How to Define Success for Yourself

hikingPeople like to be comfortable. We also like to make sense out of the chaos that surrounds us.

We find the best way of doing this is to rank and organize everything around us; including accomplishments. It can become so easy to see a family member or a friend living the life that “you should be living,” and look upon your own accomplishments with much less fervor. So what if I asked you if you’ve lived up to your life and career expectations; what would you say? How would you judge yourself?

The truth is that everyone will have a different answer, because we all have a different definition for success.

You’re a Unique Snowflake

Like I mentioned before, it’s supremely important that you don’t compare yourself to friends and coworkers.  Seeing the accomplishments of others and trying to measure up to their standards makes it nearly impossible to be satisfied with yourself. This is especially true in regards to social media. As enjoyable as it can be, social media provides people the opportunity to show only a “highlight reel” of their best moments. This is often self-deflating as you and I only see our bloopers.

The thing is is that there’s no traditional finish line in life, because life isn’t a race. There’s no timer telling you that you have to have a college education by the age of 23, be married by 28 and start having children by 30. At least, I hope there’s not, or someone’s going to have to take back the degree I finally earned at the ripe old age of 33.

Look in the Mirror

It may be hard to admit, but if you look hard enough, you’ll most likely find someone in the world that is better than you at something. For example, I like to think I’m the best video game player on earth. I try and remind my 10-year-old boy of that “fact” every day. Nevertheless, I think we could both agree that it’s not entirely true.

That’s why it’s so important to set realistic goals that are both manageable end enjoyable. There’s no goal in the world that’s too large if you set your mind to it; you just have to take the right path to get there.

A good metric to determine your own success is to simply compare what you’ve done in the past with what you’re doing right now. What have you accomplished in the last year? Are you happier now than you were six months ago? What have you done to improve yourself?

You might surprise yourself and realize that maybe you’ve done more than you thought. You might even decide that it’s time to make a change. Either way, never forget that it’s never too late to do something big.

Start With What You Know

Here are some of the questions I asked myself. Your questions and answers may vary:

  • Was I a successful writer five years ago? Nope. Am I now? I’d like to think so!
  • Are you more fit than you were last year? Not even close. This is something I need to work on.
  • Am I happier now than when I first separated from the Army? Infinitely!
  • Have I become a more well-rounded person in the last two years? I can honestly say, yes!
  • Did I own a house 10 years ago? No. Do I now? Yes!

It’s not a foolproof plan, nor does it fix every problem, but it’s a start. Ask yourself, and you’ll find the answers you’re looking for.

Take hold of your life today and make the changes that will ultimately make you happier, more successful and lead you to your dreams. Only you can determine if you’re successful, so make sure it happens.

Photo courtesy of Johnson Cameraface.