From the time that we are born, the world around us stimulates our brain in a way that shapes who we grow up to be. Each experience holds a different weight than another, and those experiences that we can recall into a conscious level on a random day and in a random place are some that hold true value to your inner personality. One great thing about the world that we live in is the diversity that comes along with it. You have the ability to buy into any trend that is in the present, past, and/or future. Girls and guys can longboard together, business is on its way to becoming a gender neutral zone, and equality is spread through every political campaign you see while catching a glimpse of Fox News in the local coffee shop. Although Fox News most likely isn’t being aired there.
Although this is the positive truth that many of us see in society and look forward to progressing, the word “success” being paired with a gender neutral workplace appeals to very few people (once you exclude the city of Boston). From a young age, media, family, friends, schools, and agnag have raised the majority of Americans to believe that the true feeling of success comes from a career that provides job security, 40-80 hours of work per week, and more importantly, a steady source of income. Money is tied to success, and in return, you get to free yourself of the work week and job security you have created for yourself to spend time with the family that you love. As our most favorite split-personality, alter-egoed character that Brad Pitt has ever played once said:
But the truth is: Is money and a love for material possessions what truly defines success? Many people, usually depending on which stage of life they are at, tend to answer this question with a simple “Yes” or a simple “No.” It’s not that simple.
Money makes life easier, and at a certain point, takes regular worries away that will improve your quality of living. An annual salary of $75,000 has been shown to be the tipping point of happiness as a direct correlation of income. Many people tend to surpass this amount with the goal of annually raising their salary, working harder and longer hours, bypassing the travel and family lifestyles that many of their friends are taking, and look back in their 50’s to realize that they missed out on the joy that experiences other than making money can bring. This surplus is then traded to gain these experiences to try and create the balance that they wish they once had in their lives. On the other hand, many people live their lives not caring about money, living paycheck to paycheck, experiencing travel and culture that some wish to see in their lifetime. Yet, these people reach a similar age and bring all of the stress and worries into their lives on how to handle deteriorating health and a lack of retirement with the bank account level that they have. Life is truly about balance, and positive attitudes will correlate with great experiences while trying to achieve this balance. It isn’t something that will hit you in the face one day and tell you that you have achieved the perfect amount of balance in your life. It will be forever changing with your personality and lifestyle, which is why it is such a helpful tool to understand where that line of balance lies in your current life.
Success in my eyes is defined by happiness. This happiness comes from my own ability to recognize who I am and how I portray my core values and morals through every action I take. Those core values represent that balance line for myself, and as I stray away from my core values of acceptance, happiness, respect, and trust, I start to realize that I am also straying away from my goal of being successful. This happiness will come and go through different experiences at different times in my life. Having a family, seeing my kids grow up, putting them through college, traveling to foreign countries, accepting people for who they truly are, learning how each culture differs from each other, and seeing my friends succeed in the definition that they have defined for themselves are many of these items that not only reflect my core values, but will also help strengthen the happiness I get out of life over the duration of each happening. If you currently know what you value in life, take the time to understand how your values tie into your definition of success, and what you can do to move closer towards that goal on a daily basis. If you haven’t had the time to completely define your core values, feel free to take 20 minutes one night this week and follow this quick exercise to do so.
Everybody has their own definition of what it means to be successful. The lawyer in NYC working 80 hour weeks to accomplish a goal of serving justice is truly successful if that is what their idea of success is revolved around. The same goes for the couple that is financially unstable and living paycheck to paycheck, yet finds the time and ability to travel to the most renowned places in the world while in their 20’s. Looking at another person’s lifestyle and judging that they are not successful to your own personal standards will only set you back from achieving your true definition of success. People look to money and fame as the common success route, but oftentimes the celebrities that are plastered in the media are the unhappiest they have ever been in their lives, while the father of three who puts a roof over his kids’ heads has achieved his life goal of just that. If money and fame is what makes you happy and feeling successful at the end of the day, by all means work towards it. Just remember, as much as society may judge you on your actions from time to time, if you can justify those actions against your core values and achieving your definition of success, you’ve probably already realized that you have no reason to care about that judgement. Big up.