If I asked you what does success look like, what would you say?
Hustle culture and the highlight reel of social media can often make us mere mortals feel vastly unsuccessful within the society we live in. We are constantly being pushed and pulled in all different directions online by the hundreds or thousands of people we follow collectively, all planting new little seeds in our brains about things we need to buy or places we need to go in order to finally be a success, and it can be confusing for our own individual minds. As humans, being ourselves is what makes us all unique, so it’s dangerous to let our personal goals and journey in life be clouded over with all of these external influence. I wrote a post called Stay In Your Own Lane years ago and it’s just popped into my head again as I write this one, and that’s because all of this comes down to being yourself, and measuring your success against your own parameters rather than goalposts that are thrust upon you by society and social media, causing you to not even know whether you can score. It’s so common to feel the pressure from family, friends and well, just about anyone online that we’re scrolling past, but none of that is going to give you that real feeling of success.
The Oxford English Dictionary quite literally defines success in it’s simplest form as:
“the fact that you have achieved something that you want and have been trying to do or get”
There are so many successes in our lives every single day. Waking up in the morning is a success that not everyone is lucky enough to achieve, and for that we should have the basis to look forward throughout the day with a positive perspective. As humans, our basic needs are warmth, shelter, and food, and so the walls that surround us, the fact that we are able to provide those things for ourselves, and potentially for our loved ones too, is a massive success that we are achieving day-in, day-out. Another basic need as a human is love, so guess what, if you’re lucky enough to have life filled with love, then that is a whopping great big success! But why don’t we think about those in relation to success? When I asked you what you thought success was, it’s likely you thought about money, cars, big houses, fame, holidays to the Maldives. THAT. IS. SUCCESS. Right? Well, not necessarily. For some people, yes, but not for me, and probably not for 99.9% of us. I mean money is definitely a huge privilege and, while people say it won’t buy happiness, it can really help. I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t want to make millions and never have to worry about money again. But that would truly mean nothing in my life if I didn’t have all of those other ‘small’ things that I’ve mentioned. Each small success in your life is worth acknowledging and celebrating, just as much as those classic big ones.
I’m as guilty as the next person for dwelling on the feeling of failure, like I’m not good enough, or that my life isn’t the success that I always dreamed it would be. When I look into why I ever felt that way, I realise now that I was viewing my success through such an artificial and materialistic lens, through which comparatively to the people I follow online, I wasn’t hitting those ‘success’ markers that I thought I needed to. But this year I’m making a conscious effort to strip that lens away and finally see and appreciate all of the success I have had in my life so far, and continue to enjoy them every single day. My relationship, my family, my dog, my friends, my home, my job, my hobbies, my ability. All of those things are such big success markers in my life, and I can see that so clearly now that it genuinely fills me with such gratitude and contentment. And while it’s great to have drive and determination to make a better life for you and those around you, that better life will never truly be a success if you can’t appreciate the foundations.
If I asked you, what does success look like to you, what would you say now?