How You Define Personal Success Could Be The Key To A Better Life


For a term whose definition can vary wildly from person to person, "success" still manages to be a life-defining word. When asked "what are you looking for out of life?" What do you think the most common responses are?

I just want to be happy and successful.

There isn't anything wrong with this answer, but there is a lot of troubling implications in it. Generally, your happiness comes second. You can't be happy if you haven't first achieved success. But what is success?

Everyone's idea of personal success comes with its own set of frustrating roadblocks. It can feel like you've gotten where you need to be until you look elsewhere and feel that unmistakable feeling of inadequacy.

Where you're looking for your success is a great place to start.


Where Does The Idea of Personal Success Come From?

We are informed by our external environments, our mind decoding the information our senses gather, looking for patterns and meaning.

Ideas of success are oftentimes rooted in cultural values and then reinforced through representations in media such as pop culture and advertisements.

It's no wonder so many people share a common vision of success: a large house, luxury cars, high-salary job, expensive clothing, dinners at 4-star restaurants...

Because we are constantly assaulted with the images, it creates a feedback-loop that begins to define our framework. The trouble with the current paradigm is once you obtain it, you're constantly looking outside of yourself for more "personal success."

Isn't it funny how something so impersonal becomes the keystone in whether you can be satisfied with your life or not?

When you start emphasizing the "personal" in your idea of success, you are on the right track.

So Where Do I Look?

You look inside of course. The thing about personal success is that it's personal. No one will be able to achieve your idea of success, much like you'll never be able to inhabit someone else's.

Once you have what someone has, you naturally have to look at someone else with even more, in order to maintain a semblance of purpose.

If your sense of purpose is tied to something that has nothing to do with you, then you're running a hamster wheel leading you no where meaningful.

Life isn't some board game where getting to a specific spot before others means you're winning. If that were the case that would mean success and happiness would only be available to a few select people - those who had the advantages to get to where they are so quick.

This type of thinking can quickly fall into the thought pattern of "If I had ___ then I'd be where I need to be." This can spiral quickly out of control, as you'll always be missing whatever circumstance the person "ahead of you" has.

By looking within to define your personal success, you set the stage for a more holistic lifestyle. Success is always achievable if the framework for it comes from inside you, because it means you don't have to rely on factors outside of yourself to get it.

How Will I Know What Personal Success Looks Like?

One of the biggest hurdles to creating your own idea of success is breaking down the paradigm that success isn't something you earn, but rather something you become.

A successful you should be the best version of yourself you can achieve at that moment.

This shift in thinking reduces the list of possible roadblocks to personal success down to one item: yourself. When success comes from within, material possessions have no effect on your well-being. It shifts the emphasis of your life from what you have to what you do.

Because it's really your actions that define your life, not your possessions. Material things depreciate in value, degrade and eventually disappear, but the lives you touch through your actions...that can carry on through generations.

So your personal success should be deeply tied to what you do. This can be a career or a passion. The two don't always have to be mutually exclusive.

If you can find an occupation that both pays and brings you joy and a deep sense of purpose, well you may have struck spiritual gold there. However, it's perfectly fine to work a job that provides you the means to find that fulfilling pursuit that brings you that feeling of success.

As a matter of fact, the thinking that you have to combine your passion and your job can prevent a lot from people from finding success.

Where Do I Begin?

What does a life you can be proud of look like? Try to visualize it, what are you doing in this vision? Time is the only thing you are born with. What you own does not fill up your time, but what you do does. This does not mean that you need to give up all your worldly possessions, sometimes you need certain material things in order to do a passion (like various tools for art.)

Everything you choose to do, and what you choose not to do, shapes you as a person. As we make our way through this life, we are constantly changed by both the actions we take, as well as the actions others take that affect us.

Through all this action, you learn, and as you learn you change. You still retain the essential you-ness that everyone recognizes. What changes is that you grow, and if you develop a strong sense of what it is you are meant to grow into, you will achieve personal success.

When it comes to your life, your own narrative, nothing can be too silly or frivolous - as long as it's coming from within (not being told to you by an advertisement.)

So experiment a little. Take a hard look at your job, is it something will bring you joy for years to come? How do you spend most of your time? Do you regret stopping anything?

Feeling inspired, or do you have more questions? Check out The Avatar® Course for more self-empowerment resources.