Success is in the Air - Photo by Isak RydlundHow do you know when you’ve made it? Is it the new car, the promotion, the raise? Is it that one-in-a-lifetime vacation, or that dream job or house or yacht?
Having made it really depends on your context and even age. Think about a time in highschool or university where something was very important to you; when you thought you’d made it. What was it, and what about it was so important? What about something that you’re striving for now? How are these two instances similar or different?
Irrespective of life stage and context, how we define success is hugely influenced by our environment and at least to some extent our own values and morals.
So, what happens when you’ve reached that next level? It might be awesome for a short while, enjoying driving that convertible on a summer’s day (I know I’d love that!). But what happens after the novelty wears off? In my experience, it can quickly become the new norm. It’s no longer something to yearn for or achieve, and maybe it doesn’t feel as special as it once did. Why is that? Is it because somebody else has a similar thing or experience or prestige? Has it become less fun?
Every time I achieve or get something I’ve been aiming for, I realize that while I’ve gotten that thing and achieved what I self-define as success, it never ends. Instead it easily becomes a competition between you and others instead of something you truly want. And that’s where this classic measure of success falls apart for me. I’m not at all opposed to setting and reaching goals, but my question is – what is so important about that thing of success? What do you want to get out of it?
So, in asking that question, what do you want out of it? I challenge you to reframe your concept of success. Instead of just going for that promotion, ask yourself what do you want to get out of it? What do you want to get out of travelling to that once-in-a-lifetime place? What do you want to get out of getting that car?
I certainly continue to follow my dreams, and continue to strive for success. That being said, it has helped me choose where I focus and what I consider success after asking myself what I want to get out of it.
It struck me recently - what would happen if we were all to replace the concept of success, with the concept of creating a legacy; something to be known for after you’ve bought and sold that car, after you’ve been promoted five times over, after you’ve sailed the yacht across the Atlantic? I might still get that car and travel to India, but it will be with a more defined purpose.
As a clever gentleman once said, it’s not where you go, it’s what you take away. What will your legacy be?