We should all define success, happiness and a life well lived for ourselves. This seems obvious. But it isn’t.
Too often we all form an idea of success that just goes along with the general consensus rather than based on our own criteria.
Why? Because we don’t define what our criteria is.
We might say we want to be as rich as Jeff Bezos or as talented as Julia Roberts. We might want to be as athletic as a professional soccer player or as ripped as a world-class body builder. Maybe we want to be as calm as a monk or as smart as Einstein. Maybe we want to be as tough as a Navy SEAL or as insightful as a philosopher.
But what if we changed things around. What if we wanted to be as rich as a monk or as athletic as Jeff Bezos? What if we wanted to be as insightful as a Navy SEAL or as tough as a philosopher?
The reality is that we all pick and choose various characteristics to build our concepts around success, happiness, and a life well lived. We choose the richest person to define success around money and we choose the most athletic person for our ideas about athleticism. But all of those people have many characteristics so we shouldn’t just choose the one that they leveraged the most.
We also can’t just look at an example of someone that we think meets our criteria and model them.
I’m currently reading a great book called The Behavior Gap. Author Carl Richards talks about the various systems and habits around investing. He identifies the patterns in our emotions that drive our decisions, often with unfavorable results.
In the book he talks about trying to determine if a decision was good or bad by the outcome.
He says, “I’m reminded of that guy from England, thirty-two years old, who sold everything he owned and took the cash ($135,300) to Vegas for one roll of the roulette wheel.”
Then he asks, “Good decision or bad?”
Before knowing the outcome most of us would say it was a bad decision. But then Richards shares that he actually won. Then he asks again if the decision was good or bad.
His answer, “it was still a horrible decision.” The reason is that the various criteria that he used to make the decision were bad. It was too risky and he got lucky. Good luck doesn’t mean the decision was a good one.
Richards also tackles the idea that there are a few people that make financial predictions that turn out to be true. He argues that being right doesn’t mean it was the right decision either.
“If people make enough guesses, they are bound to get at least a few of them right.”
All of this should lead us to stop and think about success, happiness and a life well lived differently. Instead of trying to look for external examples, stop and think about you for second.
What would make you successful in your mind? What would make you happy in life? At the end of your life, how would you know that you lived your life to the fullest?
Don’t just take a bunch of examples that only show a part of the full picture. Start to develop the full picture, and use you as the example. Then, work to do the things necessary to become that example of success and happiness.