Looking at the stars is one of my favorite pastimes. I’m kind of a “universe-geek” and no matter how old I get, i’m still at wonder when I look at the sky. There’s so much we don’t know about our world, let alone the universe and it amazes me. At the end of the year, it’s kind of a tradition for me to step outside and take a moment to think. If i’m lucky, the clouds aren’t in the way and I can look up at the stars. At the close of 2016, this is exactly what I did.
I gazed up at the stars and thought about totality of the year, the highs and the lows.
While a lot of my friends and acquaintances choose to speak negatively about 2016, I don’t. Was it everything I ever wanted? Of course not. But it certainly wasn’t the worst year ever either. And I do my best to learn from things that don’t go well for me so that I can evolve.
What am I still looking for in my life? I thought. The thing that came to mind instantly was… “success”.
But what is “success”? No really…what is it? Because it seems to me that success means a lot of things to a lot of people. What one might deem as “making it” may be another person’s stepping stone.
Even those that are perceivably successful based on society’s standards still seem to be looking for it. Whatever it means. Ultimately, there’s always another rung to climb in the ladder of life, and it feels never-ending.
Some people would probably look at my life and exclaim that I am successful. I do work that pertains to my field of choice, I make money and I am able to live on my own.
But of course, when I look at my life, I see the myriad of things that i’m not doing that I want to. I see the discrepancies of where I want to be versus where I am. And that makes me feel pretty unsuccessful.
So when we find ourselves in this gray space of doing things but feeling like there is more, what do we do? How do we start to make the connection? To transition into that often abstract notion of feeling successful?
The first thing.
Do not Define Your Success Through Someone Else’s Lens
Remember how I mentioned earlier that i’m sure some people would look at my life and exclaim that i’m successful? That’s happened to me quite a lot actually, and it always left me feeling strange. Am I expecting too much? Am I not living in reality? If THEY think i’m successful, then I must be.
I think the first thing we can all do as we work to become successful, is understand that no one can determine what success is for us. Only we can do that. So if you feel that you are supposed to do more, then do more.
I believe that if we are in line with our purpose, and we are looking to do the most that we possibly can in this limited time we have, then there is nothing wrong with pushing for greatness. If in your heart, you feel there is more for you to do, then there is. And no amount of comments shouting “Your so successful!” are going to remedy that.
Don’t Become Ungrateful
There is a fine line between seeking more, and becoming ungrateful.
It’s okay to want to expand your life in every way possible, but it’s not okay to be so consumed with what you could be doing, that you forget to celebrate your small victories. There is a difference between being unsatisfied and ungrateful and I think it’s an important distinction we should be mindful of. Our lives can be changed at any point in time, so we should try to maintain a grateful heart for what we have, and for the journey thus far.
But don’t ever feel guilty for recognizing your purpose and pushing to realize your vision! That is part of the human condition, and it’s one of our most exciting attributes. Pursing a vision is what brought telescopes, cars, and every single invention into our world. It’s what’s made our lives easier and better. All of the advances in society happened because people were living limitlessly, they were seeking answers to our problems.
I don’t think President Obama looked at his life as a lawyer/professor (which is pretty successful by most standards) and said, You know what, this is good enough. No! When opportunity presented itself to him to become a senator, he took it, and so forth, onto the presidency. And there are many other examples where people allowed themselves to move onward and upward. We can, and should, do the same for ourselves.
Ultimately, Realize Success Is Not An Accident
I’ve read countless articles propelling this notion, but I don’t think I really understood it until most recently. Almost every single person that has attained something great, did it by following some pretty basic principles.
The main concepts that stick out to me the most are focus, persistence and consistency. Once we know what it is that we are supposed to do (or want to do) with our life, we need to have unwavering focus. Focus on what it is that we want, and what it takes to get it.
Next, we need the persistence to push through all the noise that will come up. There will be life things that will get in our way. Not just outside influences, but internal ones. We will face opposition, and it will take persistence to overcome it.
And lastly, consistency. This is what allows you to accomplish your goals. Continuously working towards them. To me, for the artist or creative, this means continuously creating and putting your work out there. Every day, something should be done that is putting you closer to your goals. Seriously.
And honestly, consistency is important for any aspect in life. You want to loose weight? You must continuously eat a certain amount of calories and workout. You want to find the right mate? You must continuously date until you meet that right person.
I’ll have to admit, consistency is one of my weakest areas. I often get in my own head, and tell myself why I don’t feel like doing this or why I shouldn’t spend time on that. I hope that you do not follow my example! We need to ignore the nay sayer in our own head. It’s only creating resistance and slowing you down.
If there’s one thing I learned this year, and if there’s one new year’s resolution I could make for myself, it would be that I want to be more consistent.
This year, and hopefully every year after, I am hoping to to listen to my calling and continue to pursue my goals with focus, persistence, and consistency. I hope the same for you to!
Let’s rock 2017, onward and upward!
What do you think it takes to become successful? What did 2016 teach you? I’m looking forward to your take!