What is Success?
SUCCESS CAN be defined in as many ways as there are human beings, but, in general, we feel successful when what we have matches what we want, or we perceive ourselves to be moving in that direction. Another word for something we want but do not yet have is a goal. Success, therefore, is the activity and experience of achieving goals. Do you want to feel/be successful? Of course you do! Read on… To be successful it helps to understand an important aspect of how our brains work. Look at the pictures below:
What do you see? A circle and a rectangle? Actually, there are only 18 lines on a white background.
Your brain does the rest! This is called closure, and it’s something our brains do quite well, and for the most part, automatically. By giving your brain the necessary information, you can make use of this closure effect to move toward your goals.
In order to activate closure, there are two indispensable pieces of information that the brain needs, regardless of what area you want to be successful in:
1) You must create (imagine) a clear perception of your successful future outcome as already achieved, and
2) You must regularly compare where you are now with your perception of the achieved future outcome.
Basically, our brains are constantly comparing our perceptions of now with our perceptions of what we want, and when these don’t match, our brains begin looking for ways to achieve closure. Once we have arrived at our goal, our brain moves on to the next area where closure is needed.
It’s not enough to just read these ideas if you want them to take effect. You have to concretely apply them in a way that could be observed by others, such as writing your goals down on paper or in your phone, collecting pictures or other things that remind you of your goals, adding related actions to a calendar or to-do list, checking them off when completed, etc. By taking concrete action, you give your brain something real to work with that will allow you to take control of your journey toward success!
-Andrew Nichols, MSW, LCSW
This article was originally published in the Summit Clinical Services newsletter, At the Summit Issue 14 | Fall 2014. To view additional newsletters, click here.