The Key to Success

As I entered my sophomore year at NC State, I realized that I would be faced with a growing challenge. Within the first few weeks of my fall semester, I began to experience something much too familiar to me: self-doubt.

During my first-year, my worries mostly focused on acclimating to college life. I wondered if I would make friends, succeed in my classwork, and find my way around campus. With those fears abated at the beginning of my sophomore year, a new fear took their place.

I began to worry about my job prospects and life after my undergraduate career.

Will I be able to find a job? Will I be able to get into graduate school? Will I enjoy my career? I feared that I would spend four years earning my degree only to fail after my undergraduate career ended. After speaking with a few professionals, I felt that I should scramble to find internship and volunteer opportunities to build my resume, and I was terrified that I would not be adequately qualified. I doubted my decision in changing majors, my work experiences, and my capabilities. Truthfully, I am still dealing with this self-doubt. However, after deciding to push away my negative and self-deprecating thoughts, I have looked toward the future with more optimism and certainty.

When I begin to doubt myself, I think of my goal, and I know that I will achieve it.

Recently, my stepmom sent me a link to an audio recording from 1957 of The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. In the recording, Earl Nightingale describes what he dubs “the strangest secret” to success. According to him, the key to success is goal-setting and positive-thinking. After all, Nightingale says, “…it is written in the laws of nature that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” From his viewpoint, the people who succeed are the ones who believe that they will succeed. In fact, he defines success in a new way. He says that you immediately become successful once you decide on a goal to work toward. If you know where you are going, then nothing can stand in your way. He ends his message with a challenge. He asks the listener to write down a single, specific goal on a card and to create a mental picture of this goal each time a negative or fearful thought arises.

Although the recording is a bit outdated, I decided to write down a new goal after listening to it. I have always made goals for myself, but The Strangest Secret encouraged me to view my goals in a new way. It is imperative to make goals, but it is equally as important to push away self-doubt and discouraging thoughts. A sticky-note with my goal now lives on the dash of my car, allowing me to view it each morning. When I begin to doubt myself, I think of my goal and I know that I will achieve it. I am already successful because I have created my objective. Even if I do not yet know the path that I will take to get there, I know where I will end up.

As I continue in my undergraduate career, I will hold onto this message. It is important that we, as college students, stay positive in the face of challenges. Negative thoughts and self-doubt do nothing but obstruct the path to our goals. If we believe that we are capable, and we work hard to consistently improve, then nothing can stop us. By keeping this in mind and persevering, we can undoubtedly achieve our wildest dreams.

Photography credit: Jason Perry/ Goodnight Scholars Program