“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
So often, success is a matter of perseverance. We all hear about the seemingly overnight successes who stumble into fame and fortune out of nowhere.
But almost always, when you look closer at those stories, what you hear is someone who toiled away in obscurity for years before getting their big break.
Many times, the biggest difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is not exceptional talent or skill. It’s the ability to fail over and over again and keep trying.
You don’t always know when you’re on the brink of everything working out. And sadly, many people give up too early, when a little more effort would’ve got them where they wanted to be.
Here are some signs you’re getting close to succeeding in whatever you’re trying – even if it doesn’t feel that way.
1) You’ve built a good network
No matter what you try to do in life – and no matter how much of a lone wolf you might be – other people are the key to getting to where you want to go.
We need others. We need support, guidance, and expertise. Sometimes, we just need to know that other people have achieved what we are trying to do to be sure it’s possible.
When you start doing anything, there’s a good chance you’re going in completely blind. But the longer you persist in following your dreams, the more you will meet other people who have either done what you are trying to do, or are trying to achieve the same thing.
This is your network.
Did you know that around 31% of all jobs are filled through personal connections rather than through job ads? That statistic alone should be enough to show you how powerful networking can be in discovering opportunities.
But it’s just as important when it comes to expertise and emotional support.
Occupational health psychologist Erin Eatough points out that networking leads to the exchange of ideas and also improves your social well-being and your professional confidence.
So building a good network is one of the keys to success.
2) You have genuine expertise
We are all born knowing almost nothing. And what we learn along the way defines what we will become.
You may have started on whatever you’re doing without knowing too much about it. Or even if you thought you knew a lot, you’ll quickly find how much more there is to know.
That’s true whether you’re trying to be a heart surgeon or run a landscaping company.
But once you’ve been in the game for a while, you’ll find that you are learning more and more about your chosen industry. Bit by bit, you’re becoming an expert.
And all that knowledge is one of the most valuable components of success.
3) You aren’t put off when things go wrong
Things are always going to go wrong. And in many ways, the more ambitious you are in life, the more you open yourself up to failure.
Amateurs get destroyed when things don’t go right for them. Professionals know that failure is just an opportunity to learn more on the path to success.
John C Maxwell wrote a book on failure called Failing Forward. He argues that failure is simply the price of success.
“Forget motivation,” he recommends; “just do it. Act your way into feeling; don’t wait for positive emotions to carry you forward.”
Failure is never pleasant. But once you see it for what it is, an opportunity to refine your approach on the path to success, you won’t get discouraged when things go wrong.
4) You embrace the struggle
In fact, when you truly understand the role failure plays in success, you may find yourself embracing the struggle.
There’s a part of us that wants everything to be easy. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you would be happier with a simpler life.
You know who has an easy life? Animals in zoos. And yet many animals, especially the more intelligent ones, go crazy when kept in captivity away from the struggles of life in the wild.
Humans are the same way. I’m not saying you have to chase antelopes under the burning sun, but you need to be doing something. You need to be working toward a goal.
Because having a goal in life, no matter what it is, is one of the key components of happiness.
The struggles we face in life seem like obstacles between us and our happiness. But looking back, many people realize that it was in the struggle where they lived their real and most fulfilling life.
The success that follows is just an added bonus.
5) You aren’t bothered by criticism
Like failure, criticism is inevitable.
And the bolder you are in trying something new, the more likely you are to experience criticism from others.
When you first start out on your journey, criticism can be devastating – especially when it comes from people whose opinion means a lot to you.
Sadly, the world is filled with people who might have achieved something great but were put off by the criticism of others.
On the other hand, success belongs to people who can hear themselves criticized and keep on going.
It doesn’t mean you don’t listen to what people say. If the criticism is valid, it can be useful in shaping your approach.
But taking criticism well means evaluating its usefulness and deciding whether it’s something you need to act on or not.
And once you stop trying to impress others, your success becomes a lot easier to reach.
6) You know exactly what you want
This one might sound silly. After all, most of us think we know what we want.
But that’s not always the case. Often, when you decide to follow a path in life, you may only have a vague idea of what that actually means.
I always wanted to be a writer. But when I was a kid, the world of online content didn’t exist as it does now. Back then, being a writer meant either working for a newspaper or publishing a novel.
I had an idea of what it would look like to write for a living. But the truth has turned out to be very different from what I expected.
That will certainly be the case for you, too.
As you learn more about your path, you’ll get a better understanding of what it is you really want and what it is you can realistically have.
And once you do that, success won’t be far away.
7) You aren’t in a hurry
Don’t be fooled by the overnight successes. Doing anything worthwhile takes time, and successful people know that.
Startup founder Chris Myers talks about the Valley of Death. It’s a term he uses for the moment in the lifecycle of any company when it looks as though failure is just around the corner.
The important thing to do when you reach the Valley is to keep going.
Instead of looking for shortcuts and trying to be an overnight success, focus on what you can do today to get just a little bit closer to your success than you were yesterday.
8) You look for incremental progress rather than overnight success
Every journey starts with a single step. And when the Wright brothers took off on the world’s first powered flight in 1903, they probably never guessed that people would be flying to the moon in less than 70 years.
Your ambitions don’t have to be that grand. But it is crucial to understand that almost all progress is made by small steps rather than giant leaps.
When you get that, success is never far away.
9) You become absorbed in what you are doing
Ever heard that the journey is the destination?
It’s a cliché because it’s true.
But you’re a lot more likely to get there if you can become absorbed in what you are doing.
It doesn’t necessarily have to start off as a great passion, although that’s great if it does.
But often, the more you look into anything, the more interesting it becomes.
Soon, you find yourself wondering where the time goes, or spending hours on your project without getting fatigued because it’s just so absorbing.
Often, you’d rather work on it to do almost anything else.
When that happens, success is probably just around the corner.
No matter what your definition of success is, it can be a hard road to get there. And along the way, there will be plenty of times when it feels like you’ll never make it.
But it’s in exactly those times that you need to remember the power of perseverance.
Often, what looks like disaster can become the key to your success. And when you start to understand this, it’s a good sign that you are closing in on your goal – even when it doesn’t feel that way.