Do you have the confidence to say that you’re on the right path in life?
It’s a question that has kept me awake some nights when I’m thinking about my life plans. Thinking about it worries me, because I’m always talking about wanting to be different, wanting to take a different path to success.
My dream is to be an entrepreneur that can help people around the world, and I wanted to start in public speaking. I’ve always believed that helping people find their voice is one way I can encourage people to pursue their dreams and show the world who they are.
But I’m always surrounded by people who are looking at going further in their careers, looking for jobs that are amazing, and some of my acquaintances have already achieved impressive accomplishments even though our ages are not that far apart.
Seeing that, I sometimes stop and wonder why I haven’t achieved the level of success that they have. I think about whether taking the slow and steady route is better for me, because it’s not as stressful or as pressuring. I’d fit in with everyone.
You might have had similar thoughts or experiences. Maybe you’re not going on to college or university after graduation. Maybe you’re thinking about dropping out of school. Maybe you’re going to work at a startup company while everyone else is working for established organizations. The list goes on.
Whatever you did, you decided to take your future into your own hands and do something different from what the people around you.
But sometimes, you stop and think. Is this really the best choice for me? What if I did what everyone else was doing? Would that be better for me? Have I made a decision too soon?
It might not help that you’re hearing about friends and family who have made great achievements in their lives, such as winning national competitions or meeting VIPs around the world. Some might be living the life that you always dreamed about, and it sparks that flame of doubt within you.
Is it worth trying to go on a different path in life? Are you just taking steps in the wrong direction? It’s not easy going to sleep with those questions unanswered.
Despite the pressures you may feel, there’s a good chance you are on the path that’s best for you.
Even though the road less travelled is filled with fear and uncertainty, I still believe it’s a path worth taking. That’s the answer I began to believe in at the start of the year.
Success is not exclusive to one path in life, but something you achieve when you walk the path you believe you should be walking.
Every Path Will Look Different
The reason people choose a path in life is because they believe the destination is something they want, and that it is a path that they are willing to walk.
If you wanted enough money to retire on, you will walk on a stable and predictable path. You know what will happen, and you are happy walking on a path that isn’t confusing. There are no major obstacles you have to overcome.
The layout is straight and narrow. You know exactly where to go and you can see the destination in sight. It’s a long journey, but you are going to be safe.
But perhaps your desired destination isn’t just about making enough money to retire. Maybe you find the straight and narrow path to be boring and lacking in adventure.
You might want to travel around the world and make a living writing about your experiences. Your path isn’t going to be as straight or as narrow as the path to retirement. You might have twists and turns that make you repeat parts of your journey, and you might even have a few dead ends.
The journey looks like a maze puzzle in a puzzle book. Your destination is there, but you are not entirely sure which entrance is the right one, or which path is the right path. But no matter how confusing your path is, you can still reach your desired destination if you continue to persevere.
My path is the one of an online entrepreneur. It’s very scary, and sometimes I find myself wanting the predictability and stability that you see on some paths.
But at the end of the day, I truly want to help people, and if I want to do that, I have to accept that the path I am taking is not the easiest to navigate. It might take some time, it will be scary at times, I will question if I am going on the right direction, but the destination is worth it to me.
Everyone has their own idea of what path they want to take in life. There’s no right or wrong answer. Each path has different lengths, different layouts and different directions.
What matters is that the path you take has the destination that you seek. @SpiritOnStage (Click to Tweet!)
Every Path Has The Occasional Lucky Coin And Pitfall
No matter what path you choose in life, you will sometimes encounter spots of good luck, which make you feel confident you made the right choice, like finding a coin on the ground. You will also encounter times with bad luck, where you feel as if you took the wrong step, like stepping into a pitfall.
You might be walking on the same path as your friends, wanting to be just like them. But for some reason, the people around you seem to be having success after success, while you’re only having the occasional moment of success.
In fact, you may not even have any successes. You might have encountered a lot of failures, struggling to keep up with everyone walking on the same path as you are. You might feel discouraged, since you don’t understand why success seems to choose other people but constantly evades you.
You and your friends might all have accounting jobs, but someone got recognized at a global company and will be earning more than the others. You might be a journalist along with your best friend, but your best friend somehow manages to get interviews with VIPs while you don’t.
If you’re taking a different path from everyone else, the discouragement can quickly grow and feed your doubts. Everyone else seems to be experiencing success, but you have either not had success yet or repeatedly kept running into failures.
This can make you want to give up your current path and take another, even if you really loved what you were doing before. After all, you want success too, and if you only keep running into failure, you won’t feel that there is much of a reason to continue.
In order to support my dream of helping the world with public speaking, I took up a normal job that fit my degree in marketing. It was a nice job, not the best but certainly not the worst. It helped me support myself while I was learning about the working world and earn enough money to do what I needed.
