How do you measure your own success? What kind of pressure do you place upon yourself to meet this criteria? Does it involve dollar signs or social status? Or do you measure your level of success by how happy you are with the goals you have achieved?
I recently spent an evening chatting with independent women in their late twenties that are at the brink of understanding what they want their lives to look like. In efforts not to sound too “Sex and the City” our conversations steered towards success and relationships. Not just relationships with other people, but more so about the relationships with have with ourselves. We all have jobs (that we actually enjoy), take care of ourselves, and handle “adulting” the best we know how. I went home that night with a sense of pride that I have friends that don’t rely on someone else for their own exultation. They are rich with self-awareness.
Our conversations made me think about the definition of success, only to come to the conclusion that the definition of success holds no real standards. Success is simply: “The accomplishment of one’s goals.” Although you can lookup many articles or read books telling you what success is, they are all merely someone else’s opinions.
I was blessed to discover at a young age that the numbers on my paycheck are not the most significant factor of my gratification.
I worked a stressful job with long hours only to find that I was too unhappy to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Money eases a lot of stress but it almost seems that people become addicted to making more; so much to the point they start to forget about the things that matter. People focus on business calls while driving down the road and cause major accidents. They keep their head down to send an email while the sun is setting right in front of them. I have a hard time believing that anyone feels truly happy when they are constantly working hard to meet the social standard of “success”.
You can get rich and still do the things you love (many people have accomplished this), but you have to do them because you love them. If you want to be a doctor, do it because you want to help people. If you want to be an artist do it because you want to move people. Do what you are passionate about. These are the things that will make you feel whole. When you focus on the dollar sign you become less human and start being more of a machine. If you’re not in it to contribute to the world in a positive way you are just throwing money into a bottomless pit that will never be full.
I have a friend that quit working at a Fortune 500 company and now teaches yoga on the beach in Florida. Another friend of mine decided to give up on accounting to practice Herbal Medicine and now sells skincare products she makes in her own kitchen that people are raving over. I am sure you can see the direction in which I am going and you can guess which jobs make them feel like they are truly living life to its full potential, to their full potential.
Our minds are conditioned from the day we are born to see our future in a certain way: The type of man we should marry, the type of wedding we should have, the religion we should practice, etc… Why does it all have to be the same?
Shouldn’t we be figuring out what we want on our own? As adults we are told which products to buy, we purchase a new phone every year so we don’t fall behind (when the old ones are perfectly fine), our houses aren’t big enough, our cars aren’t nice enough. Remember when we were just happy with one computer? Now we have computers, laptops, iPads, smart phones, and smart watches. We are constantly on a conveyer belt falling in to the same line and we stress ourselves out if we can’t catch up. We spend mountains of cash on things that really mean nothing. Everyone just wants more, more, more.
I’m not saying that any of these things are wrong, I am just saying if something doesn’t make your life feel complete, why keep chasing it down? Why spend energy looking down on people if they don’t want to live their lives in a traditional way? It’s true that if you work hard enough you can really make your dreams a reality but why do our dreams seem pointless if they don’t include earnings? Can we judge people based on their character rather than their class and income?
These are questions I ask myself regularly and I think they are questions we should all ask ourselves. We are living in a time where everything is becoming more and more expensive and it is piling pressure on us like bricks in a backpack. Many people at their breaking point. Anxiety disorders are on the rise at a concerning rate. Nothing seems to be good enough because the more we make the more we spend.
We have to learn to love ourselves enough to realize that our mental health is more important than the size of our houses.
If you take care of yourself mentally you will be a better partner and friend. Your relationships will improve and you will appreciate your life. You will be able to contribute to society in a more meaningful way. Right now the world needs more happy people so we can all be better to one another. If we could all be a little more satisfied with simple things we could all feel more successful. Stop and count your blessings and I bet you will be surprised by just how many you have.