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Don’t feel successful yet? Ask yourself this one question (3 ways it will change you)

man looking out of the window

My name is Evan Zakow and I am a 22 year old, recent college graduate working full-time as an accountant for a hospital in New York City.

Right now I am doing alright for myself. I just graduated college, got an awesome job and am in great health. What more could I ask for?

Along with my great job and health, I am also studying for my CPA, coaching a youth club lacrosse team on weekends, serving as the recruiting chair of local town professional group, and am in the early stages of starting a clothing line with a couple buddies of mine. It sounds like I’m on a pretty good path, right? It also sounds like I am pretty successful, right? Yeah, for a 22 year old I am doing alright and am on a good path but my no means would I call myself successful… yet.

I am not successful yet, but I am confident that I will get there because I ask myself the right questions. Specifically… the right question.

I have asked myself this one question and it has changed the way I live:

Am I living the life I have always dreamed of OR the one I settled for?

Although I am on a great path and doing alright for myself, I oftentimes find myself falling into a version of the latter part of that question.

Could I continue on this path and be successful? Yes. But if I don’t go after the first part of that question, then the answer turns to a cold hard no.

I could go about it two ways from here: shrug my shoulders and tell myself whatever and that it’s OK to justify that it’s alright and that I’m doing great, OR continue to do great and chase after my dreams so I never have to wonder again. I choose that path. I never want to wonder, doubt or have regret. 

Here are the 3 ways that choosing this path have positively affected my life.

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1. I am finding answers to life’s many questions.

Regardless of the outcome, when chasing your dream you are going to answer some of the questions that you find yourself asking again and again. Questions like could I actually I achieve my dreams? Will my dream give me the lifestyle I want to live or can I even live it? What if….?

Finding the answers to those questions will lead you to a new life. A life of relief and confidence. It did for me. It has led me to a life that I can be confident in because now I will know what’s for me and what isn’t rather than wondering about it.

No more “I could’ve been this or I could’ve done this.”

2. I am understanding that it’s not going to be easy.

It’s called life. There’s going to be ups and downs. I have discovered that I need to sacrifice and give up things that are important to me whether it’s friends, going out on weekends, etc. These are things I have had to completely re-evaluate. I have come to firmly believe that no one else can dictate what’s important to you and what is not. That’s just the reality whether you like it or not. You have to decide what’s more important to you in the long run.

Making the decision to forgo certain comforts, friendships or plans is not easy, but I am finding that they are leading me down a path where I am less likely to look back with regret or doubt. For that, I am thankful and confident that I am heading in the right direction.

3. I will continue to fall victim to my own excuses.

We get organized, eat healthy, do this, do that and then take a day off or two and go back to the old ways. Time to change that now. I have always wanted to write a book and become an author. Today I start sticking to the rules above for good. I am holding myself accountable, and I will add becoming an author on to the list of excelling at work and becoming a CPA (more on that in a bit).

Let me guess… you are probably sooooo busy, right? You have work, or school, or need to sleep or this or that. The list goes on and on if you want it to. Yes, if you want it to. You make the decisions in your life regardless of you think your parents or boss are making you. You may call them choices, or obligations, or something else to satisfy yourself. But really they’re just excuses.

Now yes, some things are extremely important and need to be taken care – family matters, your job, eating, etc. These things limit the amount of time in your day and can limit the amount of time you have to work on that dream of yours. But once again, it’s your choice. Its your life. You choose how you want to live your life so it’s up to you.

And guess what? You only get one shot at it.

You want to go see the world? Save properly or get a job that travels.

Want to get in shape? Eat healthy and hit the gym everyday.

You think your app will change the world? Build it. Learn how to code or find investors.

Want to do them all? Go for them all.

You may already have a great job, good salary, good health, ton of friends, and even an awesome relationship but in the end is your life really that good? Is that what success looks like to you? Are you satisfied and happy?

If you answered no then what are you waiting for? The clock is ticking and it doesn’t stop.

Here’s what I’m going to do.

The book I am going to write is a self-help book. Yeah that’s right self-help. A genre dominated by people with PHDs, fame, wealth, and success (or online gurus with no merit to what they’re writing).

Why would a 22 year old who is a “nobody” write a self-help book? That question is exactly why the working title is Who am I to Say?. The purpose of the book is to show how much alike our thoughts people are and that there’s no right and wrong in certain situations… it’s purely opinion.

I am 22 and unaccomplished in many ways but I am going to write it anyways because it’s dream of mine and I believe that my advice can help many achieve their goals and dreams. I will continue to stay focused on my other goals because they are equally as important and block out all the noise people throw my way.

It doesn’t matter where you are in life: successful, famous, wealthy, or poor – people are going to judge you one way or another. Although you must listen to yourself in the end, respect and listen to what others may say as well especially those close to you. They know you best and will give a different perspective. Separate the noise from constructive criticism and decide what to do on your own.

Today I stick to the rules and in due time I am going to achieve my goals and never again will I wonder if I could… because I will have done it.

I challenge you to do the same regardless of who you are and what’s going on in your life. If you have been chasing your dream for a little while now and it’s going well, keep going but know that there is always room for improvement to re-evaluate and become more efficient. The sooner you get it done, the more time you have to focus on other goals.

The last bit of advice that I am going to leave you with is to enjoy it. Take breaks when needed, find a balance of schedule, and go have fun. Get organized, get motivated, and let’s get going… the clock is ticking!

in your inbox everyday at 10am CST.

No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.

Written by Evan Zakow

Evan Zakow is a recent college graduate living and working in New York City. He is writing a book for millennials to show people how an average person like himself working full-time, studying for the CPA, and coaching on the weekends can still find the time to pursue and complete a goal.

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