Are you thinking about the future and feeling hopeful? How has the pandemic changed your view of life, and your dreams of the future life you hoped to achieve? Do you view the year 2020 as having caused a temporary setback, or resulting in something that will cause you to reset your entire life’s plan, because of the uncertainty which remains?
There is no question many people found themselves having to rethink how they planned their lives, and the idea of being successful during an international health crisis became more of a matter of survival. What was this year like for you? Could you still think of being successful in some manner? Did you have goals you sought to accomplish?
The topic of success is discussed quite frequently within the self-help industry and I do not want to claim to have any special secrets. However, what I want to share is a product of my work as an educator, and how I have helped students learn methods for becoming successful as they attempt to set and complete their goals. In essence, they are charting a pathway to success for some aspect of their life, and they are setting a course for a particular destination. It’s a matter of gaining self-awareness and self-confidence in yourself by establishing the right mindset, one which sets you up for success so that you are able to reach the destination you desire, whether it is completing a goal or a series of goals. No matter how simple or complex the goal, dream, or destination you have in mind for your life, you can achieve it, if you are mentally prepared for it.
What Does It Mean to Be Successful?
Whenever I discuss the subject of success with students, they often see it as a matter of being clearly defined: I have succeeded or I have failed. There is no in-between for most students, until we begin to analyze the concept of success. What I’ve found, through my own experience, is that success can be experienced in degrees, rather than absolutes. For example, I set a goal to finish a particular task by a certain date. When the date arrived, I only completed 90% of the task. I could state I failed; however, I could also state I was 90% successful.
It is all a matter of perspective and how we frame the words we use. If we use positive and re-affirming language, we become much more self-supportive, which sets us up for even greater success the next time we make an attempt at a task, project, or goal. This also helps to avoid the use of negative self-talk, should a goal or task not be fully met. Even if an attempt was made, and nothing more, that should still count as a success.
Do You Have a Sense of Self?
If you are going to chart a path for your life, or at least mentally prepare for one now, it may be helpful to first consider if you have developed a sense of self. What does this concept mean? It means you are self-aware of your strengths, along with the areas in which you need further development. What are your characteristics, those that cause you to shine, and those that can help you create the future you have in mind? Is there any aspect of yourself, whether it be your personality, traits, or characteristics, which can hold you back in some manner? If you are not used to thinking in this manner, it may be helpful to start a journal and record your thoughts about this subject for a week or two, and allow you to get to know yourself better.
You cannot develop an effective plan for your life if you really do not understand yourself and how to leverage your strengths. For example, when the pandemic occurred, I knew immediately I could navigate through this time period as I am compassionate and have an ability to demonstrate empathy towards others. My pathway to success involved being a student-centered educator, and rising to the challenge of helping learners as they navigated their way through a very challenging time. The area of development I had to manage was my own well-being. I had to make certain I maintained my well-being, to continue to offer my assistance and care to students. This is the purpose of you developing a sense of self, whether you write in a journal or take time to mentally reflect upon your strengths and developmental areas.
Charting a Pathway to Success in Life
You can find success in your life regardless of circumstances around you. The following strategies will help you chart your own pathway to success. These do not need to be implemented in any order, only considered and utilized as you read them. I use these strategies to check-in with myself on occasion, to help determine my ongoing progress.
Strategy: Taking Stock of Your Life
I’ve asked you to develop a sense of self and now, I’m asking you to dig a little deeper and take stock of your life. The purpose isn’t to take a trip down memory lane, rather it is meant to assess what successes you are most proud of, up to this point in your life. What have you accomplished that should be recognized and remembered? The reason I include this strategy is simple: We often remember the negative events and forget the positive ones. I’m certain as you begin to think about important goals you’ve met, including milestones and other achievements, you will have quite a list. This is important as it helps establish a positive frame of reference, and it reminds you that you are capable of finding success already in your life. Create a list and develop it in some form you can easily access.
Strategy: Determine a Direction for Your Life
If you are charting a pathway for your life, why not think about the direction of your life? What is it you have in mind for the future? You do not have to look that far into the future, but perhaps just consider two or three years ahead of you. What might that future look like for you? If you can give yourself some type of direction, then you can establish parameters for success, such as the establishment of checkpoints and goals. Remember, there is no right or wrong because you are the one in control of your life, and you get to decide what it is you want for your life. If you decide right now you want your life to remain the same, then that is acceptable as well. Whatever the decision is, establish direction.
Strategy: Develop a Supportive Belief System
What is a belief? A belief is a thought you tell yourself through repetition. If you are used to putting yourself down, and repeatedly use derogatory language about yourself, you are affirming a negative belief about yourself. In contrast, if you use supportive and caring words to describe yourself, whenever you think about your life and what you have accomplished, you are developing and nurturing a supportive belief system. The difference is quite important as it will determine how successful you are when you make an attempt to complete your tasks, goals, or projects. Beliefs will have a direct influence on almost every aspect of your life. That’s why I want for you to become consciously aware of them now, and to consider what you are thinking about yourself.
Strategy: Become Flexible, Confident, and Fearless
When you set a pathway for your life, you are now thinking about the future and what you hope it will become. Perhaps this involves you alone, or it may take into consideration your family as well. Whatever the case may be, thinking about the future now may cause a sense of uncomfortableness given the uncertainty of the pandemic. Yet your future has to do not with world events, but with your ability to set and achieve specific goals.
While there may be some aspects of your life that are tied to external elements, such as the economy or job market, for the most part your life is something you control. If you have determined there is a particular pathway you want to follow, and conditions will not allow you to complete everything you’ve planned, this is going to require you to be flexible and adapt your plans, rather than view it as a failure. Right now, you cannot predict what future conditions will be; however, you can create your plans.
In addition, when you have established a pathway for your life, which means you have looked ahead and thought about what you want for your life and set checkpoints or goals, you should now feel confident in taking this step. You have taken control of your life, rather than waiting several years and wishing you had done something earlier in life. No matter what plans you have made, at least you have thought about doing something, and now this sense of confidence will help you move forward and work towards reaching the goals established. If you can remain fearless, or refusing to give into self-doubts, worries, and natural fears along the way, you are very likely to find the success you seek.
Charting a Course for Your Destination
Your destination is the future you seek, whether it is a few months ahead that you have thought about, or a few years. Whatever the case may be, you always have control of your life, from a mindset perspective. You have an ability to plan the details of your life by establishing dreams, goals, checkpoints, and anything else that helps create a future pathway. Moving forward is a matter of being mentally prepared and remaining agile, ready to adapt when needed. You can and will be successful, as long as you never give into fears or doubts, and always acknowledge steps made towards your future along the way. Success is a fluid process and should never be measured in absolute terms. If you can remember that you will never give into feelings of failure again, and instead, you will take each progress point as a learning lesson. We are in the worst of times now, and yet, you can plan for the best of your life, simply through the power of your thoughts. There is power in hope, strength in words, courage in beliefs, and resilience to be found when you’ve established a positive and proactive mindset