Success seems easy to define — you think you know it when you see it and many people believe that having tons of money is the ultimate success. Here’s the thing though — there are many wealthy people that are utterly miserable. Maybe having loads of cash isn’t the guarantee of happiness that you might think it is, or maybe for you, it would be. Here’s an often overlooked truth — you get to define success for yourself.
Success looks different for everyone but what is really important is to create your own definition — one that fits your values, allows you to enjoy life, and avoids feelings of regret when you get older. It’s important to not let yourself buy into other people’s visions for success or you will end up living a life that feels wrong and that is a surefire ticket to regret.
Maybe you feel like a failure or you simply need to develop new habits for success, or maybe you need to reframe how you see your life and see that you are already successful.
Always remember, even if you can’t control your circumstances, you can control your definition of success — it’s unique and yours to decide.
Consider these benchmarks of success:
Many people value time above all else. Most of us wouldn’t enjoy having a bunch of money if we never had the opportunity to enjoy it. Do you wish you had more free time? How much free time do you need to enjoy your life to the fullest? Are you using your time to accomplish what you want? Is it more important for you to be busy or to have leisure time?
Do you value your friends? How much do your friendships mean to you? How many friends do you need in order to feel successful? How much time would you need to spend with your friends to feel like your life is a success? Are you a great friend, always there in times of struggle?
3. Personal development.
Do you need to learn to play an instrument or to speak German to feel successful? A college degree? Climb a peak over 25,000 feet? Learn to program in Python? Be able to meditate for three hours straight? Perform 10 perfect pull ups?
4. Providing for your family.
Maybe you believe that success means giving your child the opportunity to attend Harvard. You might also want to be able to pay for such an expensive education. Do you want your kids to grow up in the suburbs? Send your spouse to college?
Maybe success means living an adventurous life. You might race motorcycles on the weekend and train as a Navy Seal during the week. It’s possible that taking a train across Tibet and living in a commune is your cup of tea.
Success might be all about happiness to you. Maybe you measure success each day by how happy you were.
Success can be measured by how successful you are in achieving your goals. Many people enjoy the challenge of setting big goals and having the determination and discipline to make them a reality. Does this sound like you?
8. Living to an ideal.
Do you have a strong vision of how the perfect person should live? Do you have a strong moral code? Maybe your brand of success revolves around how well you live up to that ideal. What type of person do you want to be each day?
Some people consider themselves successful if they have a successful career. Regular promotions and greater wages can be one way to measure success. Maybe you want to excel at a career that helps people.
10. Doing for others.
The ultimate measure of success for some people is how they help others. Many people thrive on being useful and kind. Study after study has shown that people who volunteer are happier and even healthier, if you were able to volunteer your time or knowledge, would you feel successful?
All of these questions are designed to get you thinking about what success actually looks like to you, there are no wrong answers, as long as they are yours.
Examine your own values and beliefs and create your own version of success. Project yourself far into the future and imagine the type of life you want to look back upon. Now, adopt a definition of success that works for you!