So what is success?
Of course it means different things to different people, and although we have yardsticks by which we measure say, the 50 yard dash, many times the definition is nebulous.
If you’re running the 50 yard dash, and you’re a world-class elite athlete, perhaps winning the Olympic Gold is the bar you’ve set, and nothing else will do. But that’s a fraction of the population. Even “good” athletes have goals in the more achievable range: Making it to State, winning Regionals, etc.
The point being, successfully achieving goals is such a personal measure, that defining success itself is yours to do.
I, personally, am past the point of achieving Olympic Gold. There was a time in my life that was a desire, but more years have passed than I want to recount since then!
Now my goals and dreams of success live in different areas. But live, they do. And encompassed within those is the broad but very real how to succeed in life.
Because doing so is not that different from athletic success, when you dissect it.
How do athletes succeed? By taking small, definable steps.
֎ First off, identify the goal. Specifically. Whether it be running next year’s Boston Marathon or mastering your to-do list, and everything in between.
֎ Then, break this down into what you need to get there.
- Do you need a great coach?
No matter what you undertake—from writing a novel to earning a Ph.D.—you’ll need good instruction. Someone to teach you the steps. To ensure you’re on track and progressing as you should. Someone to make sure your form is correct so you don’t get into the rut of bad habits that can hurt you.
- Do you need a support system?
What all athletes know is the old saying about relays, “We always swam (ran, etc.) faster together.”
When I first dedicated my life to writing the Great American Novel (yep, that’s my ultimate goal :), I joined a writer’s group. And while I did learn some technical things there, the main benefit was in being with like-minded folks, shooting for the same stars. We learned from one another. We spurred each other on. We were ecstatic for each other’s successes. We held each other accountable.
- Do you need special equipment?
Perhaps the computer is getting too clunky to produce that newsletter or novel. Maybe you’re running shoes are not the best for you. Maybe you need mountain-climbing gear.
Making sure you have the right tools will keep you from collapsing in a heap and pouting.
֎ Keep your eye on the prize
What every great athlete knows is that you have to keep focused on the goal.
But this is more than just envisioning yourself with that gold medal hanging around your neck, or that project completed by day’s end.
It’s about remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. At the ¾ mark in a marathon of whatever you’re tackling—be it that far into your novel, or the 3 PM slump in your afternoon—what keeps you going is an inner drive, which comes from your personal reason for shooting for this particular star.
Without that, when the going gets tough you quit.
So take a note from those elite athletes. Having competed athletically has helped me through all of the challenges of adult life (and all the athletes I know will tell you the same thing!). Because we learned the tools necessary for success.
As President John F. Kennedy said, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
How do you find success?