We live in a society where we are bombarded by ideas and images that saturate and define our lives.
We should look like this, be this, do that, travel there, live here..
We compare ourselves to others and put value on stuff and ideas that - honestly - might not matter at all.
In this regard, one of the most important questions I was ever asked is:
What is your definition of success?
If you google 'success quotes', you get more definitions than I can account for here.
Success in everyday talk often relates to how quickly one climbs the corporate ladder, how cool your job title is, how someone earned lots of money by selling a company or how big someone's apartment is.
The problem with this type of success definition is that it often relates to our fears. We are afraid of not fitting in or being excluded, of being rejected or feeling unimportant. We are encouraged to live in a way that is expected of us.
We all grow up in different environments where we tend to copy the notion of what success is. And that’s fine.
But the wonderful thing about being a grown-up is that we can start making new decisions :)
Someone might find that success is pushing an idea that no one thought was possible to execution, for someone it might be being a great mom for her two kids. For others, maybe it's about building a legacy in a business or being of importance to a specific group of people.
Is success reaching a specific goal? Maybe living according to certain values regardless of outcome?
I don't know.
What I do believe though is that key to the answer is related to not going through life with a gnawing feeling that you are not being true to yourself and your potential.
When I was about to graduate business school, I was met with a ’reality’ that I could not fully relate to. Everyone around me seemed to be racing towards careers in either banking or consulting. When someone got an offer, everyone celebrated, but the fear of missing out grew in everyone who didn't have one.
This experience put me in a fear-based space and looking back, I was so stressed that I insanely enough followed suit. I landed a job in consulting, and because it turned out to be such a bad fit, I quit after 8 months. I do believe that is when the true spark was created in me: Is THIS my life?
I thought a lot about what success meant to me, and as I approach it today, a lot of things have changed. The less stuff I own, the happier I become. The more time I spend with the people I love, the more successful I feel. When I set goals that require some extra courage and I follow through, I thrive. Daring to say NO to a good opportunity in order to let a great one come in makes me proud!
My most important measure stick of success has become: The more people I can help and serve, the more successful and happy I am.
Why is this important? The biggest shifts I experience with people is when they start taking ownership of their own lives and start setting own definitions of success. Eliminate the noise around you and become conscious about what drives you.
In the end, this is a deeply personal question.
And only a question that we can answer for ourselves. Do I want to live by a definition that someone else created? Or would I rather follow my inner voice and be true to myself.
So, what does success mean to you?
Only you can know.
Image credit: Simply CVR