What is Success for you?
Success is different for everyone, but there are some commonalities that apply across the board.
Whether you want to start a new business or coaching classes, learn a new skill, achieve a fat bank balance or a roaring career, gain name and fame or get a lot of followers, be healthy, fit and fine or win awards, the steps to achieve the goal are same.
The path to Success and measures for success in life may be different and very personal to each one. Some people look at wealth as the measure of success, while others chose personal happiness, some crave for a flexible work schedule, where as others want good relationships with family and friends.
The pursuit of success may force you to face obstacles and work harder but can help you live a more meaningful life. Success is important for both personal happiness and professional growth. It can provide more meaning, a sense of achievement, and even financial rewards.
But I would like to define success as what Earl Nightingale says in “The Strangest secret in the world”. He says ‘Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal, and is achieved by those who do a predetermined job deliberately’.
I would like to define the following four as the most important steps and dive a bit deeper into the above statement by Earl Nightingale for becoming successful.
- Setting Goals
- Forming relevant habits
- Growing with marginal changes
- Being laser focused and taking massive action
Goals are basically your dreams or desires with a deadline. You can have a big list of wants, desires and dreams that you want to fulfil, but unless you put a date and time by when you want to achieve them, they do not become a goal. They remain as dreams.
So for all those who are aspiring to be successful, you need to start by writing down your wants with a definite timeline for achieving them. Generally, as you are asked to dream big, your goal may have a probability of becoming too big, hard and unrealistic. And while trying to achieve them, you may become overwhelmed, burnt out and end up, giving up too soon. Or else you may make it so easy and simple to attain, that you get bored, remain stagnant and if care is not taken, you may regress instead of progressing.
This means that you need to set goals that are neither too hard nor too easy but just right. You need a goal that makes you uncomfortable because it is so big, so that it pushes you out of your current comfort zone. This is where growth happens, just on the edges of discomfort and challenge.
We need to strike a balance between ‘simple’ goals and ‘unrealistic’ goals. This is an example of the Goldilocks Rule. The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities.
2. Forming habits
The secret of success of any individual who has been successful — has been the fact that they had established the habit of doing things that losers did not want to do. Establishing a habit to do something regularly till one achieves one’s Goal is what differentiates a winner or extra ordinary person from a normal person.
Here I wanted to cite an example from my academic life. I was aspiring to get the top rank in my final Semester. However, I found that I was weak in Engineering drawing as my work used to be shabby as I erased many times whenever I made mistakes. In the final semester we had a 3 hours’ paper on Electrical Engineering Drawing for which I was scoring less than 60 percent marks in the regular submissions for evaluation. So during the study leave, I made it a point to devote 3 hours (the time required to attempt an examination) to answer old question papers and draw every day, without erasing even once. Though very slow initially, over the next 15 days, I gained the required expertise to attempt the paper in 3 hours and without making any mistakes. For a person who was getting below first class in the regular papers, I topped the class and university in Electrical Engineering Drawing. Even though I was actually losing 3 hours daily, which I could have been devoted to sharpen other subjects, my determination to do this regularly paid rich dividends.
Now take another look at all the goals you have written down, but this time commit to doing at least one thing every day that will bring you a step closer towards achieving that goal. Remember that thinking less and doing more will provide better results .
3 Growing with marginal changes
The way to ensure that you improve daily, is by tracking your growth. Your growth lies in, how you keep track of the actions you are taking, and whether these actions are leading you in the right direction or not.
Initially, it might seem as if you’re not doing enough but you need to understand that these sorts of improvements don’t just add up , but they compound. So if you can become just 1% better every day, you will be 37 times better at the end of the year. This concept is taken from the book Atomic Habits by James clear, wherein he gives example of how a coach is called in to improve the performance of a mediocre cycling team by making small improvements regularly till they won the championship.
I would like to substitute that story with my story. I was transferred as team lead of Master Governance Team of ERP department at Bharat Petroleum. I noticed that there were 5 to 6 team members who struggled to meet the expectations and workload. They were actually getting burnt out with the requests pouring in for master maintenance from all over the country and still being blamed for not meeting the timelines. I observed that the jobs to be done were piling up in a folder where requests were maintained, I started with small changes of having a “Done Folder” to push the done ones, reviewing the pending ones, and then setting up automated systems to monitor one by one. Within a month we could see that staff could leave on time and over a period of 3 months, we started getting complements on our service delivery, and over a period of One Year, we could release staff for other jobs, as well as win few awards for the department.
So when and if you form your habits which can take you closer to your goals, it is way easier to get at least 1% better every day. This 1% growth every day, will further motivates you to continue and be consistent. The most effective form of motivation, is observing your progress. On days when you don’t feel like doing too much or doing anything at all, you can remind yourself that you only need to give an extra 1%. And definitely all of us can provide that extra 1%.
Here I would like to stress on the concept of Progressive Realization or Progressive achievement of one’s Goal with daily marginal improvements.
Focusing on our growth allows us to be happy in the present moment. Knowing that you’re constantly improving even if it is by the smallest of margins should make you happy. Growing regularly allows you to celebrate your small wins and this will also give you instant gratification. Celebrating your small wins, means you get to continue on the path that gave you those small wins, because what is rewarded, is repeated.
4 Laser Focus and taking Massive Action
Those who are successful are very keen on pursuing what they desire. They focus on the Goals diligently and take massive action on the steps that are required for reaching the goal. So once you have defined your goals with deadlines, write them down with all steps or actions required to be taken to achieve them with deadlines for each one of them . Schedule them in your calendar.
List down 4 to 5 Tasks which will take one closer to achieving the goal in the Daily “To Do list” and take action on the most important one first thing in the morning and the rest before the close of day .
It is not enough to write things down, the world rewards action. Taking positive action is more important than having positive thoughts alone. So take action even if it is not perfect. Consistent imperfect action is the way forward. Every day, review your goals for at least 15 minutes and reschedule if need be. Make something and put it out into the world. Then do it again and again.
You won’t achieve your goals by doing just one thing. Achieving your goals will be the result of taking action multiple times and consistently.
It may seem like a daunting task to become successful, but it doesn’t have to be. Take time to define success for yourself. Make a list of things that will make you feel successful. Start forming few habits, which will progressively take you towards your goal with marginal improvements regularly. Then, follow that up with steps you can take to achieve that success. Focus solely on the steps you need to take each day which will help you get closer to achieving the Goals. Every day, review your goals for at least 15 minutes .
Remove distractions and avoid being burnt out. Be passionate about what you do every day, and stay committed–even when things get hard. Journaling your success is a great motivator
Final Note: Success is a journey not a destination