There are a number of timeless universal principles that can guide you to success. They usually involve setting goals, being determined and having a clear vision. And then there’s advice that sounds great and seems to make a lot of sense, but backfires when put into practice. It’s important to be aware of these misguided beliefs and bad habits, so you can avoid pitfalls in your journey. There are the some of the biggest myths about achieving success which you need to replace with healthy habits that will help you create a happier life and achieve sustainable success.
How often has this happened to you? You want to do more with your life – get into great shape, pursue a hobby you’re passionate about, start your own business, or work toward a new career, etc. You start building a positive habit that will take you in that direction – exercise, waking up early, writing, meditation, an evening routine, studying, etc. You begin with a lot of determination (for a week maybe). Then something makes you skip your habit for a couple of days: a new project at work, unexpected household events, illness, family coming to visit, and so on. Those “busy” days keep popping up, and so you skip more often. Before long, you abandon your new habit altogether. It’s frustrating isn’t it? Trying again and again to build positive habits, but not being able to?
Sometimes you feel that you simply don’t have it in you to do anything anymore. You are just too busy, too old, and just plain exhausted. But what if that’s not true? What if the only things holding you back are a few limiting beliefs? And it is not about negative beliefs. We hold numerous beliefs about what works, about the correct way to do things, and about what we need to do to be successful. And on the surface, many of these beliefs sound quite positive and motivational, and they are in some situations. However, in many other situations, they turn into motivational myths that completely cripple our progress and prevent us from building positive habits.
We all want to be successful. It’s that promise of finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel that inspires us to keep hustling — even when the going gets tough. Yes, success is always the end goal. But, stop and ask yourself this: Do you really have a clear picture of what success is? Or, are you only operating with what you’ve been told? Are you falling into the trap of believing common myths about success? If so, it’s time for a friendly wake-up call. But, remember, just because they’re often repeated, doesn’t mean they’re true. Here are some biggest success myths you’ve likely heard time and time again – and you must stop believing in:
Follow Your Passion
We’ve all heard it before: if you do what you love, you will naturally advance and become successful. This sounds great, and seems to make a lot of sense. And for some people, it may be true. Doing what you love can increase your motivation and make you more determined to see your goals through. But there are other important factors to keep in mind. If you love doing something, but there is no market for your skills or product, you have a significant hurdle to success. Chances are, if you take stock of your strengths and weaknesses, and consider all possibilities, you will discover that there is more than one path to success. You may find there is something else you like nearly as much, and one with a better market and a higher chance of success. Keep in mind that there is no perfect job. No matter how much you love doing something, there will be elements of your work that you may dislike or even dread.
Instead of focusing solely on doing what you love, make sure that you love what you do. Work should be something you enjoy and gain a sense of fulfillment from. Remember that there may be more than one career option out there for you and that most people go through a variety of careers over a lifetime. Be open to pursuing new paths. Successful people are always focused on the future and working to anticipate problems their companies will surely face. We must all be constantly making to-do lists and working toward our future goals. However, if you are so focused on what’s next, you may be forgetting to live in the present. Constantly looking ahead without taking stock of what you have will make it difficult to connect to the people around you, and you may find yourself locked into an unhappy mindset.
Be A Perfectionist
Being a workaholic is considered an admirable trait among entrepreneurs and business professionals. And being a workaholic usually goes hand in hand with being a perfectionist. If you aren’t willing to work long hours and ensure every detail is absolutely perfect, then you must not want it badly enough. This myth says that you must be willing to sacrifice everything to become wealthy and successful. If you follow this rule, you’ll set the bar so high that it will become nearly impossible to succeed. It will all end up backfiring, because the more we hound ourselves to work harder, the more difficult it is to focus. Our productivity drops, we become frazzled and stressed and it becomes difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. You must take time for yourself. Giving yourself a break and letting your mind wander is important in promoting creativity and ingenuity. Allowing yourself to decompress will actually get you further faster.
Once you finally reach that big milestone — whether it’s a certain salary, a specific position, or a particular accomplishment — you’re convinced that the rest of the pieces of your life will fall into place. All you need is to achieve that objective, and everything will be coming up roses. Unfortunately, this rarely holds true. Sure, maybe that level of success will mean that your career has reached an all-time high. But, if you’re counting on it to be the key to eternal happiness and a flawless life, you’ll likely only be disappointed. Remember, your work is only a portion of your life. So, while achieving a professional goal is always rewarding, it doesn’t mean that suddenly you’ll find nothing to complain about. Ultimately, there’s no such thing as a perfect life — regardless of how much professional success you achieve. So, instead of waiting for that major milestone to create the life you want, focus on your happiness now. Leave adequate time for the things you enjoy and celebrate all of your wins — even the small ones.
