Choose your goal, and enjoy the journey.
I love a good success story, the kind where the heroine overcomes adversity and achieves a difficult, seemingly unattainable, goal. Remember “The Little Engine That Could”? It’s a classic. The Little Blue Engine, underpowered but determined, bring toys to the kids over the mountain and makes them happy. The Little Blue Engine “succeeds.”
For the engine, the end result – the goal – was clear: get the toys over the mountain. Real life is seldom that clear. When I was a young man in my 20s, I just wanted to jump out of bed every day and do something, get somewhere, be someone. I didn’t have a strategy, just a desire. If I worked hard, I would be successful. I just knew it.
We Love Success
I am not alone. Our American culture glorifies and praises the successful; we idolize those that “make it”; we cheer for our favorites on American Idol and Dancing with the Stars; we pull for the underdog in the NCAA Final Four. But when it comes to defining and realizing our own success, we can be stumped. Looking on Amazon, I found 136,842 books with “success” in the title and another 35,468 books with “successful”. A search on Google books for "success" has 122 million hits. As much as we seem to love those who succeed, we want our own success, too.
During a period personal struggle, I began to suspect that I didn't really know what success was or how I would find it. That's when I found Earl Nightingale’s definition: “Success in the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” I came to agree with Earl.
It's Simple to Succeed
It turns out that succeeding at anything is very simple. Decide what “it” is, making sure it is a worthy ideal, and then pursue it through planning and action. Achieving “it”- the goal - does not make you successful. Rather working at realizing the goal makes you successful. The work is, of itself, success. Success is in the process, and the process should be meaningful and pleasant.
I, like many others, have tried to be successful at things I strongly disliked. In my case, it brought financial reward, but to this day that experience doesn’t feel authentic or successful.
Here then, in brief form, is how to be successful at just about anything.
1. Write down your worthy ideal, also known as a goal, and commit it to memory.
- Specify the details using colors, quantities, sounds, and images
- Create a clear mental image
- Set a date for finishing
- Believe, believe, believe (which is far different from worry, worry, worry.)
Now, you’re not done yet, because you must address the “progressive realization” part.
2. Create milestones for partial realization of your progress.
3. Act in a way that is consistent with reaching the goal. Said another way, act as though it is not possible to fail (see above “believe, believe, believe”).
4. Seek a mentor or a master mind group.
5. Persevere and enjoy the journey.
Congratulations. You are succeeding. You are realizing an ideal that you decided is worthy. You are working to manifest what you decided is important.
I wish you well with each step you take along your path.