Sunday, October 23, 2011
The Measurement of Success
So, this isn't what I had in mind to talk about for my first blog, but I'm not done researching the other topic and I felt compelled to write about this instead. The other day I read my friend Dulce's blog. She was talking about how much perception plays a role in our day to day lives, whether we realize it or not. Then, today I saw this image:
The message here kind of struck a chord with me. My own life has certainly been more like the image on the right. I currently work in the behavioral health field and every day I see or hear of people who just have too much piled on and they have a breakdown.
There are many ways that people measure success; wealth, health, power, respect. But I cannot help but wonder if those are truly measures of success. In the pursuit of any goal there are going to be obstacles and stumbling blocks that we will encounter. Some of these will be a mild nuisance whereas others will be far more problematic. I have seen people break down and cry simply because their car has a flat tire, and other people get laid off from their job and walk out with dignity and pride. I've always wondered what makes some people collapse under the slightest pressure while others seem almost unbreakable no matter what challenges are thrown at them. Some people fall into depression, or develop substance abuse problems in an effort to escape the problem. Other people on the other hand use the obstacles as a means of personal growth and development and rise up to meet the challenge.
After studying psychology and behavioral health I've come to realize that this adversity is just another skill that people have. Some people have a natural ability for this and others do not. In that manner it's not too dissimilar to from playing basketball or running. I think that some people have an innate ability, and for those who do not they can learn these skills.
Based on the trials and tribulations I have faced in my own life I think that I would qualify as one of those who is naturally suited to overcome challenges and rise above them. Some of the tricks that I employ to overcome difficult times are:
1. Keep Calm - Bad things are going to happen whether you are ready for them or not. The trick to coming out on top is how you handle them. If you're in a panic induced state then you won't be able to think rationally or reason out what to do next.
2. Prioritize - Make a list of things that you can do now, things will take a long time, and things that are completely beyond your control. Make a checklist of ordered events, and then focus on those events that are immediate. For example: In order to graduate with my Doctoral Degree I need to complete my dissertation, and before I can do that I need to finish my Master's and before I can do that I need to finish my Thesis, and before that I need to finish my Bachelor's degree. In order to do that I need to complete 11 more classes, including the two I'm taking right now. Each week I focus only on the assignments that are due for that class. After completing each class I review my list of objectives briefly, make any changes as needed and then zero back in on the immediate goals at hand.
3. Manage Your Time Wisely - You will undoubtedly only have a limited time to complete some of your goals, so don't squander the time you have. Multitask, prioritize, and get help with large tasks.
4. Know your limits - Some things you have the ability to control. Other things you do not. For example, you can't control whether or not it will rain, only what you will do when it comes down.
5. Know your resources - Many people equate resources to money, but there are many more resources than that. Sometimes money is a resource, but so to is time, and knowledge. Friends are also a great resource to have. As people who know me have heard me say "you don't have to know the right answer off the top of your head, you just have to know where to go to find the answer". Sometimes the difference between failure and success is using the right resource.
Some goals I've set for myself have not come to pass, and others may never come to pass. Personally I don't measure success by how much money I have, but rather by the fact that I'm still alive and drawing breath. In fact, I'm reminded of a quote by an ancient roman philosophy Pubilius; "anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm". This is true, the true test a person is how they react when things don't go according to plan. No matter what life throws at you or how many obstacles you are faced with the only real difference between those who achieve their goals and those who do not is how determined you are keep your goals in your sights and keep working toward them regardless of what stands in your way. The tag-line of my email is in Irish, but when translated it reads "as long as I draw breath, I hope". It's my reminder to myself that although things may not have gone my way today, that wont necessarily hold true tomorrow. I can still achieve my goals and follow my dreams any time that I decide to act upon them.