It starts with, “I don’t feel successful.” “Oh,” I say. “if you were successful, what would that feel like to you?” “I don’t know.”
I hear this all the time. It’s like a mantra for a lot of people. I like to point out, “If you say, ‘I don’t know,’ often enough over a long enough period of time, you will make it so.” It’s a brain-washing exercise and it is very effective.
For the most part, people become what they think of themselves. And you get to think anything of yourself that you choose. It is a great freedom and a great responsibility.
The field of cognitive behavioral therapy shows that our behavior affects how we think and feel. When we do different things, we feel different feelings. Which means you really can act your way into feeling successful.
Your thoughts are your greatest source of power. Choosing how to think, what you think, what you focus your attention on has everything to do with how you view yourself.
Successful women view themselves as successful even if it’s not right now. They don’t rely on others to tell them they are successful. And they are willing to do the work of determining exactly what that means for them.
The cultural norms of success can put enormous pressure on a personal vision. I often find the women I work with have developed the habit of ignoring what they really want because it doesn’t conform with what they think they should want. They have bought into someone else’s definition of what success SHOULD be.
At its core, success is largely a head game. It is exclusively what YOU think success is. So it’s an imperative to spend the time necessary in self-reflection to understand and craft your unique personal definition of success.
Getting started with that seems to be the toughest part. After all, an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Try this for a beginnings: What has to be going on for you to believe you are successful? Feeling in control of your time? Confident that your work product is the highest quality? Knowing what you do every day is making a difference?
Sometimes my client is surprised to learn this is important information. Often these data points are dismissed as too vague or unimportant. But this is exactly the right place to start.
Building upon that, what if you act as if you ARE actually in control of your time? People do that. What if you acknowledge that your work really is the highest quality? What if you do one thing each day that makes a difference even a small one?
I recently worked with a client who is an attorney and had made a move to a new law firm. She was frustrated that she wasn’t getting the support she needed to be successful in her practice. We talked it thru and identified the obstacles she believed she was up against.
Then we spent some time talking thru what the situation would be like if in fact she believed she was getting the support she needed. What would be happening? What would conversations with her partners be like? How would her work day flow? What would her after work hours be like?
Getting clear about that made it obvious to her what she had to explain to the right people at her firm. And interestingly it also infused her with the confidence to say it, which she did without delay.
At our next meeting she was most gratified to report on how it was received. “My managing partner said, ‘It’s very refreshing to talk to someone who knows exactly what she wants.’” Everything necessary to provide her with the support she needed was set in motion right away. Almost instantly she moved from the stage of imagining it was possible to actually living it.
I urge you to set aside time for yourself, uninterrupted, to write down a list of things that have to be present for you to believe you are a success. Whatever comes to mind, write it down. Review the list for the next few weeks and add to it as things come to you.
A great place to start is the Gratitude. Grit. Grace Action Sheets
And if you still need help, take advantage of my complimentary consultation. Send me a message or call me and we will set up a time to talk. It will be my pleasure to have that conversation with you.