Overcoming the Poison of Society’s “Success”

Overcoming the Poison of Society’s “Success”

In the pursuit of a dream, we will stumble across many “poisons” that attempt to deter us, weaken us, and make us doubt our dream’s capability and legitimacy. Like a physical poison, it’ll work through your system and slowly kill any hope of passion and confidence.

One of those poisons that has haunted me quite a lot is the perceived notion of “success” that is intentionally-unintentionally pushed on us from society. Well, it is half the time, and then the other half is our own self-imposed notion. There’s different factors that we may deem “successful,” and it can slightly differ amongst us, but overall it involves the same concept. And, ultimately, it results in us believing that because our lives don’t match this picture, then we’re not successful.

First of all, this is all this “success” is: a picture. An idea. An ideal imagined by generations of a collective culture that has changed and merged and intersected so much we’ve lost track. So this picture of “success” has changed an insurmountable amount of times. It’s irrelevant. It’s pointless. There’s no need to pay it any attention.

Here are a few things to dwell on:

  • What makes you happy?

Now, if having a certain income or marrying well or climbing the ladder to CEO or becoming famous is what makes you happy, then by all means pursue it! If none of that matters to you, then there’s nothing wrong or different about that. If you’re happy, or at least content, I’d say you’re doing pretty good.

  • Every path is different.

Even when two people are pursuing the same thing, they won’t do it exactly the same way. And both are valid and equally successful.

  • What’s better: satisfied others or satisfied you?

What’s so great about living a life that others demand and being miserable and bitter all the time? I’m sure you’d rather be pleased with yourself. Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t listen to wise and well-meaning advice from those you trust and who know you well, and this doesn’t mean you don’t practice humility and sacrifice (after all, Character comes before dreams). But also don’t forget to listen to your own gut. Even in the midst of presumed certainty, your gut will never lie.

  • Society knows nothing of you.

You know you. Your family and friends know you. What do they say about you? What does your heart say about you?

  • Divert your thoughts when they dwell too long on this “success.”

Thinking too much about this will only make you lose hope and energy. Have a plan to divert your thoughts to something more productive, and something more positive. Choose a subject on which you will habitually think about when your mind starts to wander into darkness (Philippians 4:8-9, “think on these things…”)

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5 Things to Say No to if you want to Pursue your Dream

5 Things to Say No to if you want to Pursue your Dream

Oh, the illusive, excruciating art of saying “No.” It evades us all. But it must be done, especially if we have some goals to achieve. There are a few certain things you must deny, no matter how hard it is:

  1. Multitasking

Hobbies are good, work is well, but too much will stunt your progress. If you want to achieve a specific dream, you must put your all into it, keep yourself focused on it, make it the most important thing in your mind.

2. Procrastination

It doesn’t matter if it’s just “part of your personality.” You must say no to procrastinating your dream. Ignore your age, your financial status, your level of education, your circumstances. Get going!

3. Compromising

Your dream is much too valuable to compromise for anything. If something is forcing you to, whether it be a relationship or work position or a life choice or circumstance, then that thing is not worth having in your life.

4. Comparing

Comparing to others is such a dream killer. Not to mention a self-esteem killer. Stay away from this! Forget the others, this is your story. Who cares how they did it?

5. The past

If your past is holding your dream back, it’s time to say no and let go. There’s no moving forward until you do.

10 Thoughts you’ll Encounter While Pursuing your Dream

10 Thoughts you’ll Encounter While Pursuing your Dream

As you go about making your dream a reality, there will always be certain thoughts that cross your mind, bringing in doubt, fear, and discouragement. But they’re just thoughts, and we can’t trust our thoughts. Your head likes to mess with you, especially when it comes to the thing you love. These thoughts will likely stumble into your brain at some point, but there’s no need to dwell on them.

  1. “I’m too young.”

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” So what if you’re still a minor? You should be working on your dream right now. There are dozens of success stories of people 18 or younger achieving amazing things. Age is irrelevant when it comes to achieving dreams.

2. “I’m too old.”

My favorite author C.S. Lewis said, “You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Did you know he was in his 50s when he wrote the first Narnia novel? And he actually first had conceptual ideas for it back at the age of 16, but he did not begin writing it until much later. Considered his greatest literary achievement, amongst others, that’s an inspiring story. Once again, age is irrelevant to dreams.

3. “I’m running out of time.”

