Success is a zigzagged line

Mónica De Salazar
5 min readDec 30, 2021


So you wish for something; can be just about anything. It can be a new possession, to make things better with someone, to achieve a new goal, to save money fora trip, complete a course, or some sort of sport test.

What’s usually the common ground in all of the above? The fact that we tend to think of the moment when we have completed the task or succeeded in general terms.

Yes, we tend to envision success. But what about the process towards the achievement?

So, is it wrong to envision success? Oh no-no, not at all! Actually it’s a great thing to do and maybe we should do that more often.

Every new endeavour we get in begins with visionary thinking. We think of a more desirable situation that gets us moving into action, but some people forget of the getting-into-action part. That part is the actual process towards whatever vision we wish to see come true.

How come have so many people forgotten about the process towards any success vision?

Do remember that success looks and feels different for different people, and success is not a one-size-fits-all sort of thing.

Here’s a story that feels like a good anecdote to express all of the above:

I’m a swimmer. I have found a true place and passion in swimming for a number of reasons including the fact that every single day I get a break from the rest of the world in a completely different ambiance: water (did you know water is 800x more dense than air?).

Many times whenever I get into the pool I keep on telling to myself “the goal is in you”, since sometimes there are other swimmers that go faster and it can be easy to try to compete with them. This also happens when there are other that go slower and it comes to mind the opportunity to beat them.

So what? Who cares? I mean, we never know the reason why they swim for starters. Some can be pro swimmers that are just doing their regular swimming practice of the day while other people can be in physical recovery and their goal is being able to make some sort of move. Same happens with older people having an impact-free workout, people how are learning how to swim, teens who are being selected for teams and so on. The take here is that is absurd trying to compete with others when each of them goes to swim for their own reason.

This is also what I think about versions of success in general terms: For different people success looks and feels different. So why should people try to compete in the exact same terms when they pursue different visions?

Here’s the chunky part of my story, the above was context. :)

OK, so I ideated this end-of-year-purpose thing which I still think is a great thing to do since we tend to procrastinate even when it comes to purposes. So why not think of something more challenging than what I had been doing so far in swimming?

So I was already swimming a couple kilometres every day and I found a 5 kilometres open sea challenge that was going to happen about three weeks later.

This was my thinking:

Good. So right know I can swim with no problem about 2.5 kilometres per day. If I work harder I can go up to 4 kilometres per day in the next couple weeks and if during the last week previous to the trial I really push myself to the top I can get to the 5 kilometres. Maybe a little too ambitious and tight but I can make it.

So I found a trainer that might help me go further and this is where the plan started to change. Isn’t it paradoxical? The moment I decided to get a trainer and actually follow a set process, everything just changed… and not exactly in the direction I had envisioned.

My trainer started giving me routines to strengthen specific body parts and build for endurance. It was not just about completing distance but about doing it right from different perspectives.

First I realized I was usually being slower because my armstroke was not optimized, but correcting it right a previous injury was superficialized. Was I swimming slower because of previous harm that I had not identified? Yes, I was. There we some (more like many) other technical movements that needed to improve and this meant extra practice.

But I was just trying to get ready for my 5 kilometres trial three weeks ahead, not to optimize the whole enchilada. Damn right, that was the feeling... the feeling of frustration.

(As I wrote this, it reminded me of many people who I have worked with complaining by saying “I don’t care about the whole setup, I just want my insert-any-digital-last-layer-product and selling” I just want to sell, not everything else. Sure, because happiness, sales and success is something you just order and not something that needs to be built.)

As I was getting all the extra swimming practice, movement reset here and there, and exhausting swimming sessions (that come along with T-Rex level hunger attacks in the middle of the night) a few days before the 5 kilometres open-water trial I saw the following video and completely freaked out.

So now what? I was already getting my technique corrected and optimized. I was already doing a challenging training, and I was certainly improving day by day… so why throwing everything away because of a set event? No.

I must say that realizing I was not competing in the 5 kilometre event at that time gave me relief and at the same time it gave me the confidence to keep going… but now with a better pace, better technique and an ongoing injury treatment.

Did the goal go straight to hell? No. The goal changed but the process was adjusted, and I must say that this newfound process feels so much better. The new process is more careful, organic, attainable, realistic, and enjoyable. At the same time it is also a lot less stressful for my mind and body.

With the original goal I was putting myself in danger and now I’m sure that I’ll succeed in my new set goal: an Iron Swim (3.8 kilometres in about 1.5 hours). Now I’m sure I can make it instead of being just a dangerous swimming adventure.

Remember: The goal is in you… and success is usually not a straight line, it’s usually zigzagged.

You don’t become things or achieve things just because you’re optimistic about it and get the mindset (besides just posting quotes and mantras here and there). Success is achieved when you commit to the process, the whole process and what it takes in time, money and energy.



Mónica De Salazar

Green MBA + #CreativeProblemSolving Consultant. Focused on Business Strategy for Digital, Social and Environmental transformation. Founder of @LifeStrategics.