On our pursuit of success, we soon realize that we have lessons to learn before we achieve our biggest goals.
We’ve all heard the stories of how successful people had to work outrageously hard to achieve what they did. Every story includes people having to overcome huge obstacles.
We all feel like we do know that it does take hard work to achieve anything worth doing but until we face the journey, we don’t really know anything.
The road to success is paved by failures, disappointments, and tears. They are all lessons in disguise. If you learn them fast, you can go to the next level.
The thing is that as you unlock the next levels, it never really feels like you’ve made it. Maybe that’s part of the illusion.
I, myself, do not consider that I’m successful yet, in the way I envision it, but I’m grateful that I achieved a lot and I did it in my own terms.
I do not have a 9–5, which I always knew it wasn’t for me. I literally have panic attacks just at the thought of having to do that.
Anyway, my point is that I always knew what I wanted and how to get there, but a lot was on the way of me getting there. It was mostly my own mind.
I knew what I had to do but I didn’t have the confidence, the discipline, the consistency, and the resilience at the levels that I needed to get where I wanted. Now, I feel like I am mentally strong to go get it.
For me, it was all a product of important lessons that I learned along the way because as you may already know, just knowing something isn’t enough. You have to learn the lesson to unlock the next level of life.
Those lessons could be turned into advice. I hate giving advice because I believe that at the end of the day, you know what is best for you already. Still, I’d like to share with you what I learned and maybe that will help you too.
“To Know Thyself Is The Beginning Of Wisdom.” — Socrates
I consider this the most important thing. In western culture, we value the outside way more than the inside. Maybe that is why we have so many issues when it comes to the mind.
We need to get to know the real person behind our minds. We need to know what we want. What would really make you happy? I’m not talking about the things that would please your parents or your friends. I’m talking about what would make you happy.
Imagine for a second that a genie offered you a new life and that you are going to a place where nobody knows who you are. Who would you choose to be? Don’t answer that right away. Take your time to really figure out what would make you happy.
What I like to think is that someday I’m going to die. I’m not guaranteed an afterlife or reincarnation, and even if any of those were real, they wouldn’t be the same as this life.
So, what would make me happy doing? What would make me depart this life with no regrets? That’s how I know what I want to do. I don’t care that is taking me years to get there. That I had to go through some messed up stuff to even have a chance of trying.
I’m doing what I Love and that’s what matters. I’m making more money than I ever did, but I really don’t care about that. If I was making half, and still doing what I love, I’d be as happy.
So, take all the time in the world to really know yourself. Know what you want. I believe that everything can be broken down into learnable skills.
So, if what you want is to be a singer, go learn how to sing. You may not be able to sing like Whitney Houston but I’m sure you can learn to be good at it.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” — Leo Tolstoy
I’m going to be honest. I always had self-awareness. I know what I want to do with my life since I was 12. I never changed my mind or gave up on my dreams.
Even in the hard moments when everything was showing me that I would never succeed, I could never give up and say that I was going to lead a “normal life” like everybody else around me.
Still being honest, the one thing I never had was patience. I wanted everything now. That was one of the reasons I wrote a novel in a week. I wanted to do everything fast so it could happen now.
It was like my 18-year-old self couldn’t wait until I was 25 because by then, I’d be too old. Every Christmas was just a reminder that time was passing and I wasn’t there yet (whatever there means).
What I wish someone had told me and I learned was that patience means a lot on your journey. If you believe you can do whatever it is that you want to do, you have to be patient. Trust the process.
When you don’t have patience, you take more than you give. You try to cut corners. You do the work only half as good instead of giving your 1000%.
Now, if you have the patience, things become awesome. You don’t doubt all the time like you used to. You don’t freak out at every minor failure. You plan for the next 10 years and not the next 3 months.
Most importantly, you act differently. People are just an opportunity to connect with other human being and not a business transaction. A way for you to climb the ladder.
You understand that it is a marathon and not a sprint. You do not care anymore about what other people are doing because you know that yours will come. Everything changes.
“The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it.” Chris Pine
These 3 pieces of advice changed my life in the last few months. Perspective is everything.
I only realized that after I saw a super talented person who had nothing in her way to get started not see not only how incredible she is but also that nothing is holding her back except her own mind.
That’s when I understood that no matter what your aspirations are, life is a mind game.
When you have the perspective to understand that we don’t live in medieval times when people were stuck in whatever class, family, and place they were born into, things change. It is like taking the red pill and seeing the matrix for the first time.
