Success is something I never thought I cared for. I didn’t ever feel particularly motivated by money, or to “climb the ladder” or to “join in the rat race.” Perhaps it was growing up on a hippie island, or having 90’s media examples of so-called successful people looking so miserable, or a combination of both. Whatever it was, I did not think I wanted to “be successful.”
However, education is a thing. In Canada anyway, post-secondary education is the natural (and expensive) progression from high school, which meant that I was faced with a lot of expectation, pressure, and some new examples of success. Even just completing a group project was a success, which, if you’ve ever done a group project, you know is no small feat! So I began to see that success wasn’t just Tom Cruise screaming angrily at someone to “SHOW ME THE MONEY” or a woman being obliged to wear stuffy dresses and attend stuffier balls and make hm-hm posh noises over clinking glasses.
Around the same time, I also got into New Age-y books and more esoteric concepts. So all of these things: my hometown, my education, and my esoteric findings, combined to form a new, murky, malleable definition of success: whatever I wanted it to be.
I do like Paulo Coelho’s definition of success, as shared above. It sums it up pretty nicely for me, and goes back to integrity as well. Being able to go to bed each night with my soul at peace.
To me, this looks like doing the best I can each day. Doing what I believe is right, and always striving to learn, to grow, and to be a better person. I’m human, so some days I don’t do a great job. But I ask for guidance each day, and learn to listen a little better to that quiet voice inside… and act on it. Could I be doing better? Yes. Am I doing better? Also yes. Life, to me, is about progress, not perfection. I forgive myself for my very human mistakes and behaviour, and don’t put myself up on a pedestal, scolding myself for not having been perfect today.
Amanda Frances says, our self-worth and our net worth are linked. As in, the more we value ourselves, our net worth (an external measuring stick of our “value”) also grows. Given her experience, I’d say she’s something of an expert in the matter! Although it’s slightly more complicated than that, it’s true… if we don’t believe in ourselves or think we’re worthy human beings, no one else is going to value us highly either.
So I think there must be some balance. For me, if I have helped one person throughout the day or put a smile on someone’s face, I have helped spread a little light and joy and made the world a better place. That, to me, is success. If I have used my time well, on things that light me up and make me a better human being, that is success. If I have connected to nature, or had a meaningful connection with another person, that is success. If I have managed to raise my self-esteem, my self-worth, even just a little bit today, that is success.
While I of course would like to have a bank account the size of Amanda Frances’ I still need to get over the idea that I have to be shouting Jerry Maguire-style into a phone to get there. And I love that there are more and more positive role models of these standard external measurements of success. But I also love, even more, the freedom I feel in finding my own idea of success, and working on it bit by bit each day.
I don’t know if my evening musings are useful to you, but it’s nice for me to write some of these things out, and I love to talk to people about their individual ideas of success.
So tell me, what does success mean to you? Comment below!