This article will talk about success. How have we been taught to perceive success? Is success an internal state of being or an external set of circumstances? And if success is an internal state of being how can we achieve it?
I will answer these questions and others with this article. By the end of it you will have a greater understanding of success; it’s sources and the common pitfalls we fall into when pursuing it. The core of this article can be summed up with the following statement: success is the journey.
Let’s get to it.
Success – What Have We Been Taught About it?
If you’re reading this article then you were most likely raised in a city, like me. Cities are one of humanity’s greatest inventions. They…
- Allow for multivariate human interactions.
- Centralize services such as waste management, water and power delivery as well as housing.
- Create scientific and cultural progress at scales never before seen in the history of our species.
Like with everything material in life, cities come with downsides, for example:
- The larger and more populated the city, the more difficult it is to access nature.
- Cities are hubs of pollution, homelessness, crime and corruption.
- They allow for easy mass manipulation through advertising and other forms of media (newspapers, radio and television)
Just goes to show you that you can’t have anything good without the accompanying bad. In the material world, at least.
Another characteristic of cities is that they allow for the explicit display of wealth. People at the top of the wealth pyramid can easily exhibit their opulence to thousands upon thousands of people by simply going for a drive down a busy city avenue.
It’s human nature to want the best for ourselves. And it’s human nature to talk and gossip. Like waves rippling from the center of a pond, the talk of the luxurious lives of the wealthy spreads to every nook and cranny of our psyches. Who hasn’t heard the stories of the ten thousand dollar dinners, seeing the polished chrome of a Rolls Royce and the glamour of red carpets and courtside seats at basketball games? We are taught to admire the wealthy, because they live what most only dream. The wealthy are shrouded in a veil of mystery, tantalizing stories of what a person is capable of if they but use their heads and work their butts off. Add social media to our incredibly talkative natures and you get an explosive cocktail of superficial admiration mixed with ignorance; we begin to feel as though we aren’t enough just as we are; that we need to accomplish, build, succeed just be worthy of being loved.
And that really hurts.
But it wasn’t always like that.
Before the industrial revolution began around 250 years ago, most human beings lived in villages. Village life was simple. Everyone knew everyone and it was easy to excel at a skill or trade. If you lived in a village, odds were good that you could be the most handsome boy or most beautiful girl in town. And if not, then you wouldn’t be so unsatisfied with second, third, or even tenth or twentieth place in the attractiveness hierarchy.
That changed as we moved into cities and technology evolved. Today, we no longer compete with the few dozen or so other boys and girls in the village. Today we compete with the world.
When it comes to success in our world today, the wealthy set the tone.
But can people who are not wealthy truly understand success from watching the latest celebrity gossip shows or Hollywood blockbuster? When we follow a wealthy person on social media, Are we getting the substance of success? In other words, Are all the wealthy unquestionably successful?
The answer is no. Being wealthy does not mean being successful. “Success” means the striving for and achievement of a worthy goal. “Wealth” means an abundance of valuable material possessions or resources.
See the difference?
Success is internal. Wealth is external. Success is defined personally. Wealth is defined by others. Success can never be bought, sold, inherited or gifted. It can only be earned through action. Wealth can be shuffled about like any other commodity.
The difference between success and wealth; success being an internal phenomenon and wealth being an external one, is infinite. Wealth and success have become conflated in our minds. All of our exposure to the superficial, conspicuous status symbols of wealth without the accompanying discussion of what it means to be successful have left us unable to tell the difference between the two.
And it’s only by knowing the difference that we can shut out all the distracting noise surrounding wealth and focus on the substance that is success. We set the terms of our success. No one else.
What is success according to you? Not according to your parents, grandparents, extended family, teachers, celebrities or anyone else. What does your heart want?
Is success to you serving others? Then by doing so you are successful. Is it making awesome art? Then make art and you will be successful? Even if you don’t think your art is “good”, by practicing you will begin the process of getting better. Is success to you traveling the world? Then start. Take the steps to do it now and you will be successful. It’s part of the definition “success is striving for a worthy goal.”
No matter who or where you are or where you’ve been, you can be successful. It all starts within you.
Start With Success And The Wealth Comes
I’m going to share with you an incredibly powerful diagram which I have adapted from “Atomic Habits” an excellent book by James Clear. It shows the most effective way we can bring about change in our life circumstances.
Look at the three levels of the diagram. The first, the core, is “Identity or Beliefs.” The second and third are “Processes” and “Outcomes”, respectively. When it comes to improving our life circumstances, most of us have learned that we should focus on the “Outcomes.” We should set realistic goals and then put all of our attention there and work as hard as we can to get there. We should get that university degree and then we’ll be successful. We should get that promotion and then we’ll be happy. We should get that romantic relationship and then we’ll be satisfied. But that way of going about changing our life circumstances comes with many problems:
- We focus so much on goals we forget that life happens in the present. So we put our happiness on hold until we achieve our goal.
- We are so focused on the goal we fail to pay attention to the process, so our work is less effective.
