If you feel like you’re not successful in life, stop believing in these 9 societal myths

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Success can feel elusive. We often find ourselves chasing after it, feeling like we’re always just one step behind. But what if our ideas of success are all wrong?

Society has a way of selling us myths about success that can be more limiting than inspiring. These myths can make us feel like we’re failing when, in reality, we might be on the right track.

In this article, we will debunk nine societal myths about success that might be holding you back.

By letting go of these misconceptions, you might find that success is closer than you think. So if you’re feeling a little lost or unaccomplished, keep reading – this one’s for you.

1) Success equals wealth

We’ve all heard it before – the idea that success means having a lot of money. It’s a myth that’s been perpetuated by society for ages.

But let’s pause and think about it. Does having a big bank account really equate to being successful? Is the ultimate measure of success really tied to material wealth?

The reality is, there are many individuals with abundant wealth who still feel unfulfilled and unsuccessful. Conversely, there are plenty of people with modest incomes who feel incredibly accomplished and content.

That’s because success is subjective. It’s not about how much wealth you amass, but about achieving your own personal goals and finding contentment in your journey.

So if you’re equating your self-worth with your net worth, it’s time to let go of this societal myth. Your value isn’t determined by your bank account balance, but by who you are as a person and the positive impact you make in the world.

Moving from financial misconceptions, we encounter another myth: that success is impossible without a formal degree.

2) You need a degree to be successful

This is a myth that fools may of us for a long time. We spend years buried in textbooks, convinced that the only way to success is through a university degree.

Don’t get me wrong, education is vital and can open many doors. But it’s not the sole determinant of success.

After graduating, we soon realize that the world outside the university walls didn’t operate on grades and diplomas. It is about skills, creativity, resilience and adaptability.

I’ve seen people without formal education achieve remarkable things. They’ve started businesses, written books, created art, and made significant impacts in their communities.

Don’t let the lack of a degree stop you. Your success isn’t limited to your educational qualifications. It’s about your passion, drive and willingness to learn and grow.

Beyond academic credentials, there’s also a misleading belief that success is an immediate phenomenon.

3) Success happens overnight

The media often portrays successful people as if they’ve achieved their success overnight. One moment they’re unknown, the next, they’re on top of the world. This portrayal can be misleading.

For instance, did you know that Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb? When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

This highlights that success is seldom achieved overnight. It often involves a series of trials, failures and lessons learned. It’s a journey that requires patience, persistence and resilience.

So don’t be disheartened by your current struggles. Remember, they’re just stepping stones on the path to your success.

Contrasting with this instant-success myth, is the notion that success is a final endpoint, rather than a continuous journey.

4) Success is a destination

Society often portrays success as a specific endpoint – a dream job, a perfect family, or a beautiful home. This gives us the impression that once we attain these things, we’re successful and our journey ends.

In reality, success is not a destination, but an ongoing journey. It evolves and changes as we grow and our goals shift.

Achieving a goal doesn’t mean you’ve reached the end of your journey. Instead, it opens up new opportunities and challenges, leading you to set new goals and aspirations.

So embrace the journey and understand that success is about continuous growth and development. Each step forward, no matter how small, is a success in its own right.

In this journey, balancing work and life is often mistakenly seen as a hallmark of success.

As we recognize that success is not a fixed destination but an evolving journey, it becomes clear that maintaining a dynamic work-life balance is a crucial part of this ongoing process, rather than a static achievement.

5) Success means having a work-life balance

The idea of maintaining a perfect work-life balance is often held up as the epitome of success. But the truth is, life is unpredictable, and trying to achieve a perfect balance can often lead to unnecessary stress and disappointment.

Sometimes, your career might need more attention; other times, your personal life may take precedence. The balance can shift from day to day, or even hour to hour.

What’s important is finding a rhythm that works for you, one that allows you to feel fulfilled in all areas of your life without feeling overextended or neglecting your own needs.

