Smoke and Mirrors Impede Success

I recently boarded a flight to Los Angeles for the holidays. During my wait at the gate, I witnessed a lot more stressed out people than usual, which got me thinking about health and other issues in light of the New Year.

So why do so many people feel so emotionally uncertain these days? More importantly, could they be doing anything new to improve their stressful situations? Do they exercise on a regular basis? Could they eat healthier foods over the course of their lives? Did they or do they work unfulfilling jobs that have slowly impacted their quality of life so much that they have found themselves both mental and physically challenged?  I know that I’ll never know their real stories or what actually caused their current situations, but it caused my mind to wonder.

I recently read a great quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”

In my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, I refer to this dilemma as not being able to get out of your own way.  Unfortunately, people either get set in their unhealthy, self-destructive ways or they do not have the strength or commitment to change things in their lives. As a result, they make excuses for their damaging behaviors and attitudes, which I refer to as “smoke and mirrors.” They tell themselves, “If I only had more time, I would….”; yet these same people never do seem to find that time.

With the New Year quickly approaching, it’s time to stop making excuses and putting things off.

Successful people take initiative. They do not talk about what they intend to do; they actually plan and then take the appropriate action necessary to achieve desired outcomes.

After you’ve toasted and rung in the New Year, if you plan to sit down to begin to craft some New Year’s resolutions of your own, take the time to base them in reality. Do not create unrealistic expectations for yourself. Challenge yourself to take accountability for your health, your finances, your job or career prospects, your personal relationships, and anything else that will force you to thrive outside of your current comfort levels.

Most unsuccessful people live in a world of denial (e.g. those illusions Nietzsche refers to in his quote). As a result, unhealthy habits and experiences often manifest in their personal and professional lives. Rather than address real underlying issues, they often blame others or make excuses for the things that either make them feel uncomfortable or insecure. If left unchecked, these denials can manifest unhealthy, stressful outcomes.

The next time you choose to settle for the status quo, take a moment to look inside and ask yourself, “Is this really the life you want? Or is your “smoke and mirrors” reality simply impeding your success?

Happy New Year and cheers to your growing success in 2013!

Sliding Doors for Success

Did you ever have that feeling of disappointment when you really set your mind to doing or achieving something and it did not turn out quite the way you planned? You sat down and drew out all the action steps necessary to achieve your desired goals; you studied or learned a new skill; you spoke to others you believed were the right people that could help you get what you had been looking forward to for months and then wham; nothing.

My Dad used to refer to this unfortunate universal outcome as Man Plans; God Laughs.  Despite all your well-intentioned efforts, things don’t always turn out as you planned, but was that really by accident?

There was a 1998 movie called Sliding Doors with actress Gwyneth Paltrow that looked at one day in time and examined several possible outcomes based upon a series of different events. If this had not happened at that exact moment, then this would not have occurred, and on and on.  We all have experienced those moments at some time in our lives and it’s enough to make you crazy. But there may be some truth to all of this.

Disappointment, or more importantly negative emotions, that results from unpopular outcomes may simply be nothing more than a sliding door moment in your life ahead of something better in the near future. Although our immediate instinct is to get angry or upset at ourselves or others, maybe we just need to take that same moment to ask ourselves if that outcome was really something that we truly needed or wanted.

Rather than shutting ourselves off from other possible opportunities that may lie in our path, we could take this opportunity to pat ourselves on the back for attempting something that we thought we wanted. All the time and effort that we put in to learning something new or networking was not wasted because even though we did not accomplish our immediate goal, we did put other things into motion whether we realized it or not…and who knows what new opportunities will lie ahead as a result of those efforts?

As my friend Andrea Squibb recently reminded me when I got frustrated because things did not work out exactly as I planned, although it was nerve wracking for me, I still have my plan and I did take the necessary time to think things through. Although I did not get the immediate response that I wanted, I should still give things time to play out before I give in to my disappointment.

She also reminded me that some unexpected positive things have also recently happened to me, thanks to my good friend Jennifer Wilkov, and that I was on the right path. This was a great lesson for me to keep my eye on the positives and let the other stuff go.

I will plan to continue my efforts toward accomplishing those intended goals, but I will also remember to take the time to appreciate and accept things that may also come my way simply by keeping my eyes and ears open for unexpected detours.

Some great takeaways:

  • Don’t stay too focused on a desired outcome if it prevents you from experiencing or seeing other opportunities that lie right in front of you.
  • Keep things in perspective; “Rome wasn’t built in a day” as they say. Temper your expectations accordingly.
  • Most importantly, success is awarded to those that always follow their hearts and continue to practice patience and persistence.