- We fail to change our beliefs, which is where lasting change actually starts.
Focusing on changing the “Outcomes” while ignoring our “Identity or Beliefs” is like trying to get our reflection in the mirror to smile by manipulating the reflected image. It’s trying to create change from the outside in.
It doesn’t work.If we want to create lasting change we need to focus our efforts on changing our beliefs; our beliefs about ourselves, about success, money, happiness and relationships. Only when we change our beliefs do we experience lasting change. When we focus on changing our beliefs, change flows effortlessly from the inside out. This is excellent news, because if you’re a human being then you have the power change your beliefs.Our subconscious mind orchestrates our lives with a wisdom our conscious mind could never match. Need proof of this? Are you currently instructing your heart on how it should beat? Or telling your stomach how to digest? Or telling your glands what hormones they should be releasing, in what proportions and when? Of course not, you’re not handling any of those things. Your subconscious mind is doing it for you. It is wiser than you are. It can also lead you to success if you let it.
A similar diagram, more spiritual in its approach to conveying the same idea is this one:
Here the levels go from “Spirit” to “Emotions” to “Mind” and “Body.” The idea remains the same. Change yourself and change flows outwards to your life circumstances.
I speak from personal experience. Throughout my early twenties I focused on changing the outside world to enact change in my inner world. I told myself that once I moved countries and worked in a prestigious government lab I would be happy. Didn’t happen. Then I told myself that once I moved again and studied at a top-notch university I would be fulfilled. Didn’t work. And then I told myself that when I found a beautiful partner I would be satisfied.
Nothing worked, obviously.
Because I was focusing my energies on changing the outcomes, the outside world. As long as you remain stuck on yourself you keep on living the same patterns over and over until you learn to let go.
And I did learn. Which is why I can write this article now to share with you.
Success Starts Now
Humans are incredibly powerful for many reasons:
- We have the ability to look back on our memories and learn lessons from our past actions.
- We can imagine the future and plan to behave in ways which will create what we want to experience. We can cooperate with each other and achieve things together which are greater than anything we could ever achieve alone.
- And we can reprogram our subconscious mind by simulating emotions. This is a superpower and once we learn how to wield it we explode our capabilities for success.
The emotions we experience in the present express themselves through our actions. For example, if you’re writing in your journal while you’re angry what you write will be imbued with your anger. The same happens when your sad, disappointed or afraid. The good thing about journaling is that when you write your emotions down they get out of you and stay on the page.
But what if you’re angry and you interact with a coworker or your romantic partner? What is likely to happen? Answer: Unless your partner is incredibly present and responds rather than reacts, you’re likely to elicit an angry response from them.
How you are expresses itself in your life circumstances. In other words, your emotional and mental state shapes your world.
How you do things is more important than what you do. That’s an ancient spiritual tenet.
I’ll write it again in another form. How you live is more important than what you live. Every moment we plant the seeds of our future and the fruits we reap depends on the seeds we sow (how we are).
This means that if you want to experience success you need to be success. If you want to experience love you need to be love. If you want to experience happiness you need to be happy. Now.
We have been taught that we need to identify with the lack and scarcity we experience now so that we can achieve our goals. That we should experience life as “not enough” so we can act to “get enough.” But that way leads to permanent unsatisfaction with the now. Living that way guarantees we will have become so accustomed to living in unsatisfaction that we won’t be able to enjoy our achievement if and when it comes. We will be so used to living in the future that when our future is finally present we will be found away. It seems like a cruel joke that the more we work while experiencing lack the more we actually push away abundance.
Which is what happened to me.
What’s the way around that?
Be successful now and you will succeed. Be happy now and you will be happy. Be love now and you will be loved.
As a human you don’t need to depend on exterior circumstances to feel successful, happy and loved. You have the power to create those states within yourself. By doing so the change flows outwards to the world and your life circumstances. You manifest how you are.
A Technique To Be Successful Now
The article titled “Use the Power of The Subconscious Mind To Make Things Happen – Succeed Effortlessly” contains a powerful technique to experience the emotions of your future success now.
I am going to share another technique which I use regularly to keep myself in a state of success. You will need a notebook and a writing utensil.
- In a notebook (or journal) date and time.
- Now write the question “How does it feel to be successful?” – Imagine (feel) the success as you write this question down. If you’re having trouble feeling success then remember a time when you felt successful. Everyone has been successful at something sometime. It doesn’t matter if it was a small success. What matters is that you felt successful. Use your memory of success to anchor your future success.
- Ask more questions related to how you want to feel, for example:
- “How does it feel to be loved?”
- “How does it feel to be brilliant?”
- “How does it feel to be unique?”
- “How does it feel to live my dreams?”
There is no limit to the questions you can ask yourself! When you ask questions you expand your mind.
Once your done, finish the entry with “It feels like now.”
Sign the page.
This writing exercise puts you in a state of success (or whatever you want to experience) now. By experiencing those emotions now you communicate with your subconscious which then sets to work for you. You still need to take action, but when you do it will be under the guidance of your wisest self.
To your success!