Remember, it’s not about perfect balance, but about finding harmony within the chaos. Success lies in your ability to adapt and navigate through life’s ups and downs.

Additionally, the pursuit of balance leads us to another misconception: equating success with a lack of failure.

6) Success is about never failing

This societal myth can be quite damaging. The belief that success means never failing can paralyze us with fear and prevent us from taking risks.

But let me tell you something – failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a part of it. Every setback, every mistake, every failed attempt is a stepping stone towards success.

Embrace your failures, learn from them, and use them as fuel to propel yourself forward. It’s through our failures that we grow and become stronger.

It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to fall. What’s important is that you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going. After all, the road to success is paved with trials and errors.

So remember, don’t fear failure. Instead, fear the absence of progress and growth. That’s the real enemy of success.

Similarly, the fear of failure is closely tied to the false idea that success means conforming to societal norms.

7) Success is about fitting in

I’ve always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole. I never quite fit into the conventional molds society set out for me. For the longest time, I thought this meant I wasn’t successful.

Society often paints a picture of what success looks like – the right job, the right clothes, the right lifestyle. And if you don’t fit that mold, it can feel like you’re doing something wrong.

But here’s what I’ve learned: true success doesn’t come from fitting in. It comes from being authentically you. It’s about embracing your uniqueness, following your own path, and living according to your own values.

So don’t try to fit into someone else’s idea of success. Create your own definition and live by it. That’s where true success lies.

Furthermore, this notion of conformity often translates into the myth that being perpetually busy equates to being successful.

8) Success means always being busy

In our fast-paced society, busyness is often equated with productivity and success. The busier you are, the more successful you must be, right?

Wrong. Constantly being busy can lead to burnout and stress, and it’s not an accurate measure of success. True success involves knowing when to slow down, take a break, and recharge.

It’s about working smarter, not harder. It’s about being productive and efficient without compromising your mental or physical health.

Remember, it’s okay to take a step back. It’s okay to rest. Your worth is not defined by how busy you are but by the quality of work you produce and the quality of life you lead.

Dispelling the myth that constant busyness signifies success leads us to question the final common belief: the notion that achieving success is synonymous with attaining happiness.

9) Success is the key to happiness

Perhaps the most pervasive myth is that success will ultimately bring us happiness. We’ve been conditioned to believe that once we achieve success, we will finally be happy.

The truth is, happiness does not come from external achievements. It comes from within. It’s about finding contentment in who you are and what you have right now.

Success can bring temporary joy, but lasting happiness comes from inside us. It’s about self-love, self-acceptance, and inner peace.

Don’t wait for success to bring you happiness. Find happiness now, in this moment. That’s the real measure of success.

Bottom line: success is personal

Ultimately, the definition of success is deeply personal and varies greatly from person to person. It’s bound by our values, aspirations, and individual life experiences.

The societal myths we’ve debunked in this article can often cloud our perception of success, making us feel inadequate or unsuccessful. But remember, your journey is your own, and no one else’s.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Success must include two things: the development of an individual to his utmost potentiality and a contribution of some kind to one’s world.”

This quote serves as a poignant reminder that success isn’t about fitting into societal molds or meeting external expectations. It’s about personal growth, fulfillment, and making a positive impact in your own unique way.

As you move forward, remember to define success on your own terms. Don’t let societal myths dictate your path or limit your potential.

Your success is not determined by society’s standards but by your own personal journey, growth, and happiness. So take a moment to reflect on what success truly means to you. And remember – you’re already successful in your own unique way.

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

Justyna Cyrankiewicz

I’m Justyna Cyrankiewicz, and I write about the simple things for overcomplicated minds. After overcoming a 6-year-long depression, I reframed the way I live and think. I've incorporated a long, uninterrupted meditation practice into my daily routine. Seeking deeper clarity, I strive to simplify every aspect of my life. Through my writing, I aim to share insights and practical methods to help us find greater happiness and peace. If you’d like to read more from me, consider subscribing to my newsletter: Justyna Cyrankiewicz

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