How do you know when you are successful? Is it when you are making a certain amount of money? When you achieve another pin level in your compensation plan, does that mean that you’re successful? Or does having the house of your dreams signify that you’ve arrived at “success”? Does gaining time freedom by quitting your day job equate to a life of abundance?

I’m asking you these questions about how you measure success and abundance because they reveal a subtle yet prevalent scarcity pattern I see operating among those in the networking professions. This happens out of failure to grasp the universal principle, “the internal creates the

Apples and Oranges

I’ve explained this principle before in this space using the apple-seed example: you can’t plant an apple seed and reasonably hope to grow an orange tree (external), because the “internal” of the seed is apple, not orange.

Despite the simplicity of this principle, many networkers unknowingly and unintentionally think and operate under the opposite belief—that their externals create their internals, in other words, that bringing about a certain external circumstance will then create an internal experience, in this case, of success or abundance.

For example, one person may focus all his time and energy on making X amount of money, thinking that making X amount of money (external) will make him abundant (internal). Another may focus everything she does on achieving the next pin level in the comp plan, or building her dream home, or quitting her day job (external)—out of the belief that achieving that pin level, building that home, or quitting that job is what will make her successful (internal).

Or take a common non-business-related example: how many people have operated out of the belief that, “When I meet the man/woman of my dreams, then my life will be complete”? A mate, no matter how wonderful he or she may be, is still external; “being complete” is an internal state.

The truth is, it would be more accurate to say, “When my life is complete, then—and only then—I will meet the man or woman of my dreams.” (In fact, if you look closely under the surface of most good romantic comedies, you’ll find some version of that statement at the core of the film’s message.)

Escaping the Scarcity Trap

The external-first type of thinking creates a scarcity trap, in two ways.

First, following this approach allows the external circumstances of your life to have power over you and your experience. Instead of you being the source of your own success, happiness, freedom, sense of completeness and abundance, you hand over the keys to the amount of money you make, the title you have, the home in which you live, the car you drive, the lifestyle you lead…and allow them to determine what your experience will be.

Secondly, this way of thinking keeps you living for the future instead of living for today, for this moment. When you see your abundance, success, happiness and freedom as lying in the future, then by definition, you have determined that you are not and cannot be abundant, successful, happy or free right now. All of your energy and effort is directed toward “one day” and, as a result, you miss out on an experience of abundance and success, freedom and happiness today.

This subtle yet pervasive “scarcity trap” occurs when we measure our success and abundance predominately in terms of quantitative results, e.g., how much money we make, our position or title, the car we drive, the home in which we live. Such quantitative results are certainly an aspect of abundance, but what I’m encouraging you to do is expand yourself and your definition of success and abundance to include and emphasize qualitative results as well.

I challenge you to assess your success and abundance regularly by asking yourself, “What is the quality of my life?” and not simply, “How much money have I made?” or, “What results have I accomplished?”

How Do You Spell “Success”?

Is your life filled with peace, joy, love, fulfillment, gratitude? Do you regularly have fun and “re-create” yourself? Do you have hobbies that you enjoy and in which you regularly partake? Do you have relationships that enrich you?

Are you productive and effective in your work? Do you both contribute to and receive from others in ways not related to your business? Do you experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction at the end of each day? Are you learning and growing as a human being?

Do you consider these things as signifying “success” just as much as you do making X amount of money?

On the other hand, is your life regularly filled with stress, struggle, overwhelm, fear, frustration, guilt, obligation, resentment or pressure? Does it feel like you’re working all the time, yet never getting it all done?

Have you stopped doing activities you love because you have too much work to do? Have you ignored important relationships in your life because you’re working so hard to achieve the quantitative results you desire?

Have you fallen into the trap of thinking, “When I’m making more money (or have more time, or quit my day job), then I’ll start doing those things again?”

And if so, how long have you been telling this to yourself?

Remember, the internal creates the external. If the qualitative nature of your life is one of stress, struggle, fear, overwhelm, procrastination, guilt, pressure or scarcity, then no amount of quantitative results will provide you with a true and lasting experience of success, freedom, happiness and abundance.

After all, you can hang a bunch of oranges on the branches of an apple tree—but those “quantitative externals” will not transform the apple tree into an orange tree.

TERESA ROMAIN is founder of Access Abundance,
an organization dedicated to helping people access greater levels of
abundance, freedom and fulfillment in their daily lives. She lives with
her husband, Dan, in the small town of Baraboo, Wisconsin.