But here’s the thing. Trying to be successful will not help you actually become successful, either.
The problem with success
You’re probably here because you want to be a successful person. You want the material and emotional benefits that come with that.
That’s awesome and I want it to happen for you. But while there’s nothing wrong with success, there are five important reasons why success for its own sake is the wrong focus:
1. Success is a moving target
Be honest, what’s success for you?
- Is it about launching a product and having people buy it?
- Is it about having respect from your peers and mentors?
- Is it about doing what you love so you can care for your family?
Too many people don’t create their own definition of success. They chase an idea they’ve patched together from what they’ve read, observed, or think they should be aiming for.
Do you know the feeling of not being wholly convinced that you’re pursuing the right success for you, but you’ve carried on regardless? That’s not how real success is achieved. Because even if you’re outwardly successful, you’ll feel disconnected from it. Achieving the wrong kind of success will always feel hollow.
2. Success is the wrong motivator
It’s too often based on extrinsic factors — the things you believe success can deliver.
Whether it’s physical goods, the feeling that you’ve “made it,” or thinking you’ll be free of worry and stress, these are all externalized projections about what a successful lifestyle will bring you.
When you make decisions based on an external motivator, it’s much easier to second-guess yourself. Motivation that comes from within is much more grounded and more powerful.
3. Success isn’t here, now
If you’re working hard to make something happen, it’s easy to dream about the moment you become successful. We all tend to fantastize about that big pay-off for all our hard work.
That kind of success is always elusively around the next bend. Just a few more weeks or months away. Just a bit more work, and you’ll finally be successful.
But what about now? What’s stopping you from feeling like a success right now, this very moment? Waiting for success in the future takes you out of the game in the present.
4. Success does not eliminate worry or fear
Being successful does not change how your brain works.
Success often increases worry and fear, as you question how you can repeat it or worry about losing it.
What eliminates worry and fear is shifting the patterns of thinking that result in self-doubt and second-guessing.
5. Success is limited by confidence
Perhaps most important, any success you might experience is limited by your self-confidence.
If success is achieved by taking repeated, meaningful action, then what happens if you’re not confident enough to take the actions that scare the crap out of you?
What will you do when things go wrong? Without confidence, you’ll be more inclined to retreat, beat yourself up, and reinforce a negative self-image. Nasty.
Placing your efforts on being a “successful person” is putting energy into the wrong place. It’s allowing in the complications I’ve listed above (and there are more that I haven’t listed) and ignoring how you’re thinking about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it right now.
Instead, what I’m suggesting is that you place your focus squarely on becoming a confident person, rather than a successful one.
To borrow from Dave’s article:
Success is not a person. It’s an event.
Shift your thinking from being a successful person to a confident one, and you’ll experience more success events and more failure events, both of which have abundant rewards.