How, exactly? Because you’re growing up? Because you’ve created imaginary deadlines? Because your achievement date doesn’t match that of your peers? No, you’re not running out of time. And you better be pacing yourself.

4. “I took too long.”

I recently came across a post that I then shared on social media because it spoke so personally to me: “Just because you took longer than others, doesn’t mean you failed. Remember that.” Remember that, indeed.

5. “I should have done it like the others.”

No, you are not them. They are not you. Your path is different. Something I always say: “There are many different paths to the same goal.” Just because you’re doing things differently from everyone else doesn’t mean you won’t achieve the same thing. Stop comparing yourself.

6. “I missed my chance.”

Doors open and doors close. They also open again. If you missed something, then something else will come along. It may change up your path a little, but like I said, there are many different paths to the same goal.

7. “I chose wrong.”

If it’s what you love to do, then you did not choose wrong. If you’re basing this off of the monetary success, well, DON’T! If your goal is to make money, well then, I hope you chose a path that made sense for that.

8. “I’m not skilled at this.”

If you’re passionate about it, then you will get good at it. Truly, ability should come naturally with passion, so perhaps you’re just underestimating your skills.

9. “I know nothing.”

Well of course, you’re still learning! That’s what studying is for! This is such a silly notion. If you’re passionate about it, the studying part will just be part of the fun.

10. “What the heck am I doing?”

Oh, we all think this, of everything. At least you’re doing something. So what if you have no idea? You’ll learn by trial and error. There’s no greater teacher. Let this thought slip away and laugh it off.

Weekly Devotion: You can make plans, but…

Weekly Devotion: You can make plans, but…

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

-Proverbs 16:9 NLT

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

-Proverbs 19:21 NLT

It’s almost humorous how nearly exact these two scriptures are, and they’re so close to each other in placement. In a nutshell, these simple yet profound proverbs say what we don’t really want to hear: you’re not in control.

As the ultimate planner of the century, this is hard to take. I feel like sometimes I live by planning things out perfectly. I may not be the greatest executioner, but I can plan like a champion. To read, and thus believe, that despite me making all the plans for every aspect of my life God’s intentions will override me…it doesn’t come easy. Since I was very young I have struggled with the problem of living in the future. A majority of people seem to find the past hard to get over, but not me. I, unfortunately, twitch and worry and agonize over the future, both near and distant. I cannot tell what is worse.

When I say that some may think, “but what’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t we live for the future after all?” No, honestly we should really live for the present. And my problem isn’t living for the future. I’m living in the future. Thus the present slips by me and I fail to cherish it for what it’s worth and enjoy the moment. Always my mind is five minutes ahead of me, constantly planning, constantly considering, constantly analyzing. Constantly worrying.

These scriptures are not telling us to ignore the importance of being prepared and ready for the future. Planning itself is not an evil thing. They communicate that despite our plans, however good they are, what God has planned for us will ultimately override our own and make them void. That can either drive us mad and send us into a endless tunnel of frustration and disappointment, or, if we operate in trust, flexibility, and open-mindedness, it can bring us peace when we realize that we need not stress over stuff.

These scriptures are asking us to accept this truth. Attempting to take sole control of your life will just leave you miserable because you’ll be working against God.

Make your plans. Set some goals. For goodness sake have some dreams. BUT! Do not put your plans on a pedestal and become unhealthily attached to them, because they may very likely change, or not even happen. Be ready to give them up for God’s purpose. Your life will always be the better for it.

You could be your Dream’s Greatest Obstacle

You could be your Dream’s Greatest Obstacle

Perhaps you’re in a place where you’re wondering why your dreams just seem to be playing hide-and-seek. There are a number of outside circumstances that can affect their ability to come true, yes, but have you considered that you might be the greatest obstacle?

It might be a tough thought to grasp, but grasping it can be the first step to shifting that dream-limbo reality. How might you be the greatest obstacle?

