Upward: Success comes easily once you make it personal

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Stories flood your phone and TV screen of people enjoying their lavish lifestyles, respected businesses and impressive circles of influence.

Things. Status. Power.

Although this may seem like a good way to self-motivate, enviously eyeing the people who seem to be doing better than us is no way to find inspiration or direction for our own personal success.

I’ve met plenty of ambitious people during my time at Dixie State University: Students who have grandiose plans to graduate, make a lot of money, and eventually live the comfortable, happy lifestyle they’ve dreamed about since they were first able to navigate the buttons on a TV remote.

The problem is that motivation that comes from exterior sources is infinitely weaker than inspiration that comes from within.

Wanting success just for the sake of appearing accomplished is shallow and will often end up leaving a person discouraged, dissatisfied and feeling cheated. The individuals who take this route will either never finish or struggle through only to finally realize they are unhappy.

What people don’t see is a phenomenon writers and psychologists call the “iceberg effect.” The visible part of the iceberg is a person’s outward image. What people don’t see is the ninety percent or more that is hiding underwater: stress, hard work, pain. The ninety percent is what makes it all worthwhile.

When I first started my college experience I was here for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to please my family. I wanted to follow the path that my childhood friends were following. I had little to no direction. In hindsight, it isn’t surprising that I struggled finding the motivation to do well or really make the most of my college experience. 

After taking a few-semester break and cultivating the desire to finish my degree, I wrote a “why” list. This list itemized all the personal reasons I was going to finish my bachelors and succeed in other areas. After I was able to identify my internal motivators, I found thriving in college and my professional life surprisingly simple.

Here are three reasons you should stop looking in the wrong places for your motivation:

The sacrifices are worth it

Once you find internal motivation, you’ll realize making sacrifices is shockingly easy.

When people look at me they see a student, the leader of an academic organization, a business owner, and a lucky girl who gets to travel a lot. That’s all great, but my success came at a cost. My relationships, relaxation and hobbies all suffered while I focused on making my goals realities. Am I sad I missed out on last weekend’s party because I was at home preparing for a business meeting? No, not really. I’ve prioritized what’s important to me. Prioritizing what is important is simply trading immediate gratification for greater satisfaction later on.

You’ll rarely feel discouraged

I only experience discouragement when I compare my outward success to the success of other people. If you only compete against yourself, it makes the process of self-improvement much simpler and personal.

When you make the journey about yourself, and no one else, you’ll rarely feel discouraged.

Satisfaction is inevitable

Pain and discomfort come with being human. On the journey to self-defined success you’ll experience plenty of growing pains, but the pain is what makes it all worth it.A

For example, many people start workout/diet regimens because they want to look good and feel comfortable in a swimsuit. Although looking good is a small perk of the end result, it shouldn’t be the reason why people start in the first place.

What’s interesting is people are so focused on the end result that they don’t realize the most rewarding part is having gone through the pain of countless workouts, developing self-control, and practicing discipline with eating habits. This can be applied to anything from fitness to success in your career. The process is almost always more satisfying than the end result.

Finding internal motivation will transform the way you go about setting goals and I think you’ll find you are much happier on the road to achieve them.