Thursday, August 20, 2015

What is Success?

     Success- What do you think of when that word pops into your head? Money? A nice house and car? A family? Yes, there is a reason I'm describing the American Dream - it's not called that for nothin'. When speaking to people my age, I often hear others talk about how they want to succeed, and they are working hard to get the degree, the job, the internship, the grades, whatever it takes, to get them there. Many people I know are hard workers, driven and ambitious to achieve success. They also enjoy their present lives, but they are constantly focusing on the future, driving themselves hard to get there.

    But towards what? Success has many definitions, but a common theme is happiness. This scheme has two flaws, though.

    First, often what people drive themselves toward, what they measure success by, may not bring them true happiness. Will it be true success, then? Often I hear my peers wanting to do things like acquire a prestigious internship or job, earn more money at their job, move far away in order to prove they can make something of themselves on their own, buy a house, buy a car, get married, have a family, etc. While all these things are respectable goals and definitions of success, one has to examine their definition in order to understand if it will really make you happy, and if it's worth working for. For example, do you want to earn more money at your job so that you can live a higher lifestyle because that is what really makes you happy? Or do you want to do it because that's what young people do? Working your way up a corporate ladder is a goal that may bring happiness to some, but if it's not really going to make you happy, then I highly suggest that you redefine success. 

     Second, in their race towards future success and happiness, people often ignore present happiness and potential. Hard work is a virtue, and it is definitely necessary to achieve what you want. However, what you want better be worth all the opportunities you miss out on and sacrifices you make to achieve your goal. Moreover, success is really just happiness, right? You might be missing out on opportunities to be happy now if you are working yourself too hard towards a happy future. I'm sure you've heard people say "Live in the moment.", right? That's good advice.

     Now I'm going to take a big leap here and say something I believe very firmly in: Success cannot be defined by material possessions or prestige. Money can't buy happiness! Yes, it can provide considerable comfort and a desirable quality of life, but after a certain point ($50,000 a year to be exact), money ceases to contribute to happiness.

     What can you do with this knowledge? I suggest, you reevaluate your definition of success and the direction your life and career are going so that those things center on what's really important to you. For me, the most important things are a community of social connections, agency and self-determination in my career and lifestyle, and work and play that better myself, society, and the planet. Those things make me happy, so that's what I strive for. What makes you happy? Really, really think about it. Then re-draw your roadmap to success, and don't forget to stop and smell the roses along the way. Life is full of surprises and turns, and most of all many opportunities to be happy. I hope that you find them, and enjoy them :)
P.S. For more on the topic of reevaluating your life and what satisfies you, check out my video post, The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living.

Photos: 1, 2


  1. Thank you for sharing, could not agree more. I also feel that alot of success, as you describe it, is programmed by the media (i.e. materialistic and superficial mentality); which reminds me of this quote: "We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like." :)
    Of course, happiness is fleeting yet that sort of typical mentality, to me at least, is transparently unfulfilling.

    ♡ Dulce

  2. Omg Dulce that's a great point!! Thank you of sharing that! That quote is great :)


I appreciate your comment! I always read and respond :)