We all tend to be cautious in the ways that we approach the world. If our life doesn’t match the preconceived notions of what “success” has become in our modern day, we tend to dive deep into the self-worth game. Ultimately telling ourselves that we aren’t going anywhere with our future and believing that if we don’t have one of these two things — wealth and status — then we might as shrivel away to nothing.
These two “traits” have become a correlative pair in the past few years and have taught us that we aren’t truly “successful” until we have something defining us. Whether it is having a good job and managing people, or being the most valuable player in our community. Either way, we tend to think that we need to do or have something to be spectacular.
I’ve recently come to the realization that “success” to me has become less of what I have, and more about what I do. I’ve been on a constant path of never ending questions, trying to determine the value of success in my life and even finding an ulterior route to it. I didn’t want the high-paying, high-status corporate career. I didn’t want to be that famous local startup founder that everyone is raving about. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to find my true self even if that meant defying all traditional practices of success.
I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to take a step back from the “real world.” To say no to things that you have learned to crave for so long. To break through the borders that society has set. But that is all part of truly finding yourself and finding what your personality aches for. What makes you, you.
Here are a few of the questions that I asked myself while trying to find the true meaning of success in my life.
1. Where is my happy place?
Everyone seems to have a “happy place.” A place of comfort, where you can feel safe and secure, and overall “happy.” For some, this tends to be a childhood home, or the location of an annual family vacation.
When I tried to picture this place, nothing specific came to mind. It was a little frustrating and to be honest, a tiny bit concerning. Why couldn’t I come up with anything? What could possibly be wrong with me? I love so many places but I don’t have a happy place. How does that even make sense? And then it hit me. It was because I have fallen in love with so many places, time and time again, my heart can’t handle just having one happy place. My happy place can not be contained — it’s every place I have ever been and will ever travel to. I’m a natural born explorer, longing for experiences. So, why limit myself to only one when my heart craves so much more?
2. Do I actually need things to be happy?
As someone who has been a fan of the minimalist movement for quite a while now, I can assure you that having “things” is not as big of a deal as you once thought it was. In fact, they tend to bring more clutter and chaos into your life.. I’ve found that I am in my happiest state when I have less and can do more. It’s truly freeing to not be bound by things.
3. What do I want to achieve?
At any age, it’s hard to know exactly what you want from life. Which is why I took a major step into the “now,” and stopped thinking as much into the future as I had been. I used to picture this fantasy life for myself — full of money from my high paying job as a doctor, and probably a beach house or two. But when I stopped thinking about the instant gratification that I would get from being “rich,” I realized that I could fulfill my life’s greatest wishes in other ways. Ways that involved me refraining from the societal norms and focusing in on defining my life’s present vision.
So, how do these question about happiness and achievements apply to success?
Not everyone is going to have the same definition of success — and we shouldn’t. We are all different, as should be our dreams and aspirations. But for most, the relevancy between happiness and success is very common. I’ve found that I am more likely to define something as successful when it makes me happy. When I am able to grin from ear to ear because of the life i’ve been able to create for myself.
This success and happiness for me has become a never ending cycle of travel, working remotely, experiencing new adventures and cultures, and learning new things. It’s become less about what I have and more about where i’m at, what i’ve done and where i’m headed. The idea that I should have things that don’t accurately represent me has completely vanished and I can focus in on the success of being able to explore life.
So, what does success mean to you and where are you going to find it?