Tales from the most successful people tell us that success comes from perseverance over the let downs that mark the path to greatness. They remind us that success is the end result of persistence, not simply talent, of steadfast belief, not merely brains or brawn.
You’ve likely heard these stories. Steven Spielberg was denied admission to USC, author Judy Blume was rejected for yearsbefore her work was published, and people told Walt Disney that he lacked imagination. Pretty much everyone wearing a big, accomplished grin has trudged through the muck of rejection, disappointment, fear and doubt.
So why are we so tempted to freak out and turn our backs on our big goals when we know that a hearty dose of resilience and fortitude is all it takes to actualize our potential?
It seems to me that falling and getting back up — over and over again — is just exhausting, not to mention painful.
In an effort to reduce the tears (and Kleenex purchases), heal my bruised ego, and keep myself strong, happy and confident, I’ve come up with some strategies that move me towards my dreams with a measure of ease and grace. These five tips are working for me, and I hope they’ll work well for you, too.
1. Feel Upset. Yes! I said it. It’s okay to be pissed off, hurt, disappointed and angry. Don’t resist feeling badly when you hit a hurdle. There’s truth to the old adage “that which you resist persists.” Resistance strengthens the energies that it opposes, so the more you push something away, the more it pushes back. My sister recently reminded me of this as I fought the distress of a disheartening rejection. “It’s okay to be sad today,” she counseled. “Give yourself permission to feel it,” she said, “and then let it pass.” After a few hours of kicking and screaming, I could release the hurt. So, let out a good cry, get some supportive hugs and wallow in the crappiness for a bit. Then shake it off, take a deep breath and move forward.
2. It takes years to become an “overnight success.” I recently heard Robert Herjavec share this message with an entrepreneur on Shark Tank (one of my TV addictions). No one’s actually an “overnight success.” It takes years of hard work, faith, failures, and fatigue to achieve big dreams. This is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn, and I sometimes find the wait for greatness agonizing. I count the days — worrying and wondering. But I know that if I just keep plugging away, the prize is mine for the taking.
3. Be Thankful. Dreamers like me tend to focus a lot of attention on the future ahead — to all that’s left to accomplish, and all the fun I’ll have when I finally reach my big goal. But take a minute to feel grateful for what you have accomplished and the goodness in your life right now. When you get caught up in the future, you forget to enjoy the present moment and all its incredible gifts. I used to scoff at the whole “it’s the journey, not the destination” concept, but I’m learning every day to appreciate the ride.
4. Celebrate Small Successes. Sometimes I feel silly letting myself get excited over bit-sized successes. But I deserve to do the happy dance in my living room and honor small victories in a celebratory toast over dinner. And you do, too. Living life this way makes for many joyous days and fabulous solo dance parties. There’s no achievement too small to celebrate.
5. Listen For The Good Stuff. I’ve gotten rejected by people who have a lot of nice things to say about me. In the beginning of all this chase-my-dreams business, I was so blinded by a rejection or disappointment, that I couldn’t leave space for the compliments that came with them. Find room for gems of praise and flattery. They’ll boost you up as you move forward.
Alexis Sclamberg is a self-help speaker and writer for Gen Y. She’s at work on her first book, Borrowed Wisdom, and contributes to publications including Forbes.com, The Huffington Post, and Cosmopolitan magazine. Follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook, and read more on her website.