Our individual definition of success is subject to many factors. I moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1992 and enrolled in my senior year of high school. Eager to get on with our lives, there were many hallway and classroom conversations about college. However, I was surprised by the many students who were not seeking to go to college immediately after high school. In my family, college was expected as if it was on the parent success checklist. Over the many years, I have come to realize and respect that success means something different to each of us.
In 2016, I entered the Atlanta Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10K event that occurs on July 4th. For me, my goal was to complete the race within an hour and thirty minutes. For others, it may have been to be first across the finish line or simply to just make it across the finish line. Again, success can be different depending on our individual circumstances and points of view. Many factors like our family, organizational affiliations, and national culture play a huge part in shaping our views about success.
Regardless of how it is defined, here are three things you should be doing to achieve a level of success.
Find Ways to Simplify
In reality, there are only 24 hours in a day, so finding ways to simplify the tasks and events in our life is essential for accomplishing them. When I say simplify, I am talking about removing clutter or reducing those tasks in your day that are not aligned to your goals. I would venture to say that simplification leads to more happiness and peace of mind and increases the likelihood that the tasks will get done.
When you are faced with big projects or goals to achieve, it is best to simplify them by breaking them up into smaller, digestible task buckets. Now you can acquire the resources and tools for that smaller task. See? So much simpler. I find that this simplification strategy relieves stress because it tells our brain that we are embarking on a manageable venture. It is like reading a book or eating a meal, we can take in one sentence or one bite at a time.
Finishing all 6.2 miles of the Atlanta Peachtree Road Race was a huge task for me. Simplification meant taking one step at a time, taking deep breaths and keeping a steady pace without overexerting myself. So sprinting was out!
There is a verse to an old song that says “No man is an island. No man stands alone.” At some point in our lives we learn that we need people. No, we do not need everyone to get from A to B, but we DO need somebody or bodies. In fact, if we take a deeper look, we will begin to see how people have helped us on our journey to success. Showing gratitude is about taking that deeper look and taking action to say thank you and offer gifts of appreciation if you’re inspired to do so.
I was extremely grateful for the water provided and for those who came just to cheer the runners on. I was determined to show my gratitude by drinking the water, saying thank you and finding a trash bin if possible rather than throwing the cup on the ground, leaving more work for organizers. Yes, I thought of that. It is important to show appreciation in the small tasks and the large projects.
Develop a Plan
Dr. Myles Monroe, world-renowned scholar of leadership principles often said that the only two guarantees were time and change and that a plan was the only way to manage them. I am not sure if they are the only two guarantees, but I certainly agree that developing a plan is essential for managing both. In truth, this is often easier said than done since life is full of surprises and “the way” is not always apparent at first glance. It requires an investment of your time to create a step-by-step plan that provides a roadmap for transitioning to a new way of working or living. Invest your time to talk to others in your network, research the new opportunity, or refer to a professional consultant. Ultimately, decide what specific series of changes need to happen to get to your goal. Then, plan for it, and take the next best step.
Be aware that even the best thought out plans are subject to change. Why? Because we are dynamic human beings living in an ever-changing world full of variables. However, change does not negate the power of a plan. I think of a plan as a brain-settling blueprint for A way, not THE way. Your plan tells you about your next best step for that moment.
I was aware of three things when I signed up for the Peachtree Road Race. One, I was not an avid runner. Two, there was a finish line. And three, there were water stations along the route so I could stay hydrated. My plan was to pace myself, maintain a rhythm and grab a gulp of water from a volunteer at each station.
Simplifying, gratitude, and planning helped me reach my goal. I completed the 6.2 mile race in under one hour and thirty minutes. How can you make a plan for your next best step?