Many times I have heard individuals whether close family, friends, or on social media speak about being successful. However, the question still lingers in my mind…“What is true success?”
As glamorous and lucrative as the lives of many celebrities, or other ‘well off’ persons may seem, I have come to learn that we have to be careful of how we define and measure success. Additionally, we have to be transparent with ourselves on whose standards we are using to define this very complicated and at times disillusioned topic. If not, we can find ourselves in the unfortunate situation of being a hamster on a wheel, as we desperately try and catch up to the world’s standards of success.
Another thing, when it comes to being ‘successful’ something that is often overlooked is “What is the cost of achieving this great success?” Furthermore, what is one willing to sacrifice in order to achieve that ‘true’ goal of victory? Again, we see the glamorous, lucrative side of success being constantly thrown in our faces everywhere we turn nowadays. However, as the old saying goes “Not everything that glitters is gold”, so it is with success.
So, what is one willing to pay, to achieve their “Mount Everest”? Sleep, quality time, health, children, spouses, morality, happiness, the list can go on and on. Yes, everything does come with a price, but how can we ensure that the required price does not destroy us, and/or those around us that we love so dearly? How can we accomplish our biggest dreams in life without losing the most staple people or assets in it? Someone once told me that, it is very lonely at the top. Well, does it really have to be, or is it what the world’s success recipe demands?
Another favorite well known saying of mine is… “In life everything should be a balance”. In my personal life experiences, this has proven to be very true. When I went solely after success in the form of schooling and job promotion, my life became imbalanced and abruptly disrupted. The people and things that I so dearly cherish felt as if they were slipping through my finger tips—as water slips through the hand of a person trying to hold it hostage in their palm.
Now for the million dollar question… Can we have success and live a meaningful and happy life with those who we love and care so deeply about? In further thought, will we reach the pinnacle of our success mountain by ourselves? Hmm, is attaining everything that you ever wanted in life, all worth it if you truly do not have anyone of significance to share it with?
I strongly believe that you can maintain a meaningful and happy life, while being successful. However, the individual has to constantly remember one very important thing—“quality or quantity” (one of my father-in-law’s staple quotes). In other words, when the quality of your life starts going down, quickly recalculate to determine where you have gone wrong, or where you may need to modify— because wealth and success does NOT buy true happiness.
So how can we be successful and still maintain a well-balanced and meaningful life?
Emma Seppala, the science director for Standard University explains it in 7 straight forwards steps:
1. Live (or work) in the moment
Instead of always thinking about what’s next on your to-do list, focus on the task or conversation at hand. You will become not only more productive but also more charismatic.
2. Tap into your resilience.
Instead of living in overdrive, train your nervous system to bounce back from setbacks. You will naturally reduce stress and thrive in the face of difficulties and challenges.
3. Manage your energy.
Instead of engaging in states of mind that exhaust you, learn to manage your stamina by remaining calm and centered. You’ll be able to save precious mental energy for the tasks that need it most.
4. Do nothing.
Instead of spending all your time focused intently on your work, make time for idleness, fun, and irrelevant interests. You will become more creative and innovative and will be more likely to come up with breakthrough ideas.
5. Be good to yourself.
Instead of being self-critical, be compassionate with yourself. You will improve your ability to excel in the face of challenge and be more likely to learn from mistakes.
6. Step outside your comfort zone.
We tend to think we’re good at only certain things, and we play it safe when we should be taking risks. Understand that your brain is built to learn new things — that’s how we attain new skills and expertise.
7. Show compassion to others.
Instead of focusing on yourself, express compassion to and show interest in those around you, and maintain supportive relationships.
In reflecting upon my life, I look at why I am still on the path to achieving my goals, when I would have be more than likely done and deep in my career of choice by now. However, I made a conscious decision years ago to choose “quality” or “quantity”. I have come to realize, that what is it for me to gain the whole world, but not have those whom I love the most by my side to share it with them. So, in light of the dedication and love that I have for my family and friends, I had to scale it back a little at times. Let me say for the record to ‘scale it back’ does not mean quitting, because I am not a quitter, never was, and never will be. I still have my eye on the prize and I know I am going to get there soon. I stopped measuring myself against the world’s standard of success (which was and still is challenging), and I have decided long ago to create my own measurement unit. That unit includes the health and happiness of myself, and of those around me who I love and cherish. I may not have a huge house, or a $500,000 car to show as a determinant of my success. However, that is okay, because I determine my own standard of success, and I could care less what the world has to say about it.
What does success mean to you? Have you found your own standards of success to adapt to, or is the world’s standards puppet strings still attached to your life? I encourage everyone to make a list to help define what constitutes real success for you. You will be surprised of the clarity this brings forth in your lives. Overall, please stay true to who you are as you navigate your own pathways of success.
Economy, Peter (2016) Want To Be Happy And Successful? Science Say To Do These 7 Things. Retrieved on March 29, 2017 from http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/want-to-be-happy-and-successful-science-says-do-these-7-things.html