In the age of the social media entrepreneurs, influencers, and celebrities, it’s easy to think that my current life is subpar. Who wouldn’t feel inadequate about lacking the exotic cars, brand deals, jets, and wild parties. Somehow these are the materials or lifestyles we are suppose to desire.
I took time last week to listen to a goal setting tutorial (Yep, that’s how I spend my downtime). While free writing about my wants, exotic cars, gold-plated tapestries, and a house on the water were nowhere on my list. They didn’t even cross my mind. Weren’t they suppose too?
When my motivation wavers, it’s because I fail to define what success means to me. I use external measures created by people I don’t know or who don’t impact my life. I was setting myself up. What if I got everything that I am ‘suppose’ to want without ever achieving the things that would care about? Or what if I already had what I wanted and didn’t appreciate it because I thought it wasn’t enough?
That’s the problem with words like success, achievement, and winning. It’s all relative. Not relative to other people, as in, I’m more successful that he is. It’s relative to the path you have chosen for yourself. However, we make comparisons to others. It is instinctive… and flawed. It makes us feel worse or better about ourselves without any reference to what we actually want. We might already be happy until we see others with more. Suddenly our day takes a downturn because of how someone else chooses to live their lives.
I had to step back and reassess my goals. I turned on some music and let go of what was the ‘correct’ aspiration. I filled up a few pages in my notebook and was surprised by what was and wasn’t on there. I had no desire for an exotic car. Though it might be a nice idea, I rather spend money on a custom kitchen than a car. I love to cook and be in the kitchen when my wife is baking. And when I look over my list, there are many intangibles as well. I want to have an hour of time to read each day, learn a new language, run more dance events, and shut off at the end of each day to give my family my full attention.
I began to understand the first step in achieving success is knowing what that looks like for me. And of course titles like ‘The 10 things successful people before breakfast’ or ‘5 ways successful people think’ feel like they will have the trick we’ve been missing. It won’t. People have asked me how often I practice dance each day. Any answer I give is completely useless to the person answering. My practice is based on where I am and where I want to go. What if I say I only practice 30 minutes a week? Does that mean, 30 minutes is the ideal amount of time you should be practicing? Probably not. I don’t answer that question anymore. It’s a disservice to others finding our what they actually need to do to get better.
Goals are about understanding who we are, how we function, and what drives us. It’s only from self-awareness that we can point ourselves in the right direction and begin a walk that is true to our core values.
It’s hard to avoid getting distracted in an era where we are all about sharing what we’ve accomplished. You may think you want what that other individual has. But if you can find those moments to connect with yourself outside of the noise of society standards, you will come to find what speaks to your heart.