There are people who think their achievements are a result of luck, good timing or some other external source. There are others who see their achievements as a result of hard work, discipline and planning—something they themselves are responsible for.
We give others more credit for their success (their personalities or motives) and often see our own successes as a result of outside influences (environment or something outside our control). I fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps depending on how much energy I can muster at the moment.
My parents grew up surrounded by the aftermath of the depression and World War II . They were determined to create a better life for themselves and their children. The philosophy they preached to me and my two sisters was that if we wanted something and worked hard enough, we could achieve it. Neither of my parents were successful by today’s standards, but their lives were better than their background might have predicted. Both of them worked hard, my dad as a salesman and my mom as a waitress. They went to work every day and instilled in me the belief that I could live a life of my choosing.
There are times when I over-estimated my abilities, and I failed. But that didn’t discourage me. It fueled me to get a better education, develop a healthier lifestyle, and not let set-backs keep me from moving forward. Some of those set-backs did hold me back for periods of time—weeks, months or in some cases years. But even when I was in despair and disbelief that I could overcome obstacles, the fighting spirit of my parents llay just under the surface waiting for me to wake up and get back to work again.
At age 67, even though I am very fit, I often underestimate what my body can do with proper training. It took me months, but I can do two pull-ups. I will do more.
When I have moments when I want to quit, I remember what my dissertation advisor told me when I wanted to drop out of graduate school. “If it were easy, everyone would have a PhD.” Then I take some time to analyze the situation, determine the next indicated steps, and get back to work..