We live in a world where it’s taken for granted that everyone wants to be successful. Most self-help books are geared towards this end. If you read The Secret, you’ll find the secret to making money, being successful in business, having a successful personal life and being healthy.
The last of these—being healthy—might be an aim that everyone aspires to, but not everyone might want to make tons of money or get married and have children. Different people’s ideas of success are different. And this is something that most self-help books and gurus fail to consider.
Sure, it’s good to be motivated to keep moving ahead in life. But what are you moving ahead towards? Have you considered what constitutes success for you? For this reason, it’s important to keep in mind that being successful is a personal choice.
What Constitutes Success in the Eyes of the World?
In order to understand the idea of success better, consider what the world tells you is successful. Let’s assume that you’ve always wanted to be a writer. In the writing world, as in most other fields, success is defined by two things—money and credit.
The more money you make as a writer, the more successful you are, in the eyes of the world. However, let’s not forget credit. You’re not considered a legitimate writer unless your name is affixed to the things you write. You might be making a lot of money ghostwriting but you’ll still always be considered a hack if your name doesn’t accompany your writing.
In certain circles, success is also defined by how “serious” you are as a writer. If you’re writing genre fiction, you’re not considered as successful as a writer of literary fiction. On the other hand, writers of literary fiction may not be considered successful, because they’re not making as much money as writers of genre fiction.
These are just some of the prejudices that abound in the writing world. And no matter what field you work in, whether it’s creative, business-related, scientific or academic, to name just a few possibilities, there are a number of criteria that people use to determine whether you are successful or not.
What Constitutes Success in Your Eyes?
Most of us have imbibed a number of external criteria of determining success. As a result, we look at ourselves, not just through our own eyes but also the eyes of others. And we judge ourselves. A writer of literary fiction might feel bad about the fact that he makes too little money. A writer of genre fiction, who makes a lot of money, might start to feel that she’s been typecast for too long.
But do we ever stop to ask ourselves whether the situations in which we find ourselves are conducive to our happiness and well-being? Let’s assume you’re a ghostwriter who’s making a lot of money. You might spend a lot of time being angry at the publishers who won’t give you a chance to publish under your own name. Or you might be jealous of other writers whose names show up on their covers.
But did you ever stop to think whether you would like to be well-known writer? Would you like to go on tour, reading from your work? Would you like to meet your fans, sign books and become a literary figure? Or are you satisfied sitting in your little corner, doing your writing, with no pressure to produce more and better work which will be published under your name? There are many writers who like to live retired lives. Have you actually gravitated towards ghostwriting because you’re one of them?
To take another example, maybe you’re a genre writer who has published several mysteries. Maybe you keep beating yourself up because you feel like you ought to be writing something more serious. But have you ever stopped to think about whether you actually enjoy reading and writing more serious works? Do you just feel bored at the idea of finishing that magnum opus you started so many years ago? But does your blood start flowing at the idea of writing another mystery?
Being successful is a personal choice. This doesn’t mean that you need to be unsuccessful and miserable. It just means that you need to sit down and think about what constitutes success for you.
The Connection Between Success and Happiness
You might have a number of role models—people whom you’ve always looked up to because they’re successful in their professional and personal lives. But try putting yourself in their place for a day. Try to imagine how they spend their days and do the same yourself. Is it a fun day? Is it a day that you’d like to repeat, over and over? Or does it seem mundane?
Many of us work really hard to build lives that we believe would make us happy. But once we get to that point, we realize that we’re not happy, after all. This is because happiness is not a goal; it’s a process. If the process of getting to a certain point doesn’t make you happy, then being at that point won’t make you happy either.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t set goals at all? No, of course not. It just means that you should set goals that are likely to make you happy. And you need to stay mindful throughout your day. Keep asking yourself whether you are happy. And if not, then make an effort to figure out what would make you happy. Is there something else you would rather be doing in that moment?
Many of us are actually afraid of asking ourselves this question because we’re afraid of being happy. We may feel that we don’t deserve to feel happy or that being happy is selfish. This isn’t true. Being happy is in fact the truest form of success, the one that often goes unmentioned.
Contact us to get more information about the type of success that will make you happy in the long run.