Dr. Catherine Birndorf, SELF magazine
How do you define success? Many would list achievements like SAT score, salary or where they went to college. And yes, these are all impressive ways to remind yourself and to tell the world: I am smart and I am successful. However, we are much more than the bullet points on our resume. These external merits, while significant, do not fully define us. But when people base their self-worth entirely on these things, it can hurt them in the long run.
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One of the biggest problems I see when people define themselves by their IQ score or job title is that they develop a fear of trying new things or putting themselves out there. When your value is based on achieving success, the threat of failure can hold you back in a big way. Yet, the hardest experiences (which you might very well fail at) are also those that can be the most rewarding.
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So rather than focusing solely on smarts or skills, try to work on fostering traits like curiosity and social intelligence (See all 8 great traits in this SELF article from July). To shift your mindset, look at each new thing you tackle in terms of the process rather than the endgame. You want to think about how much effort you put into it. Did you try your hardest? Did you learn new things--and how to apply them in the real world? These ultimately are more meaningful measures of achievement than whether your efforts led to a high test score or raise.
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Once you start to value the experience of learning, rather than just the outcome of your efforts, you'll be less likely to feel totally devastated when you do fail (and everyone does at some point!). And because of this, you'll be more likely to challenge yourself to new things, which will help you grow as a person--a true measurement of success.
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