Ideas for success that are healthy and consistent with your personal reality help achieve individual goals. Resilience counts.
Ana María Carrillo
Remodeling your house, learning to swim, completing a doctorate, quitting smoking, or sleeping eight hours a day. A person’s list of goals can be very long, and it can vary according to their aspirations and possibilities. Finally, when one of those tasks is crossed off, this translates into a personal victory, no matter what the achievement is.
The word éxito (success) has its origin in the Latin exitus, which means exit. The dictionary defines it as the happy outcome of a business or performance. However, in the collective imagination, this term can still be related to having one’s own home, first class education, and an overflowing bank account, which are ideas driven by a consumer society that sometimes imposes complex standards on people.
Psychiatrist Ana María Carrillo explains that “people directly associate success with money, beauty, and recognition. But we need to break this mold, as it affects so many people and keeps them from doing what they really want. So, if we separate ourselves from those ideas, we can come closer to a much more attainable definition of achievement.”
In his book Walden, American writer Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” He completed this work after living more than two years in a forest, far from society. That was his greatest wish and so he achieved his satisfaction.
Many would point it out as strange or antisocial. Labels like these are what negatively affect the development of plans, and if a person does not have enough emotional and personal strength and ability, he may even abandon his goals. Society does not recognize small actions as great victories, “so we need to look at the ideas we have of success with a magnifying glass and recognize those people who are full of achievements,” says Carrillo. “For example, an obese person who sets out to reach their ideal weight to be healthy has been successful in reaching their goal. The university professor who manages to transmit knowledge to his students is a successful teacher, even if he is not the most recognized or awarded one,” adds the specialist.
The road to success is likely to be complex. Individual situations, outside opinions, or a lack of resources will put the brakes on it. “Resilience is support we can use in the face of difficulty. Some are resilient by nature or as a result of environmental factors from early stages of life, but some individuals can acquire it with inner work and conscience,” explains Carrillo. One way to initiate that recognition is by answering the following questions: “How do I handle change? Do I know my limits? Do I accept my vulnerable side? How do I protect myself? What do I do to increase my personal resources: self-esteem, kindness, and determination?”
The lack of perseverance can also complicate the achievement of a goal. “And if there is no consistency, the first thing I have to check is my motivation. We are only consistent if we feel motivated, whether it is finishing a book, taking a trip, learning to cook, or finishing a master’s degree.” Carrillo emphasizes that if there is no evidence of motivation, it is necessary to pause and reflect on why the project was undertaken. “If I feel weak and see that I can’t make something happen, it’s good to look back and count the small things I’ve achieved and how much they cost me. For example, I was able to pass the semester with very good grades even though I had problems at home.”
Difficulties and fears also lead someone to challenge themselves, to think clearly in order to set realistic and measurable goals, and to assume healthy ideas of success. Healthy is that which does not injure, harm, or risk your life or mental health, so that self-esteem and interpersonal relationships will remain intact in the process.”•
How to create your own ideas of success
- Psychiatrist Ana Carrillo responds to that concern with these recommendations.
- Begin by eliminating everything that is unhealthy and inconsistent, unlearning in order to learn again. Remove the goals that have not been beneficial or authentic from your mind.
- Rethink projects or goals adjusted to your reality, not to the expectations of others, or the social demands or latest trends. The goal is to match your goals to what you are truly passionate about.
- Start with small goals that are consistent with what you want. Achieving them boosts self-confidence and determination.
- Regulate thoughts, feelings, and actions. Be sure to give them time, put them off, listen to them without judging or labeling.
- Work on social skills. A person who does not relate to his environment will have fewer resources when facing difficulties. Support networks are essential.
Back to basics
The time at home during confinement led many people to question their time at work, their stress management, and their ability to overcome obstacles. Some set short-term goals: get more exercise, complete a course. Others could hardly be separated from their work. Nonetheless, not all crisis situations generate change, as specialist Ana Carrillo explains. “Many people go through traumatic situations that are supposed to change the core of their beliefs, but in practice, we see that every time they overcome a crisis, they go back to the same thing.” That is why it is important to hold on to what you learn from an experience and use it as an impulse when it comes to undertaking new goals.