Success isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. But many of us make the mistake of believing it is. We may compare our lives to others. We may worry we don’t measure up.
We may strive for material things at the expense of what’s truly meaningful. We may be unsure of what success looks like in our lives.
Natasha Lindor, a coach who helps professionals have a successful career while working less and living more, defines success as “feelings of joy, happiness, gratitude, peace and soul-satisfaction that you experience throughout the process of reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself.”
She helps clients get clear on what’s important for them, why it’s important and how they want to incorporate those values into their lives.
Below, Lindor, founder of The AND Factor, shared three obstacles that sabotage success and how you can overcome them.
Hyperfocusing on Happiness
“Goal-setting is very powerful. However, tying your success to whether you’ve accomplished a goal puts you at risk for getting caught in the ‘Happiness Trap,’” Lindor said.
She described this as the idea that “if I could get to ‘this’ point in my life or I could get ‘that thing over there,’ then I’ll be happy.”
Many of us do this regularly. We think we’ll finally be happy after we land the promotion, lose five pounds, earn a certain salary or meet “the one.”
But what often happens when you do reach your goal is that you don’t feel that great, or the great feeling is fleeting, or you begin wanting something else, she said.
The fix: Cultivate a sense of gratitude. “Appreciate the things, experiences and people around you on a daily or weekly basis,” Lindor said.
Reflect on everything that’s good in your life. “You’ll be amazed at how much this simple practice will help you keep a feeling of success, joy, happiness and bliss at the front of your mind.”
Also, when setting your goals, instead of focusing on the actual thing you’re chasing, focus on how you’d like to feel, Lindor said.
“Remember that you’re a human being, not a human doing.” Focusing on your feelings taps into your “beingness,” which is part of our natural state, she said.
“[B]y deciding how you want to feel, you’ll attract more experiences, situations and people along the way to help you have the positive feelings you desire, which will make the journey to achieving the actual thing you want to achieve a lot more fun and fulfilling.”
Shackled to Shoulds
Another barrier to success is focusing on the things we think we should do. These are views of success we picked up from our parents, authority figures, extended family, friends and society.
Lindor gave these examples: “you think you should be at a certain point in your career by the time you’re 40 or that you should be married by 30.”
But when you pursue “shoulds,” you don’t make space for your own intentions – the things you truly want. This inevitably leaves you disappointed, unsatisfied and unfulfilled.
The fix: To squash “should” goals, Lindor suggested doing the following exercise, adapted from the book How We Choose to Be Happy by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks.
First create a list of your most significant long-term goals and intentions. For instance, your list might include: “I intend to be a loving partner,” or “I intend to be a supportive parent.”
Next, review each goal and intention, and remove anything you feel you should do. Only keep the statements you want to do.
Lastly, “at the end of each of the ones you want to do add ‘and I intend to be happy doing it.’”
Ignoring Personal Values
If your definition of success doesn’t honor your core values, you’re setting yourself up for failure, Lindor said. Being out of alignment with your values leads to “inauthentic situations, mentors, clients, experiences – anything that feels like stress and hard work.”
The fix: “Because your personal values are core to who you are, it is critical that your values show up in your definition of success,” Lindor said.
To figure out your core values, “reflect on the times when you’ve felt happiest, most present and in the flow.” Next, consider the values that were present in these moments. For instance, those moments might include the values of family and health. “The values that show up most often are likely your core values.”
To help you further delve into your personal values, download this free guide from Lindor’s website.