Redefining Success

Redefining Success

Redefining success involves acknowledging steps taken to obtain a goal. Remember when participation trophies were a thing?  Some bristled at the idea of giving rewards to “losers” regardless of the intent.  In all honesty, the concept was great, but the execution needed some work.  Stated plainly, it was not a reward for losing.  It was meant to be acknowledgment and encouragement to keep pushing forward.  In our society, so many activities are based on win-or-lose; it is imperative to understand that losing is not the end of the journey. 

Most successful people have a long list of failures under their belt.  Each one of those unsuccessful attempts was a learning stepping stone to move them closer to success.  Nonetheless, in general, failing sucks and causes us to feel there is something wrong within ourselves. Imagine if I told you that failing does not make you a loser.  Perhaps the timing was poor, not enough research, overestimated demand, focused on the wrong market, and so on.  Those events are mistakes, perhaps even costly ones. Everyone makes errors when trying to navigate through life. Consequently, hiccups are generally more acceptable and forgivable since everyone experiences them. 

Reexamining Success

Let’s reexamine how we view success. Pretend you want to be a doctor.  There are several steps to get the end goal, such as:

  • having a certain GPA
  • acceptance into college
  • finishing college
  • gaining acceptance to med school
  • finishing med school
  • internship
  • residency
  • fellowship
  • passing boards

Some will look at this list and think success is only found after completing the last item. In actuality, accomplishment is found after each level.  Typically, there are layers to reach a certain level of achievement. Unfortunately, people tend to have their eyes so focused on the prize they do not stop acknowledging and appreciating each completed step.  Some who stumble along the way may quit all together because they feel like failures.  For this reason, it is crucial to be able to look back and be grateful for the completed attainments.  Moreover, those completed steps can provide the tenacity we need to dust ourselves off and keep on moving forward.

In Conclusion

While the emphasis is often placed on winning or the end goal, success is built with every milestone achieved. Each test, personal best, and so on smashed is a successfully placed building block. Celebrating these milestones can help to hold you up when you fall.  By making a habit of acknowledging the miles traveled, making mistakes will not always feel like starting over. While I would love to claim that the only failure is to stop trying, that would be a lie. Throughout life, we will experience failures, but they do not have to define our self-value.  Before deciding to quit, take a look at how are you’ve come.  Ask yourself if you are certain that you’re done or if you need a break. Have your goals changed, or do they need to be adjusted?  If you have exhausted all your options and opportunities, then you can walk away knowing you gave it all you got.  There is nothing wrong with that! 

This post is part of our Care for You series. Care For You is a new weekly Mental Health series posting on Monday. It focuses on rebuilding and strengthening our self-view and coping skills.

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