Here are 3 tips for switching gears in order to jumpstart success:
1. Define what success really means to you. If your answer involves comparing yourself to someone else (friend, father, brother) or involves where we THINK we SHOULD be, we are sabotaging our success. If your answer involves what is truly important to you (financial freedom, travel, balance, integrity, creativity), then you are much more likely to find success. Why? Think of these examples:
“I got my degree three years before my brother. It’s not fair that he is in a higher position in the same organization!”
“When I graduated from college, I promised myself I would be a CEO of a multi-national by the time I was 35, and here I am only a lowly Director! I am not on track!”
“I have dated lots of women, but no one I felt like I wanted to marry. I should be married by now!”
“My boss just bought a Porshe 911 Turbo – bastard.” I thought of asking for a raise, but I was concerned that it wouldn’t be taken well with the business slow down.”
Do you see a trend? These statements come from a place of dissatisfaction, disappointment and unhappiness. These statements are not based on “Truth”, they are based on perception. Let’s look at the same situations from a different perspective.
“I am so pleased that my brother and I work for the same organization. It means that we see each other often, and can help each other. I am so proud of him. I believe he is proud of me too.”
“When I graduated from college, I promised myself I would be a CEO of a multi-national by the time I was 35. Here I am at 35, and I am a Director of a multi-national. Wow! Despite the deepest recession this country has seen in 100 years, my career is still on track. I am so grateful to have built a successful career. I am going to continue to work hard to climb the ladder. Time to set new goals!”
“I really would like to be married. What I’ve been doing isn’t working. Time to try something new to meet someone great.”
“My boss just bought my dream car. Wow- this means that the business must be doing well. I’m walking into his office tomorrow to negotiate a raise!”
See – even though the circumstances haven’t changed, a quick change of mindset can help us realize that we are already successful, or that if we are not, we need to set new goals or
take a different approach. Does being negative and resentful get us what we want? If it did, would we be able to enjoy it when we got it? Think about it.
2. Here’s an exercise. I suggest you take notes. Think of a time in your life – it could be an instant, a summer, a period, a year, a day. Think of a time when you were truly happy, when time slowed down, when everything was perfect. Now answer these questions in writing. Where were you? When was this? What were you doing? Who were you with? What was the weather like? What did you smell/taste/touch/hear? How were you feeling? What was the best part? What happened to time?
Once you’ve written down your answers, circle the words that jump out at you. You should have a list of at least 5 items. These things are some of your “values” or what’s truly important to you.
We can only be successful if what we are doing and who we are being is in line with our values. Just as a high-performance car will not perform if it is not tuned up properly, the tires aren’t aligned or the car needs an oil change, we won’t perform our best if we are out of alignment.
For example, I am a gregarious person. I love parties, socials and networking events. I am a terrible networker because I end up chatting and not getting any business done! If I was offered a job as a computer programmer or an accountant, I would check in with my values and realize that I would most likely be very unhappy and stressed because I wouldn’t have many opportunities to be in social situations at work. I am generalizing here, I realize. Sure there are computer programmers and accountants who work in teams, but you get my drift.
Consider what your values are, and look at how you spend your time. If they are in alignment, wouldn’t you consider yourself to be “successful”?
3. Now it’s time to talk about Optimism. What is your “Truth” about optimism? Here’s some I’ve heard – “optimists are born not made”, “optimists just wear rose coloured glasses – they don’t get reality!”, “optimism is for other people, I’m a realist!”
I’m here to tell you a new definition of optimism AND that optimism can be learned!
Optimism allows us to see that we have choices. Pessimists blame others or circumstances. Optimists take responsibility and find solutions. Sometimes we think we are being “realistic”, when really we are over-emphasizing risks and stifling our own or others’ creativity. Optimists see the risks AND are able to identify multiple solutions.
How can you learn to be an optimist? Here is something you can try:
Look at a challenging situation and tell yourself: “This is temporary; It is a one-off; I can do something to solve this problem.” Then acknowledge the difficulty of the situation – list everything that has gone, might go or will go wrong. (I am not suggesting putting on rose-coloured glasses!) Once you’ve listed the difficulties, add the word “AND” and list the possibilities and options. This is a good opportunity to brainstorm with your team.
These three tips really work IF you put them into practice. Jumpstart your success today!
Your success is like driving a performance car –
you need to stay awake, have a certain amount of skill, push the limits, and enjoy it!
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Donna Needs, ACC, MSc.