Success is not always easy, fair or a walk in the park as someone once noted.
The reality is that success is filled with numerous challenges as well as opportunities for growth and possibility. So how can you level the playing field and create more ease, fairness and turn that walk in the park one you will look forward to?
Let’s start with the obvious common denominator which is you.
We don’t want to always look inward as to what’s not working but with all the unknowns that surprise us every day – take solace in knowing you can do something about it.
Instead of blaming external circumstances – lets look at how we sabotage our own success and happiness. Here are 5 of the most common ways we derail our own lives.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
– Theodore Roosevelt
I wrote about this in a previous article. Comparing ourselves to others is a slippery slope – especially when we usually know less than the full story of facts. Comparison always includes judging. If the result turns out unfavorable for us, it’s easy to think of ourselves as a failure. Society has us constantly measuring ourselves to what we see on tv or online – a vision of the unreal. Aspiring to follow a trend or measure our self and worth against something fake is a lose-lose.
Instead try this: Take stock on who you are and what strengths you have that has brought you this far. Create a list of all your accomplishment and don’t stop until you feel you have exhausted all avenues. If you get stuck, ask five friends or colleagues – the key is to collect new and empowering evidence of who you and how great you are.
For more reading on how to stop derailing your own life I recommend:
“Self-confidence is not taught or learned; it is earned by surpassing your own self-limitations”
– John Raynolds
Self-doubt can be one of the most powerful drivers in life – unfortunately many times it’s force is to strong to control and we are overtaken with our insecurities and beliefs about how we aren’t able to measure up in times of need. Embracing potential failure is part of the road to success (look at my article “Leadership Lessons: 20 Famous People Who Failed At First) but giving up is unacceptable. It’s okay to pause and reflect as a stepping stone to move forward. Just make sure your pause doesn’t become permanent.
Instead try this: Don’t think about why you can’t, but how, and what you need in order to succeed. What’s one action you could take right now? – no matter how small. Direct your energy towards learning to accept yourself, and appreciate what you have accomplished already. List your achievements and name everything, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
“Holding on to the past means you can never be open to having a future” – Laurann Dohner
Holding on to the past
I love the expression, “when the past calls, let it go to voicemail as it has nothing new to say” – this is so true. The past is the past and although there are times we love to remember the good ol’ days – there are many days that may not have been so good and our brains aren’t the best at filtering out our highlights from our lowlights. No matter what we do, we can’t change it. Everyone has emotional baggage to carry, but the crucial factor is what we do with it: Are we willing to learn and move on, or are we going to dwell on it and consider being unhappy our fate? The choice is truly yours.
Instead try this: Don’t regard the past as a burden or a happy time gone forever, instead look to it as a motivation to make things better and a stepping stone towards something bigger and better. And, above all, forgive yourself for past mistakes. Forgiveness is necessary for self-healing.
“It’s impossible,” said pride.
“It’s risky,” said experience.
“It’s pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.
Fear of the unknown
Life is full of surprises and that’s what makes life…um…life. People are always seeking for the meaning of life while others are busy living it. Change is a constant and only possible if you’re not afraid of what might be coming your way. You always have a choice if you “choose” to see and take it. Life is trial and error.
Instead try this: Embrace the unknown and find solace in that no one knows everything or what’s coming their way. Your brain will try to protect you while your heart can ignite you. Ignite your passion and emotions around what’s possible in the state of unknown.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
– Thomas Edison
Fear of failure
If you believe you can’t do something, you will always prove yourself right. Winning at a losing pace is not sustainable for success or happiness. Failure is always a possibility when taking on a new venture. With each try, you can learn how to improve as well as a new skill. Eventually, if you keep at it – you are going to succeed. If you’re willing to embrace failure as a valuable experience to learn from, you will come out a winner every time.
Instead try this: Be gentle with yourself and recognize you may be taking on something you have never done before. Set yourself up for success but doing your homework on the task at hand and make sure you have a support system in place sufficient to achieve your goals.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence” – Vine Lombardi
A mentor of mine once told me to strive for excellence and skip perfection as that is one target that will always be moving. I never understood what she meant until later in life. Perfection has a way of seducing you into lining your ducks up in a row before taking action when in fact – once you do that (if you can at all) the time has come and gone to take the necessary action. There will always be room for edits, revisions, rewrites, and iterations – it will never be perfect. At some point, though, you have to stop and trust that it’s good enough.
Instead try this: Before going down the rabbit hole of version 2.0+, get the input of some trusted advisors. Soliciting feedback can be scary but it can also be the necessary step needed to move yourself and your task closer to completion and dare I say “perfection.”
Joshua Miller is a creative leader and impactful executive coach.
His career spans both the advertising world and the world of leadership. In advertising, he was the creative lead, responsible for the campaign strategy for Fortune 100 brands. Today, he is an innovator. He’s supporting the executive development and change management for many of the same companies.
Joshua studied at Syracuse University, NYU and Stanford. He combines that background with his deep knowledge of organizational behavior, performance and change management. He focuses on the analysis, design, development, delivery, and evaluation of scalable and global talent development solutions programs.
Joshua is a Master Certified Coach. He trained with the International Coaching Federation and CTI (The Coaches Training Institute).