The meaning of success differs for everyone. Yet, many of us tend to live our lives chasing success as to what the mass media exempliﬁes. But tell me, how do ephemerals like having the latest gadget, another job title, a speciﬁc body shape, and whatnot genuinely enrich us?
As a student, I was taking out loans to support myself to become an electrical engineer. I shared a living space with other students near my university campus and regularly put on MTV, an American cable channel, in the background to help counteract their chatty noise. One day, I overheard fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg say: “The most important relationship you’ll ever have in your life is the one with yourself”.
Then and there, I realised that my ultimate end game wasn’t gaining an engineering degree but always being able to look myself in the eye no matter what—Diane’s message on always being with yourself has resonated with me ever since. My new deﬁnition of success became securing my inner peace by always acting honestly, staying loyal to my values, and treating others with kindness at any pitstop.
Fast forward to today, 15 years later, I’ll share three takeaways on how I ground myself as it may aid you in ﬁnding your road to success—and perhaps also encourage you to share your story with us someday:
Make a plan to lead yourself to victory
Did you ever have someone promise you the world? Or promise the next step in your career by asking you to hold on patiently? What happens if these people, wildly deceiving or beyond their control, let you down? Then, what?
Or what if people’s biased opinions or misconceptions stand in your way of achieving your dreams? Are you just going to let someone else’s limitations dictate YOUR future? For many women, this continues to be a reality, especially when chasing a career in technology.
As harsh as it may sound, the only person with your best interest at heart and keeping tabs on your happiness is YOU. Utilise the full potential of being your greatest cheerleader of all times.
Multiple studies show that people with a plan are up to ten times (!) more likely to attain their goals. So, lead yourself to your victory by making a plan. You don’t need to have it all mapped out; start by aiming where you want to be and ﬁlling in the blanks. Like yourself, your plan will evolve along the way.
Adopt a growth mindset
Life’s unpredictable due to various challenges and circumstances we have little control over. More often than not, we tend to be too hard on ourselves by not considering life’s uncertainty and turn of events.
Avoid setting the bar too high by thinking you can only move forward in straight lines from A to B or through a series of extravagant steps. This mindset will likely do you more harm than good; it overwhelms us, wears us down, and may lead us to ultimately throw in the towel when things don’t go as planned.
Always dream big but remain realistic by considering that you’ll hit some bumps in the road and face several roadblocks. Cut yourself some slack when this occurs. Detours will still get you to your destination.
The same goes for unexpected outcomes found within your span of control. Sadly, we tend to call these ‘mistakes’. Yet, burning our hands once teaches us never to go too near to the ﬁre again. Utilise our tendency to remember the bad over the good for your beneﬁt. Own it. Whatever choices set you back now will help you increase the odds of hitting the nail better next time.
Perhaps a little counterintuitive, but drifting off course may just be what you need to take leaps forward later.
Be the change you wish to see
Nobody is like you. Even identical twins growing up in the same household tend to differ in personality. You bring something uniquely beautiful to the table, regardless of whatever shapes you and where you currently stand in life. We all have our stories to tell.
We have endless things to learn and gain from each other beyond what our limited lifetime permits. Yet, society doesn’t always make it easy to speak our minds and navigate our life authentically. If you were to ask me, I ﬁnd that the most dangerous place is an unsafe psychological one, limiting our ability to ﬂourish.
So, what does this have to do with you? Well, even the ‘self-made’ people we see or hear in the media didn’t arrive at their destination without some aid. For example, consider how privileged we are already by the food in our fridge others produced for us compared to the time and effort needed to yield the same results entirely on our own—and the limited options I bet we’d end up with instead.
Together, we are ONE to increase our chances of hitting whatever success means for each of us individually. If anything, I hope you will join me in defending against any dark arts that hold us back from getting to where we, including you, want to be.
Summary and ﬁnal words
- Steer yourself to where YOU want to head, and keep your eyes on the road—you’re in the driver’s seat!
- You can’t predict the future; buckle up, enjoy the ride, and adjust accordingly.
- Help navigate those who may cross your path on their road to You both may gain from each other and celebrate arriving at your destinations more quickly.
Even though my trade primarily revolves around managing the potential for loss (‘risks’), many in my ﬁeld tend to dismiss there’s also potential for gain (‘opportunities‘). Thus, when ﬁnding your road to success, I encourage you to avoid focusing on what you have to lose but on what you have to gain instead.
Trust me; you’ve got this!