Away or Towards

Success is not avoiding an outcome that you fear. Success is moving towards fulfilment of your purpose.

I caught myself this week defining success on a challenge as avoiding an outcome that I feared. I had tricked myself and hidden the fear in layers of other goals. I knew immediately that I needed to change the way I approached the challenge.  

Running away from a fear is no guide. If all you are doing is running away how will you get where you want to go?

This is a common enough approach to work. For many people, the measures of success have a strong avoidance flavour:

  • achieving their targets to avoid losing their job
  • making enough money to avoid financial difficulty
  • comfortable relationships to avoid loneliness and conflict
  • keeping up with peers to avoiding embarrassment
  • minimising risk to avoid failure

Avoidance is a poor guide to what to do. Targeting safety and security often creates the exact outcome that you feared. 

Avoidance is not particularly fulfilling. The absence of a risk having been realised still leaves the fear.

Having found the hidden fear, my challenge was to redefine success in terms of my purpose. When I know that I am moving towards my purpose I am more engaged. I know that I will have measurable progress somewhere that matters to me. All of a sudden the vicissitudes of the journey matter less.

Challenge your goals to ensure that they are really moving towards purpose. There are lots of places to escape fear, but you don’t want to be in most of them.