Spend more than 5 minutes browsing Medium, and you’re likely to encounter myriad self-help articles proffering advice on all sorts of topics: how to be more productive, achieve your goals, and upgrade every aspect of your life.
Most of this advice fits into one overarching category: how to be successful.
It’s not that any of these articles or the wisdom they seek to offer is inherently bad — but I believe that much of it misses the mark. “Success” is often lauded as the end-all be-all goal of our lives and our self-improvement pursuits, but we must remember that success looks different for every person. What “success” means for me likely has a very different definition than “success” means for you.
It’s when we adopt an attitude of gratitude that we realize how successful we already are.
As a result, “success” is not a finite thing that can be grasped, but rather a mindset. It’s an aspiration, not a place we’ll ever “arrive.”
It’s a lot easier to improve yourself when you choose to see how successful you already are.
It’s when I make a conscious choice to: 1) focus on what successes I’ve already achieved; and 2) be thankful for everything I have and enjoy in life that I will naturally be more successful as a result.
A shift in mindset changes the dynamic, and my thoughts, actions, and desires change as a result.
Is there still room for improvement? Of course.
None of us are perfect. None of us will ever truly “arrive” — we’ll never be 100% productive, crushing it at our jobs, in perfect harmony in every interpersonal relationship we have. That’s an impossible standard.
Seeking to improve oneself is a good thing — as long as it doesn’t rob us of the small joys that life can bring.
We all want to improve ourselves and our lot in life — it’s a natural desire — but we need to keep our end goals and what’s really important in mind. When we get caught up in a never-ending obsession with self-improvement, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. We lose sight of what really matters in life.
So you’ve doubled your productivity at work…good for you.
But how’s your relationship with your spouse or your kids?
You finally got that that side hustle off the ground, and now you’re making more money than ever before…but what’s the point? Can you even appreciate the little things in life?
That’s the thing: seeking to improve oneself is a good thing — as long as it doesn’t rob us of the small joys that life can bring.
It’s when we adopt an attitude of gratitude that we realize how successful we already are. This isn’t easy, but it’s incredibly important. Choosing to realize what we have been given in life and be thankful for the opportunities we have is like a muscle: it must be exercised regularly if we want to see it grow rather than atrophy.
This requires a shift in mindset.
Many have lauded the concept of a “growth mindset” over a “fixed mindset.” I agree, with reservations. In order to regain the right perspective, I must not only focus on future growth and opportunity, but also reflect on my life, taking into account what matters most.
Growth for growth’s sake is pointless.
It’s when I choose to adopt the right mindset that I can see how successful I already am. I live in a beautiful place, provide for my family, and I’m very happy with my career thus far. Do I still want to grow in my marriage, my career, and the opportunities I have in life? Of course!
Choosing to be grateful for what I have been given and seeing myself as successful doesn’t mean resting on my laurels. It doesn’t beget complacency.
I can still pursue growth and self-improvement, but the motivation behind my pursuits changes. Seeing my life in this way doesn’t invalidate my desires, dreams, and goals — it merely re-frames them, putting them in their proper place.
It’s a more healthy, holistic way of living.
So the next time you’re browsing the self-improvement section on Medium and come across an article claiming to have the one secret that will catapult your life to new levels of success, stop for a second and ask yourself:
“Aren’t I already successful?”
Chances are, the answer is yes.