You Can’t Aim at Success

For most of us, the notions of “success” and “achievement” are instilled in us from an early age. We’re taught that we need to go to school, so we can get good grades, then get into a good college – so we can get a good job, and be “successful.” A successful life is a good life – this is the message I received growing up, as did so many of us.

Whatever success means to you – we’re taught that we just need to get there. For me, I learned a long time ago that society’s notion of “success” – a stable corporate job, high salary and 401k plan, wasn’t for me. I’ve learned to define success by my own terms – sharing the wisdom of yoga, holistic health and conscious living while coaching, teaching, writing and doing work I love that makes a meaningful impact… traveling, building deep relationships, constantly learning, creating… the list goes on.

But here’s the funny thing. Even though I’ve redefined success on my own terms – I’ve still been stuck in what I’m calling the “success trap”. Basically – working and working to achieve some “future state” of success, thinking that that will finally be the fulfillment I seek.

I was reminded of this the other day, when I came across a great quote by Viktor Frankl (and if you haven’t read Man’s Search for Meaning… close this window, NOW, and go read it.)

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

It’s our birthright on this planet to pursue what matters most to us – to engage ourselves with what lights us up and stokes our great fire. This wild dedication to our most soulful of paths is the journey and the reward all in one.

What so many of us aren’t able to see, is that the real gift comes through the journey. The struggles, sacrifices, challenges and tears… these are what make us who we are. The belly laughs, battle scars and everything in between – this is joy. This is living. Whatever “success” could possibly be – this is it. Here, already.

The pursuit of success is an illusion. By releasing the impossible chase and focusing on opening up fully to the bliss of the present moment, we allow ourselves to live fully expressed and whole.

So what can you do when you feel the urge to chase success come creeping up?

  • Meditate. Get back to the present… and tap into the perfection that you already are.
  • Do something you LOVE! Like happiness, success will come when you are immersing in what LIGHTS you up.
  • Love yourself. Most of us are WAY too hard on ourselves – find a self-love practice that feels really decadent and treat yourself more often than you normally would!
  • Find a cause. When we immerse ourselves in something that matters deeply to us, that’s for a greater good – success is inevitable.

Always remember that the idea of “success” is just that – an idea. What’s real is your ultimate perfection now, already – no matter what you do, achieve, engage in or talk about – and your ability to make a real impact in the world doing what you love, sharing your light and being your most whole self.