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Virtue is its own reward.
-- Cicero
 

 

The MONTHLY Motivator - July 2019

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Success without the stress

Success necessarily puts you into stress-inducing territory. When you set out to succeed at anything you’re going to meet up with difficult situations. You’re going to have to put forth a great deal of effort. But just because the process of achievement is a long and difficult challenge, doesn’t mean you have to be filled with stress and anxiety in order to make your way to success. Just because you’re traveling through a stressful landscape doesn’t mean you have to fill your experience with stress and anxiety.

Start by making sure you don’t make it all about you. Ego plays a considerable role in creating stress within you, no matter what the situation. To the degree that you can let go of your ego, you can protect yourself from much of the stress that would otherwise come with the achievement process. Success is demanding, and many of the things that success demands are things your ego will fight against. In the pursuit of success you might, for example, have to raise some cash by giving up your late-model car and driving a much older, less prestigious model. That’s a very reasonable tradeoff, and something you can easily do. But it’s also something your ego will likely fight. What makes it stressful is not the situation itself, but rather your ego’s reaction to the situation. You’ll also have to do other things that your ego considers “beneath” you. Again, these are perfectly necessary and reasonable actions on your part, but they won’t sit well with your ego. The solution is not to avoid doing them, or to let your ego make you stressed out about them. The answer is to simply rise above the petty concerns of your ego. Make the achievement bigger than you. Make it something you’re doing not to prove how wonderful you are, but because it is a good and useful thing to do. That will make it a lot less stressful.

Once ego is out of the way, another useful strategy is to detach yourself from the results. Yes, the achievement is something you have chosen to do. Yes, you have made the commitment to it and taken full responsibility for it. Even so, it does not define you. If you succeed, that’s great, and you’ll do a lot of good. If you fail, though, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, that failure might open the door to an even bigger success later. Sure, you want to do everything possible to achieve the best results. But there’s only so much that’s in your control. Even when you have done everything right, given your very best to the effort, plenty of things can go wrong. Certainly you can do your best to respond positively to each surprising turn of events, but sometimes it’s not enough, despite your best efforts. So choose to place the majority of your focus on those efforts. Yes, the results matter, but the results are not entirely your doing. If you attach yourself too closely to the results, that can cause a lot of stress. So attach yourself instead to what you can do, to what’s within your control. Yes, aim persistently at a specific result. But don’t let it wipe you out if something unavoidable makes that result impossible.


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--Ralph Marston

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