Success historically meant that if you climbed the social ladder the right way, that it would lead you to what our society defined as success. It kind of went: good education, good job, marriage, house, children, comfortable retirement.
Well, that has all been shot to hell. Well educated kids are not finding the meaningful, well paying jobs they thought they would get as a reward for all their efforts in school. Marriages are in decline and divorces continue to go up. Retirement? Well, retirement has been thrown out with the bath water and many of us, myself included, know that they will be working until the day they drop dead. Working for a long time is something I am cool with (the working part, that is…not the dropping dead part).
So, if the historical model for success doesn’t work anymore (at least for many of the 99% out there..not just those that are starting off on their social and professional journey), then what is the new definition of success?
Since 2008’s nasty recession and economic slowdown (which still seems to be continuing to plague us), I have been thinking much about re-prioritizing my life. Is success all about making a pile of dough and keeping up with the Joneses? Up until recently, I thought maybe it was.
Have I given up on financial and material abundance and all the crap that comes along with it? No. I haven’t. I just don’t think it’s as important anymore. Maybe it never was in the first place.
Money is a necessary evil. I fully understand that even living life simply and modestly still requires money and ideally, a pay cheque every two weeks. Money is required to obtain even the most basic of things in this world…food, clothing, shelter and medicine.
So, if career growth, social status and financial abundance aren’t ingredients for success, what is?
I have been working on that answer for a little while and even though I don’t have it completely figured out, I feel like I do have an understanding of the ingredients for the new success.
Success is happiness…true happiness.
Happiness comes from those things in life that provide us with pure bliss. Intimate, fulfilling and meaningful relationships and an appreciation for the natural beauty of life are the two biggest sources of happiness.
Success is also a mindset…a way of thinking. Successful people are those that jump out of bed each and every day and are thankful for all that they have. They are not looking for success by collecting and gathering all that they don’t.
Successful people are people who embrace their fears, live life with non-judgement and love to laugh a lot.
Successful people are people who are happy with who they are and what they look like; not comparing themselves to others around them whom they think personify an ideal. They exercise and eat right not because they want to look great but because it makes them feel good.
Successful people challenge themselves and their abilities and pat themselves on the back even if they fail at their attempt. Making the effort in the first place is success.
Successful people have good marriages that are filled with laughter, communication and intimacy. They don’t need to look anywhere else for anything else because their spouse provides them with all that they need.
Successful people are good parents. Their children are grounded, loving, compassionate and deeply respectful.
Successful people are socially and environmentally responsible. They aren’t looking for recognition in their efforts to change the world, they are humbly doing what they can to affect positive change.
Not once did I say that successful people are multi-millionaires who drive expensive cars, who live in mansions, who have winter and summer retreats, who shop at high-end stores, who sometimes make sizable donations to charitable institutions to get the big tax receipt.
If these people had all of that taken away from them, would they still be happy? Probably not and here is why. I believe that these people feel that it’s what they have that defines their success…it’s not who they are at their core. Happy? I doubt it.
The transformation to the new definition of success is slowly happening. Watch for it and embrace it.