What's the definition of success?
To me the definition of success is achieving something that you set your mind to. Pretty obvious, right?
To me it is.
But I feel like the question that we should be asking is "what is YOUR definition of success?"
We tend to have this universal definition of success as to think that everybody thinks the same way and everybody wants the same thing... And somehow that's true.
We live in a culture that perpetuates having a house and a car as success. Then we step it up a notch and view millionaires and celebrities as the "super successful". We put them at a high place for everyone to see and compare themselves to them.
As a result we all feel like we're a failure compared to them because they HAVE something we don't. That's not entirely true. It's not what we have that makes us successful, it's the standards we set for ourselves and how close we get at attaining that standard of living.
Looking at it from that perspective I believe that everyone is successful because most of us are living the lives that we consciously or unconsciously have set for ourselves. Our own personal standards.
The Standards You Set Are What You’ll Always Experience
The amount of success you have in life is a true reflection of the belief you have in yourself. You can call that belief the standard that we set for ourselves and if not met, we'll do everything in our powers to reach that standard.
If you are happy with living in a room with 5 other roommates, your mind won't be telling you to change and you'll live comfortably with that lifestyle.
But if you have a higher standard for yourself, you'll take massive action in order to meet your own standards. As a result we will never live below that standard that we have set for ourselves.
If we ever do fall below that standard of success we will eventually return to that level one way or the other. It's almost like setting the temperature to a fridge, and turning it off and allowing it to warm up and then turning it on again. That fridge will return to the temperature that's already set.
The only problem is that people usually lower their personal standards as a result of not believing in themselves and end up accepting a mediocre lifestyle because "they don't mind". This is called conforming.
You wake up, go to work, return home, watch television, drink a beer and go to sleep. No growth, no contribution, no passion and above all, no happiness.
The Two Types of Successful People
With that being said I believe that in life there are two types of successful people and those two types of people have only one quality to them that distinguishes them.
The ones that at one time experienced success (going to college, getting a girlfriend, etc) and become complacent and stay at that level and the ones that build upon their previous success in order to consistently experience growth.
Successful People Who Are Complacent
An example of the complacent individuals are people who get in relationships in order to feel whole and once they get in that relationship it eventually dies off. Their goal was to be in a relationship but never thought about maintaining it and growing together as people. After a few months they barely go out on dates, they stop dressing sexy, and arguments occur on a frequent basis.
They were more focused on just achieving in being in a relationship rather than growing it through proactively thinking how they can improve their relationship.
Why do you think so many people suck at sex? Because they just focus on having sex and they are not actively thinking on how to improve their "skills". This is a mentality that branches out in every area of life.
Successful People Who Never Stop Growing
Oprah Winfrey! An excellent example of someone used their previous success and built upon it. The standard that she set for herself is continual growth and if she's not growing she's not meeting her own standards.
Holding this personal standard allows us to organically grow as individuals on a consistent basis. It's almost as like programming a computer program in our minds that will automatically take us to new levels of being.
Never experiencing that "boredum" with life that most people feel when they live a life of stagnation. This can lead to drug abuse and many other unhealthy habits in order to fill that void boredum has created.
Anyways, back to Oprah! After Oprah had a successful career as a talk show host she decided to call it quits. If some of us were in Oprah's place many of us would have retired and enjoyed a stress free lifestyle. Why not? She had all the money in the world, the luxury lifestyle and the respect of the most powerful people in the world but she shocked everyone by announcing that she was going to start her own television station. Talk about someone who is going from success to success!
In order to go from success to success we must continually be thinking of how we can continually improve what we're doing and make it better. It can be your company, your hobby, or most importantly, yourself.
This is achieved through having the standard of continual growth. This doesn't come from need because then you'll be doing it for the outcome itself. If we don't attain the outcome then we'll experience loss and thus place you on a quest for happiness that will always be in the future.
Rather, we should do it because the process of improving ourselves, company or whatever your working on is fun and enjoyable. Improvement produces joy. Our minds will be focused on finding evidence growth so it'll identify growth in the smallest bits no matter how small it is.
You Get More of What You Focus On
Similar to looking around and noticing everything that's blue, then closing your eyes and noticing everything that's red. Your mind will only compute what you tell it to focus on.
This concept will bring true joy only if you are 100 percent thankful for what's there and not taking things for granted. Don't seek growth for happiness. That's a trap.
