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4 Big Myths About Success That You Need to Ignore

There are a lot of myths about success and how to find it, and many people spend their lives chasing those myths and never finding the success they promise. Here are 4 of the biggest myths and why you need to ignore them.

1. You need to work longer hours or do perfect work to be a success

One image of success is the businessman or woman who wears perfectly pressed suits, lives in an elegant, sparkling clean executive apartment and spends all his or her waking hours at work. They have no spouse, no children, and nothing else to take away from work. And they enjoy every second of it.

Being a workaholic or a perfectionist is not a guarantee of success. In fact, longer hours and more work can lead to a lack of motivation and poorer quality work. Instead of trying too hard, taking a break and shaking things up may be a better path to success. Setting goals, asking for help, and changing up your work environment may do more to increase your success than sitting at your desk from dawn to midnight every day.

2. Money equals success and happiness

Believing that the salary of a neurosurgeon is a direct measure of his success, or that the next promotion will be the one that brings satisfaction in the job, will only lead to disappointment. A neurosurgeon, for example, gets paid for performing surgery, regardless of whether it’s successful for the patient or not, which means he gets paid even when his patient doesn’t improve after surgery or doesn’t survive. Surely you can imagine the doctor’s disappointment when patients aren’t helped or pass away.

Being focused on the next raise, the next promotion, the next whatever it is that you think will be the thing that brings you success and happiness will lead to stress and unhappiness simply because you’re always focused on the future. You’re never able to enjoy what you have right now, and that will lead to unhappy relationships and possibly a materialistic mindset.

3. An expensive education is required for success

For decades, it has been drilled into high school students that they need to go to college and get a degree in order to have a successful, high-paying career that will allow them to support themselves and a family. In recent years, that degree has started to come with student debt that many aren’t going to be able to pay off before retirement, much less support a family.

A college degree can lead to success, but there are plenty of careers that don’t require any formal education at all, or nothing more than an associate’s degree or only a short period spent at a vocational or trade school at a fraction of the cost of a 4-year degree.

Forcing yourself to incur a huge amount of debt for a career that you don’t truly even want in the first place is a straight line to an unhappy and unsuccessful life. Instead, you should choose a career that you want, regardless of the level of education required or the amount of money it pays.

4. Follow your passion and you’ll be successful

This is quite possibly one of the most quoted myths about success that people hear when it comes to having a successful, satisfying career. And it’s not entirely untrue. But you do have to be realistic when it comes to following your passion.

If your passion is singing, but you can’t carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it, you’re unlikely to find success no matter how long you follow this path. You may improve with some voice training and maybe even find some work, but how successful will you feel getting only 1 gig out of every 100 auditions? The same would apply if your passion is helping people but the sight of blood makes you pass out. Being a doctor would be an obvious successful career choice for someone who likes helping people, but if you’re unable to actually do anything for your patients because you’re passed out on the floor, you’re not going to be a successful doctor.

Instead, you should look realistically at all your passions, and see where passion and realism cross paths. What are you passionate about, good at, and is in high enough demand to make it a career? That’s your recipe for success.

Instead of believing myths about success and being disappointed when you’re still feeling unsuccessful, maybe you should redefine what success is to you. Perhaps it is a high salary, or maybe it’s having a good work-life balance that allows plenty of time with family. Maybe your definition of success includes doing something that helps others who can’t help themselves, or being able to set specific goals and meet them. Whatever your definition of success, once you actually have it, it will be much easier to look at your life and career and figure out what needs to happen in order for you to sit back, smile, and say that you’re a success.