I have asked a weird question in the office today: What have you been told about success?
Here is what they told me:
It takes hard work
- It makes you feel good
- It takes years
- Winston Churchill said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
- Don’t let your hard work go unappreciated, wave it at their faces.
- Success is making mistakes and learning from them, and so learning from them leads to becoming better.
This is all true to some extent. I have been told the same things including “you’ll never achieve it”; however, this one is complete BS said by sick and jealous people.
Anyway, rant over.
No seriously never let anyone tell you can't-do something.
Rant really over now.
What I set myself to do in this post is to give a little bit of nuance to the statements above. I know I am young but there are a few things I have discovered during my bumpy path that I would like to share with you. Please note that I am not defining success on purpose. It can be whatever you decide it to be.
I have two little sisters and here is what I want them to know on their road to a successful life.
I am a UX designer and when I design a workshop for my students or my clients I make sure that before we start we have a problem statement and an objective. Basically, I make sure that we know where we come from and where we want to go. Your road to success is no different. You know when people tell you that success is just the tip of the iceberg or as Winston Churchill said:
"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm". — Winston Churchill
This all means that you should not be afraid to be wrong and make mistakes — as long as you learn from them. This is easier said than done and I think that there are a few things to add to that statement.
Your definition of success will change over time and it is ok!
This is another way to say plans change and shit happens. I personally think that to be successful you need to be mindful as to what is happening in your life. Do not fight against your life, work with it.
To be successful you need to be flexible and constantly re-assess the situation. For example, you might have been rejected from that perfect school or perfect job …BUT IT’S OKAY.
You are obviously allowed to feel sorry for yourself for like a moment but you should quickly dedicate your time to look at other ways to achieve that goal.
Finally, welcome the bumps in the road because they are reminders of the path you set for yourself. Sometimes when we work towards reaching an objective we can forget the why: Why we decided that this particular objective meant success to us? The obstacles and setbacks are the perfect occasions to reflect on the path you set for yourself.
- Is it still what you want?
- Why did you choose this path in the first place?
- Are you happy?
- If not, why are you unhappy?
- How is your motivation level?
After asking yourself these simple, yet very hard, questions you might realise that you need to slightly go off course for a while — you need a slight change of direction or a radical pivot.
I am going to let you in on a secret: I consider my path to success to have started at the age of 10. It is the age when I realised that it won’t be easy and if I wanted to have the life of my dreams I would need to work for it. Since that day, of course, my definition of success has changed a lot, but funnily enough, it changed the most from 18 yo to now (I am 25 yo). I also know that it would keep changing because my projects will change. I will meet more people who will open my eyes to different horizons, and I will have more setbacks.
You need to keep motivated.
You need to keep yourself motivated. Do not overwork yourself. Do not bully yourself with negative thoughts. You will always have bad days but try to put them in perspective with what you have already achieved.
A lack of motivation may mean that you need to explore other avenues. There is never only one path to an end. If the one you are on is becoming more and more difficult to maintain, for various reasons, look for alternatives, detours, and backdoors.
Changing course even if it delays you a bit IS NOT FAILURE. You are still on your way to success always remember that. Exploring alternatives should motivate you — it should give you a second wind.
Celebrate the milestones.
This is also really important to stay motivated. Whilst you have one big objective further down the line do not forget to celebrate the milestones because they are successes.
Your end goal is always subject to changes, but everything you have done and all you do now is experiences that will serve a purpose. So every time you reach a milestone it is a success.
Don’t be an arrogant jerk when you set those milestones. If you are setting unreachable goals you are basically bullying yourself. You are being that really mean manager or teacher that we all had but to yourself. Set reachable and sensible goals and it will help you to keep motivated, stay happy, and make sure you are on the right path.
Success is subjective, its definition should come from you.
In the intro of this post I wrote that I am not defining success on purpose, that is because success is a subjective notion. Never let anyone define what success should mean to you.
You should define your own goals and objectives for your life. We are all at one point lead down a path that is not completely ours because of family, society, peer pressure, …you name it. IT IS OK. Just keep an eye out for the bump in the road that will ring the alarm.
I have a really good example in my family that it is never too late. My mother followed various paths in her life to please and conforme. Today she is 50 and she realised that her definition of success does not conform to society nor to her family’s standards. However, she does not care because even if she is afraid to follow this path she unlocked something in her. She found a new happiness.
Basically be true to yourself and if you have been led on another path don’t worry: all your experiences in life are valuable and it is never too late.
Make sure you have reachable goals and standards.
Don’t get me wrong here, my go-to quote is “Always aim for the moon, because even if you miss you will land amongst stars.”
However, when you land amongst the stars you need to be able to realise it. Earlier, I said that your definition of success will change over time. Landing amongst stars is one of the reasons your goal might change. While reaching for the moon you might stumble on something extraordinary, something you had not considered. At that stage you might realise that this should have been your moon all along, and you will shift your definition of success.
Remember the milestones, set as many as you want. Do not forget to celebrate them. If you are constantly aiming for something far away you will never be satisfied and never reach anything.
Today I consider myself successful. I am not done with life and I have much more to explore and achieve. However, I am grateful and proud of what I have already achieved. Every time I suffer from the imposter syndrome or that I am simply having a bad day I try to remember this. I already have a few successes under my belt. They might seem small to people but I don’t mind because they are mine and I am proud of them.
Thanks to 100 Shapes awesome designers for sharing with me their vision of success and so helping me to write this long overdue post.
Thank you all for reading this post. It is only my opinion and it might appear cheesy to some, but that is what I would have loved to be told. I hope it will be useful to some of you.