Do a Google Search on “what is success?” and see over 1.10 million results. Enter “what is success to you?” and results are again still well over a million. Who defines your life success? Is it you or someone else?
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Success is a tricky thing — not everyone agrees on what it means — but ask anyone if he or she wants to be successful and you’ll hear a resounding, “Yes!” The good news is that we each can define success to fit within our own worldview. In this way, we create realities that allow us to live happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives.
What Is Your View Of A Successful Life?
Parents and society provide our first definitions of success when we are children; as enlightened adults, we follow these teachings but are not constrained by them. “Success” means different things to different people, so it is important to ask yourself what it means to you.
Define your view of success by writing down what you mean by, “I want to be successful.”
Describe success in your terms for these categories:
- Relationship aspirations: Do you want to marry and have a family? Remain single? Wait a while before deciding? What types of friends do you want?
- Educational goals: Do you plan to complete high school? Some sort of trade school or certification? College? Professional training? What are your lifelong learning goals?
- Professional accomplishments: Do you aspire to a certain job title or level within a company or profession? To start your own business, work as an independent consultant or be an inventor?
- Financial success: Money isn’t everything, but without financial remuneration for work, sustaining your own life and those of your family becomes difficult. Do you have a particular financial goal?
- Emotional health: How do you define happiness? Is being happy a measure of your successful life?
- Physical health: How do you plan to stay active through adulthood, or perhaps avoid health issues common to your family?
- Values to demonstrate: What values would you like people to associate with you? Think of principles and characteristics important to you such as integrity, honesty, loving, compassionate and others.
- Religious participation: Are you religious? Is membership in a formal religion important to you? How involved do you intend to be? How will that contribute to your life success?
- Contributions to others: Are there specific ways you want to contribute to your community or to society at large?
By defining success on your terms, you stand a greater chance of achieving it. Having goals clearly outlined helps retain focus on the path you design.
When Should You Define Your Vision Of A Successful Life?
As soon as you are aware of internal questions about success, now and in the future, it pays to consider what success means to you and to establish specific, relevant goals. If you find yourself thinking about life in terms of successes and failures (we all have them!), the above exercise will be useful. It is a living definition to be adjusted throughout your lifetime, and you should:
- Review your progress toward goals at least annually.
- Confirm that the goals previously outlined remain important to you and are still relevant. If not, revise them!
What If Things Don’t Work Out The Way You Planned?
As a young adult, you have aspirations and expectations of life. Depending upon your circumstances, reality later in life may be different. Your path may have diverged slightly or dramatically from the route you expected to follow. What we care about at age 50 is unlikely to mirror thoughts from age 20.
- Reassess your priorities and goals as your life expands and changes. The goal is to evolve gracefully through life challenges.
- Forgive yourself if you don’t hit the target every time. No one does. Learn from every experience.
- Don’t forget to reward yourself for your accomplishments! Celebrate your successes along the way.
It is also worthwhile to consider what others have to say about the secrets of success. Consider these inspirational thoughts:
“Self-trust is the first secret of success, the belief that if you are here the authorities of the universe put you here, and for cause, or with some task strictly appointed you in your constitution, and so long as you work at that you are well and successful.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
~ Diane Ackerman
“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”
~ Dr. Joyce Brothers