Perspective to me is not only about being grateful to what you have but also understanding the difference between a book and a chapter.
Whatever you are going through, it is a moment in your life, not your whole life. You still have the second and the third act. Actually, you have as many acts as you want. As long as you have the health and the time, it is not over.
So, understand that we live in a world where everything can be broken down to learnable skills and that you can just go online and learn what you always dreamed of doing.
Once you learn, nothing is stopping you from doing that. You are in control of the game. That is why I believe that when you change your perspective, you change the game.
It is not luck. It is work
“Luck is great, but most of life is hard work.” Iain Duncan Smith
This one I’ve known for a long time, but I believe that a lot of people need to really understand this.
If you want something, work for it. Do not listen to anyone who says it is luck. If you continue to believe that the only way to be the best or one of the greatest at anything you just need a lucky strike, then my friend, you’re in deep trouble.
When people say that opportunities come around every day, you just need to be able and ready to recognize them, I believe they’re talking about luck.
If you work really hard and become really good, you might just get lucky. The right people will show up and then in no time to everyone else except you, it will happen fast.
Then when people ask you how you got lucky, you can tell them to go work in whatever they want.
No shortcuts. If you want something bad enough you can get it, but you gotta work.
If you don’t enjoy the process, you won’t enjoy the result
“If You are not enjoying the journey, you probably won’t enjoy the destination.” — Anonymous
This statement has never been truer in my life. I used to dream of achieving certain figures through my online work. They weren’t huge figures at all by any standard, but I hadn’t achieved them yet so I wanted it really bad.
Then, this opportunity came along. It was to work on a project that didn’t quite excite me but with that only gig, I would make the exact figure I wanted for the month. Of course, I said yes.
Once I finished the project and got paid, I looked those figure in my bank account and not even the security I thought money would give me was enough to make me half as happy as I thought I’d be once I achieved that goal.
I’m not complaining at all. I love having done that and I am grateful to do what I want in my own terms, but I can’t deny the lesson.
Money isn’t as important as we tell ourselves it is.
Of course, you need to pay your bills, but once you have enough money to do that, you don’t need as much as you tell yourself you do.
Enjoying the process of the work is the only way to really love the final result. If you do what you don’t love, you’re not going to enjoy that huge paycheck as much as you lie to yourself you will.
If you don’t believe me, I understand. I didn’t either.
It won’t happen when you want and how you want it but if you keep working hard, it will happen
“Sometime you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting. Have faith that things will work out, maybe not how you planned, but just how it’s meant to be.” ― Drake
Remember when I told you that I always knew what I wanted and that I never gave up, I didn’t lie. Still, some days I wondered if it would happen at all. I’m not even talking about my dreams because that’s another story.
I’m talking about a few big goals that I had in my life. Like getting out of a tough situation that threatened my mental health. Like being able to live life the way I knew would make me happy.
I lost count on how many times I told myself that it would happen and that everything would be okay, but it was all just to make me feel better.
I knew that I couldn’t go back to depression. If I lost my mental health, I would never leave. I had to stay positive and as healthy as possible. Even if right after I achieved my goals, I crumbled mentally.
The lesson was there all along. Still, I’m grateful that it took the time it did for me to learn. I believe that if it had happened any different the lesson might not have been as clear. I might’ve not learned as much.
The lesson was that in life things don’t happen when we want and how we want 99% of the time. Still, if we put in the work and believe in ourselves, eventually, it will.
I’m telling you. That big dream you have that you’re scared of saying it out loud will happen if you work for it.
Now, it will not happen when you want it and how you want it. Life is messy and not a linear storyline. It is a bunch of subplots getting in the way of the main goal.
The funny thing is that when it happens, a lot of the things, you will realize. were there all the time.
Consistency Consistency Consistency
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” ― Anthony Robbins
It is hard to classify what is the most important advice/lesson but this one is a big one. Consistency is key. Consistency is everything.
I used to think that life was a sprint. I would be better and happier if I got everything faster.
In my teenage mind, I would be able to enjoy more if I got everything right away. If I was as successful as I wanted by 20, then I’d have more years to enjoy everything. Besides, it was my dream since I was 12, so I didn’t want to wait any longer.
So, I tried everything to be faster. The problem was that I did not have the discipline to do it. What happened was that I would work hard the whole day every day for a week and then stop for 3 weeks.
The worst thing was that made me think that maybe I didn’t love what I wanted to do or maybe I was lazy. The real problem was that I was valuing speed more than consistency.
If you want to tackle anything big, get your consistency checked first. Once you’re consistent, you can worry about speed. It is cliché but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
You won’t master anything worth mastering in a day or week. So, plan for consistency not speed. Who knows, maybe if you do that, things will happen really fast.
Say yes more
“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” ― Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator
I know I’m talking a lot about life’s goals. This lesson here though, it’s a little different. If you want to achieve more but more importantly, have a happier life, say yes more.
I’m not telling you to be like Jim Carrey in the movie Yes Man, but say yes more often.
In life, it is like we are this computer program ready to say no to anything by default. What you may not know is that when you say yes more, you have more experiences, and life is about that. It is about living.
I lost count of how many opportunities and possible friendships I didn’t enjoy because I didn’t say yes more. In my case, it was usually my shyness, still, I regret it.
Now, instead of wishing I could go back and change it, I say yes more so I don’t need to regret anymore. You never know what a yes might lead you to.
Reach out and be more open
“Be nice to people… maybe it’ll be unappreciated, unreciprocated, or ignored, but spread the love anyway. We rise by lifting others.” ― Germany Kent
I’m 23, but I still remember a world without the internet. The most ironic thing about the internet, to me, is that we have a bunch of followers but fewer friends. I just think that the logic would be for us to have more friends than before the internet.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the internet. I owe everything to it. If I lived in another era, I wouldn’t be able to study as much and learn as much.
This advice is the one that I practice the least. Every time I read an article or consume any kind of content that I loved, I feel like reaching out and telling that person how much I loved it.
Still, my mind gets in the way and I don’t do it. The main reason is that I don’t want to come across as the kind of person who reaches out to ask for something, even though I’m not.
Also, I keep telling myself how busy that person must be and I don’t want to bother them,
So, what I’m trying to do more and would encourage people to do is to reach out more. Not just to the people you admire but also to the people you love and to the ones that time made you lose contact. In that spirit, be more open to whatever that leads you to.
I believe that everyone wants to hear from you if it is something positive. You never know, you might just change their lives, or at least make their day better.
Be grateful for everything (even the bad things)
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” ― Oprah Winfrey
It may have become sort of cliché to say that you should be grateful for everything that happens to you because they made you who you are, but it is a cliché because it’s true.
We really should be grateful for everything. I believe that the secret here is perspective. Once you assume the position of looking for the upside even in the bad moments, life becomes way better.
Suddenly, you can see things from a better perspective.
Do not confuse this with positive thinking in which you have to force yourself to think positively even when hell breaks loose.
You’re allowed to feel bad about things. You’re allowed your five minutes of wishing things were different.
Now, what I’m telling you is that even the bad moments are full of good things. There are lessons in there that can help you be better. Do better.
What I always do is look at things as if they weren’t happening to me, or as if they weren’t a big thing. The point is that I have to eliminate all the emotional judgment and see things from a rational point of view.
Once you eliminate the “I” out of the equation and see events without your judgment of what is a positive or a negative, life gets really good.
Once I implemented this lesson in my daily life, I started to feel much better. I don’t have to dwell on things anymore. It doesn’t mean that my life is perfect or that sometimes I don’t crawl into my bed and wish that I never had to leave. Sometimes life sucks.
What is really good about this point of view is that I don’t spend days feeling bad because something didn’t happen the way I wanted. I just take a deep breath (that sometimes takes a few hours) and get back in the game.
Don’t overthink it. Just do it.
“Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” English Proverb
This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout the years. It is also one that I have to keep myself in check all the time to make sure I’m doing what I’m preaching. Here’s what I used to do.
I found this new thing that I wanted to do. Then, I’d research it for hours on Google. Once I found good sources, I would read them all. Then, I would spend days even months before I acted on the idea.
For example, the second novel I wrote, I started 4 months after my planned starting date only because I was overthinking everything.
In my case, I used to do this because I wanted everything to be perfect. Now I understand that we have to just get started, then later we can worry about being good.
Always remember this, there’s no such thing as perfect and even if there was nobody would like. Human beings thrive and rejoice on being flawed. Maybe that’s what makes us interesting in the first place.
Those are the lessons I’m going to take with me. I’m not perfect, but I hope that I’ll be able to practice them more every day. I hope they can help you too.
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Want to Become Successful? Learn These Lessons First! was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.