Most of us have an idea about what success means to us; we all have that picture in our mind, or a feeling we imagine of what it might feel like when we finally ‘arrive’ at success and to have achieved our goals. Perhaps it’s finding the man of your dreams, settling down with 2 kids and a golden retriever. It could be to earn a certain income, to be recognised for your work, or any number of other personal or professional accomplishments.
There’s a common misconception amongst those ‘chasing the dream’; that success is a destination, a place on a map that you ‘arrive’ at, and once you get there you’ll know because there’ll be an overwhelming sense of achievement when you cross the finish line. Instead, I try to think of it more like a scale, slowly closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. It’s rarely – no wait! – it’s NEVER a smooth ride! The journey is not without hurdles and detours – it’s only important that your general trajectory is upward.
The ‘end game’ varies for everyone, and regardless of our personal definition of success we all have an understanding about what chasing it feels like. In fact, we are all still seeking success; none of us are where we want to be. Because, it’s possible that you have some level of success in some areas of your life but lacking in others. It may be that things are great at work but you have no time to spend with the family, or, things are great at home and at work but you have no time left to focus on your health goals. Then, like looking into the horizon, as you move closer towards where you thought you were headed, your vision is stretched further and further into the distance, creating more opportunities to continue past the initial goal. We only know what we know, and it’s not until our boundaries are pushed into the unknown that we realise that we can do, have and be so much more than what we originally thought. We can smash our own glass ceilings that exist in our mind.
Once you embrace the concept of continuous progression toward success – that it is a journey and not a destination – you begin mastering your mindset (which is 80% of the battle!) and start formulating the strategy required to create success beyond your (current) wildest dreams. These are the 5 key steps to mastering the mindset for your success.
- Know where you’re going.
It is so common to spend days, weeks, even months on end run off your feet, barely able to catch a breath only to realise you haven’t achieved anything at all. You’ve working tirelessly, until you are so frazzled and exhausted that you HOPE – you EXPECT – you’ve moved closer to your goals, only to discover that you are no closer to where you wanted to be than when you started. The process leaves you feeling defeated and discouraged. Every ounce of energy, motivation, strength and enthusiasm you had that was propelling you towards your dreams is evaporating, and you are still at the starting line.
Having the end in mind is vital in the process of planning for your success because you can’t write the flight plan before you know the destination. You need to know the end goal and you need to know it better that you know anything else you’ve ever known. You need to live it, breathe it, dream it and this is the reason why. When things get tough, when life has us up against the ropes, we default to what we know best and for most people what we know best, is avoidance and procrastination. It’s human nature to avoid situations that could potentially make us feel uncomfortable or stressed because our instinct to do so is a survival mechanism built into our biology to keep us safe from danger. Luckily for us, it is rare that the danger we face these days is a life or death situation and we are blessed with the ability to override this tactic if we chose to. If you have trained your mind to understand that your mission is more important than avoiding the false sense of security surrounding the discomfort of the process, you can minimise the disruption that occurs when you are thrown off course. Oh, and by the way – you WILL get thrown off course. It’s inevitable! But don’t worry, step 3 has you covered on how to overcome that.
- Set your flight path
The first and most common road block for people chasing success, is a combination of a lack of direction and a serious case of overwhelm. The good news is once you know where you are headed (refer back to step 1) it’s only the stepping stones to get you there that need to be laid. Generally speaking, overwhelm is like worry – completely pointless! Overwhelm is a state of enormous emotion, commonly caused by having so much to do that you don’t know where to start. The catch, is that emotional state of overwhelm itself is generally what is stopping you from taking action. If the overwhelm wasn’t there, the tasks wouldn’t be… well, overwhelming. Creating a plan for yourself makes the process black and white and gets everything out of your head and onto paper, and that process alone can clear up a whole lot of space in your head, essentially making coping, easier. Once there is a plan in place for how you will achieve your goal, and that plan is broken down into achievable chunks, you realise that the process is significantly simpler than you initially expected. The stress you felt about getting started begins to ease because instead of having 10 things to do, you’ve prioritized what you have to do first and you can just focus on that one thing until its done before moving onto step 2.
