I’m thinking about success today. What it means to be successful. What I have to do to get there. What I’m willing to sacrifice. Everything costs something in this world.
The truth is that success means something different to everyone. To some it’s massive wealth, to others it’s being sought after for your intellect. To me it means achieving my goals and getting to enjoy the results.
1. Life isn’t all beer and skittles
Human beings aren’t fulfilled when they have only playtime. We need our existence to mean something and if all we do is eat, drink, and play, there is nothing that separates us from animals. We wouldn’t have movies, books, TV, airplanes, cars, electricity, the Internet, and more if we weren’t driven to do more with our brief lives. These things are fantastic, but everything is subject to diminishing returns. They need to be enjoyed in moderation. Only you can limit your playtime. We all need some playtime though, so make a little time to play those video games, go on a drunken weekend adventure with buds, or whatever works for you.
2. Haste makes waste, but when one door shuts, another opens
Patience is a virtue. Virtues aren’t easy to live by. They take commitment. Patience is one I struggle with most. I was eager to be born and arrived a couple of weeks early. As a child, when I wanted something like access to my sandbox, it had to be “right now, daddy!” But I recognized this in myself as I grew up and martial arts is something that has helped me with it. Many things you just can’t achieve overnight. They require long-term effort.
Any port will do in a storm, but after the storm calm returns you have to deal with the fact that you may be in a different place than you intended. Sometimes it’s worth exploring that road and sometimes it’s too much of a detour. Knowing yourself and your goals can help you figure out which it is.
3. Things don’t come to those who wait
Things only come to those who wait if they’ve laid the matching groundwork for the thing they await. Goal achievement takes hard work and patience. To an outsider, a successful person looks lucky because they don’t see all the times that person sacrificed. They don’t see the holidays missed to learn a new skill, so you could be ready to make use of it when an opportunity came about. Opportunities also mean nothing if you aren’t willing to take a leap. This leap isn’t without risk, but you must calculate the risk instead of jumping blindly in like a fool. If you hesitate too much, you miss out completely.
All that said, some things do fix themselves. This is something you learn if you work in management. Not every fire is real. If you call the fire department because your smoke alarm is going off, you might be paying a bunch of money to them because your microwave burnt some popcorn. It’s more important to know when to wait and when to strike.
3. Punctuality is the soul of business
The early bird gets the worm, but if you aren’t a bird, getting up early may not make sense. Being on time doesn’t necessarily mean a specific range of hours, but the time that puts you where you need to be when you need to be there. Being on time for an important meeting may mean you have to sacrifice elsewhere in your life in order to meet someone outside of office hours.
Some people are a little more time blessed than others, but being in the right place and time is only the right place and time if you have the skills needed to seize the opportunity. Nobody gets anywhere on luck alone. You can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket and it’s more likely that you’ve bought many over the years.
4. Little strokes fell great oaks
Sometimes all we can give is five minutes. Five minutes a day towards a goal adds up over time. Five minutes a day over a year comes out to about 30 hours. That’s nearly one full work week. Maybe you have financial goals, but you don’t have much you can set aside. Five dollars a day comes to $1,825 at year’s end. It may not seem like much, but that would be enough to pay off my credit card twice with some left over. And if you can only save a dollar a day? You’ll have $365 to go towards something like an extra payment on an outstanding loan to help you get out of debt faster.
Things like martial arts, learning an instrument, learning to write, building careers, and building relationships all take effort spread out into manageable chunks over time. Learning this fact has helped me with goal achievement.
5. Walnuts and pears you plant for your heirs
Some things you do may be meant for your children to reap the benefits from because they just can’t get to a usable state during the time you have to live. This is OK. It’s good to have goals of varying time frames. Short term goals like tackling the mountain of dishes can help us feel better equipped to tackle bigger goals like editing a novel. In doing those smaller things, you gain a feeling of accomplishment that helps you feel better about the other things you haven’t finished yet.
6. What cannot be cured must be endured
There will be bumps along the way. Some you can get around easily. When dealing with those, you can’t meet them half-way. You have to fix them or they’ll keep resurfacing and continually eat away at your time, budget, and energy.
Some are immovable objects like a health condition that you just have to accept. Having an autoimmune condition, I know this. Luckily, mine is mild compared to some, but it still screws up my plans sometimes. I have the choice of how to deal with it. I can let it stop me and label myself a victim, or I can plan things for when I run into a wall of fatigue and can’t do much but watch TV. The unexpected always happens at the worst time. If I have things on my to-do list that I can do when I’m tired like read a movie script or book, then I’m still accomplishing something. Sleep isn’t a waste either. I need to make time to take care of myself or I’ll find myself on a path to an early grave and it’s hard to accomplish things when dead.
