Success looks different to everyone.
For one person, it might mean making a million dollars. For another, it might mean raising a big family. For me, it looks like being able to spend the night with my kids doing homework and tossing a football around. For just about all of us, success alsomeans financial freedom.
But no matter your unique definition of success, to obtain it, you must first do the work of actually defining it. You must first identify what exactly the thing is that you want to work to achieve.
If you can’t visualize your goal, how can you ever work purposefully to achieve it?
The first step in building something, obtaining a key skill, or learning something, after all, is picturing it in your mind’s eye.
Only once you know your destination can you start on the journey.
This is true in your personal life as much as it’s true in your professional life, by the way. The most successful people I know? My girlfriend’s parents. They’re not insanely wealthy or leaders in their respective industries. They’re migrants who work hard every day to make a living.
But they are so damn happy.
Personally, I’ve never seen a family so holistically in love with and appreciative of each other my entire life. When they’re together, if they’re not hugging or laughing together, they’re rubbing each other’s backs. When they’re apart, they’re in constant communication by way of their group text message thread. If love were a currency, they’re the richest people I know.
And make no mistake: this is no accident.
Every member of this family works hard to communicate their love. They empathize with each other, and individually work on being more self-aware, forgiving, and thoughtful. And they do all this in service of one goal. They have a shared understanding, in other words, of what makes up their conception of success, and it’s that understanding which inspires them to strengthen the ties that bind.
You work harder when you know exactly what it is you want to achieve.
My girlfriend’s family is also an example of this truth: you work harder in service of your dreams when you know exactly what they look like.
Personally, I’d estimate that being there for my family — and having the time and freedom to be there for them — inspires me to work 25%-35% harder than I otherwise would. Than other people do, generally.
When you know what you’re fighting for — and when that thing or goal is something you desire badly — you’ll fight harder for it. You won’t take no for an answer. In the face of an obstacle, you’ll find another way forward.
That’s why visualization is the first step on the path toward your perfect success.
If success hasn’t come to you yet, it may be because you haven’t taken the time to identify what it is that you want to achieve — what it is you want to fight for.
If that’s the case, start now. Be as specific as possible. Then let that dream inform your next steps.
Originally published on Quora.
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