Why Chasing After "Success" Is Self-Sabotage

About a week ago, after going on an impressive 44 league game unbeaten streak, Liverpool lost their first game in over a year after receiving a 3-0 drubbing from Watford, much to the ado of rival fans including myself, an Arsenal fan. As a Gooner, I was happy for the simple reason that Liverpool's defeat meant that our Invicibles' record-setting unbeaten run for an entire season lived to see another day, an achievement which has been the only solace for Arsenal years in recent history.

Despite just missing out on finishing the entire season unbeaten as well as a possible treble and sextuple, there is no denying the fact that what this Liverpool team has achieved this season is wildly impressive. Not only are they on track to win the club's first title in over 30 years in a few months, but they have also broken numerous records and are on track to break even more by the end of the season.

The fact that rival fans made such a flurry about the Watford loss was not at all surprising because, well, football fans are petty like that. What surprised me the most, however, was seeing some Liverpool fans turning against their team and losing appreciation for what it has achieved so far this season just because of a few defeats. Seven years ago when the club was struggling to even make it to European competitions, the same fans would have done anything to achieve even a quarter of what the current team has done so it is amazing that they are so unappreciative of what was once probably their dream—or is it?

Human beings are extremely insatiable creatures. Nothing is ever enough for us. No achievement is ever great enough. We always want to go that one extra mile. Although this mentality has contributed significantly to us as a species getting impressively civilized over time, it is detrimental to our mental wellbeing, an example in case being the aforementioned Liverpool fans.

Be it in football or any other area of life, my opinion is that it is important to prioritize contentedness over the joy you get from achieving some set goals or milestones. In short, goals suck! Well goals as in life goals and not football goals because those ones are awesome! Of course, setting goals is good because it helps keep you on track and acts as a marker of what trajectory you are on in life but the problem comes when you get so consumed with achieving those goals that you fail to appreciate anything else that is not achieving those particular goals.

In his book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, author Mark Manson asserts that success, which to most people means reaching those particular goals or milestones, neither makes us better people nor do we become better people because of success. The confusion is that because self-improvement and success most often occur together or at least concurrently— to most people— that means they are the same thing and hence they spend most of their lives chasing this idea of success which they believe will lead to satisfaction and happiness, only to realize that it is only a mirage and that even after achieving that level of success, they still won't be satisfied and happy.

The paradox is that the desire for more positive experiences, which most people assume come part in parcel with success, is itself a negative experience because pursuing something—in this case, the idea of success— does nothing but reinforce the fact that you lack it hence making you feel like less of a person. I argue that "success" is merely an illusion in our minds—a made-up destination that we are obliged to pursue in order to make our lives purposeful and as aforementioned, this is not necessarily a bad thing as long as we appreciate and understand it for what it is, an illusion.

To go back to the football analogy, just like how winning a title this season means having to work even harder to defend it the next season, a solution to one problem is merely the creation of another and just like how 50 Cent once said "sunny days wouldn't be special if it wasn't for the rain", our problems birth our happiness—or at least the idea of it.

We won't suddenly reach nirvana just because we have reached a particular goal which has been our measure of success for however long. We are just not wired that way and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can start putting our energies towards things which actually matter and not mirages of happiness. Just like Uncle Ben once said, "with great power comes great responsibility". "Succeding" is not the last piece of the puzzle of happiness but is merely the beginning of another challenge.

So to the Liverpool fans who are whining about not going "invincible" or not winning a treble or sextuple, stop, because even if you were to win all those, you still would not be satisfied, its human nature. Instead, take this moment and appreciate all you have achieved and remember that you used to wish for days like these. Whilst you at that, also remember that days like these may not come again in a while—ask us Arsenal fans.

Comments

  1. Mr, people should chase success. Thats what keeps us going.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous. Thanks for the comment. The argument here is not that people shouldnt aspire to be "successful" but rather they should not let those aspirations consume them so much to a point where if they happen to not reach them,they end up thinking less of themselves.

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    2. If Arsenal is not winning then we might as well think less of it. ��

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