Usually, when we hear the word success, we think of a high-powered job, a fancy house, and stacks of money in the bank. In Western society, success is often synonymous with money, with hard work, with being busy. To achieve this “success”, we work at jobs we dislike to earn money to pay for things we don’t really want or need (thank you Fight Club). But what if this doesn’t fit with your idea of success for yourself? Does this mean you’re strange, or different, or wrong?
No, no, and no.
Success is a varying concept that can look drastically different between two individuals. It’s what drives you in your life and what you measure your self worth against. Without feelings of success, life is undefined; it’s drab and meaningless. So, how do you define success? How do you grasp it for yourself and add more meaning to your life?
What is Success?
We all have different views of what success means. What one may view as successful, as fulfilling their greatest dreams, another may see it as torturous drudgery. If you measure your success against someone who’s doing what they love when you’re stuck in a job you dislike, of course there’s going to be a difference. We all have different tastes, beliefs, and values; of course success won’t hold the same meaning for everyone!
Fitting Into a Box
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this for myself until recently. I thought you had to go through the motions: graduate high school, go to university, find a job, get a master’s degree, find another job, work there for thirty-five years and retire at sixty-five. And then what? What if you don’t want to do these things? What if you want to create your own path?
It’s Your Life
The most amazing thing about this life is that you can do anything you want with it. You don’t need to adhere to the traditional view of life and success. You can, of course, work in that high-powered job and earn all the money and you’ll consider yourself successful. Or you may spend your time working in a coffee shop, using all of your free time to paint or write.
What Success Means for Me
For me, success is simple. Am I working on publishing my writing? Am I continuing to write, even after I’ve published my first book? Am I taking care of myself? Am I happy? If I can answer yes to all of these questions, then I am successful. Simple as that. I’m not going to find value in working sixty hour work weeks in order to earn extra money which I can easily do without, so I won’t. As long as I’m doing something that I love and that gives me a reason to get out of bed every morning, I’m doing something right.
Finding Success for Yourself
The key is to pick something that brings you joy, and that makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something important. You need to find out what success means for you. It can be anything from volunteering with a wildlife organization to obtaining your pilots license to teaching kindergarden. What you do with your life, and how you define success, is up to you.