The question of “what is success?” came up after I wrote that entry on giving up, last week. It’s an interesting question, especially when you sit down and apply it to your own life.
|I’ve gotten good enough at knitting to win a contest with this
double sided scarf (and then sell it), but I’m still
constantly working on bettering my skills.
If you were to base your answer only off of the things we see from the entertainment industry, success is comprised of two elements – money and fame. Sure, in most cases conventional beauty and skill comes in, too, but that doesn’t apply to every ‘successful’ individual.
Does that model apply to everyone, though? Not everyone handles fame well, nor would they want to try, and having an abundance of money has destroyed too many peoples’ lives to be a strictly good thing. Obviously, the rich and glamorous still have some sort of hunger that can’t be filled by physical items or luxurious services.
I don’t think success is as simple as what we can get in the physical world. I think we each determine our own, unique versions of success. Everyone has their own dreams, but what happens if we actually manage to achieve them? Do we stop there? Was that the success we wanted?
I guess that’s true in some cases. I’ve met plenty of people who are happy with living independently, having an adequate income and people they love. I think that’s a wonderful thing. Happiness doesn’t come in only one color, and often simplicity is the key to that rainbow.
In other cases, there’s still a longing. You’ve achieved something you’ve been working for, and the fulfillment is great, but maybe part of your personal joy is in the pursuit of the next big thing. That’s ok, too! Why not keep reaching?
This is especially true for kids. Anyone with children in their lives can see how quickly they develop. One of my nieces and my nephew are both in school, but it feels like yesterday when I held them as infants for the first time.
Kids work just as hard, if not harder at times, as adults to achieve their developmental successes. They can’t stop at mastering the skill of reading comprehension, or the art of coloring within the lines. They have to embrace those initial successes and continue building upon them.
When you take the idea and expand it from professional/educational life to personal life, our ideals are almost always changing. Take our health, for example.
Say someone wants to lose (or gain*) something like 20 pounds. They work out, change their eating habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Eventually, they manage to drop (or add) the weight. That’s quite an accomplishment! They’re proud of their achievement, and they’re at a healthy weight. Lots of people may stop there, whether that means they gain (or lose) the weight again or manage to maintain it.
Others may set their eyes on another goal. Perhaps they want to try running a marathon, taking up a martial art, mastering dance or some other physical discipline. Perhaps they’ve discovered healthy recipes for otherwise unhealthy dishes and want to publish a cook book for those meals.
So long as disordered thought doesn’t develop, there’s nothing wrong with any of those paths. These people have all seen success with hitting a healthy weight.
This applies to relationships, as well, but those aren’t quite as quantifiable as weight or physical health.
So, really, we hold the keys to our own successes, in that we each determine what success is to us, and we are the ones who must take the steps towards achieving it.
*Although obesity is the biggest problem in the US, it’s an overdone example in discussions like this. So, I figured I’d also acknowledge the fact that being underweight can be just as detrimental.