Take a minute to think about three people in your immediate life who you view as successful.
People you interact with and hear from on a regular basis.
What would you say defines their success?
If you had asked me this question four years ago I would have said the below:
- Doing well in their respective careers, climbing that job ladder to the very top.
- Financially successful with a beautiful big home, new executive car, flash gadgets and designer clothes.
- Those who looked ‘perfect’
- Regular exotic holidays.
- Popular, influential and inspiring.
Looking back now, I feel a little ashamed that I used this kind of criteria to judge a person’s success in life.
However it’s hardly surprising that I had this view when I lived in a society where media, publications and entertainment have subscribed and represented these values as the ideal standard.
Today I did a quick internet search for tips on how to be successful.
The number of female magazine websites which appeared telling me how to buy this, wear that, say this, do that, in order to be a success is shocking. Not one said spend the time doing what makes you happy. It was material, aesthetic, career and relationship based.
Now let me ask you another question.
Do you feel successful?
If the answer is yes, go you.
If you answered no, is it a true reflection of the reality, or because of the expectations you’ve set for yourself that you’re not meeting?
How many of your negative feelings come from false expectations of yourself?
Expectations of what a good job, true happiness, and real success looks like. Expectations you’ve repeatedly told yourself. Always wishing you were doing something differently.
You’d be successful if you could just get up at 6am each day. You’d be successful if you could get that next promotion. You’d be successful if you could just stop eating so much sugar. You’d be successful if you had that new flash car.
These are all things you’ve convinced yourself are necessary. Requirements you have created for yourself to achieve before you can feel successful.
However the reality is, if we always strive for expectation. If we aim to meet the false cultural ideas of success. If we compare ourselves to others. We will never feel successful. We will never be truly happy. It’s a trap, and it’s never ending.
Now there’s nothing wrong with having material items you truly enjoy. But buying things mindlessly to show you (and let’s be honest, others) your success will not make you happy. You’ll always want the next best thing.
There’s nothing wrong with climbing the corporate career, as long as you are not doing it at the expense of long hours in the office instead of hobbies and experiences that truly make you feel fantastic.
If you ask me now what I define as being successful I would simply say:
- Ticking off the long term goals and experiences that matter to you
- Doing what you love
For me, the people I see as successful are those who are happy. Those who spend their time doing things that make them happy. Things they will look back on when old and be glad they spent their time doing it.
Spend your time doing what you value, doing what you enjoy, and developing yourself. Spend your time with loved ones, with friends and family.
Take a moment to appreciate everything you’ve already done. Write it all down. Embrace it.
Discard the false expectations of success.
Then I can guarantee you will feel successful.