A career can often be viewed as a roller coaster – there are highs and certainly lows, as I am sure many can attest. Often times we find ourselves simply going through the motions instead of approaching each day as a new opportunity, or as Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh would say “attacking each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!”
In a day and age where people are constantly seeking self-help and improvement, we are surrounded by articles of “things successful people do before noon” or “what successful people eat for every meal.” While I am guilty of clicking these articles, (because who doesn’t want to emulate the habits of the most successful people?) I realized that “success” can be seen as a rather subjective term. My view of success is more than likely pretty different from yours, which is different from that of your colleagues, and so on.
While the definition of success and goals are different for everyone, Jeff Haden of Inc.com took a deeper dive on this topic in article titled “11 Affirmations Successful People Repeat Every Single Day.” I will discuss a few of these that I believe are transferable among various industries, some of which I may adopt into my daily life.
“I can’t do everything today, but I can take one small step.”
When we are setting goals for our career and even personal life, it is common to bite off more than you can chew. For those lacking patience, wanting to accomplish everything as soon as they think of it can lead to anxiety when not completing everything on their list. That said, by getting started toward a goal is a step in and of itself and usually the hardest thing to do. There is a quote by Charles Carlson that exemplifies this theme, “You are successful the moment you start moving toward a worthwhile goal.”
It does not matter the size of the goal (buying a house, saving for a new car, losing weight, getting a new job, etc.) but by simply doing something to set that goal in motion can lead to success. For example, joining a gym could be the first step towards a goal of losing weight, or applying to five jobs could be the first step towards getting a new one.
“I will do what no one else is willing to do.”
In our professional lives there are always things that people do not want to do. Whether it is “beneath their pay grade” or falls into the “other duties as assigned” category on the job description, there are simply some things that your coworkers will refuse to do. One of the ways to stand out at your job, or in life itself, is by doing these things. Haden says “Every day, think of one thing to do that no one else is willing to do. After a week, you’ll be uncommon. After a month, you’ll be special. After a year, you’ll be incredible, and you definitely won’t be like anyone else.”
“I will appreciate someone unappreciated.”
Someone’s character can be determined in the way they treat other people. A common saying is “treat the janitor the same way you treat the CEO.” Haden mentions that some jobs require more effort than skill. While the tasks can be relatively easy, the difference is in the effort. Simply smiling and making eye contact and small talk can go a long way when interacting with people and have an immense effect on someone’s life. I believe you can tell a lot about a person from the way they treat the wait staff at a restaurant – pay attention next time you are out.
“I will try to do better.”
Making mistakes is intrinsic to being a human – no one is perfect. It is how we react to those mistakes that define us as people. If you are constantly afraid of messing up at work, chances are you most likely will. It is similar to playing a sport and being nervous of making an error or missing a shot and then it happens. When you change your mindset, your performance will follow.
Haden says, “successful people don’t expect to be perfect, but they do think they can always be better.” He continues, “So think back on yesterday. Think about what went well. Then think about what didn’t go as well as it could have and take ownership. Take responsibility. And promise yourself that today you will do a lot better.”
“I will stop and smell my roses.”
The problem with goal setting is that if you do not reach your goals when you expected to, there might be a sense of failure involved. This causes you to think about what you haven’t achieved instead about what you have achieved to that point. By taking a step back and reflecting on how far you’ve come, both professionally and personally, you may realize that you have gotten farther than you ever anticipated.
Taking a minute to be thankful for what you have, especially in your personal life, is more important than realizing that you could have had more. Haden sums it up perfectly in the following: “Unlike a want, what you have isn’t a hope, a wish, or a dream. What you already have is real. And it’s awesome. And it’s yours. Appreciate it.”
“Being successful” is one of the most common goals for a professional. It is also one of the vaguest descriptions of what someone strives to become, as it is different for everyone. Some people associate success with money, others with happiness. By taking some of the affirmations mentioned above (and in the full article here) and applying them to your daily life, you can achieve whatever your definition of success is and on your own terms.