Merriam-Webster defines success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” I believe this definition is incomplete. At least the way I see it. I think most of us want these things, at some level or another, but I also believe words like happiness, fulfillment and contribution would also make nice additions to the wealth and fame description that most of us usually associate with success.
Don’t get me wrong, the pursuit of financial independence can be something that is very important, at least in the context of how money can be used to support personal growth and the important contributions one makes to the world. Accumulating money for the sake of having more money rarely creates true happiness and fulfillment for the person accumulating it. Having said that, I would much rather be a rich happy person than a poor happy person!
Stephen Covey wrote a chapter in his famous book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that I feel best describes the definition of success. This chapter entitled, Begin with the End in Mind, asks the reader to envision our own funeral and what people will say about us and how we lived our life. Did I Live as my Truest Self? Did I Make a Difference?
I think one of the greatest tragedies is not death, but instead not having truly lived. So many people go through their existence on this giant spinning orb as a miniscule fraction of who they truly could be, barely scratching the surface of their vast potential. There are many reasons for this sad existence but much of it has to do with people simply not going after the things they truly want in life and I believe that “going for it” starts with understanding how we want it to end and becoming that person NOW! To live also means being present and enjoying the journey of life instead of always thinking about the regrets of the past and always hoping for a better tomorrow. Yesterdays and tomorrows don’t exist, only the right now, so try to enjoy it!
At the end of our lives we will ask ourselves, “Did my existence help others?” “Did I make the world a better place?” Have you asked yourself these questions lately? If you know what you want people to say about you, are you living in alignment now with those qualities? If not, it is time to start living the life you were intended to live and having some integrity with yourself.
Once you have identified your truest self and are committed to live as that person, it is quite helpful to create written long term goals, intermediate goals, and daily tasks that will help you stay on the right track and keep you from sniffing at the all the distractions that abound in our lives. It is critical that you learn to differentiate between the daily tasks that scream for attention, yet have little importance, and the daily tasks that will constantly move you in the direction of your dreams. Often the tasks that are most important in life do not scream for your attention, you must consciously choose to work on them and soon you will be living the life you were intended to live!