Tough Lessons That Can Make You More Successful

Though difficult to learn, tough lessons can make you more successful and help you in the long run.

Photo by Alexis Brown

Photo by Alexis Brown

For some people, success just seems to come naturally. But conquering your goals is something that takes daily commitment, dedication, and a lot of tough learning. Take a look at some of these lessons that can make you more successful, no matter how difficult they may be to learn. 

We all strive to be successful in our lives, and “success” can mean many things to different people. That said, whether you are looking to achieve financial success, personal success, or family dreams, you’ll notice that the most successful people you admire all have similar habits and viewpoints that helped them get where they are. Regardless of how you define success, there are a few tough lessons that can make you more successful. Mastering these lessons is not easy, but taking them to heart will serve you every day of your life. 

Getting started is the hardest part.

Photo by Ümit Bulut

Photo by Ümit Bulut 

If you are a busy and driven person, you know that sometimes knowing where to dive in can be the hardest part of any project. When we’re facing a serious to-do list, or have a major goal in front of us, things can seem overwhelming. This dread can lead to feeling unsure about our work and our passions, and leave us ultimately less productive as our energy goes to worrying.

This is a simple concept, but one that can be very difficult to begin: if you want to achieve something, just start. The hardest part of anything is just deciding to get it started, and making the decision to dive in. Putting things off can make them seem more difficult and daunting, and ultimately make it harder for us to accomplish our dreams. Start getting yourself in the habit of jumping into the things you’re afraid of, and in most cases you find that things aren’t as bad as you had worried. 

Patience is everything.

Patience is everything.

When we desire something, it can be very tempting to fall into the trap of wanting it right now. Wishing we were further along, or regretting our past choices, can lead us to be less successful in the long run. Anything worth achieving takes time, and you have to give yourself the time to move from where you are, to accomplishing your goal. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself, or beat yourself up because some of your peers are further along than you are.

Remember, success should always be measured as you vs. you. As long as you can look at yourself today, and know you have improved from the day before, you can define yourself as moving toward success. Take time to accomplish the bigger things in life, and remember that any improvement is a good one. Building this mind frame can be extremely difficult, especially if you work in a competitive field. But remembering that you’re only concerned with yourself in terms of success will help you keep perspective when viewing how far you’ve come.

Looking busy doesn’t mean you’re getting anything done.

Photo by Olu Eletu

Photo by Olu Eletu

The terrible habit of confusing looking busy with being productive is a life lesson that many people never learn. At the end of the day, it is how much you get done and not how long you spend that defines what you’ve accomplished. You may be familiar with people from your professional life who claim to be quite busy, and yet seem to spend most of their workday chatting and wasting time wandering around. You’ll see that same person only spend the last couple of hours of the day truly working, and then complain that they had to stay late because their workload is so heavy. Ultimately, this person is accomplishing less than anyone around them, and this is something that everyone will definitely notice.

This lesson applies to everything in your life. It is not appearances that count, but what you’re actually achieving. Focus more on your accomplishments, and schedule your working day efficiently in blocks to maximize how much you get done. Be less concerned with imaginary impressions and more concerned with your actual accomplishments, and you’ll find that you move toward your goals at a much faster pace. 

You can’t control everything.

Photo by Hope House Press

Photo by Hope House Press

Many of us feel that we have more actual control over our lives and circumstances than we do. It is a delusion that allows us to live each day comfortably, with the idea that if we work hard and plan well, that everything will work out perfectly. Planning and working toward our goals is very important, but it is crucial to keep in mind that we cannot control or predict everything.

Remember that things happen. Weather, illness, changes to the economy, a new passion, family surprises, and a myriad other surprises can completely derail the course of your life. Smart planning is important, especially if you hope to mitigate the impacts of an unforeseen uncertainty. But you should also work to become comfortable with the idea that not everything will go your way, and that life can change in an instant. Being flexible and able to make the most of any bad situation is a skill that will serve you your whole life. Ultimately, remembering this can help you to appreciate that time is fleeting, and to enjoy the curves life throws at you as much as possible. 

The biggest obstacles are in your head.

Photo by Lacie Slezak

Photo by Lacie Slezak

Most of the biggest obstacles you will face in your life exist in your own head. It can be very easy to self-doubt, to worry we won’t be able to do something, or to focus on past failures when stressed. The truth is, we all have a very personal and very specific internal monologue that colors everything we do.

When people are asked to name their regrets, most will say that they wished that they had not been so fearful. Take this life lesson to heart and remember that sometimes risk is worth it, and that the unknown may be an adventure, rather than something to fear. 

You control how you feel.

Photo by Isabel Winter

Photo by Isabel Winter

Whether intentionally or not, many of us rely on other people or external input for our self esteem and how we feel about ourselves, and this is only natural. After all, it is impossible to gauge our success, or our potential, without getting a little comparison and perspective from other people.

But as you grow up, it is important that you decide who and what you want to be, and set your parameters for success for yourself. Having these things set firmly in your mind will make you less likely to be shaken by the words of others, or thrown off course by bad advice or bad luck. Staying true to yourself in this way is difficult, but will make you emotionally stronger and capable of more in the long-term.

You can’t please everyone.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

No matter how successful you are, you can't please everyone. This is a very important thing to keep in mind, or you risk losing the ability to enjoy your successes at all. Think of the person you admire most, or the most successful celebrity that comes to mind—even they have their critics, their detractors, and people that do not like them.

Though it might be fun to fantasize about a life where we are universally liked and adored, it is important to not make that your barometer for success, or happiness will be impossible to achieve. Remember the type of person you are, who you want to be, and what you want to accomplish. There will always be someone there to say something negative, but if you keep this in mind, their words won’t impact you. 

Fear is the biggest obstacle.

Photo by Elijah Henderson

Photo by Elijah Henderson

When people look back on their lives, the number one source of regret they express is that they were held back too much by fear. Fear is a natural, and healthy thing. It is the instinct that helps preserve life, keeps us from risking too much in the moment, and helps us plan for our future with moderation.

But when it comes to life, and future goals, a sense of fear that is totally unwarranted might become our biggest obstacle. When it comes to success, though things may feel “life-or-death” they rarely are in truth. If you’ve got enough to eat, to drink, and shelter, you have everything you need to survive. You won’t die if you lose some money trying to do the thing you love, and sometimes it is worth risking a lot to gain a lot. Remember that you have one life to live, and what you truly love, and it will be easier to see what is worth risk to gain success.

Remember these tough lessons that can make you more successful, no matter what your goals. Keeping a clear perspective on yourself, your goals, and what might stand in your way can be difficult, but keeping these tough lessons in mind will help you move more efficiently toward your goals. 

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