Success is an interesting word
It’s defined by various dictionaries as achieving an aim or purpose. In the real world though, success is often used interchangeably with the achievement of wealth. Hardly anyone thinks about the key to success as being defined by happiness. Personally I think this is where many of our self-esteem problems arise from.
We are taught from a young age that we are not wealthy without having made a million by the age of 30. What is it with the pressure to accumulate wealth by age thirty anyway. As if giving away all your youth to focus on being money hungry is the only real sense of achievement that we are capable of.
I don’t think it is.
In my own case, I speak openly about my failure to achieve the dream career and become a lawyer. A goal that was somehow a part of who I was until I got to that point and suddenly realised that actually, that’s not at all who I am on the inside.
A happy life starts with your own goals
What really made me happy was going out there and making a real and tangible difference in the world. To me, success was defined as doing good in the world, even if that meant only one person’s life was changed. If I had somehow been a part of something good for someone else, I was happy. It was about linking my goals and my purpose to the way I spend the majority of my time.
And so a career in Social Development was born.
Fast forward a few years later and while I still feel very strongly about those kinds of issues, success for me has become more about personal life goals and finding happiness. Being happy for me is the ultimate achievement. I realised that the key to success was just doing the things that I love. Waking up every day and looking forward to my life is what I can honestly say success is about. Sure it’s harder when you choose this path. Sure it’s much nicer never having to worry about paying bills but it’s not a trade-off I’m prepared to make by giving up my happiness. Life for me has so much meaning because I’m doing what I love to do. Success is about living my purpose and that’s what it should be about.
I can honestly say, with certainty that I will never again work for someone else. I will never allow myself to be defined by their goals or their understanding of success. I will never again put myself and my needs as a human being second to earning a salary because that is no way to earn a life.
Being happy is what I define as the key to success. I don’t care what that looks like but if it makes you happy then get out there and do it. If that means making money then that’s totally okay. You have to do the things that give your life meaning and make you feel fulfilled. Success is linking your purpose and your goals to the way you spend your time.
Just be sure that whatever it is that drives you, isn’t someone else’s idea of how things should be.