When I was a kid one of my favorite TV shows was The Cosby Show, I never got sick of watching it. I loved Cliff and Clair Huxtable, they seemed to have it all together and that's what I wanted.
Based on watching the show I wanted to be either an obstetrician or a lawyer. They made it look so easy. The work life balance was effortless. As a child I didn't realize there was much more to it.
As I got older and matured I realized obstetrician were not just the baby doctors they appeared to be. I wanted to work with babies but that was it. When I considered pediatrics, I shortly discovered science wasn't my subject.
So I still had the lawyer thing as an option. I was good at arguing and solving problems.
When I told my family about my career aspirations of course they didn't stand in my way. I mean who would, your kid wants to be an attorney you'd probably be thrilled. Why, because everyone thinks you'll be rich and money equals happiness, right?
That seems to be the collective view. If you have money you have everything, not a care in the world. While money may solve financial issues, it's not a universal remedy. But that’s something I had to figure out on my own.
I just got, you'll be a lawyer, make a lot of money and live happily ever after. Maybe not in those words but that was the gist of it. And this wasn't just coming from my family but teachers, guidance counselors, everyone that's supposed to know and help me.
So the general message was clear, making a lot of money makes you successful. It wasn't until after I was in college that I discovered that what I learned was society’s definition of success, and that I could make my own.
More importantly live my own.
They Told Me to Do It
It all started to make sense. I knew a number of people who by society's standards were successful but weren't happy. If you're successful you should be happy, right? I mean why not, you have what you want. But they weren’t.
They had what others thought they should have. They lived the way other people thought they should. They didn't bother with what would make them happy.
They all were lacking something in some major element of their life, relationships, health or career. They might have had a decent job but they didn't enjoy it. You can’t celebrate a successful career when you hate going to work.
I've been steadily employed since I was 17 and had my fair share of jobs I despised. I definitely didn't want a career I couldn't stand. So I started composing my own definition for success, which included happiness in the equation not as an unlikely sum.
In order to do that I had to figure out exactly what I wanted. So I clarified my goals and desires. I used that to gauge my success.
What other people expected of me didn't matter. My success would be defined by my ability to reach my own goals.
Do What You Want
While money is good to have (we all have bills) it's just a piece of the puzzle. To establish your own definition of success you have to identify priorities and examine them.
First you have to determine where you are and where you want to be. Uncovering this will help you figure out what being successful means to you.
For a lot of us, priorities include relationships, career and health. This is not conclusive but the commonality for most people, so don't hesitate to add to the list or subdivide it.
If you’re not happy with your relationships, romantic or otherwise, all the money in the world isn’t going to change that.
Figure out what is missing from it, basically what you desire. Ask yourself if you’re happy the way things are, what would make you happy and how that can be achieved.
Reflect on relationships that you admire. Identify what draws you to them. That can give you greater insight on what you’re looking for.
Talk to your partner about it, because in order for this to work you both have to be involved.
Filling in those gaps will help to bring you and your relationship into a more content place.
You can’t talk to me about crappy jobs. I’ve had them on varying levels. Now, I probably have not have the worst, but the levels of dissatisfaction with them were all over the spectrum.
I learned the most about the one job that I liked at the beginning but over time couldn’t take anymore. Basically I figured out what I loved about it and compared it to what I couldn’t stand. From there I was able to tease out what I wanted in my next position.
If you dread Sunday evenings just because you know it means Monday morning is right around the corner then you need a serious change. Your job should feel like your most hated chore.
Don’t forget to keep in mind your career aspirations for the future when painting the picture of your ideal job. Considering this will ensure the position can last the test of time.
Nowadays there are so many different dietary needs. Some are for healthy living but some people just treat them as fad diets and trends.
The 21 day cleanse that your friend is doing sounds super healthy and has its benefits (as well as sacrifices), but that doesn’t mean you should do it too.
Instead focus on the shape you want to be in, and the health concerns you want to address.
If there’s a 10K that you’ve always wanted to run, then train for it. If you’ve always wanted to exercise more frequently to increase your overall stamina, add it to your schedule.
Just focus on what you need health wise.
Now that you have a better idea of what you want and what will make you happy. You are able to create your own definition of success.
Don't worry about keeping up with your friends, chances are they don't live on their own terms instead, someone else's. Work on what will make you happy.
Once you're happy with your life you'll realize the importance of individual happiness. You won't judge someone for not following status quo because you'll know from experience different things make different people happy.
Even at different stages in life your definition of success might change. Every now and then review your idea of success to make sure you are still in alignment with it.
Your definition can change as your life evolves and priorities shift. But as long as you’re changing with it, you’re still a success.
Are you living up to your definition of success? What would make you happy and successful?