Be brave to define success for you

happy on rockIn many cultures and societies the meaning of success is thrust upon us as we grow up, and sometimes we don’t even question if that is what we truly want.  The expectation set upon us is often not questioned.

Whether it is climbing up the corporate ladder, making a certain salary, having lots of children, getting married or having a nice house, such things are generally what people would define as being successful.

Here is a question I have pondered over the years – does success equal happiness?  We tend to think so. But think of the times when you wanted to attain something, and when you got it, you probably did feel a high from it – temporarily. We stabilize after a period of time, then the euphoria fades and typically we return back to the old baseline, and feel the need for something more.

I feel fortunate that years ago, in my work life, I realized that I did not need to climb the corporate ladder, but instead what was important to me is doing a good job, having a good attitude, making a difference in what I do, and most of all helping others. In my personal life, the same approach holds true as well.  For me, this has given me great satisfaction over the years. Success for me comes from the inside, not the outside.

What is your definition of success?  What do you think you need to ‘feel’ successful?  I challenge you to think about this and determine if you want these things because it’s been expected of you, or have you truly defined what makes you happy for yourself and what you want from your life.

Being self-aware in this regard is very liberating.


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6 thoughts on “Be brave to define success for you

  1. Imagine an athlete who defines success in terms of winning or being number one in their field, and who feels that coming in second is failure. Now imagine that same person is seriously injured in a car accident. Suddenly, the definition of success might change to just being able to walk or use a bathroom without assistance. Same person, different sense of success. In this sense, success is a state of mind that is relative to one’s state of being. If this is true, then we can be successful by just thinking differently. We don’t have to win anything, or own anything or be number one.

    Now imagine if you knew that you had only 48 hours to live. Would your ideas of success matter anymore? Would they even make sense? What would a new definition of success look like from this vantage point?

    • Hi Ken, a very good example, indeed. This is what I’m talking about, and we shouldn’t be afraid to change what success means to us at any point in our lives.

      Thanks for a thoughtful comment,

  2. I have struggled with this exact thing currently in my life. I have begun to ask am I doing this because it is expected of me. The money is needed but at what cost in our lives. I struggle with going and being something I am not and passing on my energy to the people I am meant to inspire. Thanks for this as always, some great food for thought.

    • Grasshopper, it sounds like you are quite certain about how you feel on this particular matter you’re dealing with. We need to be fully aware of what drains our energy and what gives us energy. What assumptions have you made in what you are doing? (ie: do you really need to ‘inspire’ them? or are you there to teach them a skill so they can be successful?) Sometimes we do have to do things on a short-term basis, but on a long-term basis, we need to do things that lift us, not bring us down.

      Thanks so much for your comment,

  3. Wendy, good question, 5% of all people like their job and when they retire only 2% can afford to retire financially secure, how crazy is that, curious, how when people get very ill they say they finally woke up and got clear about their life, maybe a moment of insight then occurs.

    • Hi Al, for the people that dislike their job, my feeling is that they should either make a change, or change their attitude. Whenever I have really disliked my job, I sit back and think about what it is I like and am grateful for. That often helps me re-set my perspective. If it doesn’t after many, many attempts to do that, then I set my intention to make a change. I usually try to influence what it is I may not like (ie: discuss what’s bugging me with my boss or someone I trust to truly help me). We have control over our own lives.

      True, many people who face serious illness, tragedy or a loss of a loved one do have an ‘awakening’, which is a good thing to wake up to life.

      thanks Al,

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