The art of celebrating success

You've climbed to the top of the mountain but enjoying the view from the summit doesn’t feel quite like you anticipated. Pancho Mehrotra explains how you can change your self-destructive thinking patterns and learn to enjoy your success.

You’ve had a great few months, closed a lot of deals and the future pipeline looks great. You’ve taken a lot of affirmative action, spent time getting yourself and your team organised, and everything is moving along like clockwork.

The problematic market only seems to fuel your desire to keep pushing forward and dealing with harsh market conditions, and clients doesn’t seem to faze you. However, even as you see deals coming through, you suddenly feel apprehensive about the future and start to worry. This anxiety suddenly starts to affect you in real terms. You fear the deals may dry up.

Often you act in the way you do because you are suppressing something and the only way you can move forward is to know what you want and why.

What just happend?
Feeling terrible when things are going well is a self-destructive pattern of thought. The success you have achieved can feel more like luck than the result of the hard work you’ve put in.

Once this sort of idea starts to permeate your thinking, you begin to feel dictated to by circumstances and other people. You begin to hear people say it’s the ‘universe’. Fear affects your whole being, and you
think you could lose it all.

Your behaviour slowly deteriorates and the one thing you don’t want starts to happen; you become needy. We know needy people are repellent to vendors, buyers and even in relationships. No one likes being around needy people.

So why does this happen?
One possible cause is that when people achieve their goals, they wonder what’s next. A person who is extremely goal oriented is a person who needs to be striving towards a target.

An unoccupied mind can often dwell on negatives. Most people don’t realise the journey towards their goals is what made them happy. Once you have what you want, how much time do you spend enjoying the moment? Sometimes you can’t seem to enjoy the goal because you feel it could be taken away at any moment and this creates anxiety because you may think you didn’t deserve the success.

This thinking pattern may arise because some people need a certain level of stress or anxiety to keep them motivated. Unless they are in this state, they find it difficult to maintain or take action.

People who have these extreme motivation and mood swings move between perceptions of pain and pleasure quickly. When things are going well, they can’t enjoy what they have achieved, and when things are going badly they think it will get even worse so they get motivated to reverse this situation. When the situation improves, they lose motivation. It’s a typical lose-lose scenario.

Happiness comes in the actions, not the results.

How do you stop this self-destructive habit?
Here are some suggested ways to get real with yourself:

1. Write down what you have achieved today and work backwards. Cover the past week or the previous month (no longer than that) and see the actions you have taken and progress you have made. It’s important not to get bogged down on being exact. Just write, do a brain dump on paper.

Think about all the results you achieved; also add the potential outcomes that are likely as a consequence of your actions.

2. One of the crucial things is to recognise the moment you feel you are going to achieve your goals. When you first feel this, immediately write down more goals. Always ask yourself ‘What’s next?’ Then ask yourself ‘How will achieving my goal improve my chances of hitting the next target?’.

3. People often need to be more aware of the impact they have on those around them. Think about how achieving your goals has helped other people. Think about your clients, but also your family, the people you work with and the community. Asking yourself these questions means you can begin to see what your contribution is and how you have helped so many people.

Think about how you can build even deeper relationships with people. Your contribution beyond yourself will allow you to see the greater good your presence has in people’s lives. I have often found that people are looking for deeper meaning in their lives and often money is only one of the most important things.

It is always worthwhile to reflect on why you are doing what you are doing. This is an important question to answer at least once a month. Often you act in the way you do because you are suppressing something and the only way you can move forward is to know what you want and why. This is not about being happy. It is about taking actions that are aligned to your deeper intentions and beliefs.

A case for reflection: when you last achieved your goal, how long did the happiness last? What did you find at the finish line? I want you to think about the premise that none of us knows what will make us happy.

In psychological terms, it’s called impact bias. It means we tend to think that significant events, such as achieving a longheld goal, will have a bigger impact on our happiness than it does.

For example, how long did your happiness last once you bought that item you wanted? Happiness comes in the actions, not the results. The journey is where we find meaning, and you’ll know it because you’ll feel it.

As Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw said: “People become attached to their burdens, sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them”.

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Pancho Mehrotra

Pancho Mehrota is the CEO of Frontier Performance and a recognised leading expert in the area of communication, influence and the psychology of selling.