, having goals in place adds some structure and can help us feel that we are still on track even though presently we may feel in the middle of a sand storm.
There are many ways to improve life and cope better with life’s challenges – the above tips are brilliant ways to have that edge in life and protect contentment a little more.
Too often I meet clients who say, “I have the house, the gorgeous spouse, the children, a great job and car I want, yet I still feel empty”. More often than not, this is down to living a life that is not in line with your values.
It begins at an early age as we begin to get socialized by parents and society. We are pulled away from our ‘essential self’, the true leanings and interests we have as a person and we are told to behave nicely and suppress our desires in order to fit in with society. I think the following quote is quite apt:
“Society wants you to be yourself…just not like that”.
It takes courage to be true to yourself and to follow what you want to do and there will always be conflict between what we want to do and our need to please others and be accepted. We all need to adjust to a certain degree but when we try too hard to please others we can end up losing ourselves and find that we have taken a path that is fulfilling, leaving us feeling empty.
Take time out from your busy life on a regular basis to take stock of what is happening and whether it is actually making you happy. Do you like the job you do or is it just a means to an end? What brings you joy at the moment? What stresses you out? I get ‘edgy’ if I have my head down for too long and don’t get a chance to have a little time out to take stock and re-assess. I like to check that I have a few short term and long term goals in place to add structure and purpose to my life.
We all need to feel connected with others and have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. This is essential to avoid feeling empty.
- Take time out to assess what brings you joy and contentment in your current life (positive energy).
- Ensure there is a balance between positive and negative energy (things that drain you/stress you out) in your life.
- Create short term and long term goals to add loose structure and direction to your life.
- Spend time alone and focus on self awareness. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
- Connect with others – contentment comes from a sense of belonging.
- Be true to yourself and stop people pleasing. It’s your life not theirs.
- Find a sense of purpose and meaning – something that makes you feel alive and well. It could be volunteering, and often involves helping out those less fortunate than ourselves.
Why setting goals is a good thing
When you set goals and work towards them you place yourself in the minority of people that ‘do’ instead of just talking. Everyone wants to be successful and progress but many aren’t prepared to make the effort. Actions, not words are key to attaining goals.
Setting goals show that you are taking responsibility for your life. You are putting objectives in place instead of hoping they will appear or that someone else might give them to you. People who don’t set goals tend not to take responsibility for themselves and often don’t end up achieving the things they want to.
Setting goals for yourself also shows that you are willing to take risks and that you believe enough in yourself to give it a go. I have found that many clients who find it hard to set goals are often the ones who feel unworthy.
Realising the importance of goals is another good motivator. If more people knew and understood that their hopes, dreams and plans, all their aspirations and ambitions, are dependent upon their ability and their willingness to set goals, far more people would create goals for themselves. Many people chug along with no goals and no sense of purpose and this can increase levels of depression and anxiety.
Setting goals shows that you are willing to take risks and see what happens. We all fear failure and rejection but when we try,and even if we fail, we often realise that we cope far better than we thought we would and that in itself can improve our confidence and self efficacy.
We also fear criticism from others but you know what, you don’t have to tell anyone about your goals. Only if you want to. When you set goals you help yourself to conquer fear. Instead of allowing your thoughts to create fear of things that might not even happen, setting goals shows you are committed to finding a better life for yourself, showing that you aren’t prepared to settle out of fear. It’s impossible to succeed without failing.
Set yourself a few goals – they can be small or big, short term or long term but they will give you a sense of purpose and improve mental resilience for smaller set backs as you can comfort yourself knowing you still have your ultimate direction to aspire to. Goals add perspective.
Your own incredible life path
Wouldn’t that be weird, if we were walking along our path and noticed someone nearby on theirs. Thoughts such as “Hmmmn, they have an extra stone on theirs to play with” or “their path kinks to the left before mine does – what does that mean? I’ll bet that goes somewhere amazing while mine continues straight on. I’m missing out…”
Sounds a bit like life, doesn’t it? It may seem simplistic to compare a simple walking path with our lives but in many ways we over-analyse life and read into things, making assumptions far too often that more often than not lead to misery.
We all begin at the same starting point and end in the same place too. Some of us take longer to get there, others get there quicker. To some extent, we can’t choose what will fill our paths although we do get to choose most of the direction (especially as adults) and we also always have a choice over what we want to choose and want to believe along the way. We can fill our heads with assumptions about life and others and criticize ourselves endlessly but neither will really end up a productive strategy.
Instead, choose to be mindful – engage with the path rather than focusing on other people’s paths – you do too much of that and you’ll trip because you aren’t looking at your own path!
Learn to make the most of the rocks, flowers..yes, and weeds that appear before you as you proceed. Stop and listen to the sounds instead of racing ahead to get to the end. You may get to the end sooner than expected and then wished you taken more time to enjoy the sights. That’s a fundamental rule of the game – you can’t ever retrace your steps!
You are just as valuable and worthwhile on your path, whether you are running ahead, walking slowly or sitting down in the grass for a while. Life has unfortunately been set up in a way that programmes us to be busy, to be looking ahead constantly and this serves society well as it keeps the shareholders reaping in the profits. Our worth is falsely tied up in our achievements. Don’t fall for it.
There is plenty along your path to sustain you if you look for it. If you choose to ‘programme’ yourself this way. Friends and relatives and experiences are where it’s at. Stopping for a picnic or to play in the rain and have a giggle while star gazing with someone you love. That’s what brings contentment. Slow and steady does it.