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Starting at a young age, we are all slowly conditioned to believe that the road to success is a linear one that we are all supposed to travel along at the same time. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, our global education systems and society at large hold up limited ideas about success and encourage us to work towards them (graduate with good grades, get a high-powered job, marry and start a household, own a holiday home in the country, etc.). However, all too often we end up striving towards these goals, even if they aren’t in sync with our own inner authenticity.
Success is not actually about the grand house or the overflowing bank account. Sure, we can strive towards these things if they provide fulfillment, but success usually lies a lot deeper than that and is intrinsically tied to what gives our lives meaning and purpose. Success, then, is more of a measure of our inner lives than our outer ones. Popular culture is filled with stories about the lonely person at the top, the unhappy billionaire, or the empty celebrity, all of whom are living unfulfilled lives despite their wealth and power.
No matter where you are at in your life, if you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed or uninspired, it might be time for you to start defining what being “successful” really means.
To really get in touch with what success actually means to you, you have to go deep inside yourself to look beyond how others have defined it. Success encompasses all the areas of a person’s life, not just those relating to finances or material pursuits. Ask yourself who you want to be and what you want to do. When do you feel most happy? What activities are a good use of your energy? Your life is yours to create, and it’s up to you to choose what you want to do with it—not your loved ones, your colleagues or even your friends.
Leaping into the unknown
Living your best and most fulfilling life can sometimes involve taking a risk and leaping into the great unknown. This can be daunting, but no matter how much fear you feel, you have to take this step and do so with your whole being.
Maria Konnikova was, on paper, a “successful” psychologist and columnist based in New York; but her whole life changed when she began researching her latest book, “The Biggest Bluff”. Over the course of a year, Konnikova transformed herself from a total poker novice to a professional tournament player, even becoming an ambassador for a leading poker platform along the way. It goes without saying that if she hadn’t made the commitment at the start of the process, her life wouldn’t be unfolding the way it is now.
Make it happen
Once you’re on your new path, make sure that you keep working for it every single day. Set aside time, whether that’s two hours or twelve, to work on putting your game plan into action. You may have liberated yourself from the expectations and definitions of others, but it’s up to you to make things happen. If you’re not getting the opportunities that you need, then look for other situations in which you can create them. You, and only you, are responsible for accomplishing your goals and living a truly successful life.
Letting go of other people’s definitions of what a successful life means brings so much clarity and reminds us that it’s the journey of life that counts, not the final destination. Make sure that you are on the right journey for you—it’s one that is unique and only you can live it.