Success is a relative term. If a person is making 10 dollars an hour and suddenly he or she gets a new job and starts making 50 dollars an hour, that person will deem the exponential increase in the income a great success. But now let us turn our attention to another person who has been making two million dollars annually, except this particular year during which the income came down to just over a million. One million dollars is a large sum of money by any standards. Many people won’t be able to save that much money during their entire lifetime. But that person, despite a million dollars annual income, may still feel unhappy and unsuccessful.
So what made the difference here? It is the expectation. If your expectations are high, very likely you may feel disappointed with modest achievements, even if such achievements may be viewed by others as highly successful accomplishments. Sometimes, not only your expectations but the expectations of other people may influence your thinking about success. For example, if you have highly critical parents, who are difficult to please and who demand a great deal from you, you may be under constant pressure to please them through your achievements and may not feel happy at all, even if you have done well if you haven’t met with their expectations.
There is another angle to success. Your concept of success is deeply connected with your values and beliefs. If your value system says having money is the most important thing in life, then you will deem that as a success. But if your value system says that apart from having money, peace, stability, integrity, happiness and contentment are also important, it presents an entirely different picture of success to you. Some people are extremely wealthy, but not happy. some people are plain ordinary, but very happy and secure. Some people make lots of money, but don’t save much. Some people don’t make lots of money but save a great deal of what they earn. Some people live with a scarcity mentality even after they become rich. Some people spend with a generous heart, even if they have limited means. We don’t know whether we should call one or the other successful because we are not sure how far their lifestyles and their individual habits contribute to their success or sense of well being. Let us now analyze some of the most common views about success.
- Success means being happy.
- Success means to win a game or a competition.
- Success means to acquire something that you have been working for.
- Success means getting a great job that is the envy of many.
- Success means becoming rich, living in a large house, driving a luxury car and having all the comforts of life.
- Success means becoming a celebrity.
- Success means getting recognition, name, and fame.
- Success means having status, power, influence, and control.
- Success means freedom from want, fear, and insecurity.
- Success means to be able to get whatever you want and whenever you want it.
- Success means overcoming failures, disappointments, and obstacles.
Now, what is the most common factor in all the above definitions of success? These definitions view success in terms of achievement, accomplishment, fulfillment and attainment. They allude to having something, which you dearly wanted or which gives you an advantage over others or which adds to your status, power and prestige. In short, they tell you that success means realizing whatever goal or dream you set your mind upon, from which you derive a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
Many people are not sure whether they are successful or not because they don’t have goals. When you don’t have clearly defined goals, it is difficult for you to know whether you are successful or not. You may have vague expectations, but they don’t give you a true measure of your success. So it is important that you set clearly defined goals for your life or your career and work for them.
There are a few more facts about success. First, success does not guarantee happiness or respect in society. Your happiness comes from within and it is usually connected with your expectations. If you have low self-esteem probably you may not be easily pleased with your achievements and still feel unhappy about some inadequacy or imperfection you perceive in yourself. Successful people, including some big celebrities, with low self-esteem, may spend plenty of their lives with the fear that people may ultimately find out their incompetence and think poorly about them. As for respect, it depends upon how people perceive a successful person. We live in a competitive world where many people, including our closest friends and relations, would be too happy to see us fail. So successful people know that success puts a great burden upon them to stand up to the expectations of society and prove their merit time and again. They also know that as role models of society, they are subject to extra scrutiny and harsh judgment. Secondly, a successful person need not always be successful and need not always feel confident about success. No one can take success for granted. However knowledgeable, capable, intelligent and skillful a person may be, past success doesn’t guarantee future success.
If want to be successful, what should do?
- First have clearly defined specific, measurable and achievable goals.
- Remain focused on them day and night. Think of them as frequently as you can.
- Make the best use of your resources to achieve them, such as your skills, your time, your intelligence, your knowledge, and your social skills. Your resources are your investment. They actually constitute your wealth.
- Be perseverant and persistent until you reach your goals.
- Be flexible to change your plans, but not your goals.
- Learn from your mistakes. Each time you fail, ask yourself how you may do better next time. This “how can I do better” question is very important and has tremendous value in your success. It is what creates people like Thomas Alva Edison, with tough minds.
- Never give up. If you are focused on “how” you will not easily give up till you reach your goals.
- When you reach your goals, celebrate your success, broadcast your success and rejoice in it.
- Finally, share your success with others. Let them know what makes people successful. Help them gain from your experience.