It seems logical that if you go to a great school, you work hard, and you stay positive, you’ll become successful.
But the truth is that life is a whole lot more complicated than that.
Taking a well-tread path to success doesn’t mean you’ll have an amazing career, and even if you’re lucky enough to have one, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be happy.
On Quora, users addressed the question: “What is the most difficult thing to learn and accept about life?“
We’ve collected some of the best answers that concern the pursuit of money and status. Here are some hard lessons that everyone needs to learn about success:
1. The universe doesn’t care if you succeed or fail.
When you’re on top of your game, it can seem like the world is on your side; when you’re at your worst, it can seem like the world is out to get you. The truth, says Quora user Tom Wills, is that neither is true. You’re responsible for yourself.
2. The biggest obstacle to success is often yourself.
And once you recognise that you’re not the center of the universe, Wills adds, you may realise that the main thing holding you back is your own behaviour. You’re probably guilty of this if you can always find reasons for why you got fired from your job, why your startup fell apart, etc.
The user Manas J. Saloi quoted author J.K. Rowling, who struggled with poverty and personal setbacks before becoming a famous writer and millionaire, on this point: “There is an [expiration] date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.”
3. You’re not owed anything.
Wills says that he also realised that nobody owes him anything. In terms of advancing in your career, it’s advisable that you do whatever you can to treat people ethically and help out your coworkers. This can build your professional network and give you a good reputation, but it certainly does not guarantee that your good deeds will always be returned.
4. Luck plays a huge role in success.
Catching a big break that leads to landing your dream job, for example, often depends on being in the right place at the right time. All you can do is foster professional relationships and develop your skills to increase your odds of getting lucky.
“People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control,” user Aditya Gupta writes.
5. Everything you’ve worked for can disappear in an instant.
When your career goes well and you make enough money to buy a house and put your kids through college, you should enjoy it. Quora user Ankit Sharma writes that what you have today isn’t necessarily yours forever. That’s why it’s important to live in the present, and be grateful for your accomplishments.
6. You can do, say, and think all the “right” things and still not succeed.
Getting a degree from an elite university and putting in countless overtime hours does not mean that you will be adequately rewarded for your hard work, says user Jon Mixon. And even if they do lead you to influence and money, he says, you can still be perceived as a failure.
7. You define what “success” means.
A big paycheck and the respect of your coworkers are great things to have, but there’s a danger to narrowing your definition of success down to them, argues Mixon, because they mean nothing to your happiness or self-fulfillment if you destroy relationships along the way.
“It is difficult for most people to accept the fact that they are only as happy as they allow themselves to be,” says user Gary Stein.
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