One thing I’ve learned in the last decade is that there is no one road to success. Once you get there the destination can be vastly different from person to person. That might also change within your lifetime. When we think of someone who is classically successful as having a nice office job to go to with nice clothes, a nice car and an equally nice house. Or if we want to go a little deeper a successful person might be debt free, live a comfortable life and be happy with all that. What we don’t realize is that there are so many ways to get to either of those definitions and that those definitions themselves vary from person to person. For some there are constraints like a health issue or a set of responsibilities. For others their priorities might be totally out of alignment with yours. Last but not least you never know what someone has going on behind the scenes, some people are still very modest.
Even if we already know that there is more to the story of success we need to think about how we think and talk about it. First of all we need to decide what it means to us. Personally I do factor finances into it a fair amount. I’d like to have enough to live comfortably and deal with the unexpected things that always come up but I’m okay with never being able to own a vacation home or new luxury car. Those are actually things against my world view but I totally get they might be someone else’s goal. I also value having time to do the things I love all year long and it matters to me that I really like how I spend most of my time. For someone else a big family, long vacations and lots of pets are part of their dream even if that’s not the case for me and that’s totally cool for you. So I guess I’m saying we all have to find some comfort and intention in how we define our own success and then… we have to do two more things.
That is to stop using your yardstick (or a yardstick at all) to measure someone else’s success. If someone drives a crappy car maybe it’s because they acknowledge that they are a pretty bad driver who bumps into things, maybe they put a lot of km on every year or maybe they just really like that car! That person that you look down on for their job, their house or their clothes might have way more in the bank than you! When it comes to success just think about yourself because that’s really the only person that should care about the level of success of.
The last and perhaps hardest thing to do when it comes to being successful is to stop caring if others can tell that you are. We all spend more time and energy thinking about the thoughts of others about us than we should. In other words we’re thinking about the people who judge. I invite you for a moment to think about those people for you, not generally but specifically, literally who are your worried is judging you. Who are you worried about running into at your worst or is the person you’re thinking about before you publish a certain post on social media? It might be your family, friends or the people you work with but I bet it makes even less sense than that. One lady I know says she literally thinks about that carload of snobs from high-school and mine’s not all that different than that. I feel like it’s the parents of kids I grew up with that still live in the community that I do. How weird is that? It’s certainly in that wheelhouse at least. Who do you have in the back of your mind that you want to know just how successful you’ve become.
This weekend think about these ideas what success means for you, why you care if any one else is successful and who do you want to know that you are. Then do your very, very best to forget the last two and circle back to the first. That’s something I try really hard to do regularly and you know what I’ve found myself exponentially happier because of it! Striving for success in our lives is something that we should always be doing but what that means, that needs to come from you alone!
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