Success is something that can be defined in many ways. Social constructs are one set of criteria by which success is determined . Based on their paradigm our parents may also have a set of parameters that they believe exemplify success, i.e., a good paying job, married with children, a nice house, etc. Your peers may have their own concept of what defines success; upwardly mobile position with a prestigious company, a nice car, and the places you might choose to vacation could fit into their definition of success. Your neighbors may have other notions of what success is….but are these really what define a person as successful?
Perhaps it is best for each individual to set in place their own definition of what success means to them. Defining success is a very personal thing. That definition may incorporate some of the things mentioned above, or perhaps your definition may be quite different. Isn’t it up to you? Or must everyone meet a certain set of standards that are defined by our parents, society, or others?
I have always believed that attaining one’s personal goals is the ultimate achievement of success and that it’s up to each individual to discover, to define and to attain according to their personal aspirations. For example, home ownership is considered by many people to be an indication of how successful a person is. However, owning a home is clearly not for everyone. Why not? You ask. Well, for starters, owning and maintaining a home is costly, time consuming and may limit your ability to achieve other life goals. There is no doubt that home ownership can provide a sense of achievement and status among one’s peers. Owning your own home can also provide a degree of security for a family, but it’s a big commitment in terms of time required to maintain the property and, unless you are independently wealthy, buying a home often requires that you tie yourself to paying a mortgage for 15, 20 or even 30 years! By contrast, if you have decided for example, that international travel or living abroad is a worthwhile goal, owning a home may be a hindrance to achieving that goal. After all, who will pay the utilities and the mortgage while you are traveling? Or, if you chose to sell your home you must wait for a qualified buyer to make an offer that you are willing to accept and that can sometimes take many months.
The point is that everyone of us needs to think long and hard about what we really want and then decide the best way of getting it. Deciding what you want out of life and how to get it starts with your vision.
Vision – It is so important to define what qualifies as success. It is your life! Live it on your terms. Living your life according to what other people have defined as “success” is not what makes you successful. In fact, living according to terms set out by others may ultimately lead you to a place you really don’t want to be. Your vision of what is important to you and what you aspire is different from your neighbor. That’s why it is your vision. Your vision needs to be developed according to what you want. Use your imagination and think about where you want to be one day and what you wish to do with your life. Then begin with a dialogue of introspective thought, or self-talk. Ask yourself what you want. Make a plan of how to get what you want and then set that plan into motion.
Vision > Self-talk > Framing > the Moment > Mood > Focus > Lifestyle > Posture > Vision
It all begins with your Self-Talk — That perpetual conversational dialogue going on in your head — Put away all those absolutes, i.e. ” I always…” or, “I never… ” or, “I can’t”…. Get rid of the negative thoughts and self-talk that you have allowed to control your vision and thwart your dreams. Those thoughts are what have kept you from reaching your full potential. Things like, “I could never do that.” and “I’m not very good at…” are only keeping you from achieving your dreams. Kick them out of your internal dialogue and out of your life!
Maybe you have heard the story of the baby elephant that had been tied to a tree with a rope around its leg. When the elephant was quite young the rope was fastened around one leg and because the elephant had not fully developed its maximum strength yet, it was unable to go any further than the end of the rope. Later in life, the elephant grew to be this gigantic beast with tremendous strength, but the trainer would still tie the rope around the beast’s leg and this magnificent giant would not even try to break free from his bondage, because for so long it had been conditioned to accept that the rope held it in place. The fact is that the mighty elephant had the physical power to break the rope and roam free at any moment, but his mind had been limited to the idea it was tied there and could never venture beyond the limits of that rope. In many ways people accept the limitations put on them by themselves and others. Because of self-limiting thoughts they have never attempted to “break free” of their bondage. Don’t allow that to happen to you.
Framing the issues – Your frame of mind and how you deal with the issues that confront you are a matter of personal choice. You may experience difficult challenges that bring on negative thoughts and cause tremendous stress. Only you can make the conscious decision to approach each situation you face with a positive attitude. Isn’t it better than choosing to remain mired in the negativity? Of course, framing the issues in a positive way is far more beneficial than dwelling in a negative frame of mind.
“The Sunny Side of Life – Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side”. That old song may seem cliche, but it really holds a lot of truth. It is up to each one of us to frame the issues in a positive context and move forward.
In the Moment – or REMEMBER TO BE HERE NOW! — What has passed doesn’t matter. You have the power to make this moment into whatever you want it to be.
Where you came from doesn’t matter. No one knows where you came from or what you have experienced, good or bad. What the world sees is the you as you are right now in this moment.
What might happen in the future doesn’t matter. It has no power if you don’t allow it to have power over you. The future may or may not happen according to your premonitions and suppositions. Dwelling on “what if” is wasted energy. Just live in the moment and deal with things as they are….not as you wish they could be in the future or how they may have been in the past.
Mood — Even if you wake in a bad mood you don’t have to choose to stay in that mood. Only you have the power to change it. Don’t allow negative energy to manipulate you and keep you in that funk. If you suffer from moodiness (low mood) you should seek some form of physical activity to boost your endorphins and pump up your mood. Move your body, play sports, lift weights, run or swim to recharge your batteries. It is amazing how exercise can help pull you up and out of any low mood you may be experiencing.
Focus — It is so important to focus on what is happening in the here and now. Put everything else out of your mind and stay focused on the task at hand. This high-technology world in which we live often pulls us away from a focused endeavor. Email, cellphone, computer games, t.v., all have benefits when used wisely. Allowing technology to distract you from your goals is a terrible waste of energy and it prevents you from reaching your full potential. You must be the master of the technology. You must not allow technology to rule your life.
Lifestyle — The people you choose to associate with have an effect on you. Negative people will drag you down into their unpleasantness and this will prevent you from making progress and seeing your vision to fruition. Avoid these types of toxic relationships. They provide no benefit.
By contrast, and it should probably go without saying, but I will say it anyway, because it can not be emphasized enough – Those people in your life who encourage you and support you are a true blessing and you should do everything in your power to nurture those relationships and honor those people. These are your real friends and they have a positive influence on your success and happiness.
Posture — Your posture says a lot about how you are feeling both physically and mentally. If your posture is slumped and shrunken you are projecting a low mood and lack of confidence to the people with whom you come in contact. Bad posture also has an effect on your breathing and blood circulation. All of this leads to a perpetuation of low mood and negativity in all aspects of your life and that negativity is projected outward to everyone you meet. By contrast, if you concentrate on good posture; back straight, shoulders back, head up, you will improve your breathing and overall health, thereby projecting a sense of confidence and positive outlook. That outlook is contagious to the people you meet and they will want to be part of whatever you are in to.
So now it is time to bring all of this in line with the vision you have set for yourself. This completes the circle.
Dream big and then go make it happen!