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. BUT, if you know where you’re going, and you’re on the wrong road, every minute you keep moving, is moving you further from your goals! Creating a plan for how you will achieve your goals is no different to following your GPS to a place you’ve never been before. Your GPS can take you anywhere – it needs a plan to take you where you want to go!
Don’t forget to prioritise the tasks on your plan. As tempting as it is, you can’t skip steps 1, 2 and 3 in favour of getting to the finish line faster. Put the first thing first and focus all your energy on the most important task but PLEASE don’t confuse ‘important’ & ‘urgent’. Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals. Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals and we often concentrate on that which is urgent first because consequence occurs if we don’t. When we know which activities are important and which are urgent, we can overcome the natural tendency to focus on unimportant urgent activities. Doing the most urgent task over the most important is exactly what created the ‘busy but not productive’ cycle we talked about earlier, so decide what it most important and do that first. Plan the tasks that are important but not urgent to be your next priority and delegate the tasks that are urgent but not important. As for the tasks that are neither urgent or important, eliminate them!
- Take responsibility
Living above the line means having a ‘victor’s’ mindset. If you’re below the line, you have a ‘victim’s’ mindset. Living above the line means producing results. Operating below the line means producing ‘reasons’ (excuses). When you live below the line, you are outsourcing your power. Blaming other people, your environment, or circumstances outside of your control transfers the power to those deciding factors, essentially making your powerless in your own game.
Are you living below the line? Some managers complain “my team just doesn’t get it.” I’d suggest – whose responsibility is that? Who hired them? Who’s managing them? But more importantly… what are you going to do about it? How can you, as the manager, change the situation? When you have taken responsibility for the result, you have the power to change it.
Living ‘above the line’ or ‘at cause’, places the sense of responsibility back on you. Ownership, accountability and control are all qualities of people living at cause. When you take responsibility for the action, you take responsibility over the results. You gain the power to make change. This is the first step in cultivating a positive attitude towards your business, and your life, because even though something may not have gone to plan, you are empowered to change it.
- Cultivate a positive attitude
Here’s the thing about attitude: I can assure you that without a positive attitude, you are headed nowhere – fast! It is SO common for people to discredit the ‘attitude of gratitude’ but there’s a very valid reason why it is so important not to.
In life, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Building a business, a home, a family, your reputation, anything, is going to come with a series of setbacks. There is going to be failures, obstacles, unexpected changes and uncomfortable situations. There is going to be conflict, interruption, discouragement and delay and you are going to need to get through every single one of them. When you begin to approach these situations with a positive attitude, you are instantly solidifying your stance and prepare for what’s next. Instead of feeling ‘beaten’ by the hurdles, you are prepared for them. You can understand that they are a part of the journey and you can appreciate them for their place in the process. When you come from a genuine place, applying a sense of curiosity to situations instead of defensiveness, you become the person looking for a solution, rather than being caught up in the problem. Show gratitude to your obstacles, as it is not the wins, but the failures that make you better.
- Create systems that keep you on track
Pay close attention to this. This is going to mean something different to everyone (and that’s ok!). This is not about creating a system that makes it EASY for you, but is about creating a system that WORKS. Working in the evening might be easier for you, but working throughout the day might get you better results. Sleeping 5 hours might feel okay to you, but being well rested with a 7-8 hour sleep routine will make you more efficient. Find what works BEST for you and play to your strengths.
When you have finally reached your vision of success and you are living your dream, don’t forget to enjoy it. In fact, enjoy the journey as well. Reward yourself along the way – celebrate and soak up the sense of achievement when you make it, and do good by helping others to do the same. Stay humble and don’t forget where you started. Be gracious and generous, use your experience to better others and then go back to step. 1. Set new goals, and stretch your vision all litter further next time.