Try to imagine the following situation —
You finally made it. After years of hard work, reading hundreds of self-improvement books and articles, discovering your authentic self and following your dreams — You finally became a successful person!
You are filled with self-love and gratitude. You fulfilled your goals and became the person you always wanted to be. Successful at last.
But wait, what’s next?
There is no ‘next’. Goodbye.
Now that you achieved it all and became successful, there’s nothing left to accomplish. There is no next stop. You’ve arrived at your destination. Thank you for traveling with ‘Humanity Airlines’, we wish you goodbye.
Yes, I’m being sarcastic. But stay with me, I’m making a point here!
There are two things we all share:
We all have a natural need to survive and we all want to be happy.
To be more precise, we all want to achieve happiness.
However, as I mentioned in a previous post, we can never achieve happiness. It doesn’t mean we can’t feel happy. We can and we will (hopefully often, too).
Yet, happiness isn’t an eternal state that we can work hard to achieve.
While wanting to feel happy all the time is only natural, hoping to achieve eternal happiness is completely irrational.
The same logic applies to ‘becoming successful’.
We all love success. Somehow we think that with hard work and a bit of luck, we will attain a state of successfulness.
Becoming successful is not possible. It’s just a tale. A fiction.
Seriously. Think about it.
Let’s assume it isn’t a tale. Let’s talk about those we call ‘successful people’.
Who do we often refer to when we talk about successful people?
Steve Jobs? Bill Gates? Oprah Winfrey? JK Rowling?
Why do we consider them successful? How can we judge whether they are successful or not?
Success is a subjective term. We must (constantly) define our own success.
So, how is it that many of us consider Gates a successful person? It’s highly unlikely that we have all defined success in the exact same way, right?
That’s exactly the root of our problem — we never seem to define our own success. Instead, we use the definition that surrounds us. The only one we’ve ever known— fame/glory/money.
Naturally, the people mentioned above aren’t just famous or wealthy. They all had many achievements, too.
Here is the funny thing, though. We don’t actually know whether they define those achievements as a success. We define it for them. This IS success. Those ARE successful people. They must be.
But, is it possible that while we label Steve Jobs a ‘successful person’, he saw himself as a failure? Perhaps, in his eyes, building a tech empire was a success, but his family life turned out to be a failure?
It all depends on his definition of success.
Someone else’s success might be completely irrelevant to your definition of success. Your own achievements, which you defined as success, might seem to others as just another day in the office.
It is only when we develop enough self-awareness that we can define what success means to us.
A secret nobody tells you
There are two reasons why we want to ‘become successful’:
- We are not content with our current state
- We are led to believe that becoming successful is THE ideal.
Here’s a secret nobody tells you — you would never be successful.
Don’t get me wrong — You are enough. You are worthy.
But, even if you read articles such as ‘5 Habits of Successful People’ or even if you’ve gone through a long journey of self-imporvement — you would never be successful.
It’s a paradox.
Even if it was possible to become a successful person —
When would be the moment you become one? How can you tell?
What do you do when you finally become this ‘successful person’?
Do you have anything left to live for?
Let yourself succeed.
Perhaps our notion of success is the real issue here.
“the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”
Not only we have to define our own success, but we also have to define our own aims. That includes smaller aims, too.
Aiming for something that is easier to achieve doesn’t come at the cost of our long term goals. We barely let ourselves succeed anyway.
We should allow ourselves to succeed more often.
Funny as it may sound, but since we define our own success — it’s also up to us to decide how many times we actually succeed.
Always hitting that snooze button but today you woke up quickly? Success!
Felt tempted to have a sweet but didn’t, because of your diet? Success!
Finally opened up to someone you love and expressed your feelings? Success!
Helped someone today? Success!
Fixed the broken laptop? Success!
We have this belief that we are not allowed to enjoy the success that comes without hard work. It’s really admirable, but does this attitude really bring us closer to achieving our bigger aims?
We aren’t compromising. We aren’t giving up on our purpose.
The opposite is true. If we acknowledge success more often, we’ll actually feel more motivated to live up to our bigger aims and purpose. It will help us build enough confidence to know that we are always capable of achieving success.
You cannot become a successful person, but you can be a person who constantly enjoys success — and that’s completely up to you.
A personal anecdote
A few years ago, my life partner and I started working on a musical project on Youtube, called ‘GoPro Sessions’. We used GoPro cameras to film ourselves performing cover versions of songs we like, in different locations.
We defined a few objectives for ourselves, such as: releasing a new video every two weeks (not easy!) and reaching out to as many people as we possibly can. Accomplishing these objectives meant a success.
We knew it was vital to create quality content. We also knew that it’s not entirely up to us whether a video becomes popular or not.
Our 19th video release was a cover of ‘Take On Me’ by A-ha. As always, we worked hard to promote it via social networks and through traditional PR.
A day after the release, our video was tweeted by A-ha.
We were thrilled. Not only they enjoyed our version — they actually wanted to share it with their fans. A true success.
However, with today’s news only lasting a few seconds (especially on Twitter), our video didn’t engage with all of A-ha’s followers. It was then when a friend told us “It’s cool that the band tweeted your video, but shame it wasn’t a success”. But how can he define success for us? It is OUR success, after all.
It helped us gain thousands of new followers who watched our video.
To this day, we still consider it to be a success. A great achievement for us.
Success is a subjective thing. If you don’t define it on your own, you’ll end up living other people’s definitions of it.