I have no doubt that in most cases, you're well aware of the time and effort you've invested in the various outcomes you label as success. Successful relationships, job promotions, graduations, and other achievements don't usually just happen. Instead, they follow hours, or maybe even years, of hard work! Smaller or daily successes also involve labor. Keeping your home clean, making meals, completing a project, paying bills, and checking items off your "to do list" don't happen on their own, but come as a result of time and effort.
You may be aware of the relationship between work and success, but what about your children and students? I once asked a group of young adults about their goals for the next few years. Their answers surprised me! Most aspired to be inventors, presidents of companies, or otherwise very prosperous individuals. While that may not be so surprising in and of itself, the fact was that these particular individuals were not currently employed, not attending school, not living independently, and in most cases, not able to drive or to use public transportation independently.
While these young people had a vision for success, they had no concept of the work required to reach it! What they lacked was an action plan, or a step-by-step "map" of how to get from Point A to Point B, or from their current location/status to where they'd eventually like to be.
Some of this may be due to difficulty with organizational skills and gestalt processing (or “seeing the big picture”). Another reason for the unrealistic goals named by the young people may be a lack of understanding of the difference between a goal and a dream, or at least between a short-term and a long-term goal. If you're currently unemployed, while you may dream of someday being a manager at a prestigious business, a worthwhile goal, at least initially, is to simply get a job. An action plan can lay out the steps for targeting jobs that fit your interests and abilities, applying, interviewing, and of course, developing good work habits so that you're able to keep a job once you're hired.
As parents and teachers, we may, at least inadvertently, be contributing to others' misconceptions regarding the important connection between work and success. How much do we do FOR our children and students rather than WITH them? Does supper seem to magically appear on the table, and clean laundry in drawers? Do we just “know" how to deal with injuries, arguments, and sudden changes in schedules? If we don't outline the steps we take toward successful outcomes (whether those steps are physical/tangible or mental/intangible), we may be guilty of giving others the idea that success comes easily or automatically, and can be expected to arrive the same way for them.
Next week I'll outline specific strategies for helping yourself and others in your life to work toward success!