7. It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive
Remember the turtle and the hare. They each had their own way of doing things. Everyone knows if the hare hadn’t taken a nap, he would’ve won the race, but we all manage situations differently. Don’t compare yourself to others. The journey is often better than the end result, so it’s important to enjoy yourself along the way. It’s the journey that teaches and sculpts you, so stop and smell the roses, but watch out for thorns while you do.
Your path to success will be different even if you have the same goal as I have. We’re different people, we make different decisions, and we have different tolerance levels for hardship. The path can be bumpy, but those bumps make you appreciate the smooth portions more. A smooth ride after a bumpy one feels like heaven, unless you love bumpy rides. A completely smooth ride is like the flat-line on a heart monitor.
As a tech geek, I’m looking forward to the day when we can just teleport somewhere, but I know we’ll lose something when that day comes. Those goofy pics in gigantic Adirondack chairs taken near a highway pit-stop won’t exist anymore. Maybe we’ll have holodecks so we can simulate them. Journeys create memories that tell stories and humans love stories.
8. Self-preservation is the first law of nature
Don’t let people tell you that you have to get involved in every social issue or other similar nonsense. No one has an infinite amount of energy to devote to the things they are passionate about let alone make time for things that don’t excite them. Living life in a way that focuses on obligation rather than passion makes you resentful and eventually dead inside.
It’s better to focus on a limited number of things and do those things well. You don’t need to be everything to anyone let alone everybody. What would the world be today if Einstein hadn’t focused on his Theory of Relativity?
9. The rotten apple injures its neighbour
Some goals require you to work with others. It’s crucial to be picky about who you decide to work with. If their goals don’t match up with yours, you end up with a result that doesn’t work, possibly a broken friendship, damage to both your careers, and more. You never have to sign a contract that isn’t right for you. You don’t have to stay in the wrong dojo, the wrong writing group, the wrong band, the wrong job, etc. Only you can protect yourself. Remember that it’s too late to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted. Time and tide wait for no one.
10. What you’ve never had you never miss
Many of my goals are about getting back to myself. The life I once had. I know it won’t be the same and I don’t want it to be. I’ve grown much as a person. I know what is missing in my life and that’s why I pursue writing, music, and theatre related things harder than any other. They’ve been a part of who I am since I was a young girl. I’ve tried so many other things and they’ve all felt like a lie. One can’t successfully lie to oneself.
Who knows? Maybe there’s something else out there I could be awesome at like airplane mechanics. My high school aptitude test thought so. But I’ve lived the life of a mechanic’s daughter. I’ve seen him get injured. I’ve seen the dirt that wouldn’t leave the underneath of his fingernails. I’ve seen how much his back hurts after a lifetime of oil changes. I know mechanical skills are arguably more practical, but I also know automation is going to change that.
It really doesn’t make sense to worry about other things you could be doing unless you aren’t truly passionate about the path you’re pursuing. This doesn’t mean you won’t have days where you hate it and wonder what you’re doing and why. Every job has crappy parts.
11. Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it
It’s OK to know what the bridge looks like and even dream about it, but you can’t go around announcing that you’ve crossed it when you haven’t even reached it unless you want to look foolish. Seeing one bird when the ground is blanketed in snow isn’t a signal to celebrate summer. It’s not spring until you can plant your foot upon twelve dandelions. Wait until contracts are signed before you share the news. I learned this the hard way when I was younger. I was supposed to be involved in choreographing fight scenes for a play in my hometown. I was super excited about it and posting about it on social media. They decided to go a different direction that didn’t involve me and I felt like an idiot.
It’s also not the best use of time to worry about things that may never happen. That doesn’t mean you do prepare for bad things, but you don’t let the possibility of it happening consume your thoughts and take you away from achieving goals in the present.
12. After dinner rest a while, after supper walk a mile
Some of the other points may seem like they’re contradictory. They all need a special ingredient called balance. If you spend so much of your time in business meetings that you never get time with your family or for yourself to think, you end up unhappy and get sick more often because you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Sacrificing time is OK done in moderation, but remember that you won’t get that time back. Spend it wisely.
A watched pot never boils over. It may seem like it takes longer for it to boil. It doesn’t. Monitoring how you’re doing will let you know where you need to spend more time and help you be happy, healthy, and financially stable, which is a whole lot better than just wealthy in my opinion.
Guid cheerio the nou,