To be successful you need, first, to know what that means to you. Not the dictionary definition! Even though that will explain the meaning, a dictionary will never tell you how to rapport to a word. Nor how to accept it. So let’s see what being successful can mean to you.
I am the first one to tell you I do not have your answers. I only have mine because I am a strong believer everyone can define success in their own way. However, I do have the questions that will lead you to your answer.
Having money is a big part of being successful, or more precisely being wealthy. This brings us to the first question.
When I am saying to people that I consider myself rich, the first question I get back is how much money I have in my savings account. And it is always shocking to them to hear I do not have one. How can I be rich if I have no savings? Being rich to me is being able to afford the things I want to do. Now, of course, I could not buy a yacht, nor can I travel to an exotic island whenever I feel like it, but the key is that I do not want that either. Being rich to me means I can provide for myself while having no debts.
I also believe owning things should never be counted as being rich because this is something that will never end. When you own a house you want to own a cabin in the mountains. The one who owns a cabin in the mountains wants two cars. If you have two cars you want a helicopter. The one with a helicopter wants to own an island. The one who owns an island wants to own a planet. And so on. Owning things won’t make you rich, but having experiences will.
We are all aware of the fakeness surrounding social media, how everything seems perfect and nobody actually ever failed. Nor do they have any regrets. And even though deep down inside we know it is not true, we still believe those lies since they are so colourful and… perfect. This brings up a lot of anxiety, mostly the idea of not being good enough which, I am sometimes struggling with. And in those moments I forget that nobody actually is good enough, because nobody is perfect. Nor should they be, and that! that can make a lot of difference. Aspiring to be perfect and faking perfection is not the same thing. And still, that fear of not being worthy, that fear of looking in front of you more than behind you, that fear can stop you from going where you want to be.
Look at businessmen and athletes, engineers and artists, entrepreneurs and stay-at-home mums. They all have their doubts, nobody has all the answers and so few of them actually talk about it. But that does not make it less real. Having doubts is part of being human, and knowing when to take a break to see the bigger picture or to get another perspective is what builds character.
How much time are you wasting following your dream? And yes, the keyword is wasting because sometimes you might feel like you have no idea where you’re going. How much time are you away from your loved ones in order to achieve success? How much free time do you have for your hobbies? Is this something worth sacrificing?
Things change fast. What was hip and trendy today means nothing tomorrow. Yesterday is sometimes too far behind to be able to catch up with today, while tomorrow is never guaranteed. Of all the things we have in life, time is the only one we can never get back, yet is the first one to be seen as the most wasteful resource we have. And it’s not. Being part of a community, having a place to call home or having people you can trust around you is what some decide to focus more on. Does that make them less successful?
We have heard this before, wealthy people speaking more and more about how they are unhappy, attracting a lot of hate from people who are struggling to provide in their daily life. It’s being happy part of your road to success? Or in the words of Marie Condo, do you even know what brings you joy?
In order to follow your dream, you need first to know what that is. But I will go a step further and say you need to try more than one path to know which one is your favourite one, and which one is making you happy. And this is something overlooked as well. It’s very rarely brought into the conversation when someone outgrows their dreams. If you once knew what you wanted, what makes you happy, it is perfectly fine for that thing to change. It is risky to start from the beginning but as long as you have the idea in you it is never too late.
How do you measure your success if you’re always going to report it to someone else? Why is it that anyone else’s numbers matter more than yours? I mean there can only be just one number 1 in a variety of things, but is number one always successful? What happens when you are not on top anymore?
Let’s think of a book that nobody heard of before. As much as the cover matters to attract attention, the content will make people curious about reading more. This is the same way I see stats, numbers and other data. While it can help you have a guideline of where you’re headed, it should never define your path.
I remember when I watched The Other Shore, a documentary about Diana Nyad the first person to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba without a shark cage. The movie was mostly focused on her unsuccessful tries than the actual time of making history. *Spoiler alert!* She was 64 years old when she succeeded on her fifth try. This is when I believe numbers count: when they tell you the story of how many times you cried and felt like a failure. How many times have you had to start all over again with all the fears, challenges and hopes mixed together within a dream?
I think being grateful for what you have and even more grateful for what you used to be is a big stone on the road to success. Remembering where you started from, where you were five years ago and where you are now is a substantial part of growing as a person. Being successful and staying successful are two distinctive things. And before paying forward to anyone else you need to appreciate yourself, it helps you realise which one you want to focus on. That is where all the strength comes from. Showing gratitude gives you strength.
Many years ago I saw a video shot in Canada and the question asked in that video was what is your biggest life regret? It was part of 1 question, 50 answers videos and those answers followed me for years to come. People would be having regrets regarding being married, not getting married, having children, not having children, dropping out of school, doing drugs, not following their dreams, not partying enough, or not being closer to their family. But the one that hit me the most was a man in his 70s saying getting old so fast and asking himself when did he get so old. Quite emotional.
I strive to live my life by taking risks, exploring the unbeaten path and not being put down by making stupid mistakes. I am strongly against the idea of not taking chances when they arrive just because the timing was not good enough. Life waits for nobody. Not having any regrets, no matter the mistakes and the off-road paths I went on, owning my doubts as part of myself rather than seeing them as a negative detail to get rid of, is what makes me successful.
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