A lot of needless suffering is rooted in the misperceptions of success.
We are surrounded by a materialistic culture and get to experience first-hand the kind of “happiness” it brings when we obtain a specific title or object. You may even feel it from time to time, like buying the new iPhone or basking in the scent of a fresh new car. It’s not necessarily bad to have these things, but many times, the reasons why we crave these things are a bit misconstrued.
The truth, however, is that success is ephemeral in all areas of life. The smell of the new car will fade. The new phone will be replaced — sooner, rather than later — by a more advanced, sleeker, lighter, and better one. Someone younger, stronger, or smarter will eventually come and beat your record.
At a time where my self-defeating behavior was at its highest, my issue was that I chased after the wrong kind of success. Television and mass media would exemplify what the meaning of success was — the new car, the job title, a certain kind of body, etc. — and I would believe in it. This elicited a lot of frustration, resentment, and jealousy because it always felt like I was trying to catch up.
When I became aware of my behavior, I was certain that it was fruitless. If I continued to chase after these false objects of happiness and success, what I would ultimately be doing is running around in circles.
In my honest opinion, life is about moving forward, not ending up where you started.
How to Redefine The Meaning of Success
In order to lead the life that you desire, you must set your own goals and idea of success according to what you want — not what television or your parents want. This is all about you, your life, and idea of success.
1. Ask yourself: What is success?
If I were to define what success is, I would start small. But how do you define it without selling yourself short? As a writer, a feeling of success is being able to draft up something everyday, no matter what day it is. I can write 1000 words of just terrible nonsense, but still be satisfied that I did what I’m supposed to do. To beat myself up because I didn’t write a brilliant post is a false sense of success based on expectations that are not my own.
Plus, it’s not even realistic.
What is success to you? Is it getting up in the mornings and getting to the gym? Is it the To-Do list that you set out for yourself the day before? The purpose of defining your own success is to start living a life based on your own expectations and terms. The actions that bring you joy, a sense of accomplishment, service, and progress are where you should be investing your energy.
2. How do I achieve it?
Chances are, if it makes you happy and requires you to use your skills and effort, then you probably should be doing it everyday. The new phone or car — those are just temporary rewards; they won’t last.
The moment you define what the meaning of success is to you, the only way to achieve it is to take the steps forward in accomplishing your goals or objectives. The moment you stop trying to constantly please others and meet their expectations, only then can you find joy in the things you are already doing — or will start doing.
Really sit down — even write it out if you have to — and define what success is to you. You can create both short-term and long-term goals. My short-term goals consists of writing daily, accomplishing my tasks, and being of service to others. My long-term goals would be finishing my book, building my readership on my blog, and seeing other’s achieve their goals overtime.
Work towards daily success, not only the success that comes at the end of the journey. Do this everyday, and your actions will bring you closer to your ultimate goals.
To free yourself from the limitations of what other’s perceive as success is a tremendous opportunity to define life on your own terms. You learn to stop chasing things that simply don’t matter — but at one point you thought they did — and instead, you start to focus on the things that help you differentiate progress versus procrastination.
The fruitless emotions of anger, jealousy, and resentment should play no part in the attainment of your endeavors and the ability to succeed; those are just distractions.
The more you strive to be better than yesterday, the more success you will feel because progress, at times, can be felt. You can feel it in your body when progressing and working hard towards completing a project. You can see it when you reflect back on when you first started, and the leaps that you took to get to where you are today.
Once you remove the veil of what success really means to you, only then can you start achieving it daily and on your own expectations.
Don’t wait to start living like this. You can start today. As a matter of fact, you should start today, because continuously living everyday with expectations that are not of your own is a day that is not truly yours.
How do you define your success? What do you do to achieve it? Share your insights below.
Featured photo credit: Real Meaning of Success, Young businessman on a ladder via Shutterstock