Once we’ve set our sights on a goal, what do we crave most? 

Progress, of course. 

We want to see positive change and forward movement, which, we hope, will inspire us to keep going.

But that’s not how it always goes. Progress can cut both ways because the satisfaction it produces can breed complacency, a powerful catalyst for weakening willpower. 

Instead of reinvigorating us for another charge into the breach, progress can lull us into following one step forward with two back.

This paradox has been demonstrated in a number of studies. For example, research conducted by scientists at the University of Chicago found that when people were led to believe they were closing in on their weight loss goals, they were 32 percent more likely to choose a chocolate bar for a snack over an apple. 

I’ve seen this phenomenon many times over the years, too. All too often, people use weight loss progress as an excuse to loosen the dietary reins and hinder further progress.

How can we guard against the slackening effects of success, then? 

According to another study conducted by the same team of scientists at the University of Chicago, we should avoid getting into the habit of flattering ourselves for all the work we’ve done. 

Instead, we should view our wins as evidence of how important our goals are to us and how committed we are to seeing them through. That is, we should discipline ourselves to keep our eyes on the road instead of slowing down and taking in the scenery.

This mindset has been one of my personal “secrets” to success inside and outside the gym. 

I’ve always remained more focused on what I still have to do to realize the future I want for myself and my family than on how far we’ve already come. 

I’ve always strived to embody doing and becoming (present and future) over arriving and having (past). 

I’ve always maintained respect for the process and fundamentals. 

This philosophy has certainly increased the stress quotient in my life, but the payoff has been well worth it, and I don’t just mean that in a financial sense. In reality, the nonfinancial rewards of the game, which can be summed up in one word—self-actualization—mean a lot more to me than the money.

So, don’t let success hold you back. Don’t let a win take the wind from your sails.