The Misconception about Success
SO as I promised here it is, the misconception about success..
When you achieve "success" you most likely won't feel and be better off than you do and are now.
Sounds crazy? Not really! ...and I will explain why.
...If you search images for "success" you will see this perpetual image of a ladder or a line with a positive slope (I meant a line going UP, sorry I'm still thinking about math) So according to this representation if you haven't reached your "success" you are at the bottom of that ladder, and once you have reached it you will be on top, above, higher and better off.
Well this seemingly obvious idea is not accurate at all!
No matter what kind of success you have in mind, once you reach it you won't be much higher than you are now. More like on the same level but in a different situation with different problems and challenges!
I'll give an easy example. Say you are a chubby person with maybe a couple of extra pounds or just convinced that you would look better if you lost some weight. On the other hand, you simply love food, at least some types of it, for instance you love stopping at Starbucks every second day and eating something sweet and tasty there, these moments are among the highlights of your day.. AT the same time, you know a person who leads a healthy lifestyle, goes to the gym and is as a result super fit, thin with a nice toned body. Do you feel a bit jealous, or at least do you sometimes wish you were in their shoes? Perhaps you envy not just their physical state, but the willpower that makes it all possible. In your mind, that person's situation relative to your present state is a success. It is above yours on that imaginary ladder. But is it really? Consider, if you switched places with that fit and lean person. Now you have to pass that Starbucks, the nice pleasant moments there are history, instead you bring your nice, toned body straight to the gym where you will sweat for an hour… every day.. No more chocolate mocha-s, no more cupcakes, all of the things that used to improve your mood every day are now gone from your daily life and are only allowed on weekends or just special occasions.. This is your life now that you are a success. Is it much better than the life you had before the "success" happened to you? Sure, you now like passing all kinds of mirrors and screens where you can see the reflection of your perfect body, you simply feel good about your appearance on a daily basis but what about when you pass second cup, Starbucks or some other nice place like that..
Whenever you see people simply enjoying a chocolate muffin at Tim Horton's right when you are on your way to sweat at the gym this "success" you are having does not feel that sweet at all..
I gave you an example with food and weight. But this pattern holds true in any area.
People who suddenly attain their notion of success by getting a big some of money, suddenly find that the quality of their personal life starts to suffer as they become alienated from most of their friends and relatives who suddenly turn from their equal and genuine companions to people who constantly complain and want something from them and are now jealous and insincere..
Or maybe your notion of success is being really productive and do well both at work, in school in personal relationships and in your hobby? Well then be prepared that as a super productive person you now will always be on the run and won't have a single moment to just relax and do nothing, the moments almost everyone craves and enjoys. Moreover, it is more than likely that other people's demands from you will grow rapidly as others will soon start to take your energy and productivity for granted…
There is a theory that borders on some kind of mysticism and it holds that the only reason you still do not have the things you want is because in reality you don't really want them at all, and as soon as you actually start to want these things, they will come to you almost immediately.
This idea does not make much sense from the conventional viewpoint of success. How can you not want something that will make your life better, more enjoyable? ..But as soon as you switch to the more reasonable idea of what "success" actually is about, this notion becomes an obvious truth.. You are simply not ready to take on the extra challenges and responsibilities that success brings. As you move towards your goal and your idea of success, these challenges start to emerge one by one or in clusters and you simply chose to revert back to your "old ways", not really sure if you are up to the "success" anymore..
As I said earlier, every "success" inevitably brings new, and often enhanced set of challenges into your life.
Sometimes these challenges are so overwhelming and devastating that going back to your "unsuccessful" state becomes a success of it's own!!
I will continue with the example of food and weight..
Let's jump to the very end of that continuum of "success" in that area, there we will meet individuals who an average person would call "anorexic". They are very skinny indeed, like models in magazines! Sounds pretty successful, right? But if you suddenly switch places with them you will find that you constantly feel cold, irritable or lethargic and are pretty much deprived of all the small pleasures of life. Now, whenever you have a tasty muffin or even just coffee with sugar, you feel very awful and guilty. You start to discretely pinch your thigh or arm as it feels to you like the fat from that muffin is now starting to accumulate there.. if you do allow yourself to eat something containing more that 100 calories and tasting better than a plain cucumber, you feel panicky, guilty and feel the urge to get rid of it all immediately before it's too late.. (Yes, I mean by sticking two or three fingers down your throat). Whenever you go you check if there's washrooms readily available... and many other things, but anyway, i hope you get the idea.. Does it sound very successful?
Teams of doctors are working with these "successful' people to get them back to the "unsuccessful" state both physically and psychologically. Believe it or not (esp. if right now you feel fat and want to look thinner), but for these people, being where you are now, perhaps a bit chubby and just enjoying a chocolate muffin is the ultimate level of success, and, unfortunately something many of them never reach again..
So the ultimate truth is that, most of the time, being successful is not much better than being "unsuccessful" it is simply different! So the representation of success should be changed from a steep ladder to a straight line or a line with a very small slope. And sometimes, in cases similar to my last example, it is a straight double arrow..
I am not saying that we should not strive to achieve anything in this life and just stay content with what we have. You should just find the right balance where the positive aspects of your present life are not completely destroyed and at the same time the optimal amount of benefits from your new situation is added on top of that. Or at least make an informed decision to move away from your current situation, being aware that your new and improved one will not be ideal. That way you are always protected from bitter disappointments!