What will you do when you are successful?
This is a tricky question that I pose given that the term “success” has a different meaning for everyone.
"What will you do when you are successful?"
I have found in my time working with small business owners that most people do not have a clear definition of success for themselves. They see success as something they are striving for and working towards, but cannot articulate what it is going to look like when they get there.
This lack of clarity is Part A of a three-part problem.
Just this week, I had the same conversation with three different people. They were each telling me about the things they plan to do once they become “successful”. Some of those talks went like this:
“When I am a really successful photographer, then I won’t have to shoot weddings anymore, I can buy a plane ticket and go shoot things like the pipeline protests that can really make a difference.”
“When I make lots of money, then I can hire someone to manage all of my social media accounts so that I can stay in my studio all day and just create amazing designs.”
“When I am have a bigger following, then I can write a book and get speaking gigs which is what I really want to be doing.”
Here is Part B of the problem:
If you don’t know exactly what “really successful”, “lots of money”, “bigger following” actually looks like, then you will never actually feel like you have achieved those things. You will always be working towards more and putting additional barriers in front of you and the thing you actually want to be doing. If you work this way, then you need to clearly define and put on paper how the achievement of these conditional goals will be measured.
Let’s look at Part C of the problem. Why do we put these “if-then” statements together in our heads and then let them rule our thinking and actions? I bet if we start here, we can flip the script on them.
Here are four reasons that you could be telling yourself you have to achieve success before you can do what you really want.
Reason #1: You have been taught (and currently believe) that you cannot have what you want unless you work really really hard for it.
I see slogans that enforce this message all the time, “good things come to those who hustle”, “nothing worth having comes easy” and things very similar to these. Honestly, this is kind of backwards. I much prefer to work smarter, not harder and if I can get what I want with a little bit of effort instead of a lot of effort, I am going to go the path of least resistance. If are working too hard, you might be doing it wrong.
Reason #2: You think you have to prove yourself to be able to be taken seriously.
This one comes up all the time for new business owners. Many people think they have to charge cheaper prices, do lots of work for free, and over deliver their services in order to prove to the world they are good enough. This one also makes no sense. If you come with experience and are confident that you can deliver what you say you can, then just do that without all that self-doubt. When you question your abilities, you end up seeking out a bunch of external validation. Confidence really does come from within, not from other people telling you how great you are (which they probably won’t, even if you are.)
Reason #3: You are afraid to do what you really want to do in case you fail.
The most common reason that I see people waiting to do what they want until they are “successful” is fear. I hate to burst a bubble, but even if you are “successful” at one thing does not guarantee success at another. So if you are waiting to do something you really want to do because you need proof that it will work out, you will be waiting for a long long time.
Reason #4: You don’t think you deserve to have everything you want.
I know this one is deep, but if this is you, now is the time to start working on it. I am here to tell you that you cannot “have it all”, but you can have what you want when you remove the self-imposed barriers and stop telling yourself all the reasons why it won’t work out.
I believe very strongly that once you connect with what you really want, not what you think you should want, but what you really truly want, you can find a way to get there much faster than if you put extra obstacles in your way. You don’t need to be successful, or making tons of money, or have a huge following to go after the bigger dream. It is not going to be easy. It is probably going to be much scarier than doing the safe hard work, but it will be worth it, I promise.
Consider yourself a success right now (because you are) and decide this: what are you going to do?