When I consider success and the actions I must take to achieve that success, I sometimes approach the subject with a very polarized, “either/or” kind of mindset.
EITHER you wake up early every morning and perfectly seize every single moment of your day, OR you don’t live every moment as perfectly as you had envisioned it and you only have yourself to blame. It’s most likely your lack of will power – you convince yourself – you obviously didn’t want that success as bad as you thought you did.
EITHER you sacrifice every vice you ever had and dedicate your every free moment to developing your mind, body and soul, OR you find yourself slipping back into old habits and feeling that your ability to improve is not as fine-tuned and matured as you always hoped it was, or felt it should be.
I’ve spent a lot of time listening to advice on this very subject: How to continue moving forward in life, especially in those moments when you feel most stagnant and so eager to regain a sense of fulfilling direction. I’ve heeded advice from the, “IN YOUR FACE!! You must give ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING you have to improving yourself until you have no more to give, then keep giving!! You may hate the process, but you must be broken before you can begin to rebuild a stronger foundation” approach to the “Effort is WORTHLESS unless you feel at peace in the pursuit of something. You will never begin to improve your state of being until you first align with your inner-self and begin to feel inspired.”
Both approaches hold merit, and I feel that anyone who decided to commit to either (or neither) of them would eventually find their own version of success in their own unique way. There is one factor, however, that I feel must be present in any sort of success approach for there to be any development whatsoever – PURPOSE.
I feel that you must grab hold of a deeper purpose for why you do what you do if you are to have any hope of making real progress. You can follow anybody’s formula to success, but unless you put a genuine passion and a “why” behind those efforts, all you are essentially doing is jumping through hoops in the hopes that purpose will come along after the fact.
Making an effort to better yourself without first establishing a broader, deeper sense of purpose for doing so is kind of like ordering a new piece of furniture from IKEA (stay with me here, folks).
The package arrives at your door. In this case, the package represents your new goal. On the front of the box, you can clearly see the finished product, just like you can envision yourself completing your goal. It’s everything you hope it (you) will become, and then some. Even so, you know that in order to get to where you want to go, you must take the time and effort to put all those pieces together. Thankfully, your new furniture comes with a detailed set of instructions that will explain every last detail, and how it all fits together to create the quality product you see on the front of the box.
In terms of your new goal, these instructions are like every motivational speaker/video, friend, colleague, family member, book, quote etc – all things there to help you along and inspire your journey toward improvement. These sources, like instructions, are there to guide you and give you a unique perspective that helps you to better understand how it’s all going to come together.
And so, you embark on building your new desk/dream with all the best intentions and a desire to see it through to the end. Before long, you’ve done it. You put in the time, all the blood, sweat and tears (which is actually an equally accurate description of what it takes to achieve your goal, AND put that IKEA desk together…because damn those things can be a challenge).
You’ve given your all, and you’ve done it! You’ve got yourself a brand new desk, beautifully assembled and ready to be used…but you have no idea what for. Now here’s the part you stuck with me for (I hope): Having a goal/new destination in mind without giving it purpose and a true “why” is like putting together a beautiful piece of IKEA furniture without giving it any sort applicable function. A desk without purpose is just a desk unable to adequately serve its builder; much like a new state of being that has been achieved with nothing to show beyond the surface achievement. You have worked hard to create a new you, now what will you do with it? Achievements are short-lived moments that will quickly lose their ability to serve you if not given a purpose.
Put passion behind your new (or renewed) endeavors. Give them a “why” so that your successes feel more like a long-term cyclical process (inspiration/purpose, progress, achievement, success, growth, new inspiration/purpose, progress…) rather than a short-term, linear means to an end (Goal with minimal purpose = achievement with minimal growth. Goal without a ‘why’ = success without real change).
** Keep in mind, I don’t write blogs like these as a means of telling you, the reader, how to live your life. Rather, this is a space that allows me to present my own thoughts back to myself in a very open and vulnerable way that, in turn, challenges me to live up to the ideals and thoughts that have been running around in my own head. That said, I always appreciate your time and feedback on the things I write. Your perspectives are what allow me to keep growing, thinking, writing…all things I love to do. It is my sincere hope that my thoughts have, in some way allowed you to do the same. As always, thanks for reading!