Reasonable Expectations for Success



As I stated last week, how you define success for yourself is going to directly influence how successful you feel. This feeling comes down to taking the focus off the result itself, and honing in on the actions you are taking toward the result you desire. What goals you set for yourself are essential for maintaining that focus, perseverance, and most importantly, your self-confidence. In doing this it is important to create reasonable criterion for success for whatever you are looking to improve on.

Someone once shared a saying I found very wise: “If you focus on the results you will never change. If you focus on change you will get results.” It is so common for people to define their personal success by results they have NO control over. I can’t tell you how many times I hear examples of this. People who interviewed for a job they did not get take it as a reflection on themselves and say, “I must not have been qualified.” Or people trying to get back into an exercise routine do it once, feel exhausted, and say, “I’m just too old.”  And, I can’t tell you how men define their success based on whether ONE woman goes out with them or not and they end up with this global belief “I’m just not good with women.

The only thing you only have control of are your actions. Define success by your actions, not other people’s responses. The only question you should be asking yourself in terms of evaluating personal success: “Did I take the action I wanted to take?” 

Remember that Personal Code I asked you to do a few weeks ago? This is where it comes in really handy. Did you act the way you wanted to act? Did you act in congruence with your personal integrity? Did you do what you set out to do?

Let’s get to some examples...

If you’re gearing up to return to an exercise routine you had put by the wayside for years, expecting to perform at the level you were when you were doing it consistently will hamper the likelihood that you are going to actually keep up with that routine. Build your body back up with smaller, more achievable goals, and don’t set your mind up to cut you back down. If three years ago you ran 5K’s but have not run more than a couple of times in the past two years, trying to push yourself to run 5K your first run back will end your return before it even really began. Psychologically you will tell yourself “I’m too old,” or “I can’t run like I used to.” Of course you can’t! It’s been two years since you’ve taken a run at all! But by creating an unreasonable criterion for success you are going to create self-limiting beliefs and deflate your confidence. 

Make those smaller achievable goals you meet along the way your criteria for success. You can look back on your day and tell yourself, “I set out to run a mile today and I did it.” If you focus strictly on the result (wanting to be able to run the entire 5K) rather than the actions you take toward the result, your focus will always be on what you have not accomplished rather than what you have accomplished. You will always be focused on the future and what you’re doing now will never feel good enough. 

If you have social anxiety but want to be able to walk up to a woman with confidence and no anxiety, it’s like that time your father tried to teach you to swim by throwing you in the deep end of the pool. Did it work? It likely just frightened you and created some residual anger, but gave you none of the building blocks you needed to brave the deep end alone. I can’t tell you how many men think they should be able to muster up attraction naturally and think of themselves as defective because they are not able to do this at the snap of a finger. This level of conversation and ability to flirt is an acquired skill. The men who are good at this have a lot of PRACTICE at it! So, start yourself off simple. 

Make success the fact you talked to that woman who caught your interest, not whether or nor she accepted your advances. You have no control over whether the other person accepts your advances or responds positively to you asking them out! If you define success on whether she says yes or not, some days you will feel like you’re on cloud 9, and some days you will feel like a pure and utter failure. 

Remember, all that you can do is control the things that you can control now. Focus your attention on the fact that you’re taking action toward the change you want in yourself, and avoid putting weight on the fact of the result or on people’s responses. Take your successes and your failures in equal stride (don’t get too carried away when you succeed and don’t beat yourself up when you mess up). Despite the result at the end of the day you’re going to be the same person. YOU ARE ENOUGH! This cannot be over-emphasized. Once you truly realize you are enough you won’t worry about how other people respond to you or not. You won’t focus on the fact that your frienemy Tim can run faster than you in that 5K right now. You won’t be focused on whether that business you started is raking in money or not. You won’t be focused on the things you have no control over, wasting energy in fruitless worry. You won't need to go out and get the results. You’ll be taking reasonable action toward the change you want, and the results will come to you.

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