Motivations for Success
Anything that you want to achieve in life, it has to be about the “what” and “why,” not just the results. It has to be about the joy of the activity itself, and allowing that, in and of itself, to be the goal first and foremost. Because if we are solely motivated by gaining something or receiving accolades, our journey can become more of an addiction of the ego than the truth of the soul.
For example, if someone doesn’t like what you do, and you desire their approval, you will take their criticism very personally indeed. Or, if you have a certain expectation that you want to achieve, but it doesn’t turn out exactly as you had planned, you will likely feel discouraged to keep going. And if someone adores you and what you do and praises you for it, yes, it will feel good in the moment, but if you are not centered within yourself, you will want and need more and more of that praise in order to continue to feel good about yourself.
And so, if your prime motivation is to receive accolades, praise, or a specific outcome, your sense of self and your happiness will always be at the mercy of things external to you. However, if you do what you do simply for the joy of it, and you already know your inherent worth, that intrinsic confidence and contentment will spare you from unneeded pain and disappointment. Criticism will no longer hurt. Failure will no longer sting. And praise, while it will be nice, will never change you.
It may sometimes seem like those who push the hardest to receive external praise and success are those who end up succeeding the most. But if their success depends on the outside world’s approval, that success will never truly feel fulfilling. Instead, it will lead to an endless spiral of interdependence, making praise into a drug and them into an addict for it.
What we need to realize is that chasing after the ego’s version of success is not the only way to succeed. Pushing, striving, and manipulating are not the only methods to achievement. In fact, the easier and more enjoyable route often comes when we don’t vie for success at all. Instead, it’s when we allow our joy to guide us in taking the steps that feel most aligned with our soul that true success is achieved. We can relax into success without having to fight our way to it. We can simply accept it as our natural state of being with grace, and do our best to stay as authentic as we can along our path.
So, the moral of the story is this: Make your goal to enjoy what you do, and your success (and the many different definitions of it) will come to you as a mirroring of your inner joy and confidence. And that’s the type of success that will endure. But keep in mind, there is ego but there is also reverse ego, where we can underestimate our value or be too humble in receiving the accolades and successes that we deserve. The key, then, is to be balanced, which means being confident but not cocky, appreciative but not self-entitled, and accepting but not needy. That way we can appreciate our gifts as they come, while, at the same time, not allowing the external world to dictate our conditions for happiness.