As we celebrate our loved ones, review the events of the past year, and avoid that awkward conversation with that one relative (you know the one), we tend to take some time to take stock of our lives. Some people make New Year’s resolutions, others make goal or wish boards, and yet others refuse to take part in this time-honored tradition of hitting the reset button at midnight on January 1st…only to fall back into our old habits before midnight 31 days later.
…that’s the key, isn’t it? Our habits.
More specifically, what you are looking for in life. Do you tend to follow failure in your day to day activities echoing mantras like, “That could never happen to me.” Or, “I just have the worst luck.” Perhaps, better yet, you echo, “This is just going to end poorly I can’t get my (bleep) together.” Many of us do this and, more often than not if we do – we tend to almost do it at an unconscious level. So, even if we make resounding, life changing resolutions for 2019 we, quickly, fall back into our old mindset and habits after a we find ourselves falling short; like our favorite pair of slippers we take comfort in what we know vs. pushing ourselves for what could be.
So, here’s the more important question to ask as the holiday season gives way to the promise of the new year: Are you following failure or are you seeking success?
You follow failure when you give up to easily as in, “Well…I had desert last night…so I might as well binge the rest of the week and start fresh on Monday.” If you find yourself saying or thinking things like, “Well, Mike, you don’t know what my life’s like – this is the hand I’ve been dealt and I feel like I’ve been playing Go Fish my entire life when, in fact, the game I was being dealt was competitive UNO,” then you are probably following failure: looking for the bad, the negative or anything that proves that you cannot live up to your own expectations or fulfill your own goals and dreams.
But there is another way: Seeking success. Look for the victories – no matter how small! “Well, I DID eat some fries at lunch, BUT I managed to leave a few on the table.” That is progress! Don’t look for what you did wrong, look for what you did right! This doesn’t mean you pull the proverbial wool over your eyes and lie to yourself, it just means that you choose to look for the positive. It’s a mindset shift. Sure, you may not have gotten the promotion at work, this time. And that’s the key point: This time. But what about the fact that you went after it? That you not only asked for it, but made your case for why you not only deserve it, but that you’ve earned it as well? That’s a victory. Most people don’t get that far.
Here’s the secret: Most of us equate success with winning. “I got the promotion and therefore I am successful.” Or, “I got the girl of my dreams and therefore I am successful.” But those are just end results – success isn’t the end! It isn’t the land of milk and honey, of unicorns and rainbows that we arrive at and suddenly life is complete! Success is in trying, working hard, and staying the course even when we fear that all is lost or that there is no end in sight. You have to LOOK for successes; you have to seek them out.
So, when you evaluate your 2018 and look ahead to what you want to accomplish and seek out in 2019, don’t focus on what didn’t work: on your perceived “failures.” Instead, seek the successes from the last year! Look for where you worked hard, persistently endured, and kept trying. Those are all steps in being successful.
Ultimately, make the choice to stop following failure and to start actively seeking success.