Success Isn’t Enough
Success is overrated. Accomplishments aren’t the be all and end all. The happiness that comes with hitting goals is fleeting. There’s no step on the self-improvement ladder that’ll make you truly happy.
This is a message for anyone who thinks they’ll be happy once they achieve that one thing. A promotion. A new house. A hit single.
Once you get that thing, it soon becomes the new baseline. You think you’ll he satisfied at some point, but it’s natural to always want more.
There’ll always be someone smarter, richer, more talented. It’s healthy to switch our parameters to compete with them. This is how we become our greatest version.
But it does mean we’ll never achieve true satisfaction — unless we learn to do this…
Enjoy the process
If we can never be happy with out achievements, we must instead enjoy the process of achieving them.
Any journey started solely because you’d love the end result is destined to end with:
- the disappointment of failure;
- the frustration of success still leaving you dissatisfied.
The only solution is to find something you’d love to do no matter how long it takes to succeed.
The world’s most successful entrepreneurs are the best examples of this solution in action.
Richard Branson didn’t stop no matter how successful Virgin music got. He went on to create Virgin Cola, Virgin Airways, Virgin Money. He loves the process of building businesses from scratch.
Elon Musk, unsatisfied with the raging success of Tesla and PayPal, is now trying to send a spaceship to Mars. He loves the process of improving the world with innovation.
The creative industry includes hundreds more examples.
Show me a successful pop star who doesn’t love singing or a comedian who dislikes cracking jokes and I’ll show you someone destined to fail eventually. It’s the process not the success that pleases these celebrities.
Jeff Goins, a best-selling author, recently admitted that publishing a book leaves him with a surprising feeling of emptiness.
He said: “Do you know what fills that void? Not launching a book or hitting the bestsellers list or any of that. The only thing that brings a writer satisfaction is starting the next book.”
I felt the same while writing my book The Thrill Of The Chase.
The struggle of trying to tell the story as entertainingly as possible, worrying how people would react to the most outrageous moments, marketing the book as widely as possible…this was all more satisfying than watching the sales and five-star reviews filter in.
I’m sure it would have been the same if the book sold millions more copies. I’d still be buzzing to write the next one.
(Ironically, the book is about how learning to enjoy the process of meeting women helped my dating life to thrive. Buy it on Amazon here).
The magic of flow
So, what made getting on early every day to write The Thrill Of The Chase feel so good? It’s the same phenomenon that makes time fly when we’re playing our favourite sports, practicing a musical instrument or painting a portrait. A state of mind commonly known as ‘flow’.
When we’re in a flow state, time stands still. We don’t tire. Our mind switches off all distractions. We perform to the peak of our physical capabilities. It’s the cleanest high I’ve ever experienced.
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi wrote a book on this subject and concluded to reach and remain in this state, you need:
- An activity with clear goals that provides immediate feedback.
- A good balance between the perceived difficulty of the task and your own perceived skills.
- Motivation to engage in the activity (although being in flow state can be its own motivation).
Spend every day in this state and you’ll live a life of satisfaction.
You should still smash your goals
This isn’t to say that results don’t matter. You should set goals, smash them, then aim for even loftier targets. But not because it’ll make you happy…
- do it to become a better stronger version of yourself;
- do it to leave a legacy;
- do it so you can help more people;
- do it for the funds to continue your passion;
- do it because targets are essential for reaching flow state.
When passion and the road to meaningful accomplishments combine, there’s nothing more satisfying. Plus, it’ll usually result in your best work. When an individual works on a passion project, it shines through in their final piece.
You can hear it in a singer’s voice or see it in or the clever way a writer structures their sentences. It’s hidden in the subtle touches of an artwork. Every slight detail screams that this is a labour of love. The world needs more projects like that.
So, if you’re working a job because the pay is great, working late to impress your boss or writing a book because you think it’ll sell, stop now.
Find that activity that makes time fly and try to make a living doing that.
I did this with my freelance writing and I’ve never looked back…
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