Most people focus on success as an outcome but they don’t think about the process, says psychologist Tim Dansie.

Tim is a registered psychologist and former teacher who now runs his own psychology practice, primarily working with families, children and elite athletes. He also hosts the podcast Setting Your Child Up For Success.

“My definition of success is doing something a little bit better than how you did it yesterday,” Tim told Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast.

“So that’s success, you’re improving. Improvement is success. So that’s the short term thing. Keep doing things and striving to always do things that little bit better. Whether it’s in your conversations with people, your output at work, doesn’t matter, but just keep doing things better.”

But that’s just the beginning, as Tim coaches people to think about the process, not just the end result.

“What I try and get people to do is become process thinkers,” he said.

“So think through your process. What do I have to do to achieve my outcome? What do I have to do to achieve success?

“So if you’re doing something and it’s achieving success, break it down. What are you doing? What is it that’s helping you achieve your success? So to me success is an outcome and it’s a good outcome and the outcome we’re striving for, but get your process right and do a thorough evaluation and make sure you keep doing your processes. You do that, then you’ll keep achieving success.”

Tim works with many people who are struggling with the ‘rat race’ of life, burning themselves out trying to achieve success in an unsustainable way.

“I ask them ‘how much money do you actually need to live, but also to set yourself up for life post work?’” he said.

“Then to earn that amount of money, how many hours do you need to work? And you go back and do the maths on it and it’s amazing how many people are working so many more hours to make themselves rich, but at the same time they’re neglecting their lifestyle. So they’ll be rich and not wealthy.”

While stress has many negative implications, Tim believes it isn’t always a bad thing.

“I think there’s good stress and there’s bad stress,” he said.

“Good stress is what gets us up, gets us going and gets us moving. It motivates us to go out and try things and do things and be active and proactive and learn and keep moving forward. The bad stress is when it gets all too much and we can’t cope with it.

“I look at this idea of having a crack at things, you’ve got to have a go. Don’t be scared to have a go, but you’ve got to make sure you do all the analysis first. You’ve got to find good mentors, good people to talk to, so that way you make sure it’s good stress rather than bad stress.”

Tim said these personal skills, especially resilience, communication and creativity, need to be taught at a higher priority by schools. But Australia’s education system still has a long way to go.

“We really need to have an overhaul of our education system,” he said.

“The difficulty is that we’ve got far too much stuff in the curriculum for kids at the moment and there’s not enough choice and we’re still in this mentality that we’re university driven. That we think that we must guide kids, all kids, into university which is completely wrong. What we’ve got to do is learn more about our kids, learn more about how they learn and then guide them into a vocation of interest.

“And we also need to get a bit more of the creative thinking. And the other thing I think is we need to bring sport back into schools. We’re really lacking in that area, that social communication, social development, being part of a team.

“I do think we need to have a really good shakeup of our system, but also I think the universities need to have a good look at themselves too about what sort of students they are accepting. Because I see so many kids in my practice who go off to university and fail in their first two years because they weren’t prepared for university.”

For parents, raising well adjusted, happy and successful children is an enormous challenge. But Tim says to keep it simple.

“One of the first things I always say to parents is don’t be too hard on yourself,” he said.

“Accept that we are going to mistakes, there’s going to be times where we’ll clash with our kids and we won’t like our kids and that’s fine!

“But what we’ve got to do is just make sure that we’re actually there for our kids. Spend time listening to our kids rather than talking at our kids and actually set them up with good people around them. That sounds pretty simple, but if you can set up really good mentors and give your kids opportunity to spend time with good mentors then you’re on a pretty good track just by doing those very basic things.”

Listen to the full podcast interview here.

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