Wednesday, 23 July 2014

ACHIEVE SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS

Don't we all want to be successful and happy? Regardless of our social class, ethnicity, age, location, education or professionour goal in life is to be successful and happyCan one be happy and successful at the same time?  Sometimes we see that the more a person is successful and the more he/she has, the greater is the stress he/she experiences. Success and happiness can mean different things to different people and at times appear mutually exclusive. So, is it possible to achieve success without stress?   

Let’s first look at how success is defined and see if happiness can co-exist with it. Oxford Dictionary defines success as:
1.   The accomplishment of an aim or purpose 
2.   The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status 

Quite often success in life is identified with the latter, i.e. attainment of fame, wealth and social status. However, each person’s definition of success is different, as some may define success in material terms while others may view success as making a difference to the local community or having a harmonious family life or academic/professional achievement of children, attainment spiritual goals or self discovery.  

Success defined: 
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success."   - Ralph Waldo Emerson 

The first step in the journey to achieve success (and in turn happiness) is to define your goals and what success looks like to you.  It could be a luxury home, a Ferrari, cash sum, holiday home, lovely spouse, obedient children etc...Of course, we do want everything, don’t we? As we go through our journeyour priorities will change and our outlook to life might change leading to reassessment of our goals. 

Let’s look at some of the essential ingredients to achieving success (and happiness) in life.  The list is by no means exhaustive. 

A.   External Aspects

  1. Define your goals 

The first step in your journey towards success is to know your destination. This will be both material and intrinsic goals.  Happiness is essentially intrinsic while success is extrinsic. 
  
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll 

So, how to go about defining your goals? It is important to identify your interests and values to help you set goals and give your life a sense of meaning. For starters: 


Think BIG!  

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”. - Michelangelo 
  





Ask yourself the following questions: 

1.1   What are your subjects of interest? What is it that comes naturally to you that can be seen as talent? What is it that you enjoy doing the most? Explore whether you can commercialise that interest and if yes, pursue it with vigour and passion. 
  
“If you enjoy what you do, you will never work another day in your life” Confucius 

       DREAM 
 “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney 

Dream, by all means as that is a necessary first step. But don’t just keep dreaming!  You have to put actions behind your dreams and work vigorously to give it life! 




1.2   What gives you happinessHappiness is essentially internal to you and is about setting reasonable expectations that gives you contentment.  This does not mean that you need to scale down your professional aspirations and nor does this conflict with your goals. However, contentment will define the intensity of your expectations and will ensure that you set yourself up for sustained happiness in life.  Watch yourself against greed as it will lead to undue stress, burnout and unhappiness due to continued discontentment. 

It’s very important that we delve on contentment a bit more.  Contentment is not about low aspirations or setting low goals, it’s dynamic and not passive. Being content requires: 
  • an attitude of gratitude; Being grateful gives us joy and happiness. The way to improve our life and our relationships, we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. 
  • putting in the effort but not getting agitated with the outcome; instead learn to accept the outcome with grace; 
  • Greed’ is NOT good! Despite what Wall Street and Gordon Gekko might have you believe, Greed certainly does not lead to happiness though it may give temporary success. You can witness the ultimate outcome of what such excessive greed and unethical practices end up in! The means are as important as the end to have a peaceful and contented life.  Remember, what goes around comes around!
  • When success is pursued without ethics, it unravels in the most unusual ways.  An example of this is that of Rajat Gupta, CEO of McKinsey having achieved the pinnacle of success in his professional field, succumbed to greed by indulging in insider trading for a few dollars more!!!
  • Set your broader goals that aims to cover both personal and professional life. 
 1.3   What do you want your legacy to be? How would you like to be remembered by others? Is it making the Fortune 100 list of rich and successful people or do you want to be the one who touched many lives? 

1.4     How will you make your community a better place? It’s important to give back to the society.  What goes around comes around. 

2       Make a list of your goals, and what you might do to achieve them. 

  • Be sure to address both short-term and long-term goals;  
  • Try to think beyond financial / career goals. 
  • Set intermediate milestones and timelines to your goals. 
  • Don’t be afraid to refine them, as you learn more about yourself.

