At face value, the definition of success can feel pretty narrow. Growing up, many of us are told that to be successful we need to go to college, land a well-paying job, work up the ladder, receive hefty raises, contribute to our 401(k) and then retire with a healthy retirement and time to finally do what we want.
But what if, instead, “success” was all of the smaller moments that happened between point “A” and point “B”. The moments we often overlook and take for granted: Saturday’s spent at our kid’s baseball tournament, walks down the block, time spent covered in paint from crafts or home improvement projects – time spent smiling.
Those moments aren’t just “nice to haves” on your way towards success – they’re the only ones that really matter.
I’ve spent most of my life planning and working to achieve the next goal and then the next one and the next one after that. For a long time, I believed the more I got done and the more I achieved, the more successful I was.
Don’t get me wrong, working hard helped me become good at what I do. I gained the gifts of knowledge and expertise. I got good at leading and the years of burning the midnight oil shaped me into who I am today.
Yet, this approach came at the sacrifice of just about everything else – family, health, friendships, and hobbies. This certainly did not make me happy and it didn’t make me successful.
Ask yourself, is success simply a measure of how much you’ve accomplished in any given day, week, or month? Is success a measure of how much money you make?
Perhaps not. At least, not when you have enough to pay your bills and live comfortably. In fact, study after study says that after you start earning 75k a year, money does not increase your happiness. Money buys time and things, but that only equates to happiness up and to a certain point.
Many people think success means working for yourself and being able to define how and when you work. Yes, I have flexibility today, but that’s because I had absolutely no flexibility 20 years ago. Are you willing to go without for years, so that someday you can have more time and money? Or is this just time and cost shifting? Either way, working for yourself does not always equate to success.
I’m not here to say that any definition of success is wrong or right. I am, however, stressing the importance of really taking the time to reflect on what you’re working for and compare it against what you already know to be true of yourself. When are you the happiest? When are you the most content? When do you feel the spark in your soul that reminds you that You. Are. Alive.
Whatever that is – that’s what success feels like. You shouldn’t be working most of your life in hopes that you can bask in success after retirement. No – you need to figure out how to feel successful every day. Most of the time, it’s as simple as shifting your perspective.
I asked my network what their definition of success was.
I polled my network on LinkedIn and asked them what definition of success they were working towards. Only 3% said an abundance of wealth, 29% said thriving relationships and a secure and stable future, and the majority, 39% said freedom for their time and energy.
I’m with the 39% on this one. How about you?
My journey in life has given me clarity into what matters most to me. I want to be happy. I learned later in life that I have that choice and that happiness has little to do with money or possessions.
After years of working towards some arbitrary and fleeting measure of success, I made the intentional and resolute decision that I would control my happiness. That true success meant that I have the time and space to do whatever I want. Time to create and think, to write and to focus on being the best version of myself.
To me, success also means having the privilege to use my time and resources to give back. To leave a legacy by positively impacting others throughout this journey called life. The mark of any great life is what we leave behind, and personally, I achieve this by creating a community at Placers. A community that can live their best life with the tools, operating philosophies and values that we instill. I want my community to want to work towards being their best selves.
As always, I strongly encourage you to reply and let me know your thoughts. We’re all one community and I learn from every single one of you that takes the time to share their experiences with me. How do you measure success? How has this definition changed through the years? What is one thing you would tell your younger self on the topic of success?
Until next time, friends.
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