On Tuesday something strange and new happened: I thought about success. It hadn’t ever occurred to me before, this idea of success. It has always been something to achieve, a place to get to, but not somewhere I’d been before. But I realized, while rocking out to my iPod at work, charting an excel sheet, and watching the minutes slooowwwlllyyy tick by – I actually think I’m successful. I really do. I don’t have tons of money, I don’t yet have the career I want, but I’m really, really happy. Like… the most content I’ve ever been in my entire life. Truly. And I’m doing things in this world that I’m proud of. Success, it made me feel good.
But then I also thought that other people, probably lots and lots of other people, people close to me and far from me, most likely do not think I am successful. I don’t own a home, I don’t have a manager’s position, I have major (exciting) goals for myself in the next 5 years but they may all fail miserably, we don’t have tons of savings, we can’t afford all the things we wish we could (do you ever?), and we very much are still building our lives. So how can I be a success already?
So it got me wondering what other people thought, so I asked the internet. From the facebook page I asked “I have a question for you… like a real one I would love for you to respond to: Do you consider yourself successful? Explain please.” And then later, “Regardless of how you feel, do you think other people view you as successful or not?”
I was surprised by those who responded with no, especially those who I personally think are huge successes, way more successful than I probably will ever be. But for those who did think they were rockin’ it out, a lot of them boasted personal successes above professional/monetary success. Maybe when you’re really happy that’s all the success you need, maybe the things that people can measure – $$ and status – and the things that the outside world judge you by, play no part in your own idea of being successful. And maybe this is an ideal scenario, and only is 1/2 truth. Because my job and our growing careers are part of my idea of success. It’s a big combination of things, and maybe it’s just too personal to pin down to a formula.
But I want to ask you, and I really want to know the truth: Are you successful? What makes you feel like you are or aren’t? Do you think other people would view you as successful? Why?
What is this success thing? How do we know we’ve gotten there?