A Successful Life

How might you define a successful life? Success comes in many forms: academic, entrepreneurial, relationship, and on and on. It may be measured societally by tangible things, such as a wedding ring, a prefix before your name, the car you drive, or the house you live in. But do any, or even all, of those things equal real success?

From the outside, it’s easy to scroll through social media and see people who have their lives ‘figured out’. Such as the woman with the ‘perfect’ job who just landed another promotion; or the happily married couple with two kids, a dog, and a house in the ‘burbs. But is this picture perfect view reality? What happens behind the scenes that you aren’t privy to?

Many times we look for perfection in order to define success. But success is often messy, and is almost always a jagged line. Finding your own success takes time, and often comes with many failures along the way. After all, failure helps change your perspective so you can see a situation more clearly.

Success is different for each individual person. The way you define success may be entirely different than the way the person sitting next to you defines it. Likewise, the meaning of success may change at varying times in your life, based on what is of utmost importance. Try this exercise:

  1. On paper, jot down “successful” moments in your life to date. These may be measurable successes, such as passing an exam or earning a diploma. They may also be more abstract successes—things that help you to feel accomplished, or small successes such as overcoming a fear or sharing a long-held secret. Next to each entry, use an emoji, a color, or a word to represent the emotion you felt with that event.
  2. Look through photos (or sift through memories) to find an image of yourself at a successful time in your life. Close your eyes and remember the moment the photo was taken. What emotions surrounded the moment? Were you happy, stressed, excited?
  3. Look back at your list and the photo. Why do you deem these moments successful?

For the next few days, forget about trying to achieve picture-perfect success. Instead, celebrate your everyday successes—the little things that truly bring you joy.