How Do You Define Success?
Mindfulness and success are not mutually exclusive, but who defines success and how do we remain mindful while pursuing it?
We can be incredibly influenced by others’ concept of success instead of defining our own version of success. In a world where we are rated daily by complete strangers through likes, retweets, and reviews, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on looking successful or in other words, defining our success based on other people’s opinions and expectations regarding our level of success instead of what we feel is successful.
This seems to be even more prevalent now as we face the Great ReShuffle. After the Great Resignation, we are now seeing more and more workers turning to entirely new careers or improving their skills in the careers they love. What is the definition of success? One dictionary defines success as “attaining wealth, prosperity and/or fame.” Another defines it as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Other definitions on the internet are “the achievement of desired visions and planned goals…an outcome that turns out well, is desirable or is favorable…and satisfactory completion of something.” No wonder we all have a different definition of success!
It's fairly obvious that to define success, we have to understand our values. I don’t place a high value on money for example, so that shifts my aims and purpose away from wealth, prosperity and fame. Don’t misunderstand, money is important to meet our basic needs and to enjoy the comforts of life and I certainly appreciate what we can do with money. I just think pursuing money for the sake of acquiring it is not my purpose and does not necessarily lead to a fulfilling life in and of itself. But it seems that most of society measures success in terms of wealth and fame, so I feel somewhat out of sync with the world at large. And that is what sometimes causes me to question whether I’m successful or not.
The point here is that if we pursue what is important to us and we achieve it, then we are successful. If we acquire wealth, prosperity and fame in the process, then great if you want those things, but those are empty achievements if the way we acquire them is through spending our lives doing something without purpose or meaning. That’s a fairly mindless way to live. That was how our company’s name was created. Everyone we knew was living to work. Trying to make money. Trying to get the bigger, fancier car, house, trip, or retirement account, while being miserable every day.
This is very likely what fueled the great resignation and now the great reshuffle. After having three years to think about the precariousness of life, a lot of people took a good look at how they are spending the majority of it. Some spent the time recognizing that they have the big fancy house but that they don’t have time to really enjoy it because they have to work so hard to meet the mortgage payments. And one of the most common themes is the number of people who didn’t realize how much time they spent sitting in traffic instead of being with their families until they were homebound and decided “no more.”
It seems we’re having a mid-life crisis around the definition of success. I’m excited by it, even though I know a lot of the people who have quit their jobs will be tempted to return to the status quo in a new job because the pressure is intense to conform to other people’s expectations.
Between remote work and people breaking out to create their own businesses, that’s a lot of people shifting from living to work to working to live. It seems we might have learned something during those shutdowns that changed lives. We might even be becoming more mindful in our approach to life.
Have you considered your measurements for success? You work in a field that can have visible returns for you on an emotional level, and unfortunately, sometimes not. But the rewarding nature of your career puts you a step ahead of many. Your emotional bank account could be full, or close to it. That sense of pride and passion for what you do can make you feel more successful than some of the richest folks around. There’s nothing wrong with riches, but most of us have been influenced to believe that fame and fortune are what defines success and that simply isn’t true. Success is personal. From a mindful perspective, it is based on individual values and requires self-awareness. It incorporates our sense of joy, purpose, beliefs and desires. It takes into consideration the impact our pursuit of success has on others. And it reminds us that as with mindfulness, it is the journey that is important.
If you are looking to improve your skills on a personal or work level, we have a ton of resources for you! We just launched our new learning site to the public, take a look: work2livewell.thinkific.com.