Being grateful of what's in front of you is what allows us to be present and stay process oriented rather than outcome oriented. Because when we are outcome oriented we see happiness in the future, but if you are already happy with what's in front of you happiness is here now.
This will also naturally attract situations that make you feel grateful and this will lead to positive situations such as more money, happiness, better friends. But if you are always complaining your mind will focus on giving you more things to complain about.
But remember when your mind is in a state of gratitude it will continually seek things to be grateful for. Everything else that comes along (money, relationships, careers) will be categorized as supplemental rather than a need. And trust me it will come if you focus on gratitude.
One of Life’s Biggest Personal Epiphanies
I used to be a family worker and when I worked with the youth I used to a metaphor in order to get this concept into their heads in a more concrete and simplistic manner:
"If you had to make 1 dollar in the next 10 minutes or else you'll die, what are the chances that you'll make that 1 dollar?"
They would respond with 100 percent.
Next, I would ask "what if you had to make 10 dollars in the next 10 minutes or else you'll die, what are the chances of you making those ten dollars?
They would still respond with a 100 percent certainty that they'd make that money in any way shape or form.
Finally I would ask them "what about 50 dollars?"
I then explained to them that you only set your mind to make 50 dollars in the next 10 minutes, you'll get those 50 dollars, but you won't earn a cent more! That's it! Your mind will get what it focuses on and only what it focuses on.
This is a lesson in raising your standard of living. You get what you expect out of life and that's who you become. No more and no less!
This lesson always struck a light in their minds and I too find it very enlightening to myself as a person. It helps me understand that I have so much more potential than I can ever imagine.
This is why goal setting is important. Not to gain personal gains, but to gain a better understanding of your inner self and have a better relationship with yourself.
You may ask yourself "how does goal setting help me improve my relationship with myself?"
When you are setting goals sometimes we become fearful if we're going to make it or not. But through confronting your fears it allows your to go through them and the result of conquering your fears will be having a better understanding of yourself.
That you are more powerful than you thought you were. As a result we will have better relationships with other people because we have first hand experience of overcoming disbelief and socially ingrained self-image that causes you to doubt yourself.
You will see yourself in them and as a result you'll see the potential in others that they themselves don't see in themselves and research shows that has an affect on people's success.
When teachers were told that a certain student was a genius those students did better in class and the teachers paid them more attention. The same thing happened with students that were labeled as bad. They were more easily called out, given less attention and their grades were significantly lower than their other classmates.
The Best Things In Life Are Always Free… For Everything Else There’s Mastercard
As humans, we take for granted things that are freely given to us. We will take care of a car we worked for more than a car that was given to us. Similarly is the case of our minds.
We are born with a minds that has more capability than we can ever imagine and yet we achieve so little.
We put our minds to work on small and minute things that never really challenges it. Many minds go through a lifetime of doing simple tasks such as watching television and as a result it becomes used to being in a state of atrophy. It becomes mentally weak, but mentally weak compared to the average person, but mentally weak compared to it's potential.
This is why setting the standard of continual growth as a person is so vital. The only way we can set this standard is by deciding to do it from now on. After that your mind will naturally come up with ways to do it but then it'll be your job to put it into action.
This article is just food for thought. Understand that where you currently are in life is where you decided to feel comfortable in. If you don't believe me then lets try an experiment:
Think of a goal that you still haven't started working on and notice how your body feels. Do you feel that knot in the pit of your stomach? Do you feel a small sense of fear as a result of thinking about it? Do you suppress it as soon as it comes into consciousness?
I like to believe that the body is an instrument that your subconscious mind uses to speak you.
Whenever we consciously tell ourselves that we can achieve a goal, but you still feel that knot in your stomach or a sense of discomfort then that's a sign that your subconscious is saying that it doesn't believe in itself. It's telling you "No! This is not what we agreed on, we agreed on living this way and I'll try my best to keep this agreement."
As a result the body responds with a small sense of fear or apprehension.
The best way I learned to tackle this fear is through bringing it to the present moment, but that's for another day and another time and another article!
To conclude I want you to really be honest with yourself and think about where you are in life compared to where you really wanted to be. Is your circumstance a reflection of what you believed you could have achieved? And if so, then you are a success. Your mind is doing what it set it's mind to do.
The only thing is that you need to change is your standard of living to continual growth. Not accepting stagnation as the norm but growth as the only option. Once this becomes your only way of living then growth is inevitable. Be patient and let growth come organically.