If it were easy, everyone would do it, right? I’m sure your mom told you that at some point too—and what do you know, she was right.
Still, the concepts involved with achieving success in both personal and professional pursuits appear, on the surface, to be laughably simple. Child’s play, even.
The reality, of course, is much different.
Whether we realize it or not, many of us set up a thousand different roadblocks along the way, causing us to limit our own potential for success. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Once we realize the habits we are indulging that might be limiting our abilities, we can take steps to eliminate the problems and overcome any mental barriers we might unconsciously be placing in our own way.
- Have a vision. To achieve success, we have to have a clear idea of what success means to us. It’s not going to be the same for everyone, and scrambling about in the dark trying to grab onto some vague notion of success isn’t going to help us achieve anything. We need to establish clear goals and a clear picture in our minds of what we hope to accomplish. The vision, of course, is the bigger picture, but it’s important to establish smaller steps along the way. If the vision is to be financially comfortable and able to retire at 60, we need to take a clear look at savings and spending goals within that time span and do our best to stick to the plan.
- Don’t give into emotional impulses. As human beings, we are all ruled by emotions. Sometimes they can be overpowering, and it’s important to recognize when those times arise. Challenges in daily life, an argument with a friend or business partner, a death in the family—all of these can have significant impacts on our ability to make sound judgments. Sometimes, we need to step back and divorce ourselves from these strong emotions to make the right choices. If our vision is strong and clear, we can often stay on the right path more easily.
- Seek perspective. One of the more important aspects of success is having the right perspective. This is easier said than done, I understand. This can be challenging when taking a chance on a risky venture or trying to discern which things take a higher priority over others. Before making any choices, it’s important to gain perspective on what we’re doing and what we hope to accomplish. This means thinking beyond our gut impulse. We need to do research, seek information, discuss the decision with any and all key shareholders—even our teenagers might have some perspective we find useful. We don’t know it all, but neither does anyone else. But we can try to know as much as possible about the challenge at hand, before making any big decisions.
- Expect failure. As most of us have already discovered, failure is a part of life. Regardless of our vision, sometimes we’re going to experience setbacks. It’s ok. It may not be ideal, but it’s temporary, and we can always learn something. Maybe we’ve set a goal and failed to meet it. This does not mean we give up trying. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off keep at it until we’ve accomplished what we set out to do. Failure is just one stepping stone along the path. It does not have to be the end, unless we allow it to be.
- Embrace doubts, but don’t let them rule you. Doubt, like fear, is healthy. It’s designed to be a warning mechanism. Heed it, but only in so much as it pushes us to be cautious. That does not mean that we shouldn’t make that entrepreneurial leap and try something new. It simply means that before we drop the funds or reserve the building, we need to know that we’ve assessed all the possible risks and that we are prepared for both success and failure. Doubts allow us to develop contingency plans and to test the ground we stand on.
About the Author – Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood.
Top Photo Courtesy of Abhijit Bhaduri @ Flickr CC.