So now that I’ve adequately vented and ranted about the plights of our generation (also, this Time article partially about how Taylor Swift’s success is bad for millennials is interesting), it’s time to DO something about it! If part of the problem is defining what success means for each person as an individual, I guess it’s time to actually look at how to do that defining.
I was emailing with my boss (B.S. from Stanford, MBA from Wharton – very smart, very business savvy) and she had a wonderful response to my boat analogy.
Out of context, here’s the quote (click here to read the whole post):
Sometimes I’m out on the water, navigating my own beautiful boat through the calm and rough waters of my life, when suddenly I peer over my shoulder and see one of my friends kicking back on the nose of their yacht, sipping Ace and letting their crew manage the nitty-gritty details of powering through the waves. One minute I’d been quite enjoying myself on my perfectly good – if not quite above average – boat, when all of a sudden my paint doesn’t seem quite as shiny, the clever name emblazoned on the side not so witty.
My boss’s response:
You’re not in a modest little boat, you’re on a wind-surfer. The difference? it’s more nimble, you can do fun tricks in it, and YOU’RE in charge of the steering. Those folks in the yacht no longer have their hands on the wheel (have you ever heard people say, “s/he CAN’T quit the job – our mortgage/car payments/ private school fees/etc are too high!”)
I love it! What a difference perspective can make. Maybe those people on the yacht don’t WANT to have their hands on the wheel, so in their mind that’s success. For me I like to be busy, constantly moving and twisting through my life and career. One, this made me feel much better. And two, it provided a good example of different strokes for different folks – and also a bit of “the grass is greener…”
She then sent me over a very simple, but really amazing exercise for determining what I want and narrowing down the things that are exciting to me. Since she passed along her own exercise, I took the liberty of re-creating the sheet with a few tweaks for you (and me) to use. Click on the link below to check it out!
How else can we look at redefining success? In the The Wall Street Journal article “How to Define Success for Yourself,” one Mr. Adler describes his transition from school teacher to consultant which was spurred on by an itch for change and other people’s excitement. He didn’t last long because it wasn’t something he personally was passionate about.
The two takeaways from the piece are:
- Think for Yourself
- “Shift your perspective toward what’s important to you, as opposed to something outside yourself.”
- “Set some long-term goals and start moving in that direction.”
- Find Your Passion
- “Many people won’t change because it’s easier to come up with excuses about why they should stay on course.”
- “You’ll never reach your full potential at a job that you’re not passionate about.”
Both of these points can be discovered using the worksheet above. After writing down the top 25 things that you really need in life to be happy, you may start seeing some themes. Plus, they’re things that make YOU happy, that YOU want. The only thing that I didn’t like about the article is that it seemed to be a bit too “realistic,” constantly pointing out that you might not reach your dreams, that you should get over ” the idea of being the richest or most famous person.” Why should you have to get over that? If those are things you really want, GO FOR THEM! I’m not into any limiting thoughts, ever.
Finally, I took a look at a Business Insider article that looked at “How None Incredibly Successful People Define Success.”
Here are some highlights:
- Arianna Huffington: Success “consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”
- Maya Angelou: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
- Winston Churchill: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
- Richard Branson: “The more you’re actively and practically engaged, the more successful you will feel.”
Overall, I think the themes are pretty consistent: figure out what you love in life and don’t stop until you find a way to do that thing!
How do you define YOUR success?