3      Observe your actionsand be a Man of action 

In order to achieve success, you will have to observe your actions. You have to constantly evaluate whether your actions are taking you in the directions of your goals; Are they aligned to your purpose or are they veering you off course? 

If it feels like a chore and you find yourself constantly disengaged and are watching the clock for the day to end, it’s time for you to reassess.  You need to ask yourself, do I really want to be in this job? If your heart and mind says no, then it’s time to seek new direction.  In order to be happy and successful, you have to enjoy what you do.

Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.: 
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” 

Believe in your capacity to succeed and   
Do not be afraid of failure. 










Take your time to plan but don’t stop there, 
Be a man of action. 













PERSEVERE

Believe in yourself and persevere.

On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting died.


 4     Be a Jack of many trades but Master of at least one! 

In this day and age of rapid innovation, it’s very important to stay abreast with the latest developments.  More importantly, you should broaden your skills as there are seismic shifts in several industries. Having a broad range of skills allows you the flexibility and mobility when required.  

The rapid innovation has turned several thriving business models upside down. Many businesses and business models have become extinct or redundant. Notable amongst several examples of businesses failing to change and falling by the wayside is ‘Kodak’, a pioneer that failed to keep up!  Newspaper, magazines and high street shops have all suffered by failing to keep abreast of the onslaught of internet revolution! 

So, it’s important to be a Jack of many trades but Master of at least ‘ONE’.  Broaden your skills to keep you relevant to the market place. More importantly deepen one of your skills to such an extent that you become the subject matter expert in that chosen area. Learn all that there is to know and be up to date with the latest developments, be active in the environment that furthers that knowledge and skill(s). 

We are significantly impacted by the environment around us.  It plays a huge impact on us at all levels of consciousness (subconscious and unconscious). This includes the place we live in, friends we have, things we read, people we see and so on and so forth. Environment is contagious.  

We can observe that many researchers become successful when working in an environment with great faculty of scholars. Thomas A Edison said he was able to become a successful inventor because he placed himself in the company of people who were smarter than him and he was able to learn from them. We offer most of our thoughts in response to the environment we are subjected to. 

The entities with which we spend most of our time lie in Macro environment. The place you live, the place you work, the colleagues, friends with whom you spend most of the time etc. All these are part of macro environment. Its very important that you put yourself in a macro environment which motivates you constantly to become successful. When alone, observe your thoughts as they define your character and influence your actions. 

5.   Develop a creative mind as ideas leads to success! 

If you have a mentality that is filled with searching for a better idea all the time, you will have innovation around you before long.  You want culture that just promotes ideation and doesn’t care where they come from. Google is a company known to motivate employees to ideate and innovate by allowing time for personal projects. 

The people who take ideas from innovators and take them to new levels are the people you want to have around you. 

6.   Always aim to deliver more than expected and seek feedback

Always Offer Value -  Always do more than you are asked for or expected to deliver. It's a great way to sustain success.

Seek feedback

Seek regular feedback from your stakeholders.  It's a great way of knowing how well you are performing and perceived by them.

This is a wonderful story of a boy who goes to the local shop to call up a lady to offer her gardening services. He calls her and offers her gardening services at half the price of her current gardener.  He even offers to wash the cars free of cost.  The lady politely declines by saying that she is very satisfied with her current gardner. The shopkeeper who overheard the conversation was impressed by the persuasive attitude of the boy and offered him a job.

The boy smiled and said, actually he was already employed as a gardner with the lady and was seeking feedback on the quality of his work!!!

7   Manage your finances prudently

Peace of mind and sound sleep comes from stable financial position.  Hence, it’s important to manage your money in a way that will help ensure your financial stability over time, regardless of your income. Get a clear understanding of your disposable income, net of all taxes. 

Plan your finances and keep track of your expenses. Review your bank statements regularly and notice where you spend your money. This will help you prevent over-spending and ensure that your bank statements are correct. 

Prioritisyour spending. Don’t spend the money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like!  Be honest with yourself and differentiate between your basic needs and your luxuries. 

