How do you define success? If asked this question a couple years ago, I would have answered that success means getting a college degree, working a 9-5 job, climbing the corporate ladder, finding a nice wife, and retiring with a white picket fence. Since starting on my self-development journey, however, my definition has changed. Now, I believe that there is only one success and that is to live life on your own terms.
Everyday we are exposed to a multitude of ideas and belief systems through the content we consume and the people we associate with. If you don’t consciously define what success means to you, then you will subconsciously succumb to the definition of society. You’ll climb the ladder towards what you think is success, but once you reach the top you’ll realize that the ladder was leaned up against the wrong wall and you won’t be fulfilled. And success without fulfillment, as Tony Robbins says, is the ultimate failure.
Once you’re clear on your ideal future, execution is where rubber meets the road. Determine the price of your vision and develop the discipline to pay it every single day.
Below are the six psychological forces that determine the extent of your success as well as your ability to sustain taking massive daily action over the long term:
Your standards are what you’re willing to live with. Everything from your financial situation to your body fat percentage is determined by your standards. A major breakthrough is in the realization that we are not the highest version of ourselves that we can imagine but the lowest version of ourselves that we can accept.
Understand that you will do very little to achieve your goals but fight like hell to not breach your standards. Your standards are like a subconscious thermostat that determine what you think you deserve in life. The only way to achieve your goals is to turn them into irrefutable standards.
Carol Dweck is a researcher and University of Stanford professor that has dedicated her life to figuring out what separates the people that fulfill their potential from the ones that don’t. After decades of research, Dweck’s major finding was that of mindset. More specifically, she found that having a growth versus a fixed mindset determines the extent to which one fulfills their potential.
With a fixed mindset, you believe that your abilities are limited. You believe that the cards you’ve been dealt are the ones you’ll be stuck playing with for the rest of your life. You don’t believe that you can improve and you see challenges as a threat to your sense of self. As such, you are focused on maintaining an image rather than on growth and improvement.
“In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.” – Carol Dweck
With a growth mindset, you believe that your abilities have tremendous room for improvement. You understand that you’ve been dealt a certain set of cards, but you know that the cards will change as you play the game of deliberate practice. You see challenges not as threats, but as opportunities for growth. As such, you are focused on learning and improvement rather than maintaining an image.
The only way to achieve success is by improving yourself and becoming the type of person that deserves it. Shifting from a fixed to a growth mindset is a prerequisite to making any type of considerable progress in your life.
The word energy literally means a capacity for work. And work is the bridge between where you are right now and where you want to be in the future. Your energy level will determine the extent to which you’re able to follow through on your daily actions over the long term.
To achieve and maintain high levels of energy, you must have the fundamentals of eating, moving, and sleeping handled. Moreover, ask yourself what activities drain you of energy and seek to eliminate or reduce them.
To achieve a certain result, you need to acquire certain skills. Elon Musk tells us that the modern education system is obsolete because it doesn’t equip us with the skills necessary to thrive in a world of exponential technology. Think about what skills will remain relevant in the future and work on developing them every single day. Some skills that I’m working on right now include public speaking, writing, and email marketing.
Making progress is great, but the all important question is: To what end? Having a vision for your end goal allows you to align your efforts with your destination. You could be really good at taking action, but it will be all for nothing if the place you end up isn’t where you want to be.
To gain clarity on your vision, write down your eulogy. Journal on what you would want people to say at your funeral. A lot of us have a fear of death but if we look closely, we can see that death is the veil behind which everything unimportant – external expectations, fear of failure, pride, and vanity – disappears.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs
6. The Mastermind Effect
You already know that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, but are you actually living in alignment with that truth? Are your friends people that you admire and respect or are they your friends because that’s the way it’s always been? Have you shared your goals and ambitions with those around you? If not, why not?
These are important questions to answer because your relationships have a profound impact on your future. We subconsciously pick up the habits, beliefs, and thought patterns of those around us. This is known as the mastermind effect. The people you surround yourself with will determine the direction of your destiny. Hang out with five millionaires and you’ll be the sixth.
Whatever success means to you, the essence of it comes down to living life in your own way. Visualize your ideal future, determine the price of it, and develop the discipline to pay that price every single day. Once you get the six psychological forces working for you rather than against you, the road to success will be travelled with far fewer road bumps.