What Is Success? Are You Seeking YOUR Version of It?


Ladder by rarbol200 on flickr

I’m seeking input.

What is YOUR version of success?

I was talking to a friend once and she told me that her family didn’t like that she went to college. From her story, I got the impression that they looked down their noses at her for going.

I’ll be honest, my gut reaction was to scoff and say, “THEY look down their noses at YOU for doing something with your life?”

My Southern heritage dictates the following life path:

“Birth –> Preschool –>Elementary School –>Middle School –> High School –> College –> Respectable Career –> Marriage –> Kids –> Mid-life crisis –>Die”

You may throw in grad school, a dog, a divorce, a second marriage, or a risky decision, but that’s pretty much it. It took me a while to say, “Do you HAVE to go to college to ‘do something with your life?'”

Different people value different things.

To some, college is a step towards a better life. To others, it’s a waste of 4 years and thousands of dollars.

To some, a “respectable career” is that which brings them padded pockets and hundreds of employees beneath them. To others, it’s something that just pays the bills and gets them home at a decent hour so they can enjoy time with themselves or their families.

Success is different to each person.

And your authentic version of success is probably even more different than you’d ever thought.

Think about it.

How much of your current version of success was determined by external influencers?

Success in my career, as society taught it to me, was getting a college degree in one field, then getting a job in that field, then working my way up in a company, sticking with the same company all my life (no matter if I hated it) until I retired, then I’d die.

Bleak crap, in my opinion, but I chased it. And I’m glad I got out before the “die” part.

But, truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with this version of SUCCESS, if it is YOUR own. If you’re happy living that life, go for it, but don’t commit to a version of success that isn’t your own.

If you’re an artist, society may be telling you that success is becoming the next Ashley G & Drew, but is that really what you want?

I firmly believe sometimes we define SUCCESS as things other people tell us we should have. But what type of “success” will you have when you obtain all those things and realize that really wasn’t what you wanted?

What are the trade-offs for gaining those things other people tell you are what you should be chasing?

You want to be a New York times best-selling author and have movies made from your books — why? Because you want to make a living from your writing. OK, well, is there another way to accomplish the thing you REALLY want, to make money from your writing? The clichéd road to success may not be the one for you. Look at my friend Sarra Cannon — she’s a publishing rockstar and she did it herself via self-publishing.

Look at your life and business and ask:

“Am I reaching for MY authentic version of success? What do I really want for and FROM my life and my business and how can I incoporate those into my version of success?”

Come on, you’re a creative person. Use that brain of yours.

Now, what is YOUR version of success?

3 thoughts on “What Is Success? Are You Seeking YOUR Version of It?

  1. It’s like you read my mind. I also grew up thinking that college was the only way to a successful life – at least that’s what my father told me. My father has his master’s in engineering, and my mother was a homemaker. He warned me that if I didn’t go to college that I would end up homeless – something wonderful to tell your 10 year old daughter right? So I worked my butt off, and graduated with a degree I don’t use. My idea of success has changed tremendously since that special father-daughter conversation, and I’ve realized that college isn’t always the answer. Success is being happy and enjoying life, whatever that may be. Thank you Tivi!

  2. After having this exact “ah hah” moment during a conversation with a wise friend, I have spent the last two years assessing whether of not I was actually living out my unique vision of success or that of my parents, spouse, friends, etc. It was a path to uncovering my true goals in life. I am currently contributing a chapter to a book on this very subject. Great post!

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