A recent conversation with a friend revolved around success and achievements. He is in the middle of figuring out what he wants to do with himself being that he's graduating from college here in May. After a bit of beating around the bushes, pregnant pauses and incomplete sentences, he finally managed to explain that he didn't feel that his life was a success so far in his twenty-four years of existence. He felt like that nothing he had accomplished was worthy of achievement. That, of course, just opened up a can of worms, and led us straight into a rather lengthy discussion about what he thought he needed to do to be successful, since he felt that he hadn't been so already.
That entire conversation got me thinking. What I thought were successful accomplishments for him, were things that he didn't see as such, but rather things that almost anyone can do, that doesn't set him out from the crowd. That was when I realized he'd given me the answer that I was looking for. Success for him was doing something novel, that had never been done before, that set him apart from the average Joe walking down the street.
Everyone has their definitions of what achieving success means. I believe that one's definition of success is more or less a personal one that cannot be made by anyone but that individual person, but at the same time, can be influenced by many outside sources.
For example, my mother doesn't consider my life to be a success right now, because I'll be twenty-three this year and I am still not done with school. For her, she is following a timeline more or less prescribed by society on what makes a person successful in their lives. Get married by the time you're 25. Own a house before you're 30. Have a family going before you hit 35. I'm sure we've all heard of some of these at one point or another. But, my question is... What makes anyone think that they can set goals to be obtained by another person and have it be considered a standard for success?
Success for me, used to mean doing what my parents expected of me. Now, it means completing the goals that I have set for myself. And my standards of failure? I have none. Failure doesn't exist in my little world, as strange as it sounds.
First of all, I truly believe that you can learn a lesson from basically anything that happens to you, both good and bad. You gain knowledge from it, and you grow from the experience. It makes you a stronger person in some cases. Now, tell me...What have you failed in a situation in which you can gain knowledge and grow from? Nothing, in my opinion. Secondly, failure doesn't exist in my world because I go into things giving it my best effort. Once I can truly say that I've given something my best efforts, I know that I have succeeded at something, though it may not have been my original goal.
Are my views flawed? Probably. Does it work for me? Yes. Will it work for you? Yes. No. Maybe? Who knows? But, that was what the point of this writing was, wasn't it?
Now, the real question is...How do you define success?