What is Success?
What does it mean to live a successful life? Is there such a thing? After all, no one gets out alive.
Many live in fear that they are not living up to someone’s expectation of success. Who is that someone? Often it is a made-up bogeyman or some “societal norm” that has no basis.
An accepted myth of success is having a family, owning a house, and working in a job or business that earns you enough to retire in comfort before departing for who knows where. You can fill in the details.
Of course, many people don’t follow this mythical path to success. Perhaps I am projecting my western-educated perception of what many deem to be a version of success.
Success can be whatever you define it to be.
Time plays an important role in defining success. In the short term, one might define a successful day by just getting out of bed. That is dependent on your state of mind. Taking a longer-term view of success, one might have to do a little more than get out of bed each day to achieve something meaningful. Then again, the definition of “meaningful” can be broad.
If you were to win the lottery and afford to live the rest of your life in luxury, would you define that as success?
I would suggest that winning the lottery is a stroke of luck. The odds are 1 in 14 million. I wonder what special skills would be required to pick the numbers ahead of time reliably. If you had such a skill, why would you offer your services to do it for someone else? What would the payoff be?
I look at success through the lens of consistency. I ask myself if I would be able to show up and give my best to something repeatedly. There is a saying that “overnight success takes 20 years”. The saying originates from the fact that we often don’t see the hard work that others do to make something a success.
The exponential effect of working on something every day is extremely rewarding. The problem is that it is very hard to see the incremental impact of our hard work on a day-to-day basis. This makes it very easy to give up and assume that our work is not having an impact.
To overcome the daily grind, it is important to measure the impact or the cumulative effect of your hard work. A measurement tool that reminds you of the effort you have given to something can help reinforce your emotional commitment and help keep you going when times are tough.
Being emotionally committed to something is the most important part of overcoming the grind.
My trick to remaining committed and emotionally connected is very simple. Almost too simple, but it works for me. I count days. I count articles. I have run an average of 13km a day for 1245 days. I’ve written 164 Just in Time articles. When I see those numbers every day, a small voice inside me says, “you have done so much; all your work will be wasted if you stop now. Keep going.”
Start something, count your successes, no matter how small, and watch the numbers grow. In time you will be amazed at the success you can achieve.