Success means different things to different people but it also means different things to us at different times of life. Our vision of success when we are very young (fame, fortune, our own museum, the ear of the president, etc) don’t seem realistic or even desirable any more. Somewhere in the journey we bump back down to earth, like a balloon with some of its helium leaked out.
So our definition has to become less obvious. And we have to think about it harder.
I like this (from Christopher Morley): “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
By this definition I feel very successful. I no longer have to sit in an office all day doing work for other people that doesn’t have much meaning for me. I do work I enjoy and I live how I want.
But that doesn’t feel like a full definition of success. I think we have to know in our hearts what specific things we want to accomplish to feel successful. Sell a certain amount of work. Make a certain amount of money. Gain a certain notoriety. Decide on our yardstick.
I also think there is a family history angle to this issue as well. I sometimes find myself thinking, “if my grandmother were alive would she think I was successful? … would she be proud of me?”
This is a weighty issue and while I am quietly mulling it over I’m looking to more immediate measurements. For example, at the end of the day I decide whether I’m making successful progress on that day’s work. Yesterday, I’m happy to say I could answer yes.
And then there was this from my little boy letting me know I’m doing a good job, at least for today.
I think this is my bottom line…if my son loves me I must be doing something right. I don’t know if I’m successful but I certainly am lucky.