I have a recipe for you and it has nothing to do with cooking or baking!
It’s a recipe for being successful in life.
For living our best life and reaching our highest potential. It’s a recipe that helps us wring more joy out of the moments in between.
After 22 years being a therapist and seeing thousands of clients, after years of listening, working, tweaking, I have finally come up with a recipe that works!
My recipe for success involves just a few key ingredients:
First, willingness. Many people fall short of achieving their goals or stop trying to show up because they’re unwilling to be uncomfortable, uncertain and in a place of unknown future outcomes. We live in a time where everything is speeding up. Everything is getting faster and faster. If we can’t have an answer to something immediately, we feel frustration. If we are a little tiny bit hungry, we want to rush to immediately satiate that feeling. If our internet service lags for a moment, we feel outraged.
Our need to speed things up has inversely caused us to have a shorter bandwidth, less patience and less tolerance to any distress.
How does this tie in to being successful? We need to stretch ourselves back into a space where we are willing to tolerate a little discomfort, a little waiting, a little stress, a little uncertainty because achieving life goals takes time. They’re not usually achieved in a snap.
So I often ask people – are you willing to be uncomfortable? Do you have the tools to do that?
Mindfulness is the act of bringing our awareness and attention to the moment in front of us. The now. It’s a way of heightening our senses and being fully engaged and fully present. That does NOT mean when we practice mindfulness we never experience discomfort. It means we tune in carefully and notice when discomfort is present and we don’t immediately rush to escape it. We accept it and ask what is needed? We also learn that our discomfort is typically temporary and that with the right attention to self-care and support, and with time we can help shift it or soothe it in a healthy way.
Second on my recipe is Perseverance. If you’re set out to succeed, you must know that you could fall and fail, you could be rejected, you could feel embarrassed, your vulnerability might surface because you’re putting yourself out there, but you can’t stay attached to these experiences and you can’t land there. You have to find a way to hit these and bounce. You need to armor up with a little thicker teflon to withstand the pain and discomfort of these experiences. And if you need help tolerating discomfort, go back to the first ingredient – willingness.
Believe me, I understand perseverance. About two years ago I started out on a journey to level up. I wanted my message to reach a broader audience and felt committed to increasing my opportunities to speak and write. I started off into a brave new world of pitching to conferences and publications and I was feeling so confident – I started what became known as my brave log. Click here to read all about it!
But then, a little ways down that brave road, the rejections started piling up. Thank you, but no thank you. There were many qualified applicants, however…… We appreciate your interest in XYZ conference, but unfortunately….……
I was crushed! I tanked! I wanted to hole up and hide. I gave up for a little while. And I stayed small.
Until I got sick and tired of that and decided to come out swinging! All of those rejections just reminded me that I was alive and I was brave and I was showing up. If I heard a no it was because at least I stuck my neck out there and tried. You only get rejected for things you actually apply for. And over time, I realized there’s a ratio for this work. For every 10 things I threw out into the universe, 8 or 9 of them might be no’s, but 1 or 2 would stick.
It’s about perseverance. Are you willing and can you persevere?
This applies to personal work too. You might be trying to mend a broken heart, or achieve a personal health or wellness goal, or you’re working your way towards a stronger interpersonal relationship with someone important to you? Just know that perseverance is your friend. So it gentleness and self-compassion. When we stumble in our quest to achieve a personal or professional goal, we certainly don’t need judgement or critique. We need messages of reassurance and comfort and those have to start inside first.
So let your downfalls be a reminder to you that you’re actually acting on a goal. You’re putting yourself, your work, your voice, your contributions out into the world and sometimes they won’t stick, but eventually they will.
Remember the empowering words from Dr. Brené Brown that we can be brave and afraid at the same time! And we can choose comfort or we can choose courage, but we can’t choose both. We need to recognize that if we are going to try to achieve a goal – whether personal or professional, it’s going to require us we dig deep for courage and bravery. That our fears will surface and we will want to shut down or sling back. But moving forward with courage will help us get there. When we feel most susceptible to shutting down, that’s when we need to leap. We also have to know that our biggest fears surface when we’re on the verge of self-actualizing. When you want to hole up and hide (like I felt), that’s a BIG clue that you’re uncovering a truth. You’re close to breaking through.
So gently put one step in front of the other. Baby steps are steps. Sometimes we’re just barely moving the needle forward, but we’re moving.
This recipe for success could be longer. I could also include an ounce of gratitude practices, a cup of really knowing yourself and I could caution you to avoid adding comparison and perfectionism. But in my attempt to simplify – I’ll leave you with this foundation.
Why are we shying away from our highest potential? I believe it’s because we’re afraid. Afraid to show up, afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to be uncomfortable.
But hiding is harder. Trust me.
So are you willing to be uncomfortable from time to time? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Do you have the right tools to take care of yourself when you feel uncertain and scared? Are you able to tune in to mindfulness and self-care practices when you need them the most? Can you stay mindfully present and not immediately rush to escape? Can you dig deep for courage and bravery, even when you’re afraid?
Then I believe you now have the recipe for success.