• David Strittmatter

Your definition of success can change your life

Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you're proud to live. ― Anne Sweeney
Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

Dear friend,


What the media tells us about success is a mess. The life of the rich and the beautiful is the benchmark. The extreme is what’s desirable: perfect outfits, expensive food, fancy drinks, unlimited travel, fast cars, etc.


We are constantly confronted with pictures and stories that create a new desire. And these desires need to be satisfied, making us feel miserable if we fail to do so.


Given this mess, we have to define success individually and don’t let media, society, or anyone else spoil our very own definition of success.


While many people already have a (healthy) understanding of what success looks like, many others haven’t defined it yet.


To live a happy and fulfilled life, we all have to make a meaningful effort to individually define success and constantly remind ourselves of our definition given the media will try its best to spoil it.


But how to find your definition of success? And why is it so important? That’s what today’s blog article will be about.


Summary:

  • By contemplating your own definition of success, you lay the foundation for a meaningful and happy life

  • Don’t let anybody tell you how you have to live your life

  • Materialistic things won't make us happy but rather tend to make us feel more miserable

Practical advice:

  • Imagine a person whom you believe has achieved NO success - write down the achievements that seem like success but are the opposite

  • Imagine a person whom you believe has achieved true success - write down the things that me her/him successful

  • Ask yourself: Why should you strive for something that you define as success?


How to find your definition of success


No one should tell you what success looks like. It’s to be defined individually by asking yourself the right questions:


First, imagine a person whom you believe has achieved NO success. Use this person as a template to find out what success doesn't look like. What are the achievements that seem like success but are the opposite?


For instance, I have a strong bias against celebrities like the Kardashians. In order to explore this prejudice, I asked myself why I think these people aren't good for our society and framed my own success definition around the answers.


Second, imagine a person whom you believe has achieved true success. Use this person as a template: What does this person exactly do and whom does s/he directly and indirectly affect?


For example, Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft. His company affects, directly and indirectly, billions of people. What are the positive and negative effects of his actions? How did he achieve that? Why did he want to achieve it? Do you think he is a happy person?

Third, ask yourself: Why do you want to be successful? Why should you strive for something that you define as success?


My definition of success requires contributing to a better world. And making this world at least a little better is what eventually makes me happy. Thus, being successful implies happiness.


You should ask yourself the same questions. Do you want to maximize your happiness? Do you want to be famous? Do you want to be influential, powerful, inspirational, well-known, ...

Use the outcomes of these three steps to devise your success definition. Then, from now on, you should never judge yourself based on a conventional definition of it again.


Your definition of success can change your life


By contemplating your own definition of success, you lay the foundation for a meaningful and happy life. Social comparison is among the factors that make people the most unhappy. The conventional success definition is based on steady comparisons, whether it is money, aesthetics, achievements, or the number of likes and followers.


Don’t let anybody tell you how you have to live your life. Life is too short to let others spoil your limited time on Earth. If you steer towards the aspirations of someone else, you live the life others set for you.


Merriam-Webster dictionary defines success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” This definition of success doesn't provide an answer to why. Why should you strive for monetary wealth? Empirical studies have shown for years that these materialistic things won't make us happy but rather tend to make us feel more miserable.


If you’re making tons of money through a fast-paced career or your own business but are unhappy, then you haven’t embraced the fact that incredible financial success often carries a heavy personal price.


Incorporate a strong why in your success definition, you will have a metric that will support you throughout your life to be the happy person you want to be.

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