A Success-Oriented Mindset

How do you define success in college? For some it lies in landing a job straight after graduation, and for others it means gaining admission to a graduate program. In my view success is tethered to gaining knowledge of the world around us. The quest for knowledge is not an easy one, and often it seems to be filled with obstacles that seem impassable. I believe it all lies in one’s mindset. Change your mindset to a productive one and you’re on your way.

Measuring Success in College

Success in college and life as a whole is not answered entirely by metrics, but rather by effort. You could have graduated from high school or college with honors and still find yourself lacking on many of the subjects that you studied and received high grades in. With GPA and transcripts being what they are—metrics used to quantify your level of understanding—we tend to fall into the trap of assuming high-level metrics on paper or a digital screen to mean more than they do, and as a result we make ourselves vulnerable to stunting our own growth.

The Critical Importance of Self-Reflection for Success

I want you to take a good hard look at your past, and then come back to the present and rate yourself on a scale from 1-10 (10 being the highest) on how much you think you know about the area of study you want to explore further. The point is for you to realize that you will never be a 10 if you always label yourself as a 10. And if you find yourself falling short of a 10, then the question becomes, “Why?”

The mindset we all should strive to adopt is that of constant improvement. We are at a crossroads at which we either choose to improve ourselves or remain stagnant in our development. Time will continue to go on, and we either improve as it ticks or remain the same—the decision is for each of us to make on our own.

Two Mindsets

There are two mindsets which differentiate highly motivated people from highly unmotivated people. The first is that of “How” and the second is that of “Can’t”. Whichever you choose will ultimately determine your path to success.

The “Can’t” mindset, as you may have guessed, is that which belongs to highly unmotivated people. Whenever something inhibits you from achieving a goal of yours, it comes down to how you respond to that block. If you adopt this mindset you will either immediately give up, think that it was too good to be true, or, worst of all, blame an external source. This approach wreaks havoc on your path towards pursuing knowledge and the success to be achieved through it. You will effectively defeat yourself and not want to push forward. If you let yourself wallow in the idea that you weren’t and won’t be good enough and don’t take accountability for your shortcomings, you will waste precious time that could have been used to reflect and try again. Success will become more difficult as a result.

The “How” mindset is a little different. Instead of thinking that you failed because of some external source or your own lack of ability, you begin to think that you can and will accomplish a goal. The question becomes, “How do I achieve this goal?” This mindset is very organic. If you don’t believe me, just think about why you’re reading this post. You are thinking of how to achieve something, not that you can’t. The key is to stick to this mindset without wavering. Perseverance is what differentiates people who succeed from people who fail. This approach will force you to constantly reflect on what you need to do to reach the level you want to be at.

Going Forward

Ultimately, I cannot force you to want to succeed in college or life. That is entirely up to you. What I can do is provide support through a post such as this. I don’t claim to have everything figured out, but reflecting on my mistakes has taught me to reinvent the mindset I approach every challenge with, and over time I have begun to love challenging myself because I know there is always more for me to learn and grow from. Nobody is born equipped with all the skills they need to be successful in their lives. Everyone must learn how to communicate, read, and work hard in order to begin the journey of pursuing success.

The decision is ours alone. May we choose wisely, lest we are left to sift the dust of the past when all is settled.





Class of 2022
I am a Pre-Medical student studying Community Health with a concentration in Health Policy & Administration interested in improving healthcare delivery systems through both public health and medical practice. My posts are targeted toward helping high school students improve their self-improvement and actualization strategies as they further their own personal and professional development.


  • Great article. College is behind me for several years but I can still apply the thought process from this article to address my current challenges at work place.