Expensive Education Is A Must
For many years, it has been believed that any worthwhile career begins with attaining a four-year degree. The bigger and more renowned the school, the better your chances for success. However, attending a traditional four-year university is simply beyond many people’s budget, and not everyone is cut out for it. Does that mean they are doomed to an unsuccessful life? Absolutely not! Education can come in many forms and be gained in a variety of ways. There’s no longer just one way to do it; an unconventional education can be just as valuable as one gained through an Ivy League school. The key is to absorb knowledge and gain life experiences that will teach you how to apply your wisdom.
Even the most expensive four-year school only gives you the tools to help you learn and grow. It’s up to you to come up with a plan and execute it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that success, happiness and wealth are linked. We often measure our success by how many zeros are behind our annual salary. Believing that money will bring us happiness is perhaps the saddest and most devastating myth of all. If the most important measure of your life’s achievement is based solely on dollars, you are setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. You are saddling yourself with a materialistic mindset that will impede your ability to enjoy life and see the beauty in the world around you.
Willing To Sacrifice Everything
You’ve heard this story a million times: successful people work for hours without taking breaks, eating, or sleeping. You might have heard how Eric Clapton used to practice the guitar for 18 hours a day, or how Bill Gates sometimes slept on the floor of his office to save the time it would take him to go home, or how Edison worked for days without a break while inventing the light bulb. The underlying message: you need to sacrifice even your basic physiological needs if you wish to succeed. These stories inspire admiration in today’s corporate-influenced culture. But they make you overlook a critical question: Did these people work at superhuman levels every day? No! Many people try to find more time for their positive habits and projects by skipping breakfast, sleeping less than even six hours, or hardly taking any breaks at work.
Such drastic measures are scientifically known to be sure-fire ways of reducing your productivity. They diminish your energy, IQ, decision-making ability, willpower and more. Sooner or later, sacrificing adequate food or sleep will become too troublesome to sustain, and you will end up quitting too soon. Rather than try to gain time through over-the-top sacrifices, why not spend less time on things that matter less? Spend less time on social media, less time watching TV, or fewer evenings at the pub. Instead of focusing only on the things you are good at, work to develop a range of skills. Having other aptitudes and interests will increase your creativity and keep your mind active and nimble. Make time to pursue new areas — you’ll feel excited about new possibilities, and this will keep you from getting into a rut.
Transform Yourself Completely
Game Of Thrones is a piece of fiction – and yet, many of us buy into its theory of ultimate success, believing that scheming and conniving your way to the top is the only way to achieve your objective. The thinking is that if you aren’t looking out for No. 1, then who is? But successful people know better. They aren’t focused entirely on themselves; instead, they are serving others and helping others become the best they can be. They realize the importance of having compassion for others and helping others succeed. This instills loyalty in those around them. It creates a sense of commitment and reciprocity. Everyone is motivated to work hard for their common goal because there is a feeling of “being in it together.” Do you have a future image of yourself as a transformed person? Someone who is healthier, happier, more confident, incredibly productive, always able to balance work and life, and so on.
Most of us do to a certain extent. Every now and then, we become motivated to do something to become that person. But you know how it usually goes. Resolutions just remain, well, resolutions and wishes for some other time. Your over-enthusiasm is actually the cause of your failure. When you try to build six new habits at a time, or even two, you will become overwhelmed and most likely fail at every habit. Why? Because making changes requires willpower. Trying to build two new habits at the same time divides your available willpower between those two pursuits, making it more difficult for you to do either of them. Successful transformation begins with building a single habit, preferably the simplest one first. Don’t begin the second habit until you have been consistently doing the first one for at least a month. Let your first victory pave the way for your second.
All It Takes Is Hard Work And Deadlines
This belief is single-handedly responsible for at least half of all the personal failures people have discussed with me over the years. This might sound ridiculous, but it’s true! After all, everyone agrees that success requires hard work, regardless of whether you want to run a marathon or build a successful business. Simply put, hard work is something you just can’t avoid, even if you work smart. However, you also likely have other job responsibilities, household chores, and family responsibilities. The good news is that hard work is NOT the most important element in success, at least not initially, when you are just beginning to build a habit. The only thing that matters initially is to actually do the habit every day for a very short time. The point is simply to become accustomed to an everyday routine. A habit is something that you do without willpower, something that comes to you naturally. Doing it every day trains a part of your brain.
That’s when you can increase the time by two to five minutes every week. Taking it slow allows you to make gradual adaptations to your everyday routine to accommodate your new habit. Just remember, hard work is important, but that’s the second step toward change. The first step is consistency. Once you become consistent with a small habit, only then should you begin to work harder at it. You might believe that you can’t get anything done without setting deadlines. First, a deadline will draw your attention toward your goal, the result that you seek. Deadlines also cause people to underestimate the amount of time required to get a job done. If you set deadlines that are not practical, you are building up unrealistic expectations that will soon demotivate you. It’s important to understand that deadlines have a time and a place, but they aren’t universally beneficial. If you need a better approach to stay motivated, focus on your “big why.” Why do you want to build this habit/project/etc.? What rewards will you gain? How will it make you happier and more fulfilled? Write this down, remember it, and let it be your inspiration!