What is success?
There were times when I thought success was about creating great work; times when I believed success was about making more money; and times when I thought success was about living in the present.
None of the above definitions of success are wrong, but almost every single one of them is incomplete. How you define success defines you. Those definitions described part of my identity at the moment, but not me.
Now, I usually describe success as the combination of accomplishments and happiness. For me, success is about having fun and joy along the journey of creating the results—art, reputation, lifestyle—you desire. Success is the process of growth.
Many habits help one achieve success. I’ve written a lot about them in the past too:
- How to think clearly and make better decisions.
- How to motivate yourself and handle setbacks.
- How to eat better to improve your health.
Out of all the specific tips, tricks, and habits, there are only three habits that really matter when we’re looking at success from a broader angle. These are what keep us on track, what help us persist, and what bring us pure joy.
Self-awareness is the first step to making your life easier in both accomplishing your dreams and experiencing happiness. In other words, it’s about knowing who you are and where you want to go.
Practicing self-awareness harnesses your ability to make the right choices for yourself. It helps you to keep your priorities straight and direct your energy to the right thing.
You can do anything but not everything. —David Allen
However, self-awareness is not something that we’re born with. Just like passion, you can’t find it without testing things out.
- Take action to test out what you love, so you don’t waste 20 years on something only to find out it’s too late to change course.
- Figure out your strengths and weaknesses, so you don’t fight a battle that you can’t win.
- Define who you are and build your self-identity, so you’re not trying to be everything and end up becoming nothing.
The best way to learn about yourself is to keep asking yourself tough questions and answering them. Questions that challenge your existing paradigms and require you to think deeply. Do this every day, write them down, and reflect upon them regularly.
(I found that most creative work is a process of self-discovery. Over the past year, writing has helped me discover and uncover a lot about myself.)
Adopting The Child-Like Mindset
I have a two-year-old nephew. It’s great to have a kid at home. There is a saying that kids are here to remind adults about how to live, and that’s very true.
I found that everyone deserves to be successful because everyone is born with the traits required to accomplish great things and be happy.
First, kids don’t overthink stuff and always see the world as it is. We don’t see kids dwell on how hard it is to build a LEGO castle. We don’t see kids overthinking about the meaning of playing. And we definitely don’t see kids hide their feelings and emotions because of their egos.
We can act faster if we stop dwelling, live happier if we stop over-thinking, and communicate so much more effective when we speak our minds.
The second trait I learned from my nephew is even more important: he doesn’t stop playing. What do kids do when they fall down? They get back up quickly and start playing again. And that’s exactly what many of us need to accomplish in order to get what we want in life.
Almost all top performers and high achievers have this. They may be gifted with a better head start and opportunity, but what really makes them stand out is their ability to keep trying—again and again—every time after they’ve failed.
Finding Fulfillment in Hard Work, Challenges, and Setbacks
There is a group of people who complain about anything—the weather is terrible, the teachers suck, the government is dumb—and do nothing. They can only enjoy life when everything is going well.
The truth is, life never goes as smoothly as we want it to, and often, greatness is found and nurtured in the face of adversity. Hoping to get lucky is like hoping to hit the bullseye without aiming.
Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom. —Jim Rohn
Instead of hoping that life gets easier, and hoping that you will get better:
- If you’re an entrepreneur, don’t wait for customers to come knocking at your door. Go out, share your product, and get customers for your business.
- If you’re a writer, don’t hope for more readers to come naturally. Write every day, at the same time, reach out to other publications and writers to promote your work.
- If you’re a music producer, don’t assume people will love what you make. Give your work away for free and build your audience slowly.
Acknowledge that success is not easy. If it were easy, everyone would have done it. Then, be the other group—the group who finds joy in challenges and setbacks, the group who loves the things they do, and the group who puts in the hard work and gets addicted to the process.
Accomplish Success with Appreciation
People can accomplish a lot but still feel miserable. At the same time, some people live in the illusion that happiness is everything they ever needed without getting anything done.
Again, I see success as a combination of both accomplishment and happiness.
Ultimately, your habits are what lead you to them. The secret is simply to be self-aware, to keep a child-like mindset and momentum, and to appreciate and find fulfillment from every moment of your life.
- Speaking of happiness, I want to expand more on the concept of appreciation. I think it’s wrong or ineffective to seek happiness. We hustle to achieve our dreams, to make more money, to do great work. But we can never hustle to achieve happiness.
- What I learned about seeking happiness (and peace of mind) is that the more I seek it, the less I get it. Simply because it’s not something we can get. It’s something we choose to live with. How? Appreciate the people, things, and moments you have.