Having a more fulfilling life is all about fine-tuning the meaning of success to a definition that reflects the most authentic you. There are people out there who are insanely rich but feel miserable on the inside. There are people who live plain, ordinary lives but are very much happy and content.
Additionally, there are also people out there who make an absurd amount of money, but save little to nothing at all.
On the other hand, there are people out there who make just enough but save a lot in the process.
There are also those who are already rich, but still retain a scarcity mindset while others live generously, despite their limited resources.
So who would you call successful?
The worst thing you could ever believe about career success is the narrow view that it only corresponds to raking in lots of cash or achieving Mark Zuckerberg-like fame. Of course, money and recognition matter in some way, but those are only parts of the equation.
If life was meant to be lived like a smooth-sailing ship, then there won’t be any exceptional sailors in the world.
Accepting the traditional views of success without determining its relevance to you robs you of the chance to fulfill your most authentic desires.
In a world where people come from different backgrounds with varying personalities and characters, it’s safe to say that it only follows that individuals will value distinct things in life. So why do many people buy into the notion that in order to do good in life, you have to follow the same path the majority of people is taking?
When you think about it, it all boils down to not assessing your own needs and desires.
The fact of the matter is, not a lot of people take the time out to assess and identify the things that will really matter to them in the long run. It’s a painstaking, demanding process to dig down deep within you especially when it confronts the truth you have always held about yourself. It also takes time and effort to know what kind of things will make you feel really fulfilled.
If success is nothing like what society tells you, then what else can define success? Below are some alternative metrics that may give you more satisfaction in the long run.
Success is Valuing Your Time More Than Money
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a survey performed in 2013 revealed that the average time worked per day in the US is 8.7 hours. Multiply 8.7 by 5 and that’s a total of 43.5 hours per week, which means 2262 hours per year spent just working.
This is how much you’re spending at the office and that’s not even counting all the overtime and commute time you put in. In whatever way you look at it, that’s a significant part of your life so if you have to ask yourself, would you rather be dedicating that much time building other’s dreams and fortune, or yours?
For me, I define success as having the freedom and autonomy to do what I want with my time to pursuits that are valuable to me.
Research has shown that thinking of time in terms of money actually reduces your state of happiness. This is probably why many people working at their jobs are unhappy and explains why people do things that don’t have any financial profit for them.
A Surprising Fact About What Motivates People
In this informative video about what motivates people, psychologists found out that money only works as an incentive when it comes to work that involves mechanical skills. However, this doesn’t always hold true when the work required the use of basic cognitive skills and actually led to much poorer performance.
This is contrary to what we’ve always thought about what drives people and the surprising thing is, they got the same results whether it be on a first or third-world country.
What this tells us is that money can only do so much for you. At a certain extent, happiness and satisfaction levels off after attaining a certain amount of wealth—you won’t likely be any happier or satisfied even if you earned more.
If you believe otherwise, it’s worth stopping and taking the time out to ask yourself whether you’re making money as the main reason behind your pursuit of success. If money is the only reason you’re forced to work at a grueling job that makes you absolutely unhappy, it might help to try to figure out a better use of your time that can also fulfill you simultaneously.
Success Means Being Able To Carve Your Own Path
In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with working in a 9 to 5 job as long as that’s what you really want and it genuinely fulfills you. But if you don’t, don’t be afraid to go against the grain and take your life into an entirely new direction. There’s no pleasure and no meaning in following the norm when it’s not aligned to who you really are, because in the end, it would ultimately feel like you’re an impostor in your own skin.
You can put up a front at the onset, but sooner or later, your facade is bound to crack and this could potentially lead to future breakdowns.
Although it takes a few tries to know the right path for you, those who are willing to break a few rules along the way have an increased chance to succeed. Moreover, discovering your individuality also leads to a more innovative and proactive approach if you’re an entrepreneur.
Whether it means leaving a cushiony job to build your own startup, eschewing a family, or moving across the world to volunteer, the best way to success is one that matches your deepest, innermost desires.
However, paving your own path means you have to let go of control. The future will be uncertain, but that’s part and parcel of any kind of change. This unpredictability is what makes life interesting. Embrace it and let it teach you things you’ve never known before.
Success Is Not Just About Talent
People put a lot of premium on talent, but the thing is, a potential not actualized is still worth nil. Talent alone never made anyone successful, and if it did, it wouldn’t have been sustainable in the long run. Why? Because talent needs work and no matter how talented you are, if you don’t show up or back it with actions then you’ll always be the “might-have-been.”
There have been a lot of studies that proved that personality matters more than talent when it comes to success. A longitudinal study published a few years back has stated that it’s conscientiousness and emotional stability that lead to better job satisfaction and job income.
When you work hard and strive to remain calm in the face of personal or professional pressures, then you’re increasing your chances to succeed.
An acquaintance of mine posted a story on his social media account where his assistant told him that he was talented, but his laziness is hampering his own success. The incredulous thing is that he was even proud of it and valued the seeming promise of his talent more than what he could do with it.
It’s a shame that some people get stuck on possibilities when they could be making things happen.
The True Measure of Success
Out in this world, you are measured by what you do and the results you deliver. No matter how big your potential is, the outcome is still what would prove your mettle. In short, you need to be able to show something with what you have.
There are also other factors of success that are much more important than talent, which renowned success expert Richard St. John elaborates on his TED talk below. In his talk, he revealed eight traits that lead to success—a result of a research he undertook over the course of a decade with the world’s most successful people in different fields as his participants. In the eight traits, he mentioned, the talent was absent.
It’s passion, hard work, focus, persistence and as well as being oriented toward service, improvement, and pushing yourself that spells success.
So don’t get hang up on talent as the best, single factor that could aid you on your way to success. Take a more holistic approach and utilize all aspects of yourself to achieve the things you’ve always wanted for yourself, because this is what would serve you the most in the long run.
Success Is Not Formulaic
The potential scope of what success can mean is wide.
Although there are a lot of traits, outcomes, and materials equated with success, the truth is that every person is different and everyone needs to carefully fine-tune their own definition of success.
I’ve tried to mention a few perspectives that you might want to associate with success, but these should just serve as tools that you can use to guide you on your path. Common sense dictates that no matter how good your tools are, that still won’t necessarily make you a great carpenter.
To make use of these tools to the best of your abilities, you have to remember that success is not about what others see, but how you feel.
You might have all the accolades, the money, or the fame you’ve ever wanted, but if it doesn’t resonate to what you really need then it won’t be worth a scrap to your value.
What’s your perspective on success? Do you agree or disagree with the above points?
Also published on Medium.