Success is…

Guest Blogger: Selena Aguilar
University of Nebraska Graduate, Dec 2016

Grand Island, NE

After the new year starts and you are crafting your 2017 resolutions it seems to be an appropriate time to think about SUCCESS. Many people have a love/hate relationship with this word. What is success?

Success is measured in a variety of ways.  We can look at the success of people like Bill Gates and the results are evident.  Sadly, we are not all Bill Gates, nor is it realistic for all of us to be.  But what if, Gates felt success the first time he had the idea of Microsoft.  We tend to look at success in a concrete tangible way.  We need to graduate high school, graduate college, get married, have kids, buy a house, volunteer, etc.

What happens when you achieved all you want to?  Do you lose purpose? What if success was measured by being proud of oneself? We can be successful by having fulfillment in our lives and I had to change what my perception of success was. For example, these are a few goals that I set for myself to determine if I had a successful day:

  1. Go an entire day without have an anxiety induced melt down
  2. Make time for something that makes me happy
  3. Set  daily goals, but understand goals change, and that’s okay
  4. Accept the things you cannot change
  5. Make someone else feel good

The definition of success has shifted for me and now I’m focusing on what makes me feel fulfillment.  Turn success and fulfillment into synonyms.  Persevere to meet future goals, but also make sure you’re happy in the present and not constantly chasing the success train.

…make sure you’re happy in the present and not constantly chasing the success train. – Selena Aguilar

The process of this happening came from the realization that I need to take charge of my own success.  This process starts with a change to a healthier mindset, much like that of changing your perception of what success is.  Focus on what you can do, and not what is beyond your control.  Be prepared to be reactionary and find enjoyment from the journey. Focus on being fulfilled and be purposeful with your work.

Stanford research has uncovered the, possibly, one root to a successful person.  That root is delayed gratification.  In a study, researchers tested young children by their ability to wait patiently alone with a marshmallow, with the promise of a second if they could refrain… 40 years down the road, children that showed the will-power to delay gratification were more successful in that they had higher SAT scores, less obesity, less substance abuse, and better social skills.

Before you throw in the towel, understand that this is not a black and white issue, and it also may not be ‘just who you are’.  In a similar study, the same researchers found that children without the ability to delay gratification were influenced by the reliability of their environment.  Those that had experienced false promises were more likely to give in, due to a lack of trust.

In order to be successful you need to train yourself delayed gratification.  This can be as simple as regularly working out, to train yourself that over time you will become healthier.  Start your day with work and not play.  This will give you incentive to get work done.  Sacrifice the time to cook your food at home, rather than picking up fast food.

With small incremental changes, you can train your brain to see the incentives in the long-term. With the power to persevere and continue to struggle you will no doubt, feel fulfilled, and help you to achieve success.

Taking delayed gratification a step further…a famous speaker, Simon Sinek, suggests that there are 10 rules to success.


  1. Break the rules
  2.  Train your mind
  3. Be patient
  4. Take accountability
  5. Outdo yourself
  6. Stack the deck
  7. Be the last to speak
  8. Be authentic
  9. Find your passion
  10. Start with why

Watch the video!


One of Sinek’s major points is about asking the question WHY? Why are we doing this? The why is what people are drawn to. Why do we do this work? Why should they care? When we talk success we feel the most gratification when we do things that give us purpose and that we are passionate about. Do an audit of your personal world and your work world…what gives you joy, what keeps you up at night because you are excited? Why are you getting up in the morning? Those are the areas of your life that you should spend the most time. People who believe what you believe will help you grown in your work, and your life’s mission. Find the work that gives you joy and find the people that believe in you.

Successful people understand that it takes work, time and effort to achieve but that is also okay to delay gratification. The world at our fingertips (technology) also requires patience. They also have a good sense of purpose and find a way to surround themselves with those that give them energy.

Take some time to think about your patterns of behavior. Listen to Sinek’s video. Can you train your brain and be patient? Are you asking yourself the ‘why’ question and finding purposeful work?


Thanks Selena for sharing your ideas on our blog!


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