Most of life’s misery comes from the gap between how we want our lives to be and how our lives really are. We all have ideas on how we would like our lives to turn out but often the reality leaves us feeling a little disappointed.
So why is it that we feel we aren’t succeeding in life? I mean, what is success really? How do you define success? For some it may mean financial security and for others it may mean a fulfilling relationship. It could be both and more…
Speaking to the dying, it was discovered that for many of them success means being more daring and taking more chances in life. It’s also about working less and spending more time having fun, being with friends and family. They also said that they wished they had been more true to themselves and expressed their feelings even if it wasn’t what everyone else wanted to hear.
I know that I get caught up in society’s ideals of financial freedom and of where I feel my life should be at a certain point in life (ie. pressure to be married, pressure to have kids and/or a certain type of job with associated status and respect) but when I dig deeper, my inner wisdom tells me that true success for me is the freedom to be me, to follow my interests and to feel happy about that – even if it doesn’t fit the prescribed ‘tick box of success’.
What you are doing wrong
1) Chasing the wrong things
Reframing what success actually means to YOU is a really good starting point. Stop listening to what you think you should want and ask yourself what it is that makes you feel fulfilled and at peace. Is it animals/nature or is it helping others and/or being sociable. Are you creative or more practical? Is there anything that you do that speeds up time, to the point that you wonder where all the time has gone? That means you’re getting closer to what makes you happy. Forget the cars, houses and possessions – forget the material outer world when it comes to “success” and focus inwardly on contentment and feeling connected to the world around you. See the link below on how to identify your top ten values.
2) Self-limiting beliefs
We all find ways to tell ourselves that something isn’t possible for us. I want you to ask yourself WHY it isn’t possible. You may have really good reasons but then again, you might not. It might be down to some misguided ideas that you have about yourself – not clever enough, too fat, too ugly, not confident enough, not able enough etc
I love the saying; “You can’t score a goal if you aren’t on the field”. The same applies to life. If you don’t even try, you’ll never know. So what if it doesn’t work out – part of life is experimenting and trying out things. Life is really one long series of trials and errors. Embrace it, don’t fear it. Tell yourself you can…say “why not?” every time…
3) Unfounded fears
Related to point number two – how often have you avoided something because of a fear of failure or rejection? Reframe what failure is – to me it means never trying. Even if I am trying and failing, I still feel that I am better off than never trying out of fear. My biggest fear is being old and having regrets that I didn’t do more, try more. As I mentioned before – life is a series of trial and error..get on with it!
Procrastination comes from fear. We delay and become indecisive as we fear the unknown. What if the outcome isn’t what I hoped for? What then? Unfortunately, life will never give us guarantees – that’s the nature of the game. Mentally strong people are the ones who can adapt to change, they are resilient in their approach to life and their thinking is flexible. Learning to cope with uncertainty is one of the best skills you can learn. The confidence to cope with uncertainty only comes from facing it, doing it anyway and dealing with the outcome.
5) You’re fooling yourself
Denial is one of the greatest barriers to any type of success. Whatever success is to you personally, if you are in denial about your true situation then you aren’t on the ‘playing field’. (See point 2 above). You’re merely a spectator who thinks they’re on the playing field. Whether it’s an awful relationship that you have learned to live with and have ‘normalised’ or whether it is an absurdly exaggerated idea of who you are, your chances at success will dwindle. Get real – accept your strengths and weaknesses, confront situations that leave you uneasy and deal with stuff instead of suppressing it.
What to do
1) Take action, stop overthinking
2) Ask yourself what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail
3) Believe it’s possible. Adopt a “can do” attitude
3) Decide what success means to you
4) Stop taking yourself so seriously
5) Stop comparing and decide what’s important to you
6) Differentiate between what you want to do and what you think you should be doing. “Should is an unhelpful word that needs to be removed from the dictionary…
7) Watch your thinking. Challenge your thoughts as often as possible – thoughts can be ignored if they don’t bring out the best in you. They are not facts and you do not have to believe the automatic negative thoughts. Find new thoughts that support you and your endeavours instead of ones that stop you in your tracks.
Success is different for each individual. Incorporate your values within your actions and design a life where your behaviour aligns with what’s most important to you. When you do this you will be on the right path to fulfilment and contentment.