We all have an idea of what success would look like to us. Some of us want big income and a career position that others admire; some of us want comfort with loved ones all around; some of us just want our kids to be happy and fulfilled; some of us want to make a difference in our academic and professional fields.
No matter what success looks like to you, getting there is a journey – a lifelong one, actually. Because once we humans reach a goal, we tend to set a new one based on what our next step toward success looks like.
But there are “devils” that will derail us on our quest – enemies that actually come from within. And while it may be comfortable to blame other people or circumstances, we have to look within if we are to figure out what is keeping us from our success. So, here are the enemies and how you can defeat them.
You’re a Ph.D. in your field. You have a teaching fellowship and are expected to produce research and publish. It’s a lot of pressure. And that pressure can turn into fear – fear of peer criticism, fear of conducting research that doesn’t “pan out,” fear of not ultimately finding that tenure-track teaching position, fear of publisher rejection.
Fear can be paralyzing. And behind all of those specific fears is the big one – fear of failure.
The only way to overcome fear is to accept the fact that you might fail. Ask yourself: “What is the worst that could happen?” You will ultimately fail and have to choose some other path to the success you want. You certainly will not be the first to experience this.
A pretty solid way of overcoming fear is to have a “Plan B” if Plan A doesn’t work out. Then, you can move forward with much greater comfort
- Not Knowing Your Strengths and Challenges
Sometimes this is called being self-aware. You can have a success goal, but it is just a goal without a plan. And that plan has to include a realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.
If you really want to be a data scientist, and you know that you have the math skills, specifically multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and statistics. But other skill requirements may be a challenge – software engineering, programming, data visualization, data intuition, machine learning, etc.
If you honestly analyze what you can and cannot do, you can do something about the “cannot.” It may be more education/training, or it may be forming a partnership with someone who offsets your challenges.
Jane Watson, head of the editing and proofreading department at GetGoodGrade, puts it this way:
“In my position, I work with students at all academic levels – smart students who know how to conduct research, analyze that research, and develop scholarly conclusions. Communicating that in writing, however, is a challenge. They understand that, while they continue to work on their writing skills, they need to seek the help they need. I am their partner, at least for the time being.”
- Procrastination/Lack of Focus
It’s so easy to say, “Tomorrow I will start working on my research design. Really? What can you do today? And if you find yourself avoiding that “work,” always coming up with something else that needs your attention, then you have no passion for the success goal you have set. This goes for everything in your life. Procrastination and lack of focus (or motivation) are symptoms of a larger issue. And that larger issue is usually that what you tell yourself is your success goal is really not. Or, that fear is holding you back.
It’s time for a re-assessment. Step back and do some serious introspection. What do you really want to do? If you are not working on that research design, perhaps it is because it is not the right project for you. If you are not starting that job search, maybe the positions you are seeking are not really what you want. Don’t make any changes until you are confident about what success will really look like.
Remember this: We always find time for the things we really want to do. What is it that you always find time to do? Maybe your success is along that path.
- The Company You Keep
The adage is true: The company you keep is who you are. How are the people you hang with assisting you on your path to success? It’s comfortable to remain in the same social circles that have provided you comfort and support for years. They may be high school or college chums; they may be co-workers. But if they are not aware of your goals and are not supporting and encouraging you in the pursuit of those goals, then they comprise a bad social circle.
You have to develop relationships with people who think as you do, people who have similar success goals as you. Get out there and find those people, join groups and organizations where these people are. They will be supportive, enthusiastic, and will provide you with the encouragement and motivation you need.
There are No Shortcuts
You can sit around and wish that the right research project will drop in your lap; that a colleague will “find” a position opening that is perfect for you. Not going to happen. You have to be proactive and take the steps to defeat those enemies that are preventing your success. Take a look at the enemies and make your plans to defeat them right now.
About the author: James Daily, the Canada Writers editor and co-founder at Fly Writing. He is an expert in digital marketing. He works with specialist niches (e.g., accountants, attorneys, financial advisors) in developing their social media marketing strategies.
Leonard Kim co-authored Ditch the Act: Reveal the Surprising Power of the Real You for Greater Success and is the managing partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.