For many of my clients, when I ask them, “what does success look like to you,” they’ll give me any number of answers. Some examples include excellence in business, taking care of and rewarding your employees, mindfulness, self-awareness, overcoming adversity, internal drive and motivation, or even just doing better today than yesterday.
The road to success can be a bumpy one, however, with momentum one day and stagnation the next. Many times we feel like throwing in the towel, but more often than not, we just continue on with our day, finding other things to do and unconsciously putting our biggest dreams on the back burner. The thought of “someday I’ll get to it” becomes more comfortable. Because you know you tried, but didn’t receive the reinforcement or momentum to keep going, you are comfortable with that narrative. You didn’t give up but you’re not moving forward either. It becomes a coping mechanism, or a ‘perceptual block’. It’s a limiting belief that might be holding you back from your real desires and goals.
Perceptual blocks are tricky and often require a commitment of time to unwrap the underlying causes, but a quick and effective method of shaking you out of complacency is to ask some simple questions that remind you of what achieving that success holds for your future. Here are three questions to ask so that you can visualize your success once it happens.
It’s a healthy reminder of why you wanted to pursue this dream in the first place. Start by listing small gains – you’ll make more money, work with an assistant, afford a new car – and work your way up to how your life will change as time goes on. Maybe you’ll move, start a family, or grow your business into something bigger. It’s a cumulative effect. Small changes always lead to bigger shifts down the road. Don’t limit yourself to seeing your life evolve in the next three to six months. Go further with a vision of how life will look in three to five years. Where will you be? Who will you know? How will your daily habits transform? What will a typical day look like for you? What new experiences can you say you had?
Go deep to really visualize who you will be after you have achieved this dream, goal or accomplishment. For this type of exercise, it helps to write it down and map it out. I had a professor who once told me, “If you don’t write it down, then it’s not real.” Her point was that if it’s still in your head, you could change your mind about it. If you write it down, it’s the first step to shaping a commitment around what you can accomplish. In addition, you’ll always have this document as a reminder to refer to when things get tough.
Now that you’ve outlined what your life could look like after you’ve accomplished your big goal, take the time to list out the benefits to you along with who benefits around you. This helps you see that your actions affect other people. When you add value to your goals in terms of how other people benefit from your accomplishments, you begin to see that your accomplishments aren’t just for you; they’re for the surrounding people who depend on your ideas to thrive.
For those who own a business, we’re talking about the clients who need your solutions. For those who aspire to career advancement, this could be about the employees under you. Remember, no matter what your situation, anything you accomplish will also impact your family. Make sure to include them in your vision and map out how their lives will improve, as well.
This is where it gets fun. When the newness of your idea wears off, and the testing you’ve done generates tepid interest, you’ll want the answer to this question sitting in front of you. It’s a reminder of why you wanted that success in the first place. It keeps that fire burning inside you and helps keep you motivated even when things don’t play out the way you thought they would. This is about not giving up and it’s intended for people who have not yet made a serious effort with their dreams and goals. For those who have already tested the market, pushed forward as far as possible, worked very hard and found out that the timing isn’t right or what you’re trying to do isn’t viable, then you’ve come to the point where you can pivot into something else. For the rest, this reminder will help you take that next step because you want to get to that point where you have validation – either it’s definitely going to work or it’s definitely not going to work. Either way, you’ll finally know.
Your statement should summarize why it’s important to you to do it. It should inspire you every time you look at it and remind you of that feeling when you first decided that you wanted it. This is something I do personally and it’s something I suggest for my clients who struggle with achievement. For me, I tape it to my desk above my computer and I look at it every morning before I start work. And day when I’m having a really bad day when nothing is working as expected, it’s my inspiration to try again tomorrow.
And that’s the point. No matter how far along you are on your journey, or how much farther you need to go, having that motivation to keep going is inspiring even if sometimes you are the only person giving you that inspiration. The next time you ask yourself, “what does success look like to you,” remember that you’re uncovering perceptual blocks that will move you away from being your own worst enemy, and towards being your own best friend.
Have you heard? I have some available coaching slots this summer and would love to work with you. Summer coaching sessions are available at a reduced price so if you’re interested in working with me, check out my strategy sessions and be sure to contact me.