We live in a society where the words “success,” “successful,” and “achievement” are being overused and plastered all over the internet without actually defining them first. We live in a society full of “winners”. We live in a society where every little “achievement” is blown out of proportion in order to make you look and feel as if you just won an Olympic medal. We live in a society where we give/get credit (for our “success”), way too often.
In order to succeed or achieve something, you first have to have a specific and measurable goal. Then you have to beat that goal. Simple as that!
You can’t say that you accomplished something unless your specific goal was to accomplish that very thing. For example, if your goal is to run a PR for a 5k (which is the most sought performance goal) you need to post a time that is faster than your previous PR for a 5k. It’s as simple as that.
We live in a society where we try to find a way to “succeed” at something even if we clearly did not. To continue my earlier example, if you wanted to get PR for a 5k race and you don’t, but you “brag” about how you placed in the top 10 in you age group, you really did not succeed. Placing top 10 in your age group is just a “consolation prize”, which you really can’t (at least you should not) “brag” about, because it was not your original, specific goal. Yes, it is a pretty nice thing to achieve, (if that was your goal), but it is really not something you can “shoot” for ahead of time, since you never know how many people, and who, will run that same race. Some races only have age groups winners. Some races only have prizes for the top three overall. Stay true to your original goal. It is OK to fail at something sometimes. It can help you focus on things you need to work on and things you can control (your own training: intensity, volume, type, etc).
Don’t get me wrong, in my book you are still better, and go ahead and pat yourself on the shoulder, than people on the couch who did not even show up.
I think in order to be more successful you can set multiple goals (primary, secondary), as long as you can specifically measure them. To further continue on my previous example, besides setting a new PR (primary goal), you could try to run negative splits for the race (secondary goal) or you could try to run your last mile as your fastest one (secondary goal). So in case you do not reach your primary goal, you can still be successful at achieving another goal(s).
I am sure that some people may find this harsh, but, it is the truth. I am sure that some people will think that I am rude and that is fine by me. I believe in these principles and live by them myself. I get more excited about a PR, even if I placed 202nd in a race, (which i did) than winning a race, but having a sub-par time. Maybe I am a very “black and white” type of person, but there is nothing gray about achieving something specific. You either did it or you did not.
Break out of “successful” society, set some specific, measurable goals and enjoy your true success.