I thought about this question in different phases of my life and in each phase, I had a different answer. Success has been thought of to be this big powerful word that everyone wants to have. It goes with the concept of the American Dream which the media portrays as living happily ever after.
As a child, success for me was being rich, having all the money in the world and not needing to worry about anything. I saw my parents struggle to make ends meet and make every effort to see that I had opportunities they didn’t have. I believed that money would solve the problem and the opportunities would come.
As a teenager going into early adulthood, my definition for success changed a little more. While I did have a strong desire to make money, my thoughts and feelings moved into the idea that education was a driving factor of success. I came to believe that if I had money and no education, I would be taken advantage of or simply blow the money on things of no real significance. Education, on the other hand, would be something that I could acquire in the form of knowledge and once gained, could not be taken away. With education, I would be afforded many opportunities for jobs, business partnerships, and may even take on a brand new social network of friends and peers. This was truly success for me as I knew it. I went on to college and received a Bachelor’s Degree and was amazed to be able to have several job offers even before I walked across the graduation stage. This was incredible and in my mind, I was actually walking the red carpet of success.
As I grew into my late 20’s early 30’s, I found myself again thinking about the concept of success and felt the need to, yet again, redefine it. I felt as though I had my share of the corporate world and became frustrated with the fact that someone else was telling me what my value was in terms of my professional experience & compensation. I had a lot of innovative ideas and had great business concepts to share but those ideas and thoughts were just thoughts with no action. With that, I decided that in order to be successful, I had to create my own company and build my own dreams to create wealth and prosperity. The feeling of entrepreneurship brought about a brand new feeling of success. I had no idea how valuable it was to be able to control your own TIME. I also had no idea how much time was needed to invest in a business in order for it to succeed. Still, the feeling was great because it was my own time and success was based on my own efforts.
Now, here I am again at forty something rethinking success all over again. However, I have a feeling that I really got it this time. In fact, I do not see myself changing the definition any more. Success for me is living a life to its greatest potential. Success is waking up each day and finding that my family is okay and doing well. Success is great health and not feeling aches and pains. Success is being able to pay my bills, enjoy a few of my wants, and do a family vacation every now and then. Success is relaxing in my condo and knowing that the lawn will be maintained and the snow will be plowed by someone else. I have learned to simplify success to the basic things in life. I will confess, I still have an entrepreneur spirit and have even gone on to get more education. I subscribe to lifelong learning and will always pursue personal growth and development.
Giving of self and knowing that I am able to make a difference in someone’s life is fulfilling. Take some time and consider the following:
- How do you define success?
- Are you letting someone else define it for you?
- Are you simply checking a box each day for someone else?
- Are you in a turning point in your life where it really makes a difference?
To find your definition of success, you need to dig deep within yourself and question your values in life.
- What are your strengths and where is your influence?
- What are the things that are important to you?
By answering these questions you can come closer to what really provides you with the fulfillment that keeps you going each and every day. Remember, your journey is the portrait you paint so make it as beautiful as you can.