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Why Paying Attention to Other’s Success Stories Can be Dangerous to Our Goals

Posted In Goals // 0

We’ve all done it, right?

Watching other’s succeeding (or at least seeming to be!) as we struggle to work out why we are struggling with our goals and how the hell to make it happen for us.

Let me be clear…

There is nothing inherently wrong with watching other people succeeding.

It’s fabulous if we can celebrate their successes with them.


…when we are struggling with our own goals, there can be big risks involved with paying attention to others and what they are doing.

It can be so tempting to look for answers by paying attention to what others are doing – and how they’re doing with it.

And with social media playing such a big part in our lives nowadays, it’s all too easy to spend lots of time observing people showing us their Instagram lives, and how great they are doing. 

We think that others must have the answers we don’t have.  And if only we had the answers to how to do it, we’d be as successful at it as they are.

But this is dangerous thinking!

How Paying Attention to Other’s Successes can be Dangerous to Your Goals

If you are struggling with your own goals, paying attention to other’s succeeding in the areas you’d like to succeed, is dangerous to your goals for the following reasons:

Reason #1.  It shows you don’t know what to focus on to achieve your own goals

It’s kind of obvious, but to achieve your goals, you need to know how to achieve your goals.

If, instead of learning this, you are attempting to learn how others achieved their goals, your focus isn’t on your path.

Chances are, you’re doing this because you don’t know how to achieve your goals.

And that is totally okay. After all, most of us haven’t been taught how to achieve our goals.

But if you’re looking for answers or strategies by copying others, this can send you down a rabbit shoot that could take you years to discover doesn’t work. 

Instead of focusing on others, you need to focus on learning how to achieve your goals.

Here is a post I wrote on how to achieve your goals + create what matters to you.

Reason #2.  It takes your attention and focus away from your own goals

When we are immersed in working on our own goals (and life), we don’t have the time to be watching others.

Your goals need you. They need your focus, your time, your attention.

They need you to be clear about what you’re trying to create. And they need you to make decisions based on that clarity.

Your time is limited.

Your goals don’t need you to be focusing your time and attention on other people’s choices.

You cannot achieve your goals if your focus is not on them.

Reason #3.  The way another person does it may not work for you.

If we are looking for answers on how to succeed and we’re doing it by paying attention to others success stories, it’s very easy and natural to assume that what worked for them will work for us.

The problem with this is that we are operating on very little accurate information as to the ingredients of a person’s success.

I recently wrote a post on why you need to find your own way.  If you find yourself constantly trying to achieve your goal by copying what others are doing, it’s worth a read. 

Even if you ask someone exactly what they did, typically even the most successful achievers don’t precisely know what the ingredients were to their success.

Sure. They know what they did.

And they know that it worked.

They may even have theories about why it worked, and say things like:

“I knew what I wanted, and I stayed the course. Commitment is critical to getting what we want in life.”

But here is where that gets dangerous….

As someone reading a story like this who is struggling with achieving our own goals, we then incorrectly conclude things about the ingredients to success.

Ingredients like:

  • Commitment
  • Being beautiful / sexy / smart / well-connected / positive / easy-going (i.e., being the right kind of person)
  • Having money
  • Using the right mentor / trainer / diet
  • Having the right technology
  • Having the right body type

Which is typically followed by self doubting thoughts and theories about what you need to do next to try to overcome those challenges.

I often hear things like this from people who have been paying attention to others, and have drawn incorrect conclusions about their struggle.

‘Maybe I’m just not that committed? Maybe that’s why my goals aren’t happening for me. Yep. I do eat bad shit when I’m supposed to be wanting to lose weight. Yep. Commitment is definitely a problem for me. If only I knew how to be committed! Can you teach me how to be committed?’

But what we don’t look at are the vast (and often unseeable) combination of factors that gave rise to a person’s success with their goal.

Even when you read people’s success stories in their own words, they typically refer to one or two obvious factors that ‘led to their success.’

Common examples include:

  • commitment
  • willpower
  • late nights
  • getting into the market at the right time
  • having the right people around them
  • outsourcing, luck at getting funding
  • having the right weight-loss mentor
  • having something tragic happen that changed the course of their life
  • finding God.

But none of that is the whole picture.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking that because you don’t seem to have commitment….. or you don’t want to do late nights…. or you don’t have luck in getting funding… etc, etc,… that your goal must be fucked.

But that’s not true!

While reading success stories can be inspiring, what’s dangerous is believing that their story has ANYTHING to do with your story.

If the person had a strategy that clearly worked and you don’t have a strategy that is working currently, you might assume that copying their strategy will work.

But in more cases than not, copying their strategy is unlikely to work for you, because in all likelihood, you have very different things going on.

Different goals. Different visions for your life. Different aspirations. Different values.

Different needs. Different personalities. Different struggles. Different baggage. Different fears. Different beliefs.

So rather than trying to carbon copy yourself and your goal with what they did (or what you think they did), you need to learn how to work with your own goal.

To get you started, read this.

Reason #4. It can make you think the reason you’re not achieving your goals is because there is something wrong with you.

This perpetuates the cycle of thinking that success is linked with identity.

(It isn’t.)

And believing it is is dangerous to your ability to achieve your goals.

If you have been thinking that there is something wrong with you and that’s the reason you’re not achieving your goals, please read this post.

This post will teach you how to achieve your goals and create what matters to you.

Here is what to do instead….

Stick to your own lane.

Rather than getting distracted by others in their lanes, focus on your own goals – and learn what to be focusing on to move your goals ahead.

By all means, hire mentors so you can learn specific skills and the knowledge you need to help you with your goals. But remember that how others did it, and their catch-all-phrase motivational stories do not capture the whole picture for how to succeed.

Let’s work on building YOUR goals.

Big love to you and your dreams.

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