Save money. Have a savings target and set aside sums for emergencies. Every month, you should deposit some of your money into a separate savings account and/or mutual funds 

8.    Manage your time 

Time management is one of the essential elements in achieving success. Procrastinating important tasks until the last minute can cause you unnecessary stress, and increases the likelihood of errors. There is always a tussle between what’s important and what’s urgent.  If you let too many things become urgent, the important tasks will never get done to the required standard! 

Manage your time so that you have enough time to complete a task effectively. Learn to delegate effectively and manage expectations wisely. Under promise and over deliver! 

Learn to be assertive and say No when you have no capacity. Don’t say ‘Yes’ when you have to say ‘No’!  Keep a task list and use task planner and check off each task as you complete it. This will help you stay organised, focussed and motivated. 

Value your time and cherish it. Try to spend your free time wisely as it’s the most precious resource.  Once spent cannot be regained!  So, do things that you enjoy doing, pursue your hobbies, learn new skills, spend time with loved ones, share your knowledge or spend time in community service.  Not everything you do have to be productive, but it should be engaging and enjoyable. 

B.  Internal factors that assist your happiness 

1.   Enjoy the present moment 

If you are constantly dwelling on the past or daydreaming about the future, you are missing out on the present moment. Remember that the past is over and nothing can change about that and the future is simply an illusion, and that real life takes place here and now. 

Start paying attention to negative thoughts so that you can learn to silence them and enjoy the present moment. If a negative thought arises in your head, then acknowledge it, label it a negative thought, and then let it fade away. 

Get in the habit of paying attention to the small details around you. Appreciate the flower bed, the sensation of your feet walking on misty green grass, art around you etc. and appreciate every moment. 

2.   Maintain a positive mental attitude 

Always maintain a positive mental attitude. 
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” ~Thomas Jefferson 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt 

3.   Don't compare your own life to other peoples' lives

Unfortunately, many people measure their own success by comparing it to the success of those around them. If you want to feel accomplished and happy, you will have to stop comparing your life to other peoples' lives. 

Many people have the tendency to compare the low points of their own lives with the high points of other peoples' lives. Remember that no matter how perfect somebody's life may seem, behind closed doors everybody deals with their set of issues, insecurity, and other difficulties. 

If you must compare, then think about all of the people who are homeless, chronically ill, or living in poverty. This will help you appreciate what you have rather than feeling sorry for yourself.

4.   Count your blessings 

No matter how much you achieve in life, you will always feel unhappy if you constantly focus on things you don't have.  Instead, appreciate the things you have and think beyond material things - your loved ones and happy memories. 

"Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.”  - Dalai Lama 



5.   Take care of your health 

A healthy body supports a healthy mind. Eat a balanced diet and exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. 

When asked what surprised him about humanity the most, the Dalai Lama replied: 

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” 

6.   Lead a balanced life.   

Work has become an integral part of our life. We are in a 24/7 access generation and even our vacations are interrupted by work emails.  We need a Life-Life balance as work takes a major part of our life! Many successful people in the business or profession had taken their work far too seriously that they ended up with a bitter family life.  

While there are times when the work may take a higher priority, be sure to recognise the impact it’s having on other aspects of our life so that you can manage the consequences of your choices. 

IN SUMMARY 

It is important to engage in careful planning and goal setting including ethical and value goals.  Be action oriented, stay focussed, relevant and at the cutting edge of your chosen field with an awareness of rapid innovation and its implication for your business, and strive to be one step ahead in thinking.  Develop and hone your skills, sharpen the saw and constantly think of new ways of doing things and generate ideas consistently 

Be a man of action and manage time wisely.  Manage your finances prudently and have a target for savings.  Cut your coat according to cloth!   

Enjoy the present and live in the present, maintain a positive mental attitude, count your blessings, take care of your health and lead a balanced life! 

You might think all this is easier said than done! We have to start somewhere and remember - nothing ventured, nothing gained!!! 

Whether it's totally possible to achieve both success and happiness or not we can begin to make a difference by taking some strides towards achieving success and happiness.  

Why wait? There is no better time than now.  Act! Give it a go!!! Good luck!!!