Because our life happens one day at a time, there is a tendency to view each day as a separate and independent event. While I am a big fan of living in the moment, it is equally important to understand how one moment relates to the next.
This is especially true when we are talking about success, and that means success of any kind. Success takes time because it’s a building process, and when and when it looks like it happened overnight, that just means the we only saw the end result.
Success is a cumulative experience
Those with something to gain want you to believe that major success can happen almost instantly and with very little effort. They try to convince you that you can be a millionaire, or the picture of perfect health, if you just buy their product and use it for the next thirty days.
Promises like that can sound very appealing. Don’t be fooled, there is no such thing as an overnight success, or even an overnight failure for that matter. Sometimes it may appear to happen that way, but that’s just because we were not in a position to witness the whole process.
See the big picture
In actuality, success and failure are the result of prior choices and actions. Barring any unforeseen catastrophic events, your life today is the sum of all your yesterdays.
To be a success in any area of life we need to learn to view today, not as a single disconnected event, but as a major contributor to our future. This requires a special kind of awareness. It means being able to look ahead and see the likely consequences of what you are doing right now.
Shortsightedness eventually brings pain
If we don’t see the connection between today’s choices and tomorrows quality of life, there will pain and disappointment in our future. We see this scenario being played out every single day.
One common example of this kind of shortsightedness is someone who eats and drinks without any regard for the long term health consequences. Over the years their weight and blood pressure rise steadily. The function of their liver and pancreas is slowly impaired, and their level of physical activity decreases. Then, seemingly out of the blue, they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or worse yet, they have a heart attack. Did that happen overnight?
Still no clue
What’s their response to their new reality? They either wonder why, or they chalk it up to getting older. When in truth, it was the predictable outcome of two or three decades of not associating today’s choices with tomorrow’s reality.
We could say the same thing about a relationship that slowly goes bad, or constantly rising debt that leads to bankruptcy. Failure to recognize and acknowledge that our future is the culmination of all the previous days and years is a sure path to pain and disappointment.
Awareness leads to success
On the other hand, we can make good use of the cumulative nature of life to help move us steadily and almost predictably toward success. However, before we can do that, we need to adopt a different mindset with relation to how we view the accumulation process.
We live in a world that wants everything right now. People have linked their positive emotional anchors to instant gratification, instant results, and instant success. They have no patients for, nor do they find any pleasure in the process. They just want the result without having to do the work. The problem with this mindset is that life simply does not work that way.
Learn to love the journey
Life is about growth and change, that is the journey we are on. If we only focus on the final outcome we miss the joy associated with our experience. In other words, we miss out on life itself.
On the other hand, if we live each day with no awareness of where it is leading us, then we have no direction and will never achieve success. What we want is the best of both worlds. We want to fully enjoy and experience each day offers, and know that it is moving us ever closer to the realization of our long term success.
How can we do that?
1) Shift your mindset with a question. You need to weigh each day’s activities and decisions with your long term success in mind. Simply asking yourself, “will this move me toward success or away from it?” will increase your awareness and change your perspective
This applies to personal goals, business goals, and relationship goals. For example, If you are considering a second helping of dessert, ask yourself if that will move you toward your fitness goals, or away from them. If you are about to find fault with your mate, ask yourself if pursuing that conversation will strengthen your chances for relationship success, or undermine them. Always consider the long term consequences before to make a decision or take action.
2) Learn to find joy in the process. I learned this from the legendary Bonsai Master John Naka. When I was relatively new to the art of bonsai he told me that if I did not learn to find enjoyment in the training process, I might as well buy finished bonsai trees and just be a collector.
But I wanted to create not collect. We are all the creators of our own life; we can’t just buy the life we want. Doesn’t it make sense to enjoy the creative process while staying aware of our overall direction? We do this by holding a vision of our desired outcome while finding joy in each step of the journey.
3) Review your actions weekly. Every week take a few minutes to look back and double check your direction. Are you still moving toward success, or do you need to make some adjustments? Were there any activities over the past week that did not support your journey toward success and should be eliminated?
Then review your goals to see if they are still what you want. It is not unusual to discover that the goals themselves need to be adjusted from time to time to stay in harmony with who we are right now. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your goals as you grow and progress.
Using the present to sculpt the future
As we can see, within the scope of normal circumstances, there really is no such thing as instant success. Learning to maintain a constant awareness of how today’s choices effects tomorrow’s life will empowers us to create the future we want, while finding joy in the journey toward our inevitable success.
Do you believe in overnight success?
Are you enjoying your personal journey toward success?
What role do consequences play in achieving success?
That lines are open!
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