Since my early teens, I’ve been consumed like most people with the idea of success. Almost everybody wants to be successful. Every day we are bombarded with images all around of the symbols of success (screw you advertising)…the great career, the fancy cars, fantastic bodies, fame and wealth. Without critical thought, we imbibe these ideas of success and we hold them as our own. Add to that the prevalent idea that you can do what ever you want, you can be anything you set out to be and we have a dangerous cocktail. We believe that all we need is one great idea, and a garage and we can be the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Now, there is nothing wrong with grand dreams, they are perfectly fine. I do think what we need is a lot more executors, more action people, and more ballsy people actually working on those dreams and making them reality. Success is great but the pursuit of success (as defined by society) is not necessarily the pursuit of happiness or the pursuit of a well-lived life. We need to balance it out a bit
You can climb up the ladder, only to find out it has been leaning on the wrong wall all along. Most people don’t pursue success for success sake, they do it because they are convinced that once they land that job, or buy that car, or get the girl…or guy, they will be happy. Unfortunately, most times they are wrong.
It really depends on what you want though. If you really want success for success sake, that is fine, sacrifice all you must and get there. If you are looking for happiness or contentment, then the answer is a lot closer than you think. The first step on the road to having both success and happiness is to define success for yourself. Tune out the world for a while and really search deep within for what resonates most true for you. Interrogate your desires until you are sure that they are yours, and not handed to you by an external source.
Follow your dreams or goals but remember that life is incredibly unpredictable. We love to plan (planning can be good, but it’s also mostly bullshit)…5 year plans,…10 year plans. We try to make our lives follow carefully crafted lines, we play fortuneteller with our destinies. We want to feel like we have some kind of control over our lives, that we can drive ourselves firmly into the destinations we have picked. But the roads of life keep changing and morphing, you may arrive at your predetermined destination, but it’s a lot more likely you will get sidelined. That’s life…enjoy the randomness. The small decisions we make and tiny butterfly wing flaps have ripple effects that become huge waves carrying us to new places. Life can go unexpectedly well, or horribly wrong.
The best you can do is to define your criteria for success and hold that up as your own yardstick, then live life fully in every moment, do your best from day to day, fully occupy your life, pay your dues, do the work, build the habits. Be happy now, right now, in this moment. Be happy in the process of working to your goals; be content in the mundane foundations of everyday life, not postponing happiness to some grand moment or achievement yet to come. You may achieve grand success, but your path must be one that comes from within, firmly rooted in yourself and driven by passion and dedication in a cause that has gripped you. Understand yourself, know what you truly want, go for it, and enjoy the ride.