If you're not achieving the success you hope for, whether personally or professionally, take a step back. The problem may not be a lack of education or opportunity or connections or even luck.
The problem could be what you believe--and as a result, what you do.
What do the most successful people believe and therefore do differently? Here are some of the affirmations successful people make very day:
1. "In one way, I will always be last."
Everyone likes to be first. But often it's better to be last: the last to give up, the last to leave, the last to keep trying, the last to hold on to principles and values.
The world is full of people who quit. The world is full of people who pivot (pivot is sometimes just a fancy word for "give up").
There will always be people who are smarter, more talented, better connected, and better funded than you. But they don't always win.
Always be the last to give up on yourself.
2. "I will never equate acquisition with satisfaction."
Psychologists call it "hedonistic adaptation," a phenomenon in which people quickly push the buzz from a new purchase toward their emotional norm.
That "aah..." feeling you get when you look at your new house? It quickly goes away. The same is true for your new car, new furniture, and new clothes. So to recapture the "aah..." feeling, you have to buy something else. The cycle is addictive. And so you're never satisfied. You can't be. That's not how we're made.
Real, lasting satisfaction comes from doing, not from having. Want to feel good about yourself? Help someone. Knowing you've made a difference in another person's life is an "aah..." that lasts forever.
Doing also is a cycle that's addictive--but this time, in a really good way.
3. "I will never mistake political gain for achievement."
Infighting, positioning, trying to look better by making other people look worse: Playing politics can help get you ahead.
But if you win through politics, you still ultimately lose, since political success is based on the impulses, whims, and caprices of other people (often other people you don't even respect or like). That means today's success can be tomorrow's failure, and success or failure is largely outside your control.
Real achievements are based on merit. They can't be taken away by anyone.
4. "I won't let the fear of criticism hold me back."
Try something different. Try something others won't try. Almost immediately, people will talk about you--and not in a kind way.
The only way to keep people from being snide, disparaging, or judgmental is to say and do what everyone else does. Then, of course, you live their lives and not yours. And you won't be happy.
See people talking about you as a sign you're on the right track--your track.
Your track is the happy track. Not theirs.
5. "I will go ahead and ship--and then ship again."
As Seth Godin says, we're naturally afraid to be "done," because then our idea, our product, or our service has to sink or swim, and we're desperately afraid it will sink.
And maybe it will--but if you don't put it out there, it can also never swim. No product can be successful until it's shipped. No application can be successful until it's released. No service can be successful until it's in the field.
When in doubt, ship it out. Then make whatever you produce next is a little better. And ship that. And keep going.
You can't feel proud until you ship. So ship--a lot.
6. "I will see my résumé as the journey, not the end result."
Many people collect jobs and experiences in pursuit of crafting a "winning" résumé.
That's backwards. Your résumé is like a report card: It's just a by-product of what you've accomplished, learned, and experienced.
Don't base your life on trying to fill in the blanks on some "ideal" CV. Base your life on accomplishing your goals and dreams. Figure out what you need to do to get to where you want to be, and do those things.
Then let your résumé reflect that journey.
7. "I will refuse to wait."
For the right time. The right people. The right market. The right something.
And life passes you by.
The only right is right now.
8. "I won't collect stuff; I'll 'collect' people."
Walk around your house. Or look around your office. Look at your stuff.
Now have your extended family over for dinner. Or get together with friends. Look at your people.
Which is more fulfilling?
Thought so. You can love your stuff, but your stuff will never love you back.
9. "I will always maintain perspective."
Close your eyes and imagine I have the power to take everything you hold dear away from you: family, job or business, home, everything.
And I exercise that power. All of it, everything, is gone.
Would you beg and plead and offer me anything to get that life back? Would getting that life back mean everything to you? Would you realize that what you had was so much more important than what you didn't have?
Would you realize that what I just took away was pretty freaking awesome?
Of course you would.
Now open your eyes, literally and figuratively, and never forget how much you've accomplished--and how proud you should be.