Success and your mental health

By Brody Wons

As a student it is easy to find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others. You compare your grades to other students. You compare the amount of experience you have. You compare clerkship and grad offers. You compare your achievements and awards. You compare the number of LinkedIn connections you have.

It is easy to find yourself stuck in constant competition with those around you. Everyone fighting their way through law school with the aim of securing a lucrative clerkship or grad job. At law school it is easy to use others to define what success is. It is easy to compare your achievements and accomplishment to those around you and begin to feel inferior or unsuccessful.

It is easy for these feelings to translate into sleepless nights and stressful days as you do your best to manage; work, study, competitions, legal experience, volunteering, networking, and clerkship/grad applications. You find yourself constantly looking for things to add to the never-ending list of things to do. You keep telling yourself that you just need to make it through the next week and it will get easier, that things will slow down. But they don’t, they keep getting quicker as you take on my opportunities and try and cram more things into your schedule. All of this done, in order to be able to call yourself “successful”.

But what does “success” actually mean? What does being “successful” actually look like? The truth is “success” is not something that can be universally defined. What is a major success for one person might actually be a failure for another person. When it comes to success the only person who is capable of defining it is you. You define your own success. It is your choice what you spend your time and energy one.

Thus, the constant comparisons we make to those around serve no point but to lower our self-image, create anxiety, and lower the confidence we have in ourselves. There are only two people we should ever draw comparisons from. Our past selves and our future selves. The first being through the process of reflection and the second being through the process of goal-setting.

The process of reflection involves analysing the past and comparing where you are presently to where you used to be. This process can help us determine our strengths and weakness as well as provide us with areas where we can improve. The process enables us to see how far we have come, and all of the obstacles that we overcome.

Going in the opposite direction, the process of goal-setting involves clearly defining who you want to be in the future. It is the process of seeing what type of lifestyle you want to have. It is the process of determining what is important to you. Goal-setting can be a powerful tool, which can be used to provide direction in your life and also assist you when making hard decisions.

Overall, whether it is law school, practice as a lawyer or life generally; there is no one definition of “success”. Everyone’s definition of success is different, and everyone can be successful in different ways. You don’t achieve anything by comparing yourself to others. It is time to define your own success.

In 2018, DLSS Geelong published our first ever Wellbeing Guide, which can be accessed online here. We strongly believe in equipping students with the skills to navigate their future careers, and as such, greatly appreciate the support that Coulter Roache has shown in kind for these initiatives throughout the year!

Health and Wellness Guide_Geelong_DRAFT

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