Success is something that we all want. Whether at work, at home, in relationships, with our health or even with our education. We all have dreams of attaining an improved life for ourselves. Why then is it so difficult to attain success? We may succeed in some areas of life yet fail in others or we can’t seem to attain the level of success we want.
Success has a simple formula but there are many mistakes that we make on our on-going journey to success. So let’s take a look at what the mistakes are and how to overcome them.
1. We underestimate how much work we have to put in.
This is a big one. When we draw up our initial goals and chart our path to success, we tend to underestimate how much work will have to go into achieving the goal. People tend to be overly optimistic about what they can accomplish, and therefore most don’t think things all the way through. Researchers call this the “planning fallacy”.
Take this example: You are starting up a company and have calculated that it will take roughly five meetings each week to close one deal. In this scenario, one deal a week will bring in enough profits to keep the company afloat. Simple enough, right? One meeting a day sounds very attainable but there is a catch: the underestimation of how much effort it will take to get those five weekly meetings.
Yes, five meetings, in theory, sounds easy, but to secure one meeting might take 20 calls, multiple follow-ups and a few hours of prospecting the ideal client to make sure that your product or service fits their needs. This also does not take into consideration the human element. The fear that comes with making cold calls. If this is your first time doing sales you may be reluctant to make the calls for fear of getting a “no” or it may take you more time than expected to make those twenty calls on top of all the other work you have to get done.
2. We don’t specify what success is.
It is very misleading to not put specific parameters around the success you want to achieve. All too often I hear people say “I want to be successful” but what does that mean? If you said you wanted to run a successful business and left it at that, how would you know what you were aiming for? You have to ask yourself specific questions to create the parameters.
How much profits does a successful business bring in each week? How many clients should you see weekly? How much product should be in inventory? What is the expected return on investment over one year, two years and even five years? Once you aren’t specific with your goals and the success you want, you may as well be walking blindly in the night.
Luckily, this is an easy fix. Put specific parameters around the success you want. Apply those parameters to your goals to attain that success. Your goals should be laid out in a manner that if a random individual on the streets were to read them, they could follow them step by step without any problem.
And yes, you have to write down your goals. In 2008 Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University recruited 267 participants from a wide range of professions and found that persons were 39.5% more likely to accomplish their goals if they wrote them down. Why put yourself at a disadvantage? The expectation that you will remember your goals and all the action steps associated with each goal is far-fetched at best.
3. We aren’t hungry enough for success
You don’t just wake up one morning and arrive at success. It is a constant and on-going journey. The expectation cannot be that you give 100% one day and then drop down to 20% the next day. If you truly want success you need to show up every day. Put your best foot forward every day.
Imagine that you are metaphorically walking on the path to success. Each step getting you closer and closer to success. Now the current footstep is the most important action at that moment. This is clear because it is moving you forward. But, once that step is taken the next step is now even more important than the last.
What I am getting at is you need to keep moving steadily towards your goals. Success should be a consistent and persistent mindset for you. It should be like breathing. You need to become obsessed with being successful because it’s only then that you will not only put in the work each day but have enough hunger to know that it’s a marathon. This means coming to the understanding that every step is important.
4. We have poor time management skills
Time is your most precious resource. Once it is used up you can never have it back. Why then, do we not manage it better? The majority of us “figure it out as we go’ but that’s a pretty dangerous game to play. Figuring it out means that you are living life more on a default setting. Whatever comes, comes and whatever happens, happens. How do you achieve success if you are making no plans to get there?
The biggest difference between very successful persons and those that aren’t are that the truly successful have a clear, concise, written plan. In essence, they know exactly what they are going to do and when they are going to do it. They are in the habit of time blocking their activities and sticking to their schedules. That latter part is extremely important: “sticking to their schedules”.
You cannot just make plans and expect action to follow. You have to act when the time is right! You also need to protect the time you have set aside for those most important activities as though your life depended on it. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by less important tasks. If you have created a plan for yourself and you know that the activities that you have time blocked are crucial to your success, why be distracted by other less important activities?
5. We don’t claim responsibility
I hear it all the time. The excuses that we tell ourselves. My job doesn’t pay enough. I don’t have any free time. I wish I had more energy. I would have done it, if only I were in a better circumstance. The list goes on and on. Firstly, we miss how much power our words hold. When we use words like “can’t”, “hope”, “wish” and “try” we are taking all the responsibility away from owning our actions. We leave it up to chance when the only person who can make it happen is us.
Secondly, you are the only person who can make your success a reality. Making an excuse or blaming it on something or someone gets you no closer to attaining success. That time and energy can be better spent strategizing on how you can better your circumstance. We focus too much on the negative in our lives or what we can’t do. What if we decided to think about how we can overcome our obstacles and pool all our energy into making that solution a reality? Would our respective situations change?
You are the captain of your ship called life. It is up to you to make your life better or remain where you are and blame everything and everyone. Success is attainable but it starts with you deciding that you want it. Not only want it but, need it. Claim responsibility for the decisions you make and the outcome of your life. Take stock of where you are and where you want to be. Then steadily make progress to make it a reality.