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Success Advice

3 Reasons Why You’re Not Succeeding in Life and What You Can Do to Change It

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how to succeed in life

The work fairy has been kind to me. Over the years, I’ve held some pretty good positions and was involved in many impactful projects—the types that attract lots of attention from the guys upstairs. I’ve been mentored by a CEO and have worked closely with all kinds of C-execs. Pretty lucky, wouldn’t you say?

How have I done it? –Easy. It was enough to mention I wasn’t challenged enough and work flew my way, growing in complexity and responsibilities. Things are looking up, I thought. Soon, I’ll be pretty high on the ladder. But instead, I was stuck in a rut. I was seen as the dependable “Doer” but never “the Change-maker” or “the Influencer.” And after some intense self-analysis, it was very clear why.

Despite all the opportunities I’ve been given to move up, I somehow fell short of having sufficient self-assurance—the silent requisite for success, which often helps write our great life stories of struggle, perseverance, and “making it in the end.”

I started thinking about confidence and how lucky the people to whom all this comes effortlessly must be. They probably don’t even have to think about how they appear to others, because they are simply great individuals, emitting calm assertiveness in their own worth.

But more importantly, why did I lack the feeling of self-confidence? I believed I had the brains, skills, knowledge, abilities, no less than the people around me who were steadily moving up. There was no apparent reason for me not to have equally positive self-beliefs and the opportunities that came with this. And yet, I was stuck.

Here are 3 reasons why you are not succeeding in life as you wish you were:

1. Motivation

This is a big one. Although, at first thought, motivation and confidence may not be likely candidates for friendship, they are closely aligned, especially in work settings. If what we do for a living isn’t what we truly want, if it’s not our forte or calling, it will be quite challenging to convince ourselves that it’s worth putting our whole hearts, efforts, energy and skills into it.

It’s kind of hard to be our biggest fan too and to respect ourselves, when we are stagnated personally or professionally. If we are not driven enough, we won’t push ourselves to grow, to achieve more, to learn new things. Such attitude is an outright confidence killer.

We just save ourselves the torment and go after what really sparks us. But if moving on is not a possibility, we still have some options up our sleeves. We can try to improve our motivation to spike our confidence. The point is that self-appreciation comes from knowing that we are doing something meaningful, something that matters. Otherwise, why waste our time?

“Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be, wedge your foot in that door and keep it open.” – Pauline Kael

2. People-pleasing

People-pleasing is easily one of the main obstacles to self-assurance. It’s a well-known fallacy that people with low confidence often have an obsessive desire to be liked by everyone. It’s a dangerous trap as we can become an easier target for manipulation. More importantly, we tend to turn our backs on who we are and what we want, for the sake of others.

Congratulations, you have successfully become a wallflower! People-pleasing is not the way to feel better about ourselves. Social acceptance is important, of course, but it should be based on mutual appreciation. If we don’t know how to value and respect ourselves first, how can we expect others to do so?

And yet, many of us do it—to varying degrees, on various occasions, in both our personal and professional lives but, it’s a bad strategy all-around. An ill-ambition to be accepted by all usually has an unhappy ending— we are liked by no one, not even by ourselves.

3. Fear of Failure

The dread of defeat and low self-assurance have somewhat of a complicated affair—fear undermines our self-esteem. Low confidence, in turn, makes us more sensitive to failure. Our sense of worth becomes directly tied to all-or-nothing outcomes. Victories will make us feel over the top and downturns will cause a further dip in our self-esteem. It’s a vicious loop.

An unhealthy sense of perfectionism also often completes the above recipe. We must be faultless all the time, we tell ourselves, as we believe that failing will cost us not only others’ respect, but ultimately our careers too.

Being driven to do or give our best is, of course, a good thing, but there is always a line, which, after being crossed, things quickly spiral downward.  We can’t slow down or become less meticulous, though—we believe that all eyes are fixed on us, and that we’ll be judged for every mishap.

Guess what? People are too centered on their own selves and lives to have the time to focus much on others. We are usually the ones who cause ourselves all the stress and grief. Psychologists call this the “spotlight” effect—and it’s a well-known bias.

So, give yourself permission to fail, to not be perfect all the time, to have a bad hair day, to take responsibility for your missteps. Fear is natural, everyone has it, and everyone fails. But as Confucius said many years ago: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Finally, to reach a state of unconditional self-approval, we must not tie our worth, personal and professional, to externalities. We shouldn’t seek for validation or approval from the world. Rather, focus on finding your own path and pace. That’s the only way to become, not flawless in everything, but perfectly happy and fulfilled with the person looking back at us in the mirror.

Is your motivation, people pleasing, or the fear of failure holding you back from where you should be? Let us know so we can all help one another!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Evelyn Marinoff is a writer and an aspiring author. She holds a degree in Finance and Marketing,  works in client consulting, and spends her free time reading, writing and researching ideas in psychology, leadership, well-being and self-improvement. On her website evelynmarinoff.com, she writes tips and pieces on self-enhancement and confidence. You can also find her on Twitter at @Evelyn_Marinoff.

