One of my favorite quotes, and something I still aspire to fully implement in my life to this day is this: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Do you remember your first car as a teenager?
I remember slaving out in the hot Summer heat to save up enough money to buy my first. When I finally purchased it, I babied it. I would go out each and every Saturday without fail, to vacuum it, wash it, and wax it. I spent more time polishing it than I did driving it, because I couldn’t afford to keep it filled with gas.
At that time, it was a 10-year-old piece of junk. But it was my piece of junk. And I loved it.
I pulled up to the High School on the first day of class and was so excited to show it off to everyone. At least, until I saw my friend’s new car.
His parent’s had bought him a brand new Jeep Wrangler. That was the car. It had the lift kit. It had the big wheels, and the nice stereo system.
Suddenly, my car didn’t feel as shiny.
What does it mean to be successful?
Similar to my car experience, I think success works in a similar manner.
If we had nothing to compare to, I think most of us would be fairly content with our lives.
We see all the Instagram posts or Mommy bloggers who seem to have THE perfect life. Their homes are always clean, they have a great marriage, and money is an endless source that will never dry up.
Even though deep down we know that can’t possibly be the case, we still feel inadequate. It’s so easy to look at others and think, “Wow. I wonder what it would be like… ”
But what does it even mean to be successful?
Does it mean to be financially stable? Does it mean you have a purpose in life, and a reason to wake up excited each and every morning? Does it mean that when you look at yourself in the mirror, you feel confident and proud?
I think success is in the eye of the beholder. Either way, it’s okay to have people we idolize and strive to be like, as long as it’s encouraging us and not tearing us down thinking, “I could never be like that.”
The habits that lead to success
All of the truly successful people we look up to and try to be like have specific characteristic traits in common.
As I’ve researched and studied my mentors and the people I look up to, I’ve noticed that all of them model these same traits, and more:
- Successful people have a purpose in a life. A “why” as to why they do the things that they do. They use this “why” to constantly remind themselves who they are, what they want to be, and where they’re going.
- They have goals. They have large, difficult-to-achieve goals that are far off in the distance. But at the same time, they have many smaller achievable goals broken down in small steps that will eventually lead them to the larger goals.
- They aren’t afraid to fail. They see failure as stepping stones of progress and use it to fuel them further, rather than letting it tear them down.
- They are driven. They don’t focus on motivation to push them. They were determined on becoming successful at any cost.
- They take care of all aspects of their health, whether that be mental, physical, or spiritual. They get adequate amounts of sleep, and eat healthy.
- They practice meditation each and every day. Whether that be prayer, or simply taking time out of their busy schedule to re-align their sights and focus daily.
- They constantly seek new knowledge and are trying to stay ahead of the competition. Learning is never completed.
- They take responsibility for their actions and never place blame on others.
- They compare themselves to others, but only as inspiration and a way to keep on track, pushing themselves further. Never in self-pity.
- They are organized.
- They are productive and do not procrastinate. They prioritize the actions that will be most effective, rather than focusing on the “fluff”.
- They surround themselves with positive and optimistic people. They spend time with the types of people they strive to be.
- Bonus: They are consistent. They don’t give up easy. If they don’t see progress in a week or two, they don’t quit. They continue for months on end, until they finally see the change they want.
So how do I develop these for myself?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at that list. But that’s not my intent.
Personal development is a slow process, and it takes very concentrated and concerted effort every single day. When you wake up in the morning, you need to audibly tell yourself, “I’m going to work on [insert trait here] today.” Set up reminders on your phone to go off at breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that you don’t forget throughout the day.
Pick one or two of the habits in this list that jump out to you as things you need to work on.
If you’re struggling to find something to work on, ask a friend for constructive criticism. Seriously. Have them look through that list and ask them honestly to give you suggestions as to where they think you can improve.
Then, work on that for a few days. Then move onto another. Place your attention on quality instead of quantity.
That hardest part about habits is to keep them. Success isn’t earned, it’s rented. And rent is due every day. All of these steps are iterative. You never really “complete” them. Once you feel that you’ve really got one down, move onto the next, and then to the next. Once you’ve gone through the list, start over again.
Start slowly and you’ll do great!