why your view of success is fucked up
too often, we define our success by the things we’re doing or the things that we have. the degree that we acquire, the job that we work, the friends that we have, the income we bring in each year, the parties we attend, the workout routine we’ve stuck to — even the ability to obtain the perfect work/life balance that is accepted and admired by society. i’m not writing this to tell you that you need to set goals to be successful. mainly because i’m guessing you’ve heard that once or twice before. but i’m also not here to tell you that you don’t have to set goals to be successful. because I do think goals are important.
what i’m here to tell you is that the way you view success and the way you set your goals is fucked up.
pardon my French, but that’s the truth.
what if each morning everyone woke up and asked themselves, “what is going to make me happy today?” the likelihood of you getting flicked off and honked at on the way to work would probably decline. “success” is getting to work on time and cranking out emails or client calls regardless of the amount, or lack, of sleep I got. “success” is staying up late to crank out emails or client calls, making me cranky and causing me to honk at and flick someone off on the way to work.
I get it. we’re wired to think that the more we do and the harder we work will equal success. and we’re wired to think that success = acquiring more, doing more, being more, more, more,
but if that’s the way you’re living your life, my gut tells me that if you did wake up, look at yourself in the mirror, and ask, “what is going to make me happy today?” I doubt you’d say the things that you’re doing.
goals. here in America that means to always work towards a successful future. what it also means is from a young age, work hard to get into college. work hard in college to get your degree. get your degree to get a job. work hard to provide and be financially stable in your job. go above and beyond to get promoted and become even more financially stable. do more. be more. not for you? doesn’t make you happy? would rather create and do something other than work a 9-5 office job? that’s not success. prioritize success.
your view of success and setting goals is fucked up, but it’s not your fault. you’ve been told how to view these things. you see, the fucked-ness (yes, I’m making up a word just go with it) lies within a few things. first, within our definition of success. second, within the way we put a “one-size-fits-all” tag on goals.
success is defined as, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” and it’s true. but instead of focusing our aim solely on the things that we have, or the things that we’re doing, why not focus it on being happy? instead of shitting on Nancy’s goal to reduce her plastic intake, or Jim’s goal to make it big in the music industry — or, idk, mike Posner’s goal to walk the fuck across America (something to talk about/unpack a different time), why not just realize that GOALS AND THEIR EQUATION TO SUCCESS CAN LOOK AND BE DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. because what makes each and everyone of us happy is different and dependent only on each and everyone of us.
take me for example. I feel like I'm pretty successful at the moment. I don’t have a college degree (yet). I don’t have a normal job (social media). I don’t go out every weekend or have a ton of best friends (like most people my age). if viewing me through the fucked up lens of society, you probably would think something along the lines of “oh, she’s antisocial and doesn’t like to have a good time and she’s boring.”
but listen Linda, making myself dinner so I can save money, and going to bed by 10 pm on a Thursday night, so that I can wake up for a 6 am workout Friday morning makes me happy. spending time with myself makes me happy. seeing progress in my body from working out and eating well makes me happy. having 3-4 amazing friends that I know I can call up in the middle of the day to talk about the things that I’ve been anxious about makes me happy. choosing to stay in and not go to a party because it won’t benefit my personal goals or make me happy, MAKES ME HAPPY. and maybe these things won’t do the same for you, but they’re not supposed to. these are the things that make me happy. this is the way that I honor my personal goals. and this is why I view myself as successful.
just try it. for one week, wake up and ask yourself what will make you happy. figure out your goals that are realistic and achievable. before going to that party, ask yourself if it will make you happy. before going to that workout, ask yourself if it will make you happy. before applying for that job that you think you should work, ask yourself if it will make you happy. before getting engaged, or taking that promotion, or having that fourth drink, or declaring that major, or joining that fraternity/sorority, or quitting that obligation, or attending that event, or literally before doing anything in life, check in with yourself and prioritize your happiness. and then ask yourself how successful you are. because success, to me, is truly only measured by how happy you are in this life.