How we represent success to ourselves is a major influence over how we live our lives.
So our representation had best be ‘our truth’; what we really feel and believe. The possibility is though, that it’s quite easy for that not to be the case and for the ways we represent success to ourselves to be accidental, short term and not what we would declare if we thought more about the question. It’s probably also true that age and life experience itself can alter how we see success, so it’s important to be consistently mindful of the question. Some may dismiss the question as ‘deep and meaningful’ and not for them but that would also dismiss the very essence of life. However the question is regarded, the way anyone is living out their answers (knowingly or unwittingly) is defining their existence … and that’s not deep and meaningful … it’s reality.
To derive true benefit from this thought process requires total honesty and it can be quite confronting to do so … but sometimes confronting our reality is necessary. This article takes a look at what this is about and how it can help to drive true success in life. It’s intended to help even though it may disturb. Disturbance is an integral part of improvement.
The question is how do you represent success to yourself? This could refer to so many aspects of life, such as:
- The house you live in
- The holidays you have
- The car(s) you drive
- The way you look
- Your health and fitness
- Achieving goals you set
- The friendships you have
- Your relationships with family
- How hard you work
- The food you eat
- The wealth you have
- What you put back into the community
- Your values
- How closely you live out your values
- Self awareness
- Love in your life
- The level of control you have over your life
- And many more aspects of life
How are you currently representing success in your life to yourself (and to others)? Then there are two further important questions:
- First, are there differences between your initial responses and responses you would give if you thought more deeply about the question? The reason for posing this question is that it’s easy for that to be the case, in a very busy and high pressure world that can deprive us of the inclination or time to think this through properly.
- Second, once you are clear on how you genuinely want to represent success to yourself then ask whether the ways you are currently living your life are true to that. The answer to that question probably involves some soul searching and it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that some, maybe many, people have lived their lives or are living their lives on a representation of success that’s not consistent, maybe even contradictory, to what they would like success to really look like. And this goes beyond just the old chestnut of ‘working too hard’. It’s deeper than that. It’s about our behaviours within each day, not just the time we spend on each activity.
There are three other questions that can help:
- What do you want to be ? Certainly there have been many wonderful people on this earth who have espoused the importance of ‘being’ and all that means. This is not to downgrade the importance of the next two questions but to ensure the ‘being’ part of our lives is not overridden.
- What do you want to do ? (No labels … just what you want to do)
- What do you want to have ? (Not just materially)
It can also help to reflect on the the times in your life when you have felt really good about yourself … the times / occasions / behaviours that have given you genuine feelings of contentment. Reflecting on these times are usually strong pointers to what’s at your core.
It’s important to distinguish between ‘internal’ success and ‘external’ success.
Someone could be successful in many ways in which they relate to the outside world yet still feel less than successful on the inside. In representing success to one’s self it’s necessary to ensure both aspects are covered. Otherwise, there is a very real danger of appearing successful but not feeling it.
There is of course the practical implication of how we represent success to ourselves. It’s not just what we think and feel … it’s also how we allocate time to activities in our lives. So what time are you giving to activities that represent your true success? There’s an intimidating saying to consider if the answer is ‘No’ … “It’s later than you think.” So change may be necessary.
A slightly different but related point is what psychologists tell us …
What you focus your thinking on is more likely to become your reality in life. That makes sense, especially given the power and continuous thinking of the subconscious part of our brains. So representing success to ourselves accurately and pre-occupying our thinking with that is more likely to create its actuality in our lives. This adds to the importance of getting this right as early on in life as possible. The following is an incredibly powerful and accurate (unattributed) quote: “Watch your thoughts for they become your words, watch your words for they become your actions, watch your actions for they become your habits, watch your habits for they become your character, watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”
There are no judgements in this article. It’s a commentary intended to provoke meaningful thought to create alignment between our honest desired reality and the ways we live our lives, not to prescribe what the former should look like.
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