If the new year has you doing a life review, and you feel that you’re coming up short in the success department – you’re not alone. Success, whether in relationships, career, finances, or fitness, can be elusive, and is often defined in terms of what we see around us; what “should be.” For example, “I’m 35 now, I ‘should be’ in a solid career, married, have a family….”
This is a flawed mindset, according to Karen Brown, IRONMAN world champion finisher and the author of Unlimiting Your Beliefs: 7 Keys to Greater Success in Your Personal and Professional Life. “It is essential to have your own definition of success,” she said. “If we are trying to chase someone else’s idea of success, we either fall short, or the achievement feels empty and we are disappointed. It’s only by having our own definition and pursuing it that we will be truly victorious,” added Brown.
But how to find your own definition, your own pathway? It’s a matter of spending the time to think seriously about what you want, said Alexandra Janelli, life coach, certified hypnotherapist, and owner of luxury wellness center Modrn Sanctuary in Manhattan, New York. “Your definition of success is dependent upon your own core beliefs, your values, who you are, and what you want,” she explained. “The more you can qualify it, the easier time you will have achieving it.”
By defining what you want and outlining the steps you need to take to achieve your goals, the very act of accomplishing each goal becomes a minor success in itself.
Roadblocks to Success
Even if you know what you want, there may be roadblocks along the way. Here are some common success stoppers and tips from the experts to help you bust through the block:
1. Getting distracted or procrastinating on steps to attain goals. Even if you’re able to develop goals and the steps needed to attain them, it’s common for people to struggle with carrying out their internal expectations, while easily carrying out external expectations, such as what their boss or family needs, thereby neglecting their own goals, said Brown.
Busting the block – If you’re one of those who finds it easy to cook dinner for your family or take work home but tougher to stick to your workout plan, Brown recommends outside accountability, or finding someone else who counts on you to do what you’ve said you would do. This might be a workout partner, your spouse, or even fellow participants in a spinning class. If this doesn’t work, she suggests investing in a coach such as a business coach, life coach, or personal trainer. Many people find that they keep commitments better when paying someone.
2. Becoming paralyzed by fear. Fear works as a motivator at times, such as when your deadline for a project is tomorrow, and you haven’t yet begun. But it can also work against you, said Janelli. “We often think too far into the future when it’s time to take action; we begin to worry about ‘what if I fail?’”
Busting the block – “Try to think of the word ‘failure’ as a judgement or a perception, to understand that there is no such thing as failure, but simply experiences that you’ve had that you can use to find other solutions and become better,” Janelli advised. “If you follow your steps toward a goal and one doesn’t work out, there are always other ways to achieve that goal.”
Related: Learn To Let Things Go
3. Feeling discouraged that your results aren’t the same from day to day. Yesterday, you got up early to work out, got compliments on your project at work, and had a great evening with your partner. But, instead of basking in the glow of yesterday’s success, you’re feeling tired, grumpy, and unmotivated. What gives?
Busting the block – “It’s important to remember that our best self is not at the same level every day; we’re not all in or all out,” said Janelli. “Monday, all is well, but Tuesday, maybe you’re cut off by a car on your way to work, or your boss yelled at you, or you didn’t get enough sleep. Life happens and stress can affect our best self. So it’s important to zoom out and look at the bigger picture, to remember that this is just a moment in time. And be kind to yourself.”
4. Having too many priorities. Some people have no problems setting and meeting goals, but their challenge is setting too many goals and priorities, said Brown. “In their world, everything becomes priority,” she explained. If they have 10 hours of effective time per day, they will schedule all of it, cramming in more than possible.”
Busting the block – It’s important to identify your purpose or mission, your “big why,” said Brown. “This provides clarity on the priorities that contribute to achieving the mission and allows you to release the ones that don’t.”
If despite your best efforts, you’re still struggling to meet your goals, it’s OK to admit that you need help, said Janelli. A good place to begin is with your doctor to make sure that nothing is medically wrong.
Chronic health conditions as well as chemical or hormonal imbalances can cause fatigue, depression, and lack of motivation – all things that can inhibit success. Once you have the all clear with your doc, it’s time to see a therapist, life, or business coach to help give you the tools you need to help move you along toward your best self.
THE PROCESS OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
In your quest for success, it’s important to focus your attention and effort on the process in order to achieve results, said Naomi Saunders, health fitness coach and sports psychologist for Movement Max. Her advice:
■Learn to celebrate your small successes. One example is how professional tennis players celebrate after a successful shot or winning a set. It can be as small as a hand gesture; this is still a kind of celebration.
■Formulate realistic and attainable goals with timelines. The goal timeline needs to be flexible enough to allow for adjustment.
■Begin with smaller steps to work toward a larger goal.
■Remember that success, as life itself, is a process, rather than an event. Learning to enjoy all parts should go a long way toward gaining the confidence and experience to continue.
Success means something different to everyone, but according to the Strayer University Success Project:
■90 percent of Americans believe that success is defined by happiness more so than money, power, and fame.
■60 percent believe that success is defined as loving what you do for a living
■67 percent say that attaining personal goals is a measure of success
■66 percent point to good relationships as being successful
■54 percent of those who consider themselves successful say they have a strong supportive network of family and friends.
By Linda Hepler, BSN, RN