The meaning of success is different for all of us. For many people the success factors, they measure against, have something to do with their level of influence, affluence, and lifestyle. But is the only way to define prosperity? Stay with me here. Because I love all that stuff, but ....
Some time ago I met a woman who by most people's standards is exceptionally successful. Regularly interviewed on national television and radio. A fabulous husband, and two gorgeous children. She has the money and lifestyle that most people only dream of. Spend a few hours in her presence, and you get the sense that she feels like her life is a bust!
The problem is, she isn't living a life that she feels she owns. It is very apparent that she has jumped through all the hoops. Collected all the trophies that would suggest she should be feeling happy, fulfilled and content with her life. It seems she is none of these. Her 'success' is missing something.
She's the puppet on someone else's strings! Not that I know for sure, but I suspect she's living her parents dream! There must be a reason so many people, from so many walks of life show up on Masterchef!
Halfway through our conversation, it reminded me of another conversation, a month earlier with my daughter, Connor, who at the time was 16. It struck me, this person doesn't get the meaning of success as skillfully, or as profoundly, as my daughter.
Connor and I had been talking about life, and what it meant to be successful. She said, "I think success is being the person you can be, and living life the way you want to."
Connor, already, somehow, seems to understand that being popular, or doing what everyone else wants her to do, is not as important as living her values. Setting her own goals and feeling content within herself.
For example, when she was younger, I wanted her to have dancing lessons. She's got a load of natural talent. I think lessons could develop it even more. But she resists saying, "I'm a free spirit, I want to do my own thing!"
At 12, she already gets that the meaning of success is enjoying a life that is her own. Following her own inner calling to what is her bliss. Not one dictated to her by me or anyone else. True success factors in my humble opinion! As frustrating as that can be as a parent :(
" Follow Your Bliss"
As I talked with this impressive and influential woman in her 40's, it came to me that she hasn't 'gotten it'. She is still working hard to be approved of. To be popular. To be the leader of the pack. To fit the 'success' mold.
Even though she has the recognition and wealth that she probably always desired, in her own eyes, she isn't succeeding. Her life is incomplete, because it isn't hers. She's the mouse on the wheel created by others.
The meaning of success can be fame, more money, bigger house, more toys etc. There's no question about it: these are the things that make for a great life. But they aren't the things that necessarily lead to fulfillment.
Success is not about allowing peer pressure to drive your choices. To dress the right way, dance the right way, listen to the right music, live in the right neighborhood, have the right size house, drive the right car or have the right career. Sure all the toys are fabulous and fun! I've got plenty of them. But for life to be fulfilling, you need to go to a deeper level.
Your halcyon days are when you live your own life, according to your values. According to what makes your heart sing. Doing things that are meaningful to you and bring you joy.
If you are feeling that living this way, may be out of your reach right now, you may find it useful to take the Job Career or Calling Quiz and follow that up by reading the article on whether you are in a Job, Career or Calling.
Living with passion, following your heart, being loved and loving, making a difference to all who come into contact with you - these are the true meanings of success.
Ultimately, the meaning of success is contained within your heart. How are you feeling? If it's celebratory, engaged, uplifted, excited, then you are living a successful life. If it is something less than that, it may be time to redefine who you are and how you are living.
Take the rocking chair test. When you are 100+ sitting in your rocking chair reviewing your life, how fulfilling has it been?
The path to success can be many and varied. Building a business, being a leader, creating art, or music, being a politician, teacher, health practitioner, being a stay at home Mum or Dad.
Whatever you choose, make sure it is YOUR path. That you are, to quote a very wise 16 year old, "being the person you can be, and living your life the way you want to". For me these are the ultimate success factors to measure your life by!
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