Thursday, May 25, 2017

There Is No Formula For Success

I need to vent. Kind of. But also to impart some advice. My advice seems obvious, but in the wake of 'how to succeed in this or how to do the perfect that or how to get everyone to love you" or whatever books and articles and all of that, it's probably a relatively unpopular thought. Are you ready? Here it goes:

There's no actual formula for success. 

Bombshell, right? Well, considering that it's the title of this post, probably not. But it seems that these days we're inundated with the "right" way to do things. And if we don't, we're screwed (most books don't say this, but it's implied). Which really freakin' sucks for those of us who aren't able to do so. But let me let you in on an obvious secret: we're all very unique individuals, by nature of being human beings. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. What works for 99.5% of the population may not work for you, either because of your personality, or an illness, or a life circumstance, or some other reason.

So a few tips, if you're feeling badly about yourself/unsuccessful/worried you're not on the right course:

  • You do not have to get up at 5AM and go for a sunrise run in order to be successful. Especially if you absolutely hate the mornings but are awake at night. Or if you are ill or in pain and it's physically difficult to run. Or to get out of bed at 5AM, for that matter. May exercise help? Sure, possibly. At the level you can handle, and the time that you feel most energetic. Don't make yourself more ill because some book written by someone who's not battling chronic illness says it's the only way to be successful. 
  • It doesn't matter if you read the latest "how to" business book that everyone's raving about, or every book of Calvin and Hobbes (link for those born after the 80s). In fact, I probably have a lot more in common with you if you read Calvin and Hobbes. (Confession - I strongly dislike business books. I could fall asleep while drinking a triple espresso if there's a business book involved). No one person (who's not you) can tell you what will work for you. So despite all those lists that say "successful people read xyz and watch abc and do blah-blah-blah", don't worry. Maybe you're so busy being a successful... whatever it is you do... that when you get home at the end of the day you don't have the mental energy for a business book, and you choose a comic or a romance novel or to read nothing at all. Don't sweat it, you're just fine. 
  • You don't need to color within the lines. The people who stand out... stand out. Don't worry if you "march to your own drummer". I can't think of another cliche about being unique or I'd put it in here.  But you get the point. One day, that uniqueness will get noticed, and you may well stand apart as someone who has a talent or an ability or a skill that's exactly what someone is looking for. And maybe they wouldn't have noticed if you followed the norm, the "rules". 
  • You do not have to be all chipper/24-7 optimist/hell yeah fist pump in order to be successful. Nor do you have to be extroverted. You can be quietly doing your own thing, slowly making your mark. You can be changing one aspect or even one life at a time, without much, if any, fanfare. 
  • All the inspirational quotes in the world won't make you a success (unless you strive to be successful as an inspirational quote writer). It doesn't mean that they aren't important. Helping inspire people is incredibly important. But authenticity, or lack thereof, shines through eventually. Make sure that, above all, you're being you. Whoever that is. 
Now, I'm not knocking people who read business books, or run at 5AM (I do work out around that time, but that's due to enjoying food and being an insomniac, not in a 'successful" effort). This is nothing against those who color within the lines or are super optimistic all of the time.  But sometimes, especially when you battle illness, these can be nearly impossible. That's OK. You can still be plenty successful. There's no formula, no right or wrong way. You do you. That, perhaps, is the only rule I will follow for success. 

"Be yourself. No one can say you're doing it wrong."  ~Charles M. Schultz

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