Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mind Matters: Don’t get tripped up by success

November 15, 2017 by Cindy Peckham, contributing writer

Success can really trip us up. Consider this: getting a post-secondary education is about more than just gaining a new set of skills. It’s a life-changing endeavour. It has the potential to provide us with a great sense of accomplishment and pride when we reach our milestones and hang our hard-earned credentials on the wall. But what happens when we fall short of our goals, or, when, despite our best efforts, things don’t go how we planned?

It would be a perfectly normal response to feel down and think about what went wrong and what we could have done better. However, if we dwell for too long or our thoughts start taking a negative—rather than reflective—spiral, skewing the way we view ourselves and our abilities, and even leaving us feeling like failures. That’s not doing anyone’s mental health any good.

Mind Matters is a column about mental-health issues appearing in every issue of Nexus).

The trick to beating this is as simple as changing the way we think about success. Most of us measure success by looking at what we haven’t achieved yet and then only allow ourselves the pat on the back when we have actually done it. In doing so, we tend to overlook something important: success is not a destination—it’s a journey.

It’s akin to climbing a mountain and reaching the summit. Nobody is going to discount the experience of climbing a mountain by only talking about what it’s like at the top. Each step taken on that mountain is a success in its own right, no matter where, when, or how the climb ends. In fact, there are many people who have climbed mountains who have never actually reached the top.

This same idea applies to success. Every action we take toward meeting our goal is important and noteworthy. Focusing on all the different things we did to meet our goals can help keep things in perspective and give us that sense of accomplishment, even if we didn’t make it all the way.

This can also help us to stay motivated and keep trying, because we’re focusing on the bigger picture instead of narrowing our eyes on just one part of it.

Lastly, remember this quote by English conductor Colin R. Davis: “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.”

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