The term ‘success’ has come up a few times in my world lately.
I was having a really interesting chat with my Sarah over a daytime cocktail bowl. We realised that many people have a pretty standard view of what makes a person successful.
I’m starting to realise that my definition is quite different from the norm. I thought I’d analyse a few of the definitions I know to help me better understand the different perspectives.
Do we really all judge ourselves and each other by these standards?
Let’s start with the thing we have been trained to value above all else since the day we could count: moola.
It makes the world go round, there’s no denying it. I know people who can’t breathe unless they have several thousands nestled deep within their untouchable savings account.
They have the freedom to buy the nicer things, treat themselves on occasion. But there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing those numbers tick up and up every payday.
It’s starting with nothing and making decisions each day that get you to a place of calm and comfort.
That self control is impressive to say the least. While others blow it all in an online shopping spree over a glass of wine (guilty) the knowledge that no matter what life throws at you, you’re prepared and on top of it. You’re not a slave to a bank or in debt to anyone, that’s success.
The driving force, the crowning jewel. Oh, to be a boss!
It’s not just about power, though it feels damn good to take control, it’s about having a reason to get out of bed everyday.
There’s a fire in your belly, a drive, a force pushing you to give your chosen path your whole heart and soul.
Lunches ate at a desk between phone calls, balls with awards and glamour and recognition. Seeing your name on the leader board, a thank you email, a cuddle from someone you helped. There are so many reasons to be proud.
Degrees, commutes, essays, studies. Getting to work and leaving in darkness. A sense of total achievement. Glory, recognition, importance; maybe even fame.
A career is a purpose alright. It’s the highest highs and the lowest lows with the people you spend more time with than friends and family.
Putting your heart in to your work? That’s success.
What an overwhelming thirst it is, to understand, to comprehend the world and her wonders.
News articles are beautiful things. The media can be a necessary evil at times but they’ve learned how to weed out the scare tactics and get to the heart of the facts.
Books are fuel. They’re an escape and a companion. Like two lives running simultaneously, there’s the conscious person and the person living inside the stories, past and present and everything in between.
Documentaries are relaxing viewing. Dates and events are stacking in mind, occasionally skewing but always sparking interest and pride.
Deep, stimulating conversations with companions who share your need to understand, to challenge, to explore. To hold your own with the passionate and intellectual alike, that’s success.
I can’t count how many people I know with slabs, cars and engagement rings. They’re somewhere along the building time scale or checking out display homes. They’ve got a fat deposit in their bank account ready to burn. They’ve got a beautiful, brand new car. They’re living in their own self-designed haven.
They’ve worked damn hard, they’ve made sacrifices. They didn’t get to go out and play, go on the holidays. But, to buy the ultimate independence? That’s pretty incredible.
They’ve got beautiful things. They might have beautiful hair and makeup and jewellery or maybe it’s just a beautiful home, a well taken care of vehicle. They’ve dedicated years to it, they deserve it. Now, time is theirs. Life is pretty and peaceful. Work is necessary, but it’s a means to an end.
A home, a base, freedom. A sense of pride. That’s success.
I’ve met an incredible bunch of men and women in my life, but there are a few of them who have had a small sadness in their eyes. These are the ones who tell me they’re failing. They mention a want for a person above all else. They are lonely. They don’t see life beginning until they find someone to share it’s ups and downs with. Nothing can begin until then.
This group value love above all else. A job is a job, and experiences aren’t as good unless there’s someone to share them with.
They seek a soul connection, and oh how their energy lifts and life sparkles when they find someone who feels the same.
Being single is a minefield at times, being single in your late twenties can be stressful, especially. Most of my people have found their partners in life. I’m surrounded by engagements and weddings.
Cementing the feelings, starting the story.
Love conquers all. That’s success.
Finally we come to my personal measure of success. Stories.
To me and many others, a life spent in one place is a life half lived. The world is gigantic and magical and so full of dreams to be realised and lives to intersect.
We want to expand our minds through experiences. We want to see how everyone everywhere lives and breathes. We want to understand them. I love humans and I do think love is a great measure of success, but the stories I share with people and the memories I create are what I crave. They’re how I feel alive and satisfied.
I may not have any money in the bank, and I have to work damn hard to afford my own impulsiveness, but to me it’s all worth it.
A life lived on the edge of adventure, without fear or limits, that’s what it’s all about to me. Being able to jump in head first, that’s success.
I decided to ask some of my friends their thoughts. How do they define success? What are their goals? I think millennial success is a whole different ball game.
An angry Scot of the Highlands
I just want to be happy and healthy in whatever I do. If I am comfortable to be able to fuck around and continue acting like the 10 year old I basically am mentally, whether at work or at home, I reckon that’s success. But also can’t get past the Ol’ material indicators of success too. House, car, job, family etc
A sassy Swedish feminist
Success means destroying your opponents. We’re not here to make friends.