I also had friends who weren’t as concerned with starting their own business and started careers in accounting, finance and other fields. Some even went for further education. I was always seeing happy pictures of people making breakthroughs at their job, or even meeting famous people at institutions.
Even friends who decided to start their own business seemed to have the support of people I didn’t have, finances I had no access to, and the recognition I could only dream of. It made me feel that I was pursuing the wrong goal in life, that the path I had been taking wasn’t right.
After all, where was my success? Was I really chasing after the right goal? Was I doing anything correctly? That was the level of doubt that was filling my mind.
However, I managed to regain my focus and realize that for some people, they would have fortunate events happen to them as they continued to live their lives. Others would have run-ins with failure more often than they would like.
No matter what happened, I was still working my way towards the destination I wanted to reach. There really was success that I could achieve, I just didn’t have as many fortunate experiences yet. If I continued to persevere, I would still be on track to achieving success, and maybe have luck as well.
Just because your journey is rough doesn’t mean success isn’t there. It just means that you might have to wait a bit longer for the success you desire.
Success Isn’t About A Race To The Finish
At the end of the path is the destination you seek. You’ve worked hard and made tough choices in order to get there. Once you reach it, you will finally be able to say you have had success and truly believe that you chose the right path.
It used to be that you would value the journey that you took and appreciate your success. But you might feel that you don’t have time in your life to work hard and reach your destination.
Our society is filled with stories of overnight successes and individuals who seemingly didn’t work hard but achieved success in a short amount of time.
When you hear stories like this, it might be tempting to think that success can be achieved quickly, and that truly successful people reach their desired destination as fast as possible, whether that is a high ranking position, a publicly exchanged company or whatever your desired goal may be.
This makes you believe that you can shorten the path that you have to travel, or even that your path isn’t worth walking if it isn’t going to result in quick success.
But success isn’t measured by the speed at which someone achieves their goals. In fact, you measure success by seeing if someone has actually achieved their goals.
Fast results look great and feel good, but it might not actually be the success that you seek in the long term. In fact, it might even make it harder to achieve success if you’re not careful.
As I started setting up my public speaking website and creating my content, I wanted to start everything quickly and effectively, while generating a lot of attention. I believed that success could be achieved quickly, and it would only matter if I achieved fast success.
This meant that I quickly made content that wasn’t up to standard, I rushed out marketing techniques that I didn’t fully understand and I developed a sense of arrogance that actually made me worse at public speaking, rather than the expert I claimed to be.
The result was a mess that made me ashamed to even look at my website for a while. I did get what I wanted, but it put me farther away from the success that I imagined. Had I actually worked harder and taken my time, I might not have wasted as much time as I did.
It taught me that even though other people might be enjoying quick success, it doesn’t mean that quick success is right for me. I should be walking my path at a pace I am comfortable with, rather than try to match the pace of everyone who’s seemingly more successful than I am.
If you’re not successful now, it doesn’t mean that you will never be successful on the path you’re taking. What it means is that you are moving forward at your own pace, and you are learning.
You are still making your way towards success and your goals. You just know the best way to do it is one step at a time.
The Journey Ahead Is Challenging, But Worthwhile
It is very tempting to look at how successful other people are in their lives. You use it as a way to measure your success, to see if you are succeeding in life or are falling behind everyone else.
Not only is that inaccurate, you’re also forgetting that you might be taking a different path from other people. Your journey might have more twists and turns than you have to go through than someone who’s taking a safe and stable path.
You might run into unexpected periods of luck and disaster, and so will everyone else. You might not know it, but just because someone’s made some impressive achievements doesn’t mean that they haven’t had failures, nor does it mean you won’t have your fair share of luck either.
You might also try and race towards the finish line in an attempt to claim success, only to realize that you might have not gotten closer to your desired destination. Success isn’t about speed, but actually achieving what you set out to do.
But no matter what path you choose to take in life, there’s always one way to tell if you’re doing what’s right for you.
If you believe in what you’re doing, if you’re willing to work hard and you’re willing to accept that there will be good and bad moments in the path that you are walking on, that’s when you know you’re on the path that’s meant for you.
Other people might say a different path is scary and risky, and it will be. It’s not straight and narrow, but because of that, you might find success by taking a route that other people didn’t know about.
All you need to do now is persevere, re-encourage yourself and keep going forward.
You just need to believe in yourself for you to realize that even though your path is different, you’re still walking on the path to your version of success, just like everyone else.
Victor Tan writes to helps people overcome their weaknesses to be a better public speaker. He does this by helping people with self-improvement and teaching them proper speaking techniques. You can find him at his website, Spirit On Stage, Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of thomashendel.