What does it mean to succeed? The answer is different for everyone. And yet, sometimes our society seems to be set up as if everyone’s idea of success is the same as everyone else’s – as if we all belong to a single homogeneous parade of human life with identical starting and ending points, and identical needs and desires in between. But nothing could be further from the truth.
What does wholesale water pipe to you? Have you ever really thought about it? Or have you just proceeded along the same parade route as everyone else, assuming that since everyone else is going this way, they must know where they’re going? Perhaps you’ve felt from time to time that the whole group seems to have gone the wrong way, or that they’re moving at a pace that’s too fast or too slow for your needs. But then you figured, since everyone else seems okay with it, maybe it was just you?
Don’t let everyone else tell you what your success should look like and be like. Ask yourself the following questions, and compare your answers against the way you’re currently living and the direction you’re currently taking in life. You might be surprised by the results.
1. Am I pleased with or excited about my life and the direction it’s taking?
If you’re doing or headed towards what’s really important to you, you’ll feel a sense of rightness and excitement that’s impossible to mistake. This doesn’t mean that life will be all fun and games, of course. But if you wake up every day feeling bored or dreading the day to come, that’s a sign that you’re going the wrong way.
2. What do I do when I’m left to my own devices?
What are your hobbies, your interests or your obsessions? What is it that pulls your attention away from other tasks? What topics get your heart racing or catch your eyes in the bookstore or newspaper? The things you do when you don’t have to be doing anything else (or that you wind up thinking about when you’re trying to do something else) are key compass points for finding the direction of your own, true success.
3. What are my values?
What do you believe in? What makes you mad? What stirs you to action? What characteristics do you feel form the core of your self? Take inventory of the values and beliefs that are most important to you, and then compare them to what you’re doing. Is your current job/lifestyle/personality a good match, or are you living contrary to or in absence of your beliefs? (Here is an extensive list of values and how they show up in our lives to get you started: http://www.gurusoftware.com/gurunet/Personal/Topics/Values.htm)
4. What is important to me?
Do you really want that house in the suburbs, or does it just seem inevitable? Do you dream of living in a vibrant artistic community, or would you prefer something more sedate and rural? Do you want marriage? Children? Travel? Pets? Money? Power? Or, more importantly, do you feel you “should” want them (a sign of external pressures from others’ desires)? Are your current actions leading you closer to or further away from these needs? What can you do to more closely align your desires with your direction?
5. What legacy do I want to leave behind?
f you died today, what would be said about you at your funeral or in your obituary? What change or impression have you created in the world? Do you think you would get bagpipes funeral to plat for you? If you asked your current circle of friends and colleagues to describe you, what would they say? What do you wish they would say? What would you like to leave behind? Look to your answers to see where changes can be made, and reflect on where the gaps lie. These gaps can point to areas where you’re not living true to yourself, or they can be evidence of “shoulds” – things you feel you should be doing or believing, but don’t really want to.
The answers to these questions will provide you with a basic roadmap for true success. Like wearing another’s clothes or pretending to be someone we’re not, chasing after success that doesn’t really match our needs or desires is uncomfortable and fraught with struggle. It doesn’t “fit.” Finding the right fit for success in your life is the key to finally breaking free of the one-size-fits-all parade and learning to dance to the beat of your own drum.
Thanks to Avani-Mehta for including this article in the Carnival of Love Laugh Live and Learn, to 24 Hour Paradigm for publishing this post in the Day Shifting and Paradigm Blog Carnival, and to Effortless Abundance for featuring this article in the Effortless Abundance Carnival, and to Your Finish Rich Plan for publishing this post in the Rich Life Carnival.