This one is for The Dedicated. Those hearty souls who have been grinding away at their craft for what almost seems like forever; focused on one dream, and dedicated to making that dream happen come hell or high water.
If you’ve been at it for a considerable measure of time, you know how evasive success can be at times. You feel like you are on the verge of a big breakthrough, then almost out of nowhere, you lose momentum and feel stuck in the doldrums of everyday life.
“When will it end?”, you scream at the sky, fists shaking and eyes watering.
The truth is, success rarely shows up with a ticker-tape parade or reservations for two in the quaint little getaway called Achievement. Success typically takes time, and always requires guts and fortitude to come to life.
So how do you know when it is imminent? How can you tell when you are about to breakthrough the thin, yet resilient membrane that separates the magnificent from the mediocre? Here are 5 surefire ways to tell when you are about to breakthrough to your success:
You are exhausted. Success—real, longterm and sustainable success—takes time. And energy. And patience. And a sense of humor. When you’ve been at it long enough (typically just past that imaginary time when you thought you should have arrived “by now”), you start to feel what real exhaustion feels like. I’m not talking about sleepy or low energy from a lack of motivation, but stare-off-into-nothingness-for-what-seems-like-forever exhausted. This is typically a byproduct of having your mental wheels constantly turning, 100% complete engagement and focus on breathing life into your dream constantly, and flat-out, no-excuses drive to make the dream happen. When you feel true, authentic exhaustion, suck it up and dig deep; you are getting close.
You have a strong compulsion to quit. Admit it: you’ve thought about it. There are times where you may have uttered (either under your breath or in a tear-spewing rage) that you have had enough. Fact is, the Easy Road is appealing to easy people, and it gets even sexier to the completely committed folks right before they are about to breakthrough to the next level of achievement. (HINT: this is also about the time the doubters and naysayers start making sense. WAKE UP. You are dozing off behind the wheel). If you have made it past the honeymoon phase of your dream, suffered through late nights of grinding away, revision after revision of the plan, scratched out draft after god-awful draft, are feeling the frayed ends of sanity slipping through your fingers, then hang in there; you are getting close.
You are all out of ideas. This is that stage where the initial wave(s) of inspiration and passion have waned and you are left alone with a blank mind. The bare naked thoughts that scream “OH NO! The initial plan didn’t WORK?!?” Incidentally, this is another reason why passion alone will NOT take you to the finish line of a major goal or mission. This is where dreamers and doers are permanently and unceremoniously separated. This is also the time when true Champions let go and wait for their inner genius to speak—no, whisper—to them. If you are flush out of ideas, solutions, answers or options, hold on tight…you are getting close.
You just got another ‘brilliant’ idea. Oh, boy. Here we go…this is the converse of the all-out-of-ideas phase. This is where you plead, ”But this is a great idea! This will be a HIT! This one will feed the original one (insert: the one you’re about to succeed in if only you can focus a little while longer) I promise!” This is a place where you must step back and assess the situation and your emotions. I see a lot of talented people sabotage themselves right at this point all the time. It’s sad, and it is completely avoidable. It just requires a little focus and mental toughness. Capture any and all ideas, but be careful: the ‘next big thing’ notions are cleverly-disguised shiny objects your subconscious is throwing in front of your conscious mind to pull you off target and keep you safe. AVOID THESE FOR NOW. As Gold Five said on the legendary bombing run in Star Wars, “…Stay on target!”
You are beginning to lose all hope. HOORAY! Welcome to the real world of success. You have officially grown up and earned some battle scars. Losing hope is like a caterpillar shedding its cocoon, it’s a growth experience for the caterpillar, and completely necessary to build the muscles that enable it to shed the chrysalis and fly. The fact is, hope is a terrible strategy. Dreamers hope; Champions believe. Your belief is tested at the very moment the fairy dust of delusion wears off and reality sets in. This is the “X” on the map where the phrase “life isn’t fair” was coined. But this is also where true brilliance is sanded and buffed to its remarkable sheen. It takes guts, audacity, humility and vision to weather this phase. As the saying goes, “Many are called, few are chosen”. If you withstand this crucial test, congratulations; you are very close.
There may be more checkpoints on the Flight Plan To Success™, and each of us is called to different missions with diverse journeys of qualification. I wish nothing but smooth sailing and sunny skies for you on your path. But if you are like most, you will encounter, or have encountered (or are currently encountering) the challenging truths of the path to success. Stay the course. Travel bravely. And believe in your mission and yourself.
Fly High, Fly Fast, Fly Far.