I want babies in a beautiful apartment and to be financially stable enough to take them for daily baby chinos in my Sportscraft shirts, chinos and loafers and spend the weekends getting fucked up on red wine whilst my babies are being cared for by the Swedish au pair (because she’s not a white supremacist she wanted me to add that the reason she wants a Swedish au pair is because she wants the baby to be duo lingo).
An angelic Kiwi vagabond
I think to me it means waking up and going to sleep happy, having goals and a purpose to live for.
My life goal is to live in harmony with the land! Being self sufficient only taking what’s necessary to survive. Always has been – long way off that yet. But you know I’ve achieved some things like not eating animals.
A dreamy Brisbane fairy
Success to me is that feeling of accomplishment and pure joy after realising you achieved something you were striving for. It fills you with courage and soaring pride. It makes you realise and relish your unlimited potential. It opens you up to the next challenge. Success fuels self-love.
My life goal is to be happy. I believe I’ll achieve this by continuing to grow, change and challenge myself.
A wild and wonderful full time Asia explorer
Success is that feeling when you look back and realise how far you have come. success is consistently growing and changing as a person and knowing there is no finish line, it is consistent work and passion that isn’t always easy but nothing worth doing is easy.
My life goal is to always be learning and using my knowledge to bring others happiness and enjoyment, no matter what I might be doing, and to always be moving. I like being on the go and doing new things or visiting new places. I want to continue doing it as it keeps me content and happy.
A kind and loving Kiwi healer
Success is finding love and someone to share life with.
My goal is actually less about my career and more about building a solid life long, committed loving relationship with someone and having babies. If you don’t have a family to share your life with then what do you have. Nothing means a lot if you don’t have someone to go home to.
A fierce and fabulous Pocahontas
I guess I feel like I’ve achieved some of my dreams, but others I’m still working on (and I’ve certainly failed along the way!).
I am not sure about life goals but the next few years I’m focusing on education and finance so I have a foundation to work on my other dreams, which are more travel and one day starting a family of my own (i’d totally love to take my kids on adventures like living in a caravan or something crazy and whatever). Also, trying to reconnect with my creativity cause I’ve always wanted to write a novel but never taken myself seriously.
I do have two quotes I like that help me out though, can’t remember who said them:
“Ordinary things, done consistently, produce extraordinary results”
“Every accomplishment stars with the decision to try”
A mystifying and sensual lead singer
I consider success to be doing the things that you are doing well, getting better and better at them by doing them a lot and then having something to show from it; maybe while attempting to maintain a level of sanity without slipping into complete poverty, and being good to others along the way.
My life goal? huge question.
One of them is to have a large and varied body of work.
A bush doof king
Success? The first word that popped into my head was “happiness”.
The second word was fulfilment.
My goal is to leave a lasting impression on the people around me. That may sound silly from someone who shouts anti establishment because who cares what people think about you. But I do care about the people I love and trust. So that in turn would make me happy, fulfilled and therefore successful.
I think I could write a whole blog about what success means to me. (hmm me too)
A London style cat
Success to me means: feeling like you have taken yourself to new levels, where you have excelled more than you though you would. Being full, not craving for more all the time because you are finally mentally, emotionally or financially happy and fulfilled.
My life goal is to stay alive, healthy & keep being happy. Influence & inspire however I can. Plus be successful by my definition.
A vintage Goddess
To me success has never meant wealth, it’s not materialistic, it’s never meant fancy cars, homes, careers or acquiring ‘stuff’. Ugh! Gross! Living a successful life is in kindness, compassion, respect and becoming the best person you can. Always growing.
My life goal is to strive to be the best person I can be while I’m on this planet. Be bold and adventurous while being kind, compassionate, honest and hoping that the people I love feel my love. Oh and to dance… it’s cliche but always dance like nobody is watching.
To me, success is recognition. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, but if other people are noticing then you’re probably pretty good at it. You could be the best painter in the world but if you don’t share your art, you’re not making anyone’s life better with it, you might have brightened your living room but where’s the fun in no one enjoying it? Being loved is success.
My life goal is to have a ground floor or first floor converted unit in Melbourne, some plants, a crate bed that I painted, fairy lights. I want a big record collection and someone to enjoy them with. I want to be known within my circle as an excellent cook and host, and I want to feed my huge family around a table outside where everyone helps themselves and we all talk too loud and dance after dinner.
In conclusion, I don’t think we can really attribute success to one thing. It’s subjective. If you’ve found what you want in life and you are going after it with all you have, you are on the road to one hell of a fulfilled life.
If you’re fighting some demons on the daily but putting those feet on the floor, one in front of the other, ticking gently on, you’re succeeding.
Good on you.
If you focus on the area that you don’t think you’re succeeding (e.g. me and my finances, lol), and compare yourself to others, but neglect the amazing things you have done (.e.g travel the world), you’re going to be very unhappy. Happiness is success. Be proud of yourself.
Don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t doing well just because you’re focussed on an area that they might not appreciate or value the same, either.
Life is short, do your thang.
Get it, my darling dreamers. I’m proud of you.