What is Success?
Photo by Ashley Kickliter
Most people go into the year with success in their mind.
Usually we think of the “failure” of the past year and guarantee to ourselves that this year it will be better. The only problem with this mindset is that most people believe there is only one form of success. I have come to realize that success may go beyond material gain.
Success is often associated with landing a job in the business world, earning high amounts of money, buying your dream car, having a family, etc. Being taught that success is only limited to those options can be detrimental to our self-esteem. Success is a very ambiguous word. Here is the definition of success according to Merriam Webster: favorable or desired outcome; also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence. Even the definition of success associates the word to wealth and gaining a higher position. I agree with the first part of the definition, because it leaves room for interpretation. It allows the word to have several meanings.
I came across the Twitter user @mlmhelp_edu who tweeted a picture of a quote saying, “I dare you today to pave your own way. Chart out your own path based on your own convictions. Don’t let others try to force you to follow what they are doing, and don’t try to force others to follow what you are doing. What’s best for one person may not be best for another”. This helped me realize that success is different to each individual. To me, success means learning to be content with my body and life. It means to grow as a writer, to grow physically stronger, and to continuously love those around me. Someone else’s interpretation of success is completely different from my definition. Although our meaning of the word is different from one another, we should still applaud those who work hard and achieve their form of success.
This thought process helped me understand that success is unique to each individual because the definition of happiness is different for everyone. The reason why I would like to reach my form of success is to be happy. My happiness is compatible to my form of success. According to Business Insider, 90% of Americans believe that success correlates with happiness instead of material gain. They discusses how Americans have changed their perspective on success overtime by associating it with their personal journeys. Only one in five participants have responded that success is dependant on monetary gain. Since success is heavily related to happiness, we shouldn’t devalue other people’s goals simply because it isn’t the same as our goal. If a friend’s definition of success means creating her own brand in fashion then I will cheer her on. If another friend’s success means becoming an art teacher I will give her the same amount of support. I would be proud of anyone who achieves their form of success.
Our desire for success not only stems from happiness; it also stems from our fear of failure. Failure often means to disappoint others and ourselves. There is this expectation you feel you need to fulfill perfectly and as fast as possible. But where there is success, there is failure. Your form of success would not be possible without it. Failure is the place where you grow the most. To this day, when I fail my first reaction is to criticize myself in an unhealthy way. By “unhealthy”, I mean I think about how I will never be good enough to reach my goals. It’s okay to criticize yourself as long as it is the healthy way where you view your failure from an opportunistic perspective. Take the time to note your mistakes and then ask yourself what you can do to change it. During this process, never forget that you are always good enough. It is your attitude that will get you through your failures. It’s better to take advantage of your failures because it is getting you closer to your success.
If your definition of success is completely different from those around you, I’m here to tell you it’s ok. I applaud you for having a goal that will make you feel accomplished and happy in life. That’s all that matters. Your definition of success does not need validation from anyone, because it is your life and it is just as important as the goals of others.
This year, keep striving. Keep failing. Keep growing. Keep being successful.