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Ambitious goals and peace of mind. Can they coexist?

Updated: Apr 10

There’s such a term in psychology like “locus of control”. It defines a person’s tendency to explain all their wins and failures by either external or internal forces. Internal locus of control means that a person tends to perceive those as something that fully depends on them. And external locus of control is when they tend to put responsibility for their failures and wins (not so often with wins though) on external circumstances.

We hear “You can do anything! Go get it!” every day. It seems like the whole world wants to turn impossible into possible and keeps reminding us that “if there’s a will there’s a way”. It’s basically asking us to fully focus on the internal locus of control and disregard the external one.

It all sounds great, but this inspiring and demanding ambitious contract has a fine print on the very bottom with a red “Warning!” sign reminding us to remain reasonable.

Don’t forget that your success criteria, however great the expectations are (and there’s nothing wrong with that) should be based on a rational assessment of your capabilities for the sake of your own sanity.

That assessment includes some important valid points:

  • Understanding of your skills, your personality traits and talents;

  • Understanding of your current situation (available resources like time, finances, information, connections etc.);

  • Checking for and defining your limiting beliefs that almost every single one of us has;

  • Accepting all the sacrifices that achieving your goal will require from you and agreeing to make those.

Not having that awareness beforehand, people begin to:

a) demand too much of themselves not taking into consideration their actual capabilities at that time;

b) compare themselves to others, forgetting about different starting conditions, personality traits/talents and available resources.

As a result we see an emotionally exhausted, constantly sick and energetically worn out person with a well-deserved neurosis. They throw a white towel, start procrastinating, over-criticizing and despising themselves, all while being angry at others for no valid reason.

Instead of growing and enjoying both the effort they put in and progress they make, that person stops trying at all.

Am I urging you to blame circumstances, starting conditions, weather forecast and what not for everything that happens in your life? Absolutely not! Because ultimately your life does depend on you, BUT!

Everyone’s path to success is different and unfortunately doesn’t only depend on your will. What takes one person a year to achieve may take 2 or 5 years for someone else. And that’s absolutely normal!

So if you notice that you’re moving forward slower than a person in the next lane, don’t rush into blaming yourself for not working hard enough. There are many factors influencing your speed. The key point here is to be better today than you were yesterday, and tomorrow-be better than today.

And that’s the only true merit of your success.

Photo by Anatoli Styf


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