Don’t get me wrong – I’m not anti-success. In fact, I’m all for it. Bring on real, vital, meaningful success for you and me! It’s a big part of what I want for my clients my friends, my family and myself.
But let’s separate true success from the lame-ass version of success we have been sold. You know the one – the one that has a massive price tag attached. The one with all the glitz and glamour and sexy women and cars and world travel and luxury, and let’s not forget the all-important (but less spoke of); doing better than your neighbors.
The version of success that’s like a tampon add: where you are going to be carefree every day, dancing on white sand beaches and having parties every night in one of your multiple homes. The one that is sold like its nirvana, even though we know full well it isn’t.
This dream of success is as to true success as a hallmark Valentine’s Day card is to true love. What I mean is, it’s empty. And it’s a pale imitation of the real thing – so far off it doesn’t even resemble it. Strive your whole life to get it, sacrifice a whole bunch of actually meaningful stuff to have it, and then find out too late that it is not what sustains you.
Money is good, yes: As a by-product of you expressing yourself in the world, you making your mark, and you building your empire, for sure. But that’s all it is, a by-product. Sure, you can make Vegemite from leftovers after you brew beer, and that’s great, but the brewers are in it to brew beer.
You should be in your life to LIVE your life first, make money second. What I mean is – find what matters to you and go for that, find who you are and express that, find who your people are and be with them, find what inspires you and spend time in it. If you’re not doing this, I don’t care how much money you take home (or already have), you’re living a sad life.
And don’t think you are exempt from a lame definition of success just because you’re not a materialist. There are plenty of lame definitions of success that have nothing to do with money or glitz, but cause just as much pain.
Here’s the thing: a lame definition of success is giving over-importance to ANYTHING that isn’t something you truly value in your soul.
It’s predicated on this toxic notion: in some way or another, THIS LIFE that I have is not the way it is meant to be. I.e. I’m working too hard, or I don’t have enough money, or I’m not successful enough, or my partner isn’t the right way, or I don’t have any free time, or I’m not in my purpose, or I’m not pretty enough, or I have debt, or WHATEVER it is.
There are several erroneous notions at work at once here:
1. There is a “perfect” life out there somewhere.
2. If I could just get enough …… (fill in the blank with whatever: money, power, time, balance, freedom, growth, spirituality etc.) THEN I will be living this perfect life that exists out there somewhere but has eluded me so far.
3. Other people are living this perfect life. I know because I “see” ….. (Fill in name of celebrity, successful friend or someone who has something you don’t have) on facebook (or other form of media) and they always look happy / successful / beautiful / whatever.
All three of these notions are complete bullshit. And they are responsible for at least half the pain in the first world. The worst of it: when you believe these things, you deny yourself two of life’s most wondrous pleasures: 1. Appreciating the magnificence of everything around you. 2. Being able to go for stuff just for the pure joy of making something manifest FOR THE SAKE OF ITSELF and for no other reason – i.e. Not because it’s going to get you somewhere, make you important, get you some money, etc. etc. etc.
I work with lots of people. Everybody wants stuff. And wanting stuff, going for it and having it are SERIOUSLY important to happiness in my book. BUT, its GOT TO be the right stuff. It’s got to be stuff that ACTUALLY matters to you, not stuff that looks good on paper.
A lot of this has to with what standard of measurement you are using to judge the success of your life. Here’s a silly example: if you have a party, do you judge its “success” by how many people came, how the photos looked, and how many likes you got on FB, OR by whether the people who came are people who really matter to you, whether you got to connect with them, and most importantly, whether you and they had a good time? Depending on which standard of measurement you use you will get a very different sense of whether your party was a “Success” or a “Failure”.
A lame definition of success, if you are using one, will lead to unnecessary pain. You will be disappointed in your life and your creations because they are not living up to your high expectations. You will always have a notion that your life is missing something that is causing it to be unsatisfying. Even the amazing stuff you create and the awesome experiences you have will be short-lived because pretty soon you will feel hollow again and need to fill up that hollowness with more proof of how amazing you are.
Worst of all, you will miss out on all the magnificence of what you have in your life because you’ll be chasing what you don’t have, or what you think you need more of. And the more you chase, the more empty you feel, so the more you chase… it’s a vicious cycle.
So you gotta find a non-lame definition of success.
Real success is an abundance of the things that matter to you, plain and simple. This in INCREDIBLY individual. It’s a personal as how you like to be touched sexually. THERE is no cookie cutter answer here.
How to find out what really matters to you, so you can have a non-lame definition of success:
1. Firstly, don’t go off what everyone else around you wants or thinks is important. It is UNBELIEVABLY common for people to spend their lives striving towards stuff that in fact DOES NOT satisfy their REAL needs, just because it’s what those around them expect. And people tend to work so hard when they strive that they never stop to just take a breath and ask themselves, “hmmm… do I actually want this?” or “Does it truly fit with my value system?” and “Why am I going for this?” is it because I honestly love it, or is it because I have been trained to want it by my society? And the big one, “Even if I do want this, is it actually worth what I’m putting myself through to get it?”
2. Don’t assume you already know what matters to you. Just like how you have to try a bunch of stuff to find out what you like sexually, you have to EXPLORE to find out what REALLY matters to you in life. IF you try things, and SEE where the real juice of life is for you, it may surprise you. You might find that travel is the thing for you and just go and go and go. You might find it’s having a family, you might find it’s being famous. What’s important is that you explore, with an open mind, and find your own path. Assuming you know what you want because it’s what everyone around you seems to be going for is a bit like watching porn and then thinking you’re going to love it up the ass because she seems to…
3. Be prepared to give other stuff up. You can’t have it all. If purpose is super important to you, and your family, then you may not have much time for friends, or socializing. If you want to travel and explore the world you may not have time for family. Etc. Etc. This is why it is so important to find out what actually matters to you, and spend your life creating that, rather than waste your life trying to get symbols of success, power, happiness, etc. We only have so much time. We can only create a piece of the mosaic of life. So pick the piece that is of most importance to you.
4. This one is SUPER important: REALISE that real life is flawed. That your perfect relationship will not be perfect all the time. That your great job will be boring sometimes. Your amazing kids will also drive you crazy. A non-lame definition of success INCLUDES the understanding that you are human, others are human, and things will NOT be perfect in the hallmark sense. They will be perfect in a whole other way: a true way. A flawed but magnificent kind of way. As Leonard Cohen says: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
5. Don’t act like finding what you are really turned on by is hard. It isn’t. It’s right in front of your face. If you’re spending a lifetime trying to work out what matters to you, with respect, you’re just not doing it right. Life is not meant to be spent seeking what you want – it is meant to be spent living it.
Anyway… Bla bla bla. I hope this has got you thinking. I hope you’re considering what REALLY matters to you. I hope you’re already throwing away some things you thought you wanted or needed but actually you don’t. Or, at least, I hope you’re still reading, and I haven’t bored you.