“Success” is such a loaded term.
Everybody uses it. Everybody wants to have it. But who really knows how to define it? What does it do to our society to think that way?
I would argue that this word “success” is far too black and white for this world filled with greys. To anchor all your hopes and dreams on it means to limit yourself and ultimately undermine your motivation and your confidence. How can I argue that?
1. We end up thinking it’s all that matters
It means that when you’re not there yet, when you’re not yet successful and you’re not way, you feel like a failure. Now there is nothing quite as demotivating as failing like a failure. How can you feel confident about yourself when you’re not satisfied with who you are or what you’re doing?
Not to even mention how narrow-minded it is to only think about success. What about friendship, what about relaxation, what about enjoying the moment that we’re in?
So many people sacrifice all of that at the altar of success.
2. We believe it is achievable
You can never truly be successful. Why not? Because it’s a moving target.
Every time we get close, we move the goal posts. When you make that first million, you’ll want two. When you get that first lead in your local theatre, you’ll want to act on Broadway.
They call that the Hedonistic treadmill and it’s a horrible way to look at life. For if you always measure yourself by some far off destination you’ll always find yourself wanting, you’ll always continue to believe that on some level you’re not good enough. Now that’s a demotivating thought.
And the truth is we’re all heading towards the same destination — a box in the ground or an urn on a shelf.
A lot of people think that’s a pretty dark thought. I personally think it’s quite liberating, because if you realize that’s the real end, then you can stop focusing on some future pie-in-the-sky goal and instead focus on the moment you’re in.
3. It will mean you’ll stop being worried or afraid
Besides, success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Success isn’t some permanent place where you get to bask in sunlit glory and high-five other successful people all day. Heck, you’ve probably already met most people’s definition of success. Do you feel any less worried or afraid knowing that? No!
And you know what it’s doing to you to think that it’s some place where all your worries will drop away? It’s making you not confront those worries and those fears.
And that, my friend, is eating away at your confidence. Fears and worries have a way of doing that.
So instead, confront your fears and your worries. Deal with them. Learn to breathe deeply and relax. You’re far more likely to end up happy when you do that.
4. It will make you happy
It won’t. Friends and family make you happy. A good night’s sleep will make you happy. Success won’t. Success, you see, is about status and though status might be useful, it rarely makes us happy.
Just ask a famous person.
And you know when you’re at your most confident and you’re most motivated? That’s right, when you’re happy. So strive to be happy and you might end up being successful. Do it the other way around, however and you’ll probably end up being neither.
5. It makes you afraid of failure
And then there’s that one. The big one. Wanting to be successful means you want to soar. But life isn’t just about soaring. It’s about falling.
It’s about crashing down so hard you don’t know if you can pick yourself up again. And then picking yourself back up again.
Failures are vital, for they are where you learn what not to do. And how can you learn from your mistakes if you’re afraid to make them?
Heck, how can you get anywhere when you’re paralyzed by fear? For you can’t climb the next hill if you’re afraid to get down from this one.
Life is so much more than success
It’s about happiness, family, self-discovery, failure, falling down and getting back up again. And it is these things that should motivate us and give us the confidence we need, not some future-oriented state that we think we want but don’t really.
We’ve got it the wrong way around. We think success is the goal and everything else is the byproduct, when really everything else is the goal.
If you live that way, chances are success will be the byproduct. And even if it isn’t, you’ll be happy, motivated and confident. So what do you care?