Never give up.
It is a simple statement, yet it represents a profoundly difficult course of action. There are few sentences which can be both as inspiring and formidable. It does, however, represent a portion of a larger statement. If one is to succeed at anything in life, then one must persevere despite the obstacles placed in ones path. This can be very difficult, as there are many people who will be willing to tell you that what you are striving for is not worth the effort, that no matter how hard you try, you will never achieve your goals.
These are the voices of people who have doomed themselves to failure. Perhaps they have reached this conclusion because they themselves have failed at their own attempts. If one tries repeatedly but does not realize their goals, it is easy to become disheartened. Sometimes it is more comfortable, psychologically, emotionally, and physically, to abandon ones dreams rather than continuing to try.
These negative voices are not always external. Self-doubt is a huge detriment to success. If one is already questioning the importance or plausibility of a particular goal, then the obstacles one faces come to appear even larger than they are. If one allows negative thoughts to rule their perceptions, all tasks become more difficult.
It is the simple truth that nothing has ever been accomplished by giving up, except, of course, for succeeding at giving up.
It may also be the case that they naysayers one encounters do not see the value in the goals that you have set for yourself. Someone focused only on financial gain may not be able to perceive the reward of creating a beautiful portrait. Conversely, one who is focused purely on the artistic may be unable to understand the gratification someone else gets from rising through the ranks of the corporate world.
The first step towards success in anything is learning to not listen to the naysayers including the internalized ones. It is important to realize that in order to succeed, one must be willing to try. As hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
This is far harder than it sounds. Fear of failure is common. No one wants to look foolish in front of others. No one wants to have to go to bed at night with the knowledge that they have given their all and yet not acquired that which they were reaching for.
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There are a number of methods one can use to increase ones chance of success which apply to almost all situations. These techniques are fairly general, but can be modified to fit specific situations.
Believe that you can.
The only thing that is harder than trying is trying when you do not feel that you can succeed. It is important to know, deep in your heart, that you are capable of achieving your goals. This can be achieved via a number of methods. Some recommend positive imaging -- picturing yourself as you will look after you have already gotten what you are trying for, then determine how it is that you got there. Stand before the mirror each morning and give yourself a motivational speech. Ignore those who say you can't.
Examine your goals.
Is there a reason that you have not yet been able to reach your goals? Is your goal a realistic one? Perhaps being a professional basketball player is not in the cards if you are only five feet tall (although it is still possible). Are there things that you should do before you set your sights on a higher goal? Is what you are striving for what you actually want? A little self-examination may reveal that the reason that you have not been able to move forward towards you goal is that you are holding yourself back due to the fact that it is not what you really want.
Make a plan.
This is closely tied in to examining your goals. People often fail because they reach for something before they are ready for it. For example, no one expects to become a doctor or a lawyer without first getting the appropriate education and credentials. Look at your overall goal and create a list of steps which you must reach before you can get what you ultimately want. Break these steps down into smaller, manageable goals. This will not only help you move towards your objective, it will provide you with a series of success which will help bolster your confidence, making it easier to continue. At the end of the day, instead of saying "I didn't make it to X again" you will be saying "Today I accomplished Z which brings me that much closer to X."
Sacrifices may be required.
Whether your goal is to be a high powered attorney, an author, or the greatest snowboarder in the world, you will have to spend time working towards that end. Studying, researching, and practice will become your watch words. There will be times when you would rather do something else and will have to miss it. Remember that these sacrifices put you closer to what you want to achieve.
The journey is as important as the destination.
Conversely, don't be so focused on one goal that you miss the rest of your life. While being driven is often seen as a positive trait, so is the ability to relax and enjoy ones life. Focusing too long and too hard on one thing will only result in someone who burns out quickly. When that one thing is acquired, it may have lost all of its value. Make time for friends, family, and fun as well as working towards your goal.
Remember that ultimately life is a series of successes and failures. No one achieves their goals on the first try. The roadblocks which life puts before us make it that much sweeter when we arrive at our destination.