‘A victory or a triumph’ according to Google, and according to our families, ‘Getting a raise or passing all of your exams’. What is success to you and what if what Google, or what your family says, doesn’t align with your own meaning of success?
Ever since we were young, we were accustomed to understand that if we did something that was good, we would get credited, praised or even had a big gift presented to us – and on the opposite scale, we all know what it felt like when we had done something not-so-good and were put into the ‘naughty corner’ as a punishment. A problem from this early on starts arising, when during our childhood we would try to please our parents, guardians, elders and any authoritative figures, because we knew that if we did what they told us to do, we would get praised – we would be successful in their eyes.
Whilst we were growing up, this habit assisted our conscience to know right from wrong, to know what is expected of us and to know that we should treat our elders with respect – however to a majority of people it also restricted their young selves from exploring their own ideas of success, their own hobbies, their own joys and failures in life – leading to a feeling of lacking in self-accomplishment. If your goal is to be successful – then learning the true meaning of success, learning the truth about yourself, is the only way.
What do you enjoy doing?
When do you feel the happiest?
When do you feel the most successful?
What helps you feel safe/stable/content?
What motivates you?
What inspires you?
The answers to these questions are your own success.
Many of us tend to associate success only with financial stability (or even financial luxury) and while this may be one way to achieve happiness by some people, success can be measured in a multitude of ways, all different to each person. We have come up with a short version of the most relatable forms of success for individuals nowadays, starting with:
Business, Career and Financial Success
This form of success is mostly experienced by individuals that are ambitious and driven to achieve the goals they have set out for themselves. They have a straightforward career plan and want to grow within the company they work, in areas such as: status, salary and benefits. Once they have achieved these goals, they want to move on to bigger and better opportunities, so they may relocate to another organisation that offers competitive benefits, or they may change their career path if they believe this to be a catalyst for any of their other business/financial goals, and some even start their own business with their entrepreneurial drive guiding them along the way. This form of success is not unhealthy and it is actually considered a positive drive – to add and achieve better opportunities within your career plan and career life. The point it turns unhealthy is when an individual focuses solely on their business growth and earning more financially, forgetting about their health, family, and happiness.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” ― Steve Jobs
Material Success is quite different to Business and Financial Success. It is based on the lessons we learnt when we were young – wanting to be perceived as successful in other people’s eyes – the difference is that these individuals feel happy and successful doing so. Whether or not these individuals have financial stability or business status – their main form of success comes from purchasing and owning material objects. This gives them a sense of importance and status to the outside eye, which sometimes provides good opportunities for business and finance as they tend to attract a particular crowd. A very important factor to bring up is that anyone who puts a focus on materials as their success, is an individual who lives in the present and is happily doing so, not worrying about their past or future. They seek what provides them instant happiness, offering them a form of success and contentedness that lasts long-term, following their multiple purchases, respectively. On the other hand, material success could also relate to purchasing food and clothes for charity – there are many degrees of material success and to a certain extent, all individuals have a fraction of materialistic-wanting, whether for themselves, their family, their friends or worldly strangers.
“What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your own life, but in other people’s lives.” ― Oprah Winfrey
One of the most important forms of success is through feeling content by being true to who you are and taking care of yourself as a being. This includes being healthy, happy, surrounded by peace, love and friendship. While this may seem like the most straight-forward route to happiness, it is the one that most struggle to achieve as it requires a continuous amount of effort in being balanced in this life. Individuals who focus solely on their personal successes are usually people to admire as they have found a way to balance the most important things in their life, their own happiness is their success. With the little problems we all have to deal with on a daily basis, it becomes easy to get stressed, anxious, tired, lazy and even un-inspired after a certain point. These types of individuals however, have the self-discipline to continue to go to work, to go to the gym, to take care of their family, to meet their friends, to have some time for themselves and their partners, to appreciate and marvel at the beauty of nature around them – they choose to succeed in the little things in life – and this is one of the greatest achievements that anyone could attain.
“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” ― Andy Warhol