Success is a word we can’t seem to get away from these days. Perhaps in part, because so many of us Pursue it with such reckless abandon. We feel obligated to, because the internet says we should. Some obsess over it, others blog about it and sadly — many just sit around and hope it finds them.
But have any of us stopped to ask ourselves what the word even means to us? Not Webster’s or Google’s definition — but our own.
As important as your journey is, without a destination you’ll never know when you’ve arrived. Put simply — you’ll never get what you want if you’re unsure about what that even is in the first place.
From what I’ve observed, many people are on a path they have no real interest in. They set out to pursue and achieve the things society tells you you’re supposed to in life, again never bothering to ask themselves if they even wanted any of them to begin with. Only to realize after they got them and are professionally, personally or legally bound to them — they didn’t.
To me, success is waking up and being able to do the things I love everyday, which is read, write and run. Success is being able to do those things when I choose to, not when I have time to or when I’m able to fit them in between a bunch of other Stuff I “have” to do.
Success means being content with who I truly am and satisfied with the work I do. It’s not waking up to go to a job I dread and coming home to a house full of hostility, with toys scattered throughout it at randomly and a dishwasher that always seems to be full.
It has very little to do with the numbers on my bank statement or how much Money is in my pocket. Money is just one byproduct of success and does not equal success itself. You can be successful without having made a dollar and you can make a million without ever being successful in what you set out to do. Success is accomplishing what you set out to, which is why it’s subjective.
Though I’ll be the first to admit, while having Fuck You kinds of money would be nice and tends to be how we all picture success looking, it’s not. My definition of success centers around personal happiness or something that at least resembles it. Money can do a lot of things for you but buying genuine happiness is not one of them.
Success is having my parents look at me and be proud of who they see. It’s being someone my friends know they can rely on and the person who does what the say they’re going to. Success is eating right and being able to sleep at night. It’s knowing I did the best I could that day, with what I was given.
Most of all, success is never letting other people define what it should mean or look like to me. It’s deciding for myself and pursuing it with a persisting determination. Today, success to me is about having a purpose, one I define myself. I used to think success was about stuff, until I got that stuff and was still inherently unhappy. That’s not success, that’s materialism and ego. When your left in a room alone with it all, it ends up seeming as foolish as it leaves you feeling for having believed any of it would make you finally feel successful.
What Success Means To Me was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.