Chasing success off a cliff
Everyone wants to be successful. Your definition of what that success looks likes varies from person to person, but we all want to be good at and succeed in the things that matter most to us. So if we define our own meaning of success, then why are so many people successful and still miserable?
Going beyond comparing your status level to others, chasing success too far can lead you right off a cliff and into valley filled with unhealthy mental thoughts, depression, and an unrealistic view of yourself. This valley makes you feel defeated when you are actually quite the opposite.
One more thing
As technology, people and society evolve, more people begin to have the “one more thing” mentality enter their system. It’s the chase for a healthy goal and then as soon as you meet that goal you chase after a new one or one that is a little further out. When we hit these goals, it stimulates the pleasure parts of our brains and we want another hit.
Drugs are an obvious example of continuing to come for more but look at areas like work and even hobbies like video games.
Your work can become a chase for recognition and promotions, “As soon as I get my next promotion, I’ll be happy.” It then happens and six months later you aren’t happy anymore. In video games, it’s the open worlds and carrot on a stick model in games that get people to play them in an unhealthy way. Open worlds like Red Dead Redemption, Skyrim, and others leave the game open so that there is always one more thing on the horizon without an endpoint. Fortnite is often criticized for its rewards system that keeps you hooked into playing the game.
Be sure to, “Stop and smell the rose,” during your journey. Appreciate and celebrate your achievement and success with those that are important to you. Have the self-awareness to know that you are chasing that one-more-thing mentality and build the willpower and commitment to change direction.
The poison in the well and unobtainable goals
Once we go down the one-more-thing path, we can take it a step further and start setting unobtainable goals. Often financially focused but they can be materialistic and status goals as well. (A certain size house, social status or following online). When you set these goals and you fail to meet them you begin to poison the rewards and pleasure parts of your brain.
You no longer feel satisfied with goals and accomplishments that once made you happy because you didn’t hit the unobtainable goal that you set out for yourself.
Have long term stretch goals but focus more on the short term goals to keep a healthy perspective. Make sure that they are realistic and obtainable with practical steps to get to where you want to go.
Change your goals
A healthy strategy may be to totally change your goals and priorities from time to time to keep you from going over the cliff. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that this is likely one of the reasons why I do this in my own life.
I spent three years in the running world, where at one point I did over 40 races in a year and moved from not running at all to running a 50-mile race. I then drastically changed my focus to volunteering and professional development. It doesn’t mean I don’t run anymore, it just means I have changed my focus so it’s not a driving focus in my time and commitments right now. If I had continued to push it further at the time, it would have only been an unhealthy thing for me.
Set some good stretch goals that are realistic and commit to re-evaluating your interests and passions. Cleaning the palate with a different set of goals expands your experience in life and overall satisfaction. An example of this would be to set a stretch promotion goal. Once you get that promotion, stop to evaluate what goal you can set in a different part of your life. Perhaps its to expand your education, a travel goal or a goal to serve others in your city.
Success is a good thing until you chase it so hard that it becomes unhealthy. Use your circle of friends and family to keep you accountable and on the right track with your personal expectations. Don’t defeat yourself with unrealistic expectations of yourself. Enjoy the success that you have!
Make a better tomorrow.