Ask others what success means and you’re likely to hear a variation of these answers:
- Fancy car or two – Mercedes, BMW, Lexus
- Big house - an upgraded kitchen and manicured yard
- Respectable corporate job – something high up on the corporate ladder
- Attractive spouse
Those things are fine if they’re of your own choosing. But, if you take the time to think about it, your definition of success might be: Single, traveling the world, running my own business from a laptop, having adventures each day, and wearing flipflops at least eight hours each day. A person with this definition of success would be miserable in the first scenario.
If you base your success on what society deems it to be, you might find yourself disappointed and unfulfilled – always chasing something that doesn’t really give you meaning and purpose in your life.
Avoid disappointment by creating your own definition of success!
Ask yourself these questions:
1) What legacy do I want to leave for my children and the world? At the end of your life, what do you want to look back upon? Is it wealth and a vast business empire? Do you want to leave a string of good works? Do you want to look back on a life full of adventures?
- How will you have wanted to spend your time?
- What financial resources do you want to leave behind?
- What do you want to be known for?
2) What are my values? A lifetime spent living your values will be fulfilling. Most people have a vague notion of what’s important to them, but few take the time to think about it carefully. Pull out a piece of paper and make a list of your values.
3) What do I want to do? Make a list of all the things you want to see and do. Everything from skydiving to walking on the Great Wall of China. Write it down. Does the life you have now enable you to do these things?
4) What type of life do I want to experience? You might desire a conventional marriage and six children with a white picket fence in the suburbs. Or you might like to live in a Manhattan condo by yourself and take full-advantage of the nightlife for the first 20 years of adulthood.
5) What it will take for me to feel successful? Imagine various scenarios and determine what would make you feel successful. Is it living in a cabin in the woods with few responsibilities? Or living in a 15,000-square foot penthouse? Imagine various careers and lifestyles. Which one feels like success to you?
6) What if no one else would ever know? The idea of owning a Ferrari might feel like success, but what if no one else would ever know you owned it? Would you still feel successful? An ideal version of success wouldn’t involve the opinions of others.
- Search for a version of success that’s meaningful to you, even if others are unaware of your possessions and accomplishments.
There is no universal definition of success. It’s your life and you are entitled to our own “pursuit of happiness.” Let go of trying to impress your friends and family. Develop a version of success that is meaningful for you, regardless of society’s values and take steps to attain it. You might just find that following your own version of success will result in true peace, fulfillment, and happiness (and, if that’s not success, I don’t know what is!).