People say there are no shortcuts to success, and I think that's largely true.
Hard work combined with a little bit of good luck along the way is probably the closest recipe.
That said, one thing I've learned about success in any endeavor is that negativity will greatly reduce your chances of reward.
I'm not saying that positive thinking will bring you success; nothing will happen without action.
But what I can say with absolute certainty is that being negative and focusing on past bad experiences does not bring anything positive to your life.
Of course, that can be quite difficult to do, particularly if you have been traumatized by a bad experience.
In this case, I would encourage you to seek help, be that through counseling or therapy, or through methods such as meditation, self-hypnosis, or by reading about the experiences of others who have been through similar.
The fact remains, though, like violence breeds violence, negativity breeds negativity.
Don't Fall Into Story
I once heard a really good tip for success from Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Workweek. I think it was in a podcast interview where he said the worst thing you can do is to “fall into story”.
By the way, it's an amazing book for those looking to work less and have more time for the fun things in life. + See it here on Amazon.
This is one of those lines that has stuck with me for many years and, whenever I catch myself doing just that, I say that line out loud to snap myself out of it.
I even have a Post-It note on my wall that says “don't fall into story”
Falling into story refers to that frame of mind you slip into when things aren't going your way, or when you feel overwhelmed or in a bad mood, or you just feel like you're not making progress – despite how much effort you're putting it.
So you revert to saying things like:
- Why does this always happen to me?
- Why do I have such bad luck?
- My life has always been like this
- This is just how my life goes
- I'm not meant to be one of those people who are rich/successful/happy (delete as necessary)
Don't Miss the Point, Here…
It's an interesting topic because a while ago I wrote a post about how I turned a run of bad luck around.
This post has attracted a large number of comments, many criticizing my approach to the post by saying that positive thinking, the law of attraction and hard work is all a bunch of nonsense, and that some people are just destined to have bad luck whatever they do.
While I've heard from many unfortunate people, for the most part people have missed the intention of the post.
We can all be struck down with the most horrible bad luck: People develop terminal illnesses every day, people lose their jobs, their loved ones, their sanity… the list goes on.
But the point remains: Nothing positive ever comes out of thinking negatively.
And while there are people that fall into horrible situations that are clearly unavoidable, the majority of us dwell on the past and allow ourselves to be drowned by negative experiences that we should be using as a springboard to something better.
I'm not saying that your life is going to be a bed of roses if you think nothing but positive thoughts.
I'm not saying that you are going to be wealthy or become famous in some regard if you shun all negativity – in fact facing your negativity and accepting it is part of moving forward.
What I am saying is that consistently telling yourself that you are destined to be unlucky, unsuccessful, and unappreciated is only going to bring more of the same into your life.
By doing so, you are not giving yourself a chance.
Tell Yourself “You Can”
If I take my own life as an example: I have spent most of my life dealing with difficult experiences and emotions. I have a habit of getting halfway up the mountain and then being knocked back down again – partly my own doing.
But there is something inside me that compels me to keep going; to stick with it, to follow the principles of “success”.
And one thing I've learned is that falling into story and crying out “why does this always happen to me”? never helps.
It prolongs the suffering of the situation. It brings with it more negative emotions and stress.
The best things that have happened in my life have happened because I've worked hard and told myself “I can do it”.
I may not have achieved exactly what I wanted to achieve, I may not have reached my potential or got out of the experience what I thought I would or even what I thought I deserved, but there's always some reward.
That reward could be meeting a new friend, gaining valuable knowledge that can be passed onto my children, experiencing a new country or a new place in my own country, or creating some wonderful memories.
There usually is a silver lining, if you look for it.
Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained
A phrase that I like to tag onto the end of ‘don't fall into story' is ‘nothing ventured nothing gained'.
If you don't try and move forward, if you don't try and pick yourself up and try again, you're not even giving yourself the chance for happiness or success.
As always, when I refer to success, I am not necessarily talking about money or material gain. Success can be defined in many different ways, depending on the situation.
So don't fall into story.
Don't fall into the same old mental gymnastics of telling yourself that you're not good enough, that this is what you deserve, that this is what always happens to you.
Just accept that whatever has happened has happened, and the only positive thing that you can do from here on in is to move forward and try and improve on what currently is.
There really is no other choice.
Any other choice roots you in negativity.
By falling into story you are becoming the victim of your own narrative. This narrative is dictating your direction in life.
You have to at least give yourself a chance.
A Final Word
Picking yourself up and starting over can actually be quite a liberating experience.
If you are still healthy enough to give it another go, then you should. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to everyone else who can't give it another go.
The key is to recognize when you are falling into story.
When life events take a certain direction, be that in your personal or work life, identify the start of that negative process whereby you start feeding yourself thoughts based on past experiences of similar circumstances.
When you do this, all you are doing is steering your life back down exactly the same path.
If you do this, what other outcome can you possibly expect?
When you catch yourself doing this, you must mentally walk in the other direction.
Tell yourself that things will be different this time.
Tell yourself that you can do better, that you can achieve more, that you deserve more, and that things will be different from here on in.
And if you do get knocked down again, what choice do you have but to get up and keep going?