How Do You Know When You’ve Succeeded?

Written by Kate • April 22, 2011 •
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Do you know how to succeed? And when you’ve succeeded? Or is life just a long list of tasks to check off?

There’s a whole other blog in these questions about your beliefs which translate into action which translates into results. But that’s another blog for another day.

Today I’m talking about knowing when you’ve succeeded, when you’ve turned a corner and realize that you’re the new you you’ve be trying to be.  It’s easy to know when you’ve succeeded at the Big Goals that are easily measured. I’ve just lost 10 pounds. I just made my first $1,000 in my new business. I have my first five clients. Easy to define, measurable.
But for those goals that are harder to measure, that are as easy to define- how do you measure success? For example, you want to become a person who meditates every day.  This seems like something you can measure- did I or did I not meditate today?

But it’s the rare person who makes a new goal in life that requires a daily change and success 100% out of the gate. And what a high measuring stick. Failure is nearly guaranteed when measured like this.

Plan It but with Compassion
Instead, you have several choices on how you begin to implement a new habit. The best way is with a plan, with compassion so you’re not killing yourself, and by applying measurable progress any way you can.

Figure out what you want to achieve -while making it a realistically achievable goal- and map out how you’re going to accomplish over the next day, week, month, quarter, six months, etc- how long will it take?

And then take the time to review your plan both against what you’ve actually accomplished as well as against reality- against which no plan ever survives!

Meditation Example
With the meditating example, you can start week one out with a plan to meditate three times, week two four times a week, week three five times a week, and so. Make sure you know the time you’ll meditate, clear that time out on your calendar.  What will you do if you can’t meditate at that time? What’s your fall back position?

Of course, another option is to meditate every day at the same time for 21 or 30 days to establish the habit.

Measure It and Celebrate It
The important part of changing any habit, besides implementing the new activity, is to celebrate it. You’ve meditated today. Awesome!! You meditated this entire week. Job really well done! What a huge accomplishment.

By celebrating our accomplishments, we acknowledge the little changes we are currently make which make a huge change in the trajectory of our life. Inertia and habit are so very difficult to overcome that it’s best to do what you can to move past these powerful forces in your life. And remembering to acknowledge these new activities helps to make them a habit.

Remember to Celebrate Crossing Off Tasks on Your List
I bring up the meditation example because it was a goal of mine, along with exercise at least six days a week. [I’ve been exercising at least four or five days a week most weeks of the year for the last umpteen years so the six days a week is achievable for me.]

I didn’t come up with a plan besides putting meditation and exercise on my To Do List every day. I tried meditating first – the RPM model – rise, pee, meditate and then exercising. But that just did not work. So I moved to working out first, then coming home, then showering, then meditating. That stuck.  For four weeks, I exercised and meditated every day – well six days per week with the exercise. And it became a new habit so I dropped it off my to do list and added additional tasks to the list.

And then it started to feel like I could never accomplish anything, that life was just a long series of things to accomplish, and that the task of making myself and the planet better WAS NEVER GOING TO END. And I, of course, got discouraged. But I caught myself with this line of thinking and saw where I was heading if I kept those beliefs. I realized that if I never set up a measuring stick for my habits, I would never know when I had succeeded and life is just a long list of tasks to complete.

I had gone from a person who couldn’t sit for eight minutes at a time without feeling totally hostile to sitting one to two times a day for twenty minutes in silence and coming out of it in a calm, peaceful place. I exercised six times a week for four weeks, something I hadn’t been able to accomplish for four weeks in more years than I care to count.

And what did I do to celebrate these huge accomplishments? I dropped them off the list and added new tasks to accomplish. That’s it.

I can see future accomplishments:

1. Climb a mountain. -Done. Now climb Everest.
2. Run a half marathon. -Done. Now run a marathon.

And on and on and on. But I can see that I wouldn’t actually be able to achieve those accomplishments with a list checking mentality like that. Even successfully achieving huge goals like that would become just one more thing on the list. Before long, you may be finding that the list and the goals are arduous, soul draining activities that you seek to avoid through doing other, non-essential activities or activities that let you check out of your joyless, pleasureless life – like over eating, having a few drinks, or watching TV.

Joy and Pleasure Through Success
Define what success is. Acknowledge and celebrate when you’ve achieved it. Don’t let it be just a check mark on a to do list. Celebrate the mini victories that will turn into the larger victories. Remember that it’s a joy to accomplish what you’ve set out to do and by measuring and celebrating these successes, you can have the joy and pleasure you always meant to have by accomplishing your Big [and little] Goals.

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