  1. You’re discouraged by missed opportunities. Discouragement is a rough thing to combat, and it never truly seems to go away even when things are looking up. After a series of unseized opportunities, it can shape your perspective into one that believes you’ve lost all opportunities and it’s time to give up. Nevertheless, discouragement can be beaten, and it doesn’t have to hold you back.
  2. You lack the motivation. I’ve come to believe that some people are more naturally lazier than others, and those individuals do have a tougher time getting places. Though not necessarily something to be ashamed of (we’re only human), it’s not something to be proud of either. A lack of motivation could be the cause, and so it would help to find some, a kind that will truly have a significant longterm effect on you so that it’s powerful enough.
  3. You restrain your potential. Either if it’s done unconsciously or with reason, holding yourself back just doesn’t make sense. There is no such thing as being “ready” for anything, so it will always be expected in vain. There are some mysteries about yourself that you haven’t uncovered yet. You’re never 100% discovered.
  4. You don’t take responsibility for failures. A lack of money or uncooperative people can easily suppress a dream, but putting the blame on them for your unfulfilled dream won’t resolve anything. The thing about those factors is that they can be adjusted with enough nitty gritty effort.
  5. You hang with the wrong crowd. Being around people who aren’t very motivated or goal-oriented is going to really hold you back. Seek out those peers who are innovative, independent, creative, and you’ll find yourself inspired to be the same.
  6. You keep your options a little too open. Quoting from an intriguing article I recently read by Psychology Today: “…our stress befalls the generation with the most optionality yet. This blessing could also be our curse.” It talks about how the stress present in the millennial generation comes from having an endless list of choices, from picking a breakfast cereal to choosing a career path. It’s been proven from research that the more options that are offered, the less likely someone is to make a solid decision. Rather, it makes us shy away and do nothing. Perhaps your dream isn’t happening because you’ve considered too many options. Even though they’re there, and they’re all equally achievable, it doesn’t mean they all should be achieved. You have to pick one path, and stick to that path. (read the article; I highly encourage it)

So, why isn’t your dream happening, you ask? Maybe it’s a matter of time, and maybe it’s something you can do. If you’re in the way, then step aside.

Quotes to give you a push

Quotes to give you a push

Perhaps today you can use a little shove in the direction of motivation…

“You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” -C. S. Lewis

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told.” -Alan Keightley

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” -Tony Robbins

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure every will.” -Suzy Kassem

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” -Zig Zigler

“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.” -Michaelangelo

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” -John C. Maxwell

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” -Karen Lamb

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.” -Jack Penn

“Winners are losers who got up and gave it one more try.” -Dennis DeYoung

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

You’re not as stuck as you think

You’re not as stuck as you think

Between the ages of 18 to 30, it’s very easy for one to get discouraged and “stuck.” After all, we’re crawling up a grueling slope of high hopes and meager accomplishments to get just a little close to some of our fairly far-fetched goals. Somewhere along the way, we come a point that appears to be the end. Either we got tired, or resources ran out, or opportunities became slim, or circumstances arose…

You could probably name a specific reason as to why you’re stuck. But are you really as stuck as you think?

During that “stuck” period, or “in between” time, or “taking a break” season (whatever you want to call it), you don’t have to be unproductive. And it doesn’t have to be pointless. First off, I imagine you’re in deep search for something, anything! Perhaps it’s a job, or an internship, or the right school, or the right magazine to submit work to. Here’s a thing: you don’t have to do something longterm. If you just need a job to save some money, then don’t be afraid to settle. It won’t be for long, and it’ll satisfy a need when you need it. If you want to get moving on your education, choose a decent school. If you find something better, you can always transfer. Every opportunity is meant to be a step towards a specific goal, and so nothing would be nothing. Even if a position isn’t related to your desired career, it’s still going to provide a need, particularly in the experience area.

Now, as you’re searching, you should get a little creative. Who says you have to follow norms? There’s all kinds of freelance jobs. What are you good at? Or perhaps you can volunteer with an organization that interests you for a short time. Look beyond your usual search bubble and see what outside-the-box things you can do while you wait to get to that next step.

During this “stuck” period, why not take advantage of the free time? Go out and do something you otherwise couldn’t if you were tied down to a schedule. Sooner or later, once you do have a schedule to stick to, you’ll wish you had done that thing you wanted to when you could.

Perhaps being “stuck” just might be the opportunity to go back to school. By that, it doesn’t have to be university or college, or really any legitimate sophisticated school. You can “go back to school” by taking some free online classes, or teaching yourself a skill on your own. Basically, go out and learn something. This is the time to do it. It may even lead to something new that you originally didn’t consider was an option.

It’s hard to keep your spirits up when you feel like you’re stuck, but really you’re not as stuck as you think. That is up to you, of course.