Pointing out people who have great accomplishments might mislead you to thinking that success is easily defined. It is not. It is often vague, with our judgment playing a larger role than we realize.
Yet most people think of success in concrete terms. They think more money and more awards are distinguishing factors for the successful. They think more friendships or longer tenure mean someone is more successful.
While these may provide some insight into the direction you want to take your life and what you view as success, in real life it is often more difficult than it seems.
In Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for SUCCESS, by G. Richard Shell, the author says, “success is not a static, one-and-done process. It’s dynamic. If you stay in motion, learn as you go, and remain open to the insights you gain on the journey, good things often follow.”
I have found this to be the case many times in life. Sometimes I would set a goal and assume reaching that goal meant success. But as I reached it, I realized it was just the beginning of a larger journey and that there was much more to do.
Other times I came up short of my ultimate goal but felt content that I no longer wanted to pursue that goal. Enough changed in my life and in my motivations that I had to pivot to go in a new direction, one that often conflicted with my original concept of success.
After college I started an audio engineering company. I loved it. Nothing meant more to me than to be able to own my own company and live off of the income from the business.
When I first started studying audio engineering I set a couple big goals. One was to own an audio company that supported my lifestyle without having any additional supplemental income and the other was to teach audio engineering courses at the college level.
But as I reached those goals, I felt as though I was stopping myself from something even greater. But in order to strive for what I saw as greater I had to give up on those original goals and move in a new direction, one that opened new opportunities even if they pulled me away from audio.
It was difficult to change and at the time felt like failure. It felt as though I was giving up on what I envisioned for years as successful. But it also opened up new paths and the overall journey felt as though I should focus more on following that inner guide than on holding on to a goal that no longer excited me.
We all have to understand what success means to us but we also have to realize that success is dynamic. It will change in our mind and as we gain new experiences throughout life our ideas of success will change. We can’t remain tied to old goals. We have to be willing to adapt, change, and abandon old goals and venture out in new directions.