For the past few weeks I’ve found myself lost in my own thoughts more often than normal. A few personal milestones are approaching and since they are quite important and meaningful for me, they’ve created opportunities for some serious reflection. Reflection on the recent past, experiences and people who have shaped my path in life thus far and, naturally, reflection on what’s next.
I am reaching the six-month mark in my current job – which is crazy to me because I feel both like I’ve been there forever and equally like I just started. My twenty-fifth birthday is merely days away and I keep looking at my current place in life asking myself “when will I become successful?” I’m working my butt off, putting all my conscious thought into everything I do… and although I’m in a great place both mentally and professionally – I still don’t feel like I’m “successful” yet.
So I sat down and thought about it, and realized that I’ve been looking at “success” completely wrong.
If you know anything about me, you know that I set goals and celebrate milestones based upon when I’ve achieved them – or when I feel I’ve been successful. The great thing about success is that it’s pretty subjective – which means that my view of success is most likely much different than your view – and that’s okay.
But what is success? How do we define success and what does it look like?
To me, success is a feeling of achievement. Achieving greatness; overcoming an obstacle; learning something new; having an “ah-ha!” moment; celebrating a certain point in time; feeling accomplished. Imagine what that feels like, and imagine those experiences of success that occur separated from those which involve a preconceived ideal about what you should deem a personal success.
Imagine the feeling of your team winning the final round of a national hockey tournament; giving a flawless client presentation you’ve worked on for three weeks straight and landing the biggest account your company has ever seen; paying off your student loan, or a car you’ve been paying for years; meeting your idol; running 1/5/10 miles without stopping; teaching a 5-year-old how to read; finishing a puzzle that you’ve been working on for a month; finally learning to appreciate and live in the moment.
That moment when words won’t do justice for the feeling you’re experiencing – that’s the feeling of accomplishment.
Sometimes we recognize success immediately – sometimes you’ve already achieved it – and other times, it takes someone else to point it out to you to realize that success.
Just like how everyone measures success in a different way – we use the feeling of achievement in many different ways. For the purpose of this post, let’s call that the “power booster” if you will. When you feel successful, incredible, powerful thoughts will follow. Thoughts of possibility, excitement for what’s next, inspiration to do something you’ve never tried before or the creation of a brand new opportunity you’ve never imagined possible before.
No matter what it is, or how you reach that thought of potential success – the feeling that follows is nothing but filled with endless, powerful, possibility.
So, by deduction, everyone is successful. Your success should never be compared to the success of others, because when it comes down to it, no one will experience that sweet, euphoric, sensational feeling the same way as you do when you reach it – nor will you feel it the same way for other people’s successes. So why bother comparing or basing personal “success” upon a standard of others?
The successes I’ve experienced in the last year have been nothing but incredible. Moments to look back at with fond memories, moments to be proud of and moments which have opened the door to the next success. I have no way of knowing what they will look like, how many times the success will change before I reach it or how much influence one accomplishment will have on the next.
The great thing is, I love chasing that feeling of “success” – and the fact that I have been able to realize how profound those moments are, will only propel me to keep wanting those experiences. Some call it never being happy – I call it continuously chasing my dreams with those power boosters.
How do you define personal success?