Success is a wild word with as many definitions as there are people on this planet. Most people’s idea of success includes at least one material item. Whether it’s a house, a car, or a prettier significant other, if you take inventory of your goals you’ll often find something tangible thrown into the mix.
The trick to finding success in the new year is understanding your values and then shifting them. There’s nothing wrong with setting a goal to buy a new car, but unless you understand what the car symbolizes this goal will feel empty. Perhaps the car symbolizes independence, once you get the car, you’ll feel a momentary high, but the longing for independence will still be there. And just like that, you’re off buying a motorcycle or chasing the next high that feels vaguely like independence.
Lessons and insights from Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, can help us find true success through reshaping our values and then taking action.
1. Choose positive values
Take stock of your goals and the underlying themes and desires behind them. Manson says if you’re being honest with yourself it’s very easy to determine if your goals are rooted in positive or negative values.
Chasing quick highs from superficial values will only keep you happy for a couple of days. But if you pursue something important and meaningful, you’ll be happy for much longer. However, this isn’t always easy.
There will always be problems in life. Manson believes life is a succession of problems and to hope for a problem-less life is foolish. Instead, we should be looking for something in life that is worth overcoming problems for.
2. Grow from the pain
Finding your passion and pursuing it with positive values at heart is a challenge. In Manson’s book, he makes it very clear there is no easy route to achieving success, even if you live by positive values. You will always have problems and suffering.
Suffering is a part of life, but it’s possible to find happiness in suffering. When you live a life in pursuit of honorable values, you receive happiness from solving the “good” problems.
To find something worth fighting for, you must be in love with the process, with the journey. Everybody loves the result, that’s why our goals are our goals, but for so many people they are unattainable because we don’t want to put in the hard work to get there.
3. Practice accountability in everything
Since suffering is inevitable and we all will choose our own form of it, it’s imperative we take accountability for how we deal with it. This is where Manson makes a huge distinction between fault and responsibility. It may not be your fault your wallet was stolen, but it’s your responsibility to cancel your cards and minimize the damage done to your bank account and identity. However, if you left your wallet on a table at the McDonald’s in Time Square you share some fault.
But fault and responsibility are not always the same. Manson was cheated on by an ex-girlfriend who left him for the same man. He realized his girlfriend’s actions may not have been his fault, but how he handled his emotions and the breakup were his responsibility. He credits that mental shift with treating his body better, stopping his binge drinking, and putting an end to late night visits to his ex’s house begging her to take him back.
Taking responsibility for your life will change everything you do.
4. Take action
After many responses to Manson’s book asking, “But how?? How do I adjust my values?” Manson’s answer to this is basically, just do it. Make the decision to turn your life around. It’s all up to your will-power, so stop being a pansy. This may be effective for some, but others may need a little more guidance.
This is why Clear’s advice is useful. Clear came up with the 2-minute rule to help us take action and make a change.
He believes if you take any task, no matter how big and daunting, and scale it down to a 2-minute chunk, anything becomes doable. Even a 2-minute task of taking out your yoga mat in preparation for doing 30 minutes of yoga gets you focused on the goal and moves you forward.
Basically, Clear says if you start by showing up, good and productive actions will follow. In this case, bring your values to mind when questioning something and good actions will follow.
Moving forward, we are taking ownership of our lives and reaching our goals. We are learning from every piece of suffering we encounter, and we are assessing where we place our attention and intentions.
Jessica Welch is the Content Marketing Associate at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Anthropology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Her business thought articles often appear on Business 2 Community, Born 2 Invest, and YF Entrepreneurs.