Defining Success

LS001922Before you can achieve success, it’s critical that you invest some time in defining success.

At the age of six, Corinne Archer* started putting in long hours training in her sport. Long before she entered her teens, she had fixed her mind on a single goal: to win an Olympic gold medal. From then on, she crushed everything out of her life that didn’t contribute to her goal. Every available hour went to practice. Trophies and honors piled up as the years went by, but they meant little to Corinne beyond making her dream of winning the gold medal seem a little more real.

After eleven years, the big day finally came, and Corinne Archer arrived at the Olympics to meet the world’s toughest competitors. The contest was grueling, but she won. At seventeen, Corinne stood at the highest pinnacle she could ever hope to attain by her own definition of success. The gold medal, whose pursuit had dominated two-thirds of this young woman’s life, was now hers.

Corrine left the victory stand in tears—of joy, or so everyone thought.

For days she was near tears much of the time. Hardly able to remember a time when every waking moment hadn’t been driven by the demands of her almost impossible quest, Corinne realized almost at the instant of victory that she faced a blank future. Without that quest, this intensely goal-oriented young lady no longer had a purpose in life. From always living in the future, Corinne was suddenly thrown into living in the past.

Slowly, painfully, several difficult months went by. Then Corinne Archer began to recover from the tremendous emotional shock of losing her one goal by winning it. As she learned to live in the present, Corinne renewed her interest in life by discovering the power and beauty of having many goals rather than just one all-encompassing commitment.

Success, then, is not a thing we win, a place we arrive at, a record we set. It’s not the numbers in our bank account, the address we live at or the position we hold. If success is none of these things, then, what is it? I’ll share my definition here, then explain it in detail.

Success is the continuous journey toward the achievement
of pre-determined, worthwhile goals.

Since our lives are realities that go on and on, true success, the kind that doesn’t crumble into dust the moment we get our hands on it, must be part of that continuous journey. Each goal you set, strive for and achieve is part of your overall goal of a balanced and happy life.Little Corinne, was totally out of balance by only having one goal. Bend your efforts toward achieving a successful life.

Only you can define precisely what achieving a successful life means to you. But, if happiness has any place in your set of values, your successful life will probe many interests, experience many emotions, fill many needs, and accomplish many aims. I strongly recommend that you begin with goals for your health—physical fitness; wealth—financial security; mind—emotional stability (This includes continually learning and growing mentally.); and spiritual fulfillment for a good sense of balance.

Choose specific goals. Predetermine them far enough in advance of their deadlines to allow you to change and develop enough to reach them. Unless you do both these things, success will always be a stranger—or at best, a fickle, unfriendly, and infrequent visitor in your life.

Nothing that will give lasting satisfaction can be achieved unless the goals striven for are worthwhile. Discovering and moving toward what is truly worthwhile to you is the most challenging and rewarding task of your continuous journey through life. If you would be truly successful, accept this challenge. Think about it deeply. Then act on your conclusions.

Success isn’t all of a sudden. Success is every day. Once you get near your current goals, start thinking about where you’ll go after you get there. This is vital. And you can do it without diverting energy from nailing down the great success you’re closing in on now. Before achieving that aim, rest your mind occasionally by speculating on what your next goals will be. Make a written list of your ideas. As you find free moments, collect your thoughts about your new goals. Gather information on them.

Prepare for the potential trauma of success. Unless you plunge into the pursuit of new goals, you’ll get bored. You’ll get depressed, and you’ll start sliding downhill as soon as you lose the challenge of chasing your current goals. Witness the number of people who win celebrity and wealth in show business and then lose everything to alcohol or drugs.

Fortunately, a solid new goal is a sure cure. Don’t leave your old goal without one.

*Not her real name.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

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