Hey there, Dean here. I write and share about productivity, leadership, money, psychology, marketing, and more. → Check out my latest product on AppSumo
What is success?
There were times when I thought success was about creating great work; times when I believed success was about making more money; and times when I thought success was about living in the present.
None of the above definitions of success are wrong, but almost every single one of them is incomplete. How you define success defines you. Those definitions described part of my identity at the moment, but not me.
Now, I usually describe success as the combination of accomplishments and happiness. For me, success is about having fun and joy along the journey of creating the results—art, reputation, lifestyle—you desire. Success is the process of growth.
Many habits help one achieve success. I’ve written a lot about them in the past too:
Out of all the specific tips, tricks, and habits, there are only three habits that really matter when we’re looking at success from a broader angle. These are what keep us on track, what help us persist, and what bring us pure joy.
Self-awareness is the first step to making your life easier in both accomplishing your dreams and experiencing happiness. In other words, it’s about knowing who you are and where you want to go.
Practicing self-awareness harnesses your ability to make the right choices for yourself. It helps you to keep your priorities straight and direct your energy to the right thing.
You can do anything but not everything. —David Allen
However, self-awareness is not something that we’re born with. Just like passion, you can’t find it without testing things out.
The best way to learn about yourself is to keep asking yourself tough questions and answering them. Questions that challenge your existing paradigms and require you to think deeply. Do this every day, write them down, and reflect upon them regularly.
(I found that most creative work is a process of self-discovery. Over the past year, writing has helped me discover and uncover a lot about myself.)
I have a two-year-old nephew. It’s great to have a kid at home. There is a saying that kids are here to remind adults about how to live, and that’s very true.
I found that everyone deserves to be successful because everyone is born with the traits required to accomplish great things and be happy.
First, kids don’t overthink stuff and always see the world as it is. We don’t see kids dwell on how hard it is to build a LEGO castle. We don’t see kids overthinking about the meaning of playing. And we definitely don’t see kids hide their feelings and emotions because of their egos.
We can act faster if we stop dwelling, live happier if we stop over-thinking, and communicate so much more effective when we speak our minds.
The second trait I learned from my nephew is even more important: he doesn't stop playing. What do kids do when they fall down? They get back up quickly and start playing again. And that’s exactly what many of us need to accomplish in order to get what we want in life.
Almost all top performers and high achievers have this. They may be gifted with a better head start and opportunity, but what really makes them stand out is their ability to keep trying—again and again—every time after they’ve failed.
There is a group of people who complain about anything—the weather is terrible, the teachers suck, the government is dumb—and do nothing. They can only enjoy life when everything is going well.
The truth is, life never goes as smoothly as we want it to, and often, greatness is found and nurtured in the face of adversity. Hoping to get lucky is like hoping to hit the bullseye without aiming.
Don't wish it was easier wish you were better. Don't wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don't wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom. —Jim Rohn
Instead of hoping that life gets easier, and hoping that you will get better:
Acknowledge that success is not easy. If it were easy, everyone would have done it. Then, be the other group—the group who finds joy in challenges and setbacks, the group who loves the things they do, and the group who puts in the hard work and gets addicted to the process.
People can accomplish a lot but still feel miserable. At the same time, some people live in the illusion that happiness is everything they ever needed without getting anything done.
Again, I see success as a combination of both accomplishment and happiness.
Ultimately, your habits are what lead you to them. The secret is simply to be self-aware, to keep a child-like mindset and momentum, and to appreciate and find fulfillment from every moment of your life.