What is your definition of “successful”? Is it being famous? Is it having so much money you will never need to choose, but can do and get whatever you want? If so, you are not alone. Many people have this definition of what it means to be successful.
If your definition is something else you are not alone either, even though it might seem so in this world where people in general have seemed to reached the consensus that success equals being rich and famous.
According to Wiktionary, the noun “Success” is defined like this:
success (countable and uncountable, plural successes)
- (obsolete) Something which happens as a consequence; the outcome or result. [16th–18th c.] [quotations ▼]
- The achievement of one’s aim or goal. [from 16th c.]
- His third attempt to pass the entrance exam was a success.
- (business) financial profitability.
- Don’t let success go to your head.
- One who, or that which, achieves assumed goals.
- Scholastically, he was a success.
- The new range of toys has been a resounding success.
- The fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.
- She is country music’s most recent success.
The world seems to agree that it is the fifth definition that best explains success.
What is the allure of financial wealth and fame?
Why do we want unlimited financial wealth and fame? Some of the reasons might be that we
- do not want to have compromise and make tough choices
- want it all and keep all options open
- want security and independence
- assume that since everyone else is doing it, it must be right for us too
This is human, we all think like this from time to time. But for our own sake, and for the sake of people around us, we need to see through that. We need to let go of the idea that it is the only way to achieve what we want. In fact, it most likely is not. For you, being wealthy might have little to do with money.
Our personal true definition of success is often something completely different, if we only dare to figure out what it is. I say dare, because this might be the single biggest reason why people don’t do it. It is scary. We might figure something out that forces us to make difficult changes. Something that forces us out alone to find our own path in life, away from the familiar and away from the pack. But what should be hell of a lot more scary is living a long life, only to realize you did it all wrong at the end.
What we lose when we do not have to choose
What we fail to realize is that by accomplishing this kind of wealth, we also lose the most valuable tool we have to help us figure out what is most important to us in our lives: the answer to the fundamental question “What really matters to me?”.
Deep down, we all carry the answer to that question. The problem is that we lose connection to it already from a young age. Mainly because of the constant noise that is surrounding us of messages telling us who we should be, and what we should want. Today, that noise is louder and more invasive than ever.
Many of us believe that our goal should be financial wealth, respect or fame. Not bothering to find out whether that is actually true is doing yourself the biggest disservice ever.
Having to choose is one of the keys to a fulfilling life
Having to choose, prioritize and say no is hard. It is not fun. It requires a lot of thinking and weighing pros and cons. It immediately makes us focus on what we might lose, and we strongly feel the pain of that risk. But by eliminating this “problem” we also distance ourselves from the only thing that can reconnect us with our inner purpose, to true success. So what may be perceived as a problem is actually a life-changing, long term gain.
Having to choose is the only way for us to define what our own kind of success look like, the gateway that makes it possible for us to actually reach it.
If we are willing to do the work, and get really good at choosing what we spend our time, energy and money on, it also brings enormous clarity to our lives. It reestablishes the connection to our own personal answer to this question, and will enable us to pinpoint what really matters in our lives. And the more clarity we get, the easier it will be to choose.
Not having a choice makes life hard, not having to choose makes it empty
We all have a short time on this earth for creating a life. Having to choose is a gift in disguise. It brings us insights that otherwise might not come without having to experience a major life trauma. Actually having choices is often proof in itself that we have already reached a certain level of wealth and success, already something to be grateful for.
The question is, will you use the gift of having to choose to be truly successful, to be able to live a life that is true to who you are? Or will you try to get away from it as soon as possible and reach an empty form of success that is defined by someone else?