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8 Harsh Truths About Success From a Psychologist

The truth is success only comes with discipline

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There’s a lot of trial and error on the path to success. I can personally attest to this fact, having been on the same journey myself. I was someone who would start a project with burning motivation, only to see it ebb away as I faced challenges and things got hard. I accumulated experiences of giving up and starting new.

I was always in search of quick fixes, easy wins, always expecting success to come easy. But with time and experience, I learned that this limited mindset was my biggest hindrance to being successful.

Today, I want to share 8 harsh truths about success, truths that have shaped my journey and can help yours.

1. Discipline Instead Of Motivation

The motivation we often seek in inspirational quotes or uplifting videos isn’t something you can depend on consistently. Motivation is too vulnerable; it comes and goes. The truth is success only comes with discipline. You need to form habits that make you take action, irrespective of how you feel.

Remember, you’re going to face setbacks. But it’s in these challenging times that your character is tested and shaped. Success is not an easy, quick process. It’s a journey that demands your patience, time, and undivided attention. Remember, when things get hard, these are the times when most people give up.

This is why not many people are successful. We expect it to be an easy and smooth journey with endless Motivation. The harsh truth is your Motivation will vary, and you will fail and experience many hardships. Still, you need to act regardless of how you feel and develop discipline. 

2. Single-Minded Focus And Consistency

Continuously switching between ideas will only decrease your energy. Instead, concentrate on one specific task, and dive deeper into it. Success is not achieved overnight; it’s the culmination of countless hours, days, and even months of consistent, focused work.

Find your passion, devote yourself to it, and give it at least a year before you start looking for outcomes. Remember, the road to success is a marathon, not a sprint. The harsh truth here is multi-tasking does not exist; dividing your attention will bring you nowhere. Pick something, stick to it, and pursue it.

Don’t evaluate after 1 month of trying; stick with what you pick for at least 1 year. Stay consistent and try without focusing too much on the outcome. You have to be patient; if you want to have easy money, easy success fast, you will fail. 

3. Physical Activity Is Key 

In our pursuit of success, we often overlook the importance of physical health. Exercise isn’t just about weight management or fitness; it’s also about improving your psychological well-being. It stimulates endorphin production, making you feel happier, more focused, and more resilient.

Neglecting physical exercise will make you more susceptible to diseases, laziness, and failure. The harsh truth is that you will fail if you think you can get ahead without being physically active. 

4. Create A Priority Checklist

Organization is key to productivity. By creating a priority checklist, you make sure that your most important tasks are handled first, helping you avoid distractions. This strategy promotes self-integrity and creates momentum as you see yourself completing tasks.

If you lack organization, you may end up avoiding the challenging tasks, hindering your growth. I used to spend too much time on less important things because they were easier to do, avoiding the important, harder-to-do tasks. Sure enough, I only made small progress.

The harsh truth is if you don’t organize your working days, you will procrastinate and not focus on what you really need to do.

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

5. Evaluate Your Circle

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

Look at your friends. Are they ambitious and supportive? Or are they complacent and laugh at your goals? Sometimes, your friends are the ones to pull you down, fearing your success. The harsh truth is sometimes loneliness might be the price you need to pay for success.

6. Focus On What You Can Control

It’s easy to lose ourselves in the problem, but you need to focus on the solution. If you can’t change the situation, move on. Complaining about uncontrollable factors will only hinder your progress.

The harsh truth is: If you are constantly complaining about things like who the president is, the taxes you need to pay, the weather, and the selfishness of people, etc., you will fail. Focus on things you can control.

7. Outwork Your Self-Doubt

One thing is for sure. You will doubt yourself. You will have imposter syndrome. Affirmations are cool, but again, not sustainable. In order to be truly successful, you need to change within. You need to build integrity. That means you will outwork your self-doubt by doing the things you said you’ll do.

Self-doubt is normal; you can use affirmations but don’t forget your work. Here again, the harsh truth is Work Work Work, no matter how you feel, outwork your self-doubt until there is no denying anymore.

8. Recognize And Challenge Your Mindset

Recognize that you have a poor mindset. You might be surrounded by less successful people than you aspire to be. Recognize that you have been programmed to have a poor mindset and to resist growth. To resist money. You have to break out of that. The harsh truth is here; If you don’t recognize your poor mindset, you will self-sabotage yourself whenever you see success.

Looking back, I realize how my old habits of not exercising, complaining, being inconsistent, hanging around with poor-minded friends, and having a poor mindset myself were blocking my path to success. I am still a work in progress, but I take these 8 hard truths as my mantra.

I remind myself daily that the road to success is not easy, but it’s worth it. I want to leave you with Charles Bukowski’s words, which I put as my screen saver: “If you are going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.” 

Heythem Naji is a psychologist and blogger dedicated to teaching mental and physical health. Heythem's Blog integrates the complexities of mind and body, giving comprehensive, actionable insights by combining professional expertise with a personal narrative. Learn more here.

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