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Success Advice

Mindful Productivity: How Top Achievers Combine Focus and Balance

By being aware of your emotions, thoughts, and surroundings, you can work with your internal and external environments

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Mindful productivity

Your big-dream goals matter … but not at the expense of your health. (more…)

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Change Your Mindset

The Art of Convincing: 10 Persuasion Techniques That Really Work

The knack for persuading others can act as a catalyst for change, open doors, forge alliances, and effect positive change

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how to be more persuasive

Persuasion is not as complicated as it may sound. In fact, it is something that we have been practicing since childhood. Do you remember convincing your parents to let you skip school, asking your teacher not to assign homework, or persuading your boss to give you a day off? Well, these are just small examples of what persuasion looks like. (more…)

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Success Advice

5 Steps to Leveraging Industry Speaker Events for Career Advancement

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it

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How to advance your career by networking

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it. It’s not just about sitting in a room full of people. You’ve got to find the ones that fit your career puzzle, dive in while you’re there, and then make the most of what you’ve learned afterward. (more…)

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Success Advice

Overcoming Plateaus: 6 Powerful Strategies for Breakthrough Success

A plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears

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how to overcome obstacles for success

In the pursuit of personal and professional growth, plateaus are inevitable. They appear when progress seems to halt, despite your continuous efforts. But remember, a plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears. This article provides six powerful strategies to overcome plateaus and achieve breakthrough success.

1. Find Out the Root Cause

When facing a plateau, there is likely something causing you to sabotage your progress. Identify the root cause. What is sabotaging your progress? Examine your daily routine and how you spend your time. Are you wasting time on unnecessary activities? Or are you taking on too many tasks that you can’t handle?

Often, adding more tasks overloads your already tight routine and distracts you from focusing on the most important tasks. Therefore, often eliminating unnecessary activity will work to overcome plateaus. However, be cautious of not doing things right, such as tasks you have not yet undertaken or missing something. What actions do you need to take or improve to achieve your goal? Are you avoiding them, or have you not started yet?

2. Never Tolerate Problems

Once you’ve identified the root cause, never tolerate problems. If you tolerate them, you’ll end up staying stuck. You get what you tolerate. Once you recognize the problem you’re facing, never tolerate it. Instead, address and improve the situation.

3. Focus on a 100% Solution and 0% Problems

To overcome a challenge, it’s essential to plan how to get through it. Yet, people often find themselves asking, ‘Why is it bad?’ or ‘What is wrong with it?’ Questions of this nature limit our thinking, leading our brains to generate responses like ‘Because you’re not good enough’ or ‘Everything is wrong with you.’ These limited answers tend to resonate with the situation and drag you down further.

Instead, ask empowering questions without limits, such as ‘What is not perfect yet, and how can I turn things around while making a more positive impact?’ By asking unlimited empowering questions, you’ll shift your focus from the problem to the solution. Additionally, you will also notice that asking empowering questions can expand available options and allow you to see from an angle you couldn’t see before.

Focusing on problems rarely yields positive outcomes. The key to positive results lies in concentrating on the solution. The next time you face adversity and notice getting caught by unresourceful thoughts, snap out of it and direct your focus to a 100% solution and 0% problems.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

4. Cultivate Success-Driven Traits

Identify the traits you need to have and get rid of to become the person you aspire to be. Consider your specific goals – for instance, attracting positive relationships. To achieve this, note down the traits you need to embrace, such as being open-minded, gentle, healthy, and treating others the way you want to be treated.

Cultivate a positive mindset. Simultaneously, get rid of traits like criticizing others, having a short temper, and engaging in unhealthy habits like taking drugs.

Learn from individuals who have achieved similar goals. Study their traits, both the ones they have and those they’ve consciously avoided. Implement these traits to align with the person you want to become.

Once you have your lists of traits to embrace and eliminate, diligently follow them. Place the list on your desk or the door of your room, ensuring you read it at least once a day to reinforce your commitment to these traits.

5. Track Your Habits

Carry a notepad to track your habits throughout the day, especially those contributing to plateaus, as well as your new habits or traits aligned with achieving your goals. For instance, if your root cause is excessive internet use, record instances of mindless scrolling on social media. Note when you engage, the emotional state prompting it, and the approximate duration.

Calculate the total minutes wasted at the end of the day. This habit tracking makes you aware of the emotions triggering these behaviors (stress, boredom, and frustration) and the time wasted.

Additionally, track positive new habits, like reading good books and exercising. Document what you’ve learned from the book and the time spent exercising. This practice helps you build new positive habits by enabling you to compare today’s results with those from yesterday or a week ago. 

Moreover, consistently sticking to new habits for around 18 months transforms them into lifelong habits. Even if you take breaks, you will find yourself naturally returning to those habits.

6. See Obstacles as Opportunities

Every obstacle can be an opportunity to turn things around. If the economy is in a downturn, it’s time to recognize it as an opportunity to thrive while everyone else is struggling and focused on the problem. If someone makes fun of you or causes you trouble, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this experience?’

Alternatively, consider that the person underrating you is setting low expectations, which are easier to exceed. If your business receives a bad review from a customer, see it as free feedback that guides you on how to improve and take your business to the next level.

Always try to see different angles that others may overlook. This perspective can reveal aspects you might be missing. When you view a problem as an opportunity, it has the potential to foster growth.

In the journey toward success, plateaus are just temporary pauses, not dead ends. So, keep moving, keep growing, and make your breakthrough.

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