Sometimes, saying that life is tough, feels like an understatement. There are just days that seem brutal and unforgiving. Worse is when those days go on for prolonged periods of time, days or weeks. And usually it’s not your fault or a result of anything you did. This is typically what life throws at us every so often. So how are we possibly expected to succeed during such trying times?

Forgive me, I’m probably going on a mini-rant when life gives me lemons. You probably never experience days like these :)

But here’s what’s strange: After wards, then come days when things actually go your way. Days full of positivity, happiness and joy. These are the days that uplift your spirits and sometimes urge you to do something bold or act.

So why are we talking about this? Why should it matter if you have good days or bad? How exactly is any of this related to succeeding in life?

Well, I think we need to focus on two very important concepts if we are to understand what striving for success is all about when we live in an unpredictable world.

Stimulus and response.

The simple definition of a stimulus is an action or event. While a response is… well, a response to that action. A reaction.

Winning an award or getting a promotion are examples of stimuli (plural of stimulus). Doing cartwheels or dancing around are examples of responses to those stimuli.

This also applies if you invert the situation. Losing at a game of poker or getting demoted are stimuli. Crying or smashing your mobile phone are possible responses to those stimuli.

But as much as it looks like you don’t always have total control of the stimuli, are you aware of the fact that you have complete control of your responses?

It’s not common to see a person that gets demoted doing cartwheels. It’s also not common to see someone that wins an award get depressed. But I’m sure that you have seen people who get fired yet retain a positive outlook on life. Or people who get negative criticism about their work and use that as a means of getting even better.

This art of choosing how you respond to the things that happen in your life, is going to be a key component in helping you attain the success you crave.

There’s one thing you will always know. And there is one thing that you will always count on. You should always know what your goals are. And you should always count on obstacles and challenges trying to prevent you from accomplishing them.

Where are you currently in any area of your life? Financially, career-wise, personal growth… what is your greatest frustration? Has something happened to you? Has nothing happened to you? Well, those are stimuli but more importantly, what is your response to them?

Are you depressed, angry, getting panic attacks, moody? Or are you pro-actively seeking ways to not feel stuck?

This is key. Are you convinced that you are doing all that you can possibly do to get yourself out of a frustrating situation? Or are you waiting for life to give you a break, thus doing little or nothing at all?

Worse, are you waiting for someone else to come through for you thus doing little or nothing at all?

The brutal truth about your life is that you and only you can live it. How you choose to do so, is entirely up to you. What you plan to make of it, is again, entirely up to you.

Make no mistake, successful people are faced with not only the challenges you are going through right now, but even ones you can’t begin to imagine. Being held back by setbacks is ultimately a choice. So is the choice to find a way to get passed the obstacle no matter the size or nature of it.

This is what separates the successful from the yet-to-be successful. And the reason they stay successful is because they choose to not let challenges be their end.

When faced with a stimulus like “Boss. We just lost 5 of our key accounts” an empowering response would be “Like hell we have. Schedule a conference call with all general managers for Friday morning. I’ll be damned before I let my best customers go without a fight.”

So why would you give up on smaller challenges you are facing right now? Do you not aspire to be that successful person? If you were them, would you be able to maintain a strengthened resolve as it is typically required of a successful person?

Look, these habits and practices need to be established into your life now. You need to begin developing them early so that by the time you really need to draw from them, it’s almost muscle memory that you refuse to accept defeat.

You should hold yourself to a higher standard and believe that you are not going to let something as petty as having a bad day now, ruin your chances of becoming a success story in the future.

You will not allow your limited skill set, be the end of your journey towards accomplishing your goals. Why? Because you will learn what you need to learn to take your own life to the next level.

You will not allow your current stage in life be the final definition of what you can or cannot do. Why? Because you will make the time to pursue what matters more than paralyze yourself with thoughts of inadequacy.

You will not let the stimulus dictate your response. Instead, you will remember what’s important. Remind yourself why it is important. And keep moving, one step at a time, towards the life you know you deserve.

In Conclusion

Failure is never final. A lot of times when we think we have hit an obstacle that we can’t get around… it’s usually because that’s what we allow ourselves to see. Always remember this truth: the successful version of you is the kind of person that is never defeated by obstacles.

I would be delighted to know what you think about this concept of stimulus and response. If you have any view or thought around this, please feel free to share it with me below.