Is the Road to Success Always Lonely?

Solitude and great accomplishments go hand in hand as is evident from the lives of many successful people

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By Jamie Cheng


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"The lonely road to greatness is better than the crowded road to mediocrity."

– Matshona Dhliwayo

You have a goal, a vision, and an end game. You can see yourself already possessing it; your mind has already understood it as a reality.

You might dream of running a company that you're passionate about or being a millionaire by the age of 30. Maybe even simply having that financial and time freedom to travel across the world.

Achieving these great things will be daunting and come with some eerily lonely episodes.

As entrepreneurs, we need to enjoy being alone for many reasons. But it's highly unlikely that anyone in the right state of mind relishes in the thought of bleak loneliness.

Being alone is not the same as feeling lonely.

The answer: Yes, it can get lonely. It's not a must, however, to feel lonely.

Worry not

Although you may be working in a room with people (like Starbucks), sometimes you still feel like you're alone in this. It's hard to find a group of people where you can safely bounce off ideas, experience, and knowledge with.

Not many will understand your vision, and fewer will give their genuine heartfelt support. Thus, you feel lonely in this journey, because it's hard to share with someone who gets you. Based on a research by John Cacioppo, Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor and the founder and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, co-founder of the field of social neuroscience, these are the top causes of loneliness: genetics, physical isolation, moving to a new location, divorce, death of someone dear and low self-esteem.

Good Reasons for Being Alone

"Your inner voice is the voice of divinity. To hear it, we need to be in solitude, even in crowded places."

– A.R. Rahman

You should know this well. The fact that you had the guts to hop on to the path less travelled shows that you didn't let the world's system deter you from doing what you believe is right for yourself.

Listening to that voice of one, and ensuring that noises from external audiences aren't affecting your judgment and decision-making process is of paramount importance.

Apart from decision-making, which can either advance your business or cause it to head south, having others' expectations loaded on you is also counter-productive. Not only can it hinder you from focusing on what truly matters, it has the potential to become a yoke that ties you down too.

To stay focused

"Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed."

– Paulo Coelho

One habit that can make or break any business is the ability to stay focused. Staying focused isn't the easiest thing to do. We, humans, need to have a darn good conviction and a goal to constantly keep us on track.

As an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to do work as and when you wish. Discipline alone won't cut it. What we need is to have tunnel vision on the big goals; laser-sharp focus on achieving the things that matter.

And this can be much easier when we aren't distracted by people and the drama that comes with every relationship (even non-romantic ones).

Choose Your Circle Wisely

Many things can only be caught, not taught. The people we surround ourselves with will influence us greatly, for the better or worse.

If we're so meticulous in choosing apples at the grocery store, one should ponder about how much more careful we should be when it comes to choosing our friends.

The influence of friends goes far beyond the way we dress, talk, or behave.

You will definitely experience pangs of loneliness but you can learn to overcome them as you concertedly tune your focus back to the things that matter again and again. Ask yourself the following questions: Is giving up that long list of friends who don't add value worth it?; would working 80 hours a week for a few years be worth it?; can you handle the times where things seem bleak yet you don't have a person to count on but yourself?; are you able to handle loneliness?

Jamie Cheng

Co-founder, Digital Alpha Agency


Jamie is the co-founder of Digital Alpha Agency in Singapore. She's leading a team of millennial marketers to help health and fitness businesses. She has published a free SEO Strategy eBook for anyone who feels stuck in the area of SEO that you can get here.

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