Feeling Successful

By Chris Chittenden

"One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation."

… Arthur Ashe (1943 - 1993) US tennis player

Here is a question for you. How successful do you feel?

One of the interesting aspects of coaching others lies in exploring their sense of what they have achieved. With life being so busy in today’s world, many people seem to go through their days moving from one thing to the next and then the next and then the next. This perpetual motion often leaves people with little time to reflect on what they have done and, more importantly, what they have achieved.
Indeed, when asked, many people feel they have achieved very little despite their undeniable “busyness”. You ask the question, their eyes gaze into space yet they cannot point to what they have achieved. They know they are doing a lot yet there always seems to be more to do. The focus is on what has to be done next rather than what has been done.

What is the impact of this lack of sense of achievement?

In general, human beings have a tendency to either be defensive or creative. A defensive stance comes when we know what we don’t want and we seek to get away from it. We “move away”. We initially have a great deal energy to move away but once we are far enough away from what we don’t want, that energy tends to lessen. This can be seen as a process of coping.

On the other hand, we can have a tendency where we focus on what we do want. With such a tendency, we are goal oriented and have a “moving towards” orientation. The closer we get to the goal, the more energy we have for it, assuming the goal is something that is important to us. This can be seen as a process of creating.

The challenge for many people is they know what they don’t want but can not so easily identify what they do want.

Without goals and a sense of achievement towards those goals, we will tend to fall into a “moving away” orientation. We will spend our energy ensuring we don’t have what we don’t want rather than spending it achieving what we do want.

For individuals and organisations this presents a challenge. If people do not feel successful, their energy levels to achieve outcomes drop off. They start to feel they are on a bit of a treadmill; spending a lot of energy and not getting very far. After a while, this takes it toll and people start to go through the motions simply to cope. They become defensive.

Hence it is important for yourself and those around you to feel successful and have the sense of progress.

The key is to create a habit of feeling successful. Here is one way you can do this:

  1. At the start of each week, identify what you want to achieve this week and what you achieved last week. Be realistic about this.
  2. At the start of each day and before you open your email, identify two or three things you want to and can achieve today. Be realistic about this.
  3. Now look at your email and prioritise any requests into what you want to achieve in order to establish what you will achieve today and the context of what you want to achieve this week. This will allow for a more proactive approach to handling priorities during the day.

At the end of the day, spend a couple of minutes reflecting on what you have done.

This might seem like a simple thing to do but it is just amazing how many people do not reflect on their achievements. We invite you to consider doing this. We invite you to feel more successful.

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